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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.

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Swing Dance Baby Steps-The Journey Begins

As many of my existing readers know, this blog is kind of like a journal into my fishbowl life. If you want predictable dribble, go somewhere else, but if the voyeur in you wants to peep in on me “Living La Vida Loca” then stay tuned. It won’t be long before you will witness the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Check out some of my friends swing dancing in beautiful Nashville, TN for iCharleston Nashville.

Check out some of my friends swing dancing in beautiful Nashville, TN for iCharleston Nashville.

Much to the chagrin of my friends and family, I have never lacked for overconfidence. In fact, delusions of grandeur have been a daily part of my life as far back as I can remember. The main reason I chose not to become a rock star, professional athlete, or blockbuster movie producer was not due to limitations in my voice, body, and brain, but because I had other priorities. **Roll eyes here**

Although I consider myself a musician, one area of music always eluding me, is dancing. I understand rhythm and accents in a song, but I can never get my body to cooperate with my head. Recently I discovered there are a number of reasons I never followed in Fred Astaire’s footsteps:

  • No Muscle Memory
  • No Practice
  • No Teacher
  • No Plan

Is it possible for a 45-year-old dog to learn a new trick? I am about to find out. I went to my first dance class about three months ago, and it has probably been painful for everyone but me (I’m having a blast). However, even though I’m out of shape, and maybe I look like Chris Farley on the dance floor, I am excited to see what happens when I turn this page of my book.

The experience has been quite rewarding. I get free exercise, while listening to vintage big band music, and the Nashville Swing Dance community (specifically NSDF) has been incredibly supportive and friendly to a noob, like myself.