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Midlife: Single, Lonely & Depressed? Try Dancing!

Itís no wonder so many people of all ages are turning to dancing. It kills two birds with one stone: itís a great way to meet members of the opposite sex and new friends, and it offers ... one o

Itís no wonder so many people of all ages are turning to dancing. It kills two birds with one stone: itís a great way to meet members of the opposite sex and new friends, and it offers exercise, one of the antidotes to depression with or without therapy, with or without medication.

If you know you should be exercising more and just canít drag yourself out of bed an hour earlier in the morning to go jogging in the freezing cold, or canít find tennis and racquetball partners, dancingís an option you need to consider. It requires no partner, no special equipment, costs little, happens after work hours, and you probably have something appropriate to wear already in your closet.

Many dance halls now offer free or nearly-free group dance lessons and there are dancing studios cropping up all over the country where you can get individual and group lessons.

Typically the dance teacher in the private school tries to balance the ratio of men to women (arguably the hardest part of the job), and encourages changing partners, partly to increase your leading and following skills, and partly so you can develop the social skills of dancing Ė where to look, what to say, how to invite someone to dance with you, and how to decline politely.

They also may fill in with dance assistants who are learning how to teach and want the practice. ďYou donít need to have a partner,Ē they advertise. Singles are welcome, often outnumbering the partnered, and thereís likely to be a wide age range, skewed slightly on the older side. How sweet it that?

The private dance studio may also offer social outings and field trips to other dance halls which will extend your knowledge of whatís available and also bring you new acquaintances and dance partners.

And a nod to the future? Many schools offer training for your first wedding dance. Itís a big moment when the bride and groom take the floor, and they will teach you how to make it look and feel good.

If youíre a man, you can also use this training to allow you to become a Gentleman Dance Host on cruise ships, including the coveted Cunard line. These gentleman, who are older and have good social and dance skills, are on duty every night in the various lounges of the ship dancing with women in need of dancing partners, as part of their working vacation. For more information on this, see my ebook, ďPresenting on a Cruise.Ē

Country and Western dance halls, Salsa Clubs and Big Band Ballrooms are filling empty nights (weeknights and Sundays) by offering group lessons you can take advantage of. They usually have a male and a female teacher, so you can see what it looks like when you actually dance with someone.

You can learn the Triple Two Step, Salsa, Merengue, West Coast Swing and the new line dances, as well as the traditional ballroom dances like the waltz and polka. My dance school is having a Polka Party this Sunday afternoon. 2 hours of instruction followed by open dancing. Can you imagine the exercise?

Check with the dance halls in your area, or go here to locate a dance teacher: This website needs more names and numbers (there were none listed for my zip code, while there are many opportunities in this town), so if your dance school or teacher isnít listed there, call and tell him or her to get on this website. It provides needed information.

Once you get into it you may not want to stop with purely social dancing. More people all the time are recognizing the fun and physical fitness aspects and want to get more serious about it. For this you need a steady partner to practice and compete with and thereís even a website for finding a dance partner: .

If you really get into it, youíll also need wardrobe. Matching Western shirts for you and him? (Buy it and he will come!) I canít imagine dancing the tango without a ruffled skirt, can you? (The rose in your teeth is optional!) If you donít want to spend a fortune to outfit yourself, take a trip to your local Goodwill store. They may have just what youíre looking for, including cowboy boots.

How to begin? Find the place, check out the dress code, and show up. You may be a little nervous at first, depending upon how rusty you are, and especially if youíre a true beginner, but donít worry, youíll soon be out there doing the Jitterbug with the best of them. The teachers and atmosphere will make you feel at ease immediately, and chances are youíll find nice people who are there to enjoy dancing in a friendly, healthy atmosphere thatís contagious.

Once youíve learned the basics and found the venues, you can add dancing to your social schedule. What better way to work off that Thanksgiving dinner than to go dance the night away afterwards?

Dancing makes a great family activity. There are at least two dance halls in my town that offer special family-friendly times. They offer food as well as drink, and itís sweet to see the dads dancing with their little girls in their arms, and toddlers taking the floor solo to bounce to the beat.

Thereís also a chance to dance at local festivals. The recent Wurstfest in my area featured a huge dance floor with a 10-piece brass band imported from Germany that got everyone up and on their feet Ė from 18 months to 80.

As more people stay single for extended periods of time, line dancing is being offered more frequently. If you donít have a partner, or just donít want to dance with someone you donít know, you can wait till they play Cotton Eyed Joe, Mambo No. 5, Strokiní or Boot Scootiní Boogie and get out there on your own.

But youíll have the most fun if you go ahead and ask someone to dance, and ladies, donít be shy. Itís quite acceptable to ask men to dance. In fact I think the guys appreciate it.

Whatever your goal, looking for friends or a partner, wanting to master new dances, or simply to get exercise and have funPsychology Articles, you canít go wrong. Itís highly probable youíll find all these when you go out dancing.

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©Susan Dunn, MA, Midlife Dating and Relationship Coach, . Offering coaching for men and women in dating, transitions, retirement and other midlife issues. Newly divorced or widowed? Let me make it easier for you. Susan is the author of ďMidlife Dating Survival Manual for Women,Ē available at . .

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