Swing Dance Baby Steps-Avoid Alzheimer’s Through Muscle Memory

Jump Session Jitterbugs

The Jump Session Jitterbugs

Back in 2003 I broke my back in a car crash. Ever since, I have tried to stand when working at a computer. This now gives me an opportunity to train my brain to do new tricks by practicing triple steps at my desk. So far, I have had no complaints from my customers hearing me chant, Rock-step, triple-step, triple-step… in the background.  This basic move, is the first thing most swing dancers learn, and it needs to be so ingrained into the mind, we don’t think about it on the dance floor.

My desk at home.

My desk at home.

Jumping into the Lindy community has been fantastic, but also, a little painful. People come out of the woodwork sporting hats, bow ties, suspenders, vintage dresses, and flowers. When I saw all the women running around with flowers in their hair, I knew the Lindy Hop style originated in San Francisco not in Harlem. While some of these traditions are cool, others are complicated and unexpected. Quality Big Band and jazz music is an important part of the scene, but difficult to find. If you want to start a riot, try to play some neo-swing or rockabilly songs at a Jump session.  It will get bloodier than adding an electric guitar during a chorus of Amazing Grace at a church of Christ revival. But I digress…

Basically, dance moves are just like riding a bike, or driving car, your brain is capable of transforming cognitive thinking skills into muscle memory. Once this happens, you can concentrate on other aspects of dancing such as, what to do with your arms, hips, and face while trying to keep the beat.

Another potential benefit is exciting new research connecting muscle memory and music to Alzheimer’s prevention (Do not watch if you don’t want to cry). If I can survive learning this, anyone can. Go buy some new shoes and meet me at the Jump session Friday night.