Primal Play: Dance

Though it’s an important aspect of the Primal Blueprint, the concept of play doesn’t get enough attention around here. I guess by virtue of its very nature this is to be expected. Play should be spontaneous and freeing, and the regimentation of our leisure time is what we’re trying to avoid! Still, given the time-sucking realities of adult responsibility, maybe we all need a few suggestions for new ways to play. I’m not talking about making play dates or anything, but a few concrete examples could really help. You know, something that’s free, that you can share with friends and family, and that’s fun. How about dancing?

Dancing? Bear with me, here.

Until now, almost everything I’ve suggested in the past as Primal play activities has had an overt physical fitness slant. Pickup basketball, Ultimate Frisbee, hikes, walks with the spouse, random play with dogs/kids/wilderness – these are all great, enjoyable activities, but it’s difficult for some people to separate them from the concept of exercise. Most people see a guy on a hike and think “workout.”

Dancing is different. It can be an awesome workout, sure, but people generally don’t hit up the gym, grab that hairy guy off the elliptical, head to the full length mirror, and bust out the Kid ‘n’ Play routine from “House Party.” I kind of wish that super hairy, extremely gregarious dude at my gym who can’t seem to ever find his pants in the locker room would, just for the comedy of it all. Maybe he’s even got a mean running man in him. I wouldn’t know.

Anyway: dancing is definitely different. It takes skill and athleticism, if you’re talking about advanced techniques or styles, but anyone can dance. Not everyone can be a professional or street performer, but anyone can enjoy dancing, and that’s the whole point of it, in the end. If you’re able to give yourself to it fully (“dance like nobody’s watching”), dancing can actually be extremely rewarding.

Dancing does no harm. Dancing is fun, it’s sexual, and, like singing and music, it is universal. Dance itself can be described as an exposition of human movement patterns; dancers explore the full range of human movements through three-dimensional space, by leaping, contorting, falling, twisting, rotating, spinning. Dance can be rigid and regimented, and it can also be free and fluid. Why not take a dip?

Well, for some people, dancing is a frightening prospect. It may not be quite so dire a situation as that small town in “Footloose,” where dancing was actually banned, but people are definitely somewhat restrained when it comes to dancing. It takes guts to let yourself go, I mean really go, and do so with a smile on your face. Dancing renders the dancer completely vulnerable, to outside criticism and prying eyes, but mostly to his or her own thoughts about what’s expected of a normal adult. Unless the alcohol is flowing, the lights are dimmed, and someone’s daughter is getting married, we’re not supposed to be dancing like wild men and women. We’re supposed to be composed, to – at the most – maintain a polite, inoffensive sway, preferably on beat, or at least adjacent to it. We’re rational, higher animals! We are above the frenzy of the ecstatic or the emotive… aren’t we?

Absolutely not. If we were, life would be incredibly boring and reptilian. Dancing itself is Primal – there’s certainly strong precedent for its inclusion in the human experience. Look at basically every traditional culture and you’ll find dance, along with music. In fact, the two are never really separated. You dance to music, after all. And since music is present in every culture, it’s a safe bet that Homo sapiens were banging on drums or singing chants since at least 50,000 years ago, which is roughly when the widespread dispersal of man out of Africa occurred. Some archaeologists even suggest dance has been around for over a 1.5 million years, perhaps manifesting as a literal “mating dance” between potential partners looking for the right mate. Anyone who’s ever been to a nightclub has seen this phenomenon in action – nothing really changes, huh? Regardless, a musical tradition had been established which spread as man spanned the world, and dance with it.

Even if dancing was useless and purely frivolous – that is, it conferred no concrete physiological benefits – it would still be worth doing, because frivolity is part of what makes us human. We do things for the hell of it. We’ll sing nonsensical songs, make strange noises when we’re alone, twiddle our thumbs, play with our hair, think of distant jokes and laugh all over again. Do we need a reason? No. We just do it to amuse ourselves and occupy our minds.

Dancing should serve the same purpose in our lives. Like other forms of play, it can reduce stress, get us moving, help us spend quality time with loved ones and friends, and improve our coordination, mobility, and flexibility. If you’re learning a particularly complex set of steps or moves, dancing requires concentration and memorization. If you’re dancing with a partner, your brain has to anticipate the other’s movements and respond accordingly. This all works out to exercise for your brain and your body. In potential dementia patients, dancing even reduced the incidence of dementia, better than other leisure activities.  And hey, if you’re good enough, dancing can make you pretty damn attractive – talk about the conferment of an evolutionary advantage.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you necessarily incorporate bi-weekly dance sessions, but they can’t hurt. Just think of dance as a potential tool in your bag of tricks. Take your wife or husband to salsa lessons. Turn off the TV and blast some music one night, and just let loose. Gather some friends and do the bonfire/drum circle thing at the beach or in the woods somewhere. Pass around a bottle of wine, if you have to, and dance. It might even be enough to just bob your head when a favorite song comes on, or dance with your upperbody while at a stoplight. You may look silly, but who cares? You’ve got to get over that stuff, especially when it stands in the way of you truly enjoying life and all it has to offer. Recall the last person you saw rocking out behind the wheel; did you laugh at and pity him, or were you slightly envious of his obvious joy? Exactly.

Dance is many things, simple being foremost among all other characteristics. It doesn’t have to be deep or overly technical. Just dance for fun. It should come naturally, ideally. This last bit of advice might be the toughest to follow, but it’s also the most crucial.

What do you think about dance? Does it have a playful place in the Primal lifestyle? Do you let go every now and again? Share your thoughts in the comment board and Grok on!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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143 thoughts on “Primal Play: Dance”

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  1. I’ve been dancing for a long time, and I love it! My favourite form (and forte) is Irish dancing – while many see it as rigid, there is something very primal in the percussion of the footwork and leaping around is loads and loads of fun! Unfortunately the shoes are not exactly primal-friendly for the feet…. 🙁

    1. Totally primal rhythms! And once you learn a jig or a reel step, you can dance to pretty much anything. There’s also
      Scottish country dancing and contradance, where you can learn and be part of a community. And get totally winded while enjoying yourself!

  2. Love it!
    I’m grateful for the diet guidelines, more of a reminder of things my body knew, yet I had not allowed to follow for whatever rtationalization.
    Very grateful for the workout tips, and correcting me out of my chronic cardio ways.
    But Dancing! is precisely how my body wants to express this incredible well being that has been unleashed.
    Thank You!

  3. I’ve been ballroom dancing for over 10 years, and can attest to EVERYTHING you’ve said about it! When I’m in “downtime” I often think about the movement of feet, rhythm, and can’t wait for my next dancing opportunity. Great work Mark!

  4. Anyone who has ever been to a club knows that dancing can start the sweat flowing. And it certainly allows you to “let it go” within a crowd of people. Just another great example of how to incorporate the Primal way in your life.

      1. I have zero rhythm. Dancing is not physically comfortable to me because my body goes one way while the music goes another and I get all discombobulated.

        1. Hey Jason
          Loadsa people think they ‘can’t dance’ simply because there are often unspoken ‘rules’ about what it means but ultimately it’s just about feeling music and letting your body respond to it. 4/4 rhythm is man made it’s not ‘primal’ you might do a different rhythm. The best way to get into dance and lose the belief that you ‘can’t do it’ is to try 5 Rhythms dancing an idea created by Gabrielle Roth. check it out on Google it’s amazing stuff. I’ve been doing it for about 15 years on and off and it’s incredibly liberating. Forget the night club dance floor ‘rules’ and just go with it.

          discombobulation is good, so is the music going one way and your body the other – that’s YOUR dance. Heck who has the right to say it’s ‘wrong’?

        2. I ALWAYS was the worst dancer (I was in a musical theater program…singing and acting, good…dancing took me FOREVER to learn and I never felt comfortable). Well, most musical theater stuff is on a 1 and 3 beat, meaning you would clap on the first beat and clap on the second, just like almost all pop music. My husband plays house and tribal music and took me clubbing for the first time while we were dating…the beats are totally different, the main pulse is on the second and fourth beat. It was like my body completely unlocked on that rhythm. I can still only “sway” on the damn 1,3 beat, get me some hip hop or world music…completely different. Try out Kodo on Pandora and see what it does.

        1. I was the EXACT same way a year ago. I was afraid of screwing up. I was afraid of what people might think of me. I was afraid of being made fun of.

          Then, I threw all fears into the garbage… are you ready to do the same?

          The truth is… 99% of the population has no idea how to dance. But, guess what? Many of them still dance and have a blast.

          If you do not wish to dance, fine. But, saying you CAN’T is not fair to yourself.

          Sorry if I sound angry… just never say CANT! 🙂

  5. What a great post! I am a primal newbie, but have already been doing dancing as my preferred form of basic workout. Since my husband is definitely one of those only-when-drunk-at-a-wedding dancers, I just put on the ipod, crank up the volume, and rock around the house all on my happy little own. It is such a fabulous all gain, no pain experience, and I always finish up blissed out and ready for more. Thanks for bringing this wonderful option to everyone’s attention!

  6. I do Jazzercise (I’m not a shill for it and I have no skin in the game, I just like it) and it’s the closest thing I found to exercising with a dance spin to it. But it’s not just the workout that I like. It’s the social aspect as well. One other benefit is that even though I’m almost 48, I’m kept current with today’s music because of Jazzercise, and my 12 year old doesn’t think I’m a total square.

    1. I’m a Jazzerciser also!! Have been for over 30 years, and at age 60+ still love the music and the moves. Am amazed how they have kept up with the times in terms of the moves, but still keep it fun. I even do mine in my five finger vibrams and have some others thinking of doing the same. I focus on really lifting off the jumps and use bigger weights for the weight routines. Love it when we do push ups to the max.

      And talk about using the brain when the new routines are introduced. We always laugh about how much smarter we are after a particularly difficult set.

      I agree about the music aspect and your kids. My 24 year old and 5 grands can’t believe my playlists.

      And socially, some of my best friends I have met in class.

      Living in the Pacific Northwest, it is not always possible to be outside (too wet, muddy, and cold) as much as I like, but Jazzercise gives me that wonderful energized feeling.

      Glad to meet a fellow Jazzercise enthusiast.

  7. Wow, this is an awesome post! Me and my sister have been talking about getting some videos to try and learn some sweet dance moves LOL, just for fun! I think dancing is great exercize, as well as a wonderful stress reliever.
    I giggled when I noticed Mark mentioned “upper body” dancing at the stoplights…I totally do that!! 😛

  8. Not to get to off topic here, but along with song, dance, and music another universal form of “play” is wrestling or grappling. Nearly every culture has their own form of this. From the Amazonian Indians to the Tibetans to the Nuba of the Sudan to modern Brazilians practicing a version of an original Japanese Art (Jiu Jitsu). This form of play that was a guide to survival and sometimes combat.

    This is rooted deeply in our developmental past and I am sure when you look at modern grapplers (Not the juiced WWF guys)you can see a physique that is clearly functional and would do great at hunting/gathering.

  9. Perfectly timed post Mark!

    I have randomly danced in my bedroom while listening to music and I sing a lot in my car…

    But, last night as I was listening to music… I, well… really started to dance – big time! And, guess what?

    I had the time of my life.

    Yes, I was alone… but I was listening to Train and was just having a great time.

    Then, this morning… I did it again! And I have never been more happy, ever!

    This world would be 1 zillion times less stressed if everyone could just let loose once in a while and dance! There is nothing like moving to your favorite music and not giving a shit what other people think about you!!!! 🙂

    1. HAHAHAHA!

      That video was awesome!

      That guy has NO IDEA how to properly dance. But, guess what? He is in good spirits having the time of his life. That made my day.

      That dude will attract happy people into his life if he can keep them spirits up most of the time 🙂 Isn’t this what we want?

  10. Dancing has got to be the best thing for the spirit. My love and I completely lose ourselves when we are dancing. We have a BLAST (and maybe we look silly but that’s even more fun).

  11. I had a dance party this morning while ironing and getting ready for work! It’s really uplifting to break out the moves. Sometimes when I’m at my boring, stuffy law firm job, I just want to make everyone stand up and dance around the office to pump a little life into the place. I’ve never really thought of it in the context of the Primal Blueprint, but it makes total sense…interesting post. I think we need an official MDA/Primal Blueprint dance!

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I wish sometimes I lived in a musical so we could all sing and dance together. It’d be entertaining, that’s for sure.

  12. ahaa! i like the picture, “walk like an egyptian”
    i used to go rocknroll dancing with my dad, and ballet lessons. its great fun and a great workout. i suck at that nightclub dancing stuff though, so i dont bother.

    1. I also take ballet lessons (ok. ballet is very non-primal). i also do a little modern & jazz.
      i think dancers have the greatest bodies. i’m biased, of course. haha

      but then a lot of my partners seem to live on sugary food during intsensive rehearsals (e.g., low fat granola bars, fruit juice or juice drink.)

      they seem seem pretty shocked by what i eat when we eat out. well, i try my best to bring the message out without being preachy.

  13. I have totally busted out the Kid ‘n Play routine before. And I dance all the time. I rock out and play air guitar while running. I dance in my living room. I can be a one woman dance party in a bar, or in line at the bank. Doesn’t matter. If a good song comes on, I’m dancing.

  14. “We’re rational, higher animals!”

    Ha, ha. I co-edited a book on a comparative analysis of rationality (“ Regrettably, we didn’t cover dance or music.

    My family often spend the evening in our playroom dancing to 80s new wave disco (usually Erasure or Pet Shop Boys). It’s so much fun!

    I remember observing my older daughter swaying to music at only 6 months old. I was impressed by how early behavioral responsiveness to music develops and thought it must be a human-universal trait. But don’t forget the dancing cockatoos and other parrots that move (and even sing!) to the music!

    1. I watched a little boy, probably about 5 or 6, tapping his foot right in tune to some live music at the farmers’ market this weekend. It was eye-opening to watch. He seemed totally unaware that he was doing it 🙂

  15. I love dancing with wild abandon. I’m very flattered when 20-something year olds tell me how much they love my dancing. From age 40-42, I used to go to clubs and dance to live music all the time. I don’t do it so much anymore. I enjoy “DJ” night at home. Thanks for reminding me that it’s time to do this again.

    For you naysayers, and uncoordinated, you don’t need any special skills here. Draw your blinds, crank up some tunes, and let your body go in any direction. It’s not only fun, it’s liberating. Do it!

  16. This post was a low blow Mark. Now I’m gonna to have steer my wife away from reading MDA for at least a week until this one drops off the home page.

        1. I’m actually a good dancer, I was just having a little fun with stereotypes. I was born with an unfortunate case of “natural rhythm”.

  17. Great Timing on this one. I was definitely was one of those “I would rather die than dance types.” To fix that I decided to go against all of my self conscious instincts and join a ballet class. I caught a bit of flack for this from some of my primal brethren, but now look who’s laughing… 🙂

  18. as the Celtic aphorism has it ‘Never give a sword to a man who won’t dance’

  19. Dance, Dance, Dance….you will be in the moment and out of your head. Try
    NIA and step into your day

    1. Agree!! When you dance you are totally living in that moment and the stress just falls off.

  20. So exciting!!! Dance is my main form of exercise, and it was what got me into the best shape of my life two separate times in my life, early twenties, and early-mid thirties. It’s also the only form of exercise I can do that doesn’t at some point bore the life out of me!

    When i started I was 19… and it took a while to feel like I had some coordination. (Sometimes I still don’t!) But I enjoy it, and when I’m done I’m sweaty and I can feel every muscle in my body. Totally rocks!

    Right now I’m taking jazz, and this summer it looks like Hip Hop is in my schedule. But I’ve taken ballet, modern, tap, ballroom, and afro-haitian (talk about primal!) There are all types of styles out there… jazz and hip hop are my faves.

    I think everybody has their fave exercise that they just love to do and look forward to. It’s nice to see dance included…

    1. “I think everybody has their fave exercise that they just love to do and look forward to. It’s nice to see dance included…”

      If all the men tried dancing and all the women tried sledgehammering, we’d achieve full Primal parity.

      1. I never hesitate to use a sledgehammer, but I still can’t get my partner to dance with me! It’s frustrating!

  21. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that we NEED a video of Mark dancing as if no one is watching. 😉 BTW- I LOVE dancing. My husband and I met ballroom dancing.

    1. “I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that we NEED a video of Mark dancing as if no one is watching.”

      Hahaha what a great idea!


      1. My wife and I have been dancing hula for over 13 years. There is an olelo no’eau, “a wise saying”, in hula that says,”Dance as if no one is watching.”

  22. Dancing is awesome. Being a ballet dancer has helped me get a sense of what the body can do besides deadlift 400 lbs. Dancing promotes function if that’s what you are interested in. more pathways to the muscle are being used. It’s an easy way to experience something new as well. it’s time to groove.

  23. I am a terrible dancer, but most of my exercise is dance – because I love it! Ballet once a week is great for weight bearing exercise (although i also weight train) and zumba twice a week is great low level cardio.

    I couldn’t love a form of exercise more…

  24. My kids and I just love to turn on the music loud and boogie. We have no training or skill, but we do have lots of fun!

  25. Excellent post! Last saturday, someone’s daughter got married, the alcohol was flowing and the lights were dimmed. Boy, what a workout I got that night! I’ve also done Zumba and Drums Alive classes. For those who aren’t averse to group exercise, these are a blast! I’ve also been known to bust a move while doing yardwork and listening to my iPod. Just not in the front yard…;-)

  26. Sometimes I “work” as a dj at weddings, parties, etc. So it’s my job to entice you into dancing… I myself love all music, mostly the kind that makes my body move involuntarily. I love “chair dancing” at my desk at work. I used to live by myself in a firestation & had my dj equip set up in the bays. I would crank up some Madonna, turn the lights on the trucks and bust out some moves with the rags & carnuba wax. Ya, I would have turned all shades of red if someone walked in on me, but I enjoyed the heck out of myself, and there were four dang shiny trucks!

  27. I can certainly appreciate someone that is good at dancing. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. LOL.


  28. Despite being a caucasian male, I actually enjoy dancing with my girlfriend from time to time. A few drinks are a minimum of course, but it is fun. Truly though, you have to pretend like no one is watching!

    1. btw Mark – I can’t believe you referenced Kid ‘n’ Play. I had to check the author of this post to see if it was ‘Worker Bee’ or not. Nice one!

  29. This is the best post! I do some belly-dance and also love to groove out to live music. There is definitely something going that taps into universal, primal energy. Plus how can you not smile and feel sensual at the same time. Awesome!!!

  30. I was so thrilled to see this post. A couple of years ago I discovered an fitness program called Nia. I went to my first class basically by accident. The class I planned to attend had been cancelled and Nia was all that was available. Had I known in advance that it involved DANCE, I would not have gone. But it was just so much fun. I flailed around in that first class and I’m sure I looked uncoordinated and silly – but I felt great! I’ve been going ever since and have recently become an instructor. You do it BAREFOOT (very primal!) and people at all different levels of fitness can enjoy the same class because each move can be done at different levels. Nia is inspired by Dance Arts (Jazz dance, Modern Dance, Duncan Dance), Martial Arts (T’ai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, Akido) and Healing Arts (Yoga,Alexander Technique and the teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais). The first principle of Nia is The Joy of Movement. Wow! Exercise you actually enjoy and want to do.

    So many people say they can’t dance. Why is it that every single member of primal tribes can dance and in some cases they do it daily? Maybe you can’t dance because you haven’t practiced. I could not walk the first time I tried to walk and walking is natural too. Humans have enjoyed dancing for eons – don’t you deserve some of that fun in your own life? Here is a link to some videos of Nia – enjoy!

  31. There is a new Wii game on dancing. My daughter was asking me for it. Looks like a lot of fun. May have to rent it.

  32. Phil- If it’s the “Just Dance” game, it comes highly recommended. My husband and I have a blast! (He’s not a “dancer”, but he IS competitive.) Time flies by when we play that, and it’s definitely a workout.

    I was just thinking this morning about how much I miss going out dancing, then I hopped online and voila!- timely post, Mark!

  33. I love busting a few moves “Napoleon Dynamite” style in front of the mirror at home while I wait for Lyle to slaughter me the cow in the paddock across the street.

  34. The only problem with this post is that it makes me want to go out dancing tonight and it’s a work night! 🙂
    I like to get together a group of people now and again and go out. It’s fun, uses up random energy and makes me feel sexy (and no, I don’t dance “well”, whatever that means).
    I even bop to music when I walk down a street. Who really cares what people I don’t know think of me? And if friends see me, I don’t care about that, either. They already think I’m crazy. 😀

  35. About five years ago, I came to the realization that the reason I didn’t dance wasn’t that I *couldn’t*–it was that I simply didn’t know how. Dancing wasn’t a part of growing up. So, I looked around and figured out what would be most useful to an early-20-something: belly dance. 😉 Did that for a couple years, performed a few times–and gained the moves and confidence to dance in public. Belly dance moves can be modified to dance to most music and there is something primal in the sensuality and intensity of it. Also primal because you dance barefoot 🙂

    I was thinking this spring would be a good time to sign up for lessons again, and now here’s this post. I’m signing up for a class now!

  36. Yes! Dancing. I love it. When I was younger I used to go out every Friday and Saturday night and dance until dawn. People thought I was crazy. I was not there to drink alcohol at all, I just danced all night. I was incredibly fit and thin too 🙂
    Finding the time to dance now is hard but I should really try to find the time to do it again. Perhaps not until dawn this time though 🙂

  37. I always put on headphones and rock out to whatever music I’ve got on when it’s time to do chores – dishes, laundry, you name it. It makes it more fun, the time goes faster, and even though the hubby and roomie can see me, I don’t care. I don’t even know if I’m a good dancer…. it’s fun, so I do it, lol.

  38. Tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop…it’s my job!

    Anyone else out there into this stuff?

  39. Mr. Mark Sisson please stand up.

    I Jack Christopher award you 1000 whuffie points for the “House Party” reference.

    — Pretty fly for a white guy. 😉


  40. I am going to take up belly dancing this fall through the local school district’s adult classes…it looks like fun…and I love the music!

  41. What a timely post! I was just checking out Zumba classes offered at my gym. I checked it out on Youtube, and it is exactly what I need! Looks like soooo much fun!

    1. I do both Zumba and African dance, and it’s a blast (and a heck of a good workout!) This is a very timely post as i just love to dance it is has become a huge part of my new fitness routine. And, the African dance is , of course, barefoot…which would be make Barefoot Ted very happy 🙂 And Tim, if you read this, I live to watch all types of dance: contemporary, jazz, tap, ballet…everything…it’s all good!!

  42. LOL I rock out all the time in the car, by myself, with the kids and occasionally at work. I was always involved in music programs in school, and to this day I can not be streetside at a parade without rocking out with the drums..parades suck to march in (rain, cold, think New England) but are so fun to dance with!
    I don’t actually go to clubs these days..and I really am NOT a good dancer, I just have no shame! I have noticed my mother, who is normally VERY shy and reserved, bopping along lately at different events..HMM.. could having two granddaughters (ages 6 and 7)who LOVE to dance have something to do with it?
    Nothing better for feeling Primal, and happy, and relaxed except for, well, you know…and the generations continue!:)

  43. Great post! Being able to dance is a nice peacocking effect at big parties. It definitely gets the women’s attention. 😉

    This post reminded me of the can’t-dance-but-brings-joy-anyway-guy who travelled the world and danced at different locations: Where the hell is Matt? –

    Awesome song throughout the clip and at 0:51 it really kicks in and shows the universal joy of just letting it go. Inspirational.

  44. Love you work Mark.

    “You’ve got to get over that stuff, especially when it stands in the way of you truly enjoying life and all it has to offer. Recall the last person you saw rocking out behind the wheel; did you laugh at and pity him, or were you slightly envious of his obvious joy? Exactly.”

    That is an excellent line, and I think that if more people listened to that sort of advice it would have a more profound effect than sound nutrition.

    1. Awesome and agreed. I think my girlfriend becomes slightly embarrassed when I do this in public with her – I think I will refer her to this post.

  45. It’s not so primal but I do like my Wii dance mat for messing about on 🙂

    On a side note – I was flicking through a copy of Muscle & Fitness yesterday in a news agents and on p72 there was Mark’s name in the bright lights with a nice column review Mark’s past endurance lifestyle and current primal approach. It was brilliant!!

  46. Belly dancing! We learn it as kids and just have to dance whenever a good song is played.

    In the west that might be weird but where I come from it is not that strange for people at (not that upper scale) restaurants or pubs to just clear a small area if a particularly good song for belly dancing is played 🙂

  47. I love dancing. Unfortunately, I learned recently I’m known in some places as “that guy who can’t dance”. Not sure what to do about that.

    1. If you love it and you feel like you’re dancing, then you can! What to do about it? Ignore them!

  48. To all the people that said they can’t dance: be assured that almost nobody “can” dance. The people you look at and think to yourself “Jeez, I wish I could dance like that.” only look like that because they just “do”.
    As it’s often the case, it’s not about having the ability or talent, it’s about doing.
    I hated dancing and going to clubs/etc. for years until I just told myself: Let go and give it a try. And that changed a whole lot.
    Try it 🙂

    And regarding Simon’s comment: I’m sure most of the people who call you that are those, that never step on the dancefloor, too. Face the fire, take the heat. In the end it’ll just make you better.

    1. Hell yeah. I was annoyed for about five seconds, then the DJ played a song I like.

  49. I have a friend who claims he has no rhythm and refuses to dance. I don’t believe this because he has no trouble hammering a nail, etc, which all takes rhythm.

    I asked a dance therapist about his statement and she said usually a person who says this is a very controlling person. She was exactly right in the case of my friend.

    Too bad he won’t give it a shot. Dancing is one of the great joys of life.

  50. My kids and I blast the radio and have “dance parties” in the kitchen after dinner/dishes. Surely, we don’t have all the moves, but we’re having fun! ;0)

  51. I love dancing (when I’m not self-conscious about it). A drink or two, and I won’t be afraid to bust a move. I’m also a big-time bopper. Even as a classically-trained clarinetist, when I’m in rehearsals, I’m the one in the ensemble bopping to the music we’re rehearsing (and the director oddly doesn’t seem to mind — I actually think he finds it amusing). One of these days, I’ll talk the hubby into taking a dance class with me.

  52. I was one of those people who could. not. dance. They even cut a scene from a play I was in because it involved me dancing (and wasn’t central to the plot). Then I discovered contra dancing. There’s something so non-threatening about it, everyone’s too busy dancing themselves for anyone to watch you, so if you stumble or do the wrong thing, no one cares!

    From contra, I got into other forms of folk dancing, as well as Argentine tango (which I do once a week now), and I’m considering taking up modern dance now. The thing about dancing is that practicing is a workout and you HAVE to practice at least once a week to stay on top of it, plus it’s fun, so you want to do it more often.

  53. I LOVE to dance. I’ve been line dancing for 11 years, since I was 10! It’s a great workout and so much fun. If I had the time I would do a class every day 🙂

  54. Word up. Nothing’s felt more real for me ever than dancing. It was on once I got the Thriller album when I was 4 or 5. I’ve actually been reconnecting with my dancing presently and it feels so awesome and primal. I break dance / freestyle dance and it’s clear that every element of the human being aligns from the body to the emotions to the spirit and creative intelligence when you dance. Dance is so raw, such a basic vehicle to connect with your whole being.

  55. I’m almost 45 years old, and I’m determined to learn Pop & Lock dancing:)

  56. Insane cardio + insane strength + lots of spontaneous fun = BREAKDANCING. IMHO one of the best fitness modalities out there (and unlike most workouts, development of courage is a huge factor).

    Interestingly, dancers seem better equipped to handle random physical challenges than Athletes of the same level. Check out this article about how some dancer beat the stuffing out of some NCAA D1 Athletes:

    Dancers vs. “Athletes”: The state of the current athlete

    This is an article by Charlie Reid, B.S., CSCS, CPT.

  57. I would not know what the spirit of a philosopher might wish more to be than a good dancer. -Nietzsche

  58. I haven’t gotten fully primal on my way of living but the more I read about it, the more I realize I have already been doing it. My husband and I lift weights, we walk around our neighborhood, hike and I’ve started with working on my sprinting when I jog.

    Dancing.. I truly believe that dancing is such a good way to get fit. I enjoy my Saturday morning, music on full blast crazy dancing. It’s a good way to let loose of all the tension from work, and to be ok with making a fool of oneself.

  59. I teach a dance class at a local club. Members come to me constantly saying they can’t dance. I tell them by the end of the hour, you Will be dancing. Doesn’t have to be perfect, just feel the rythem and move! We burn upwords of 500 calories an hour, and have so much fun we forget that we are excersising. Dance like no one is watching and watch the pounds fade away!!! Excellent Post!

  60. There is a reason that Michael Jackson was such a phenomenal success…his dance moves were mesmerizing…yeah, he was talented and could sing..but..THOSE MOVES! Oh, Yeah! We all love dance…all of us…admit it.

  61. Woo! so glad to see this finally come into the picture. Dancing is totally thrown in my big of tricks:P. I may not be the best dancer, but I do like to move!

    I belly dance and I also HOOP DANCE! it is so fun and meditative. dancing with a hoop is also a great workout for the arms especially if you are using a heavy one. I like to use the lighter/smaller hoops for tricks and speed. Check it out, this video is a pretty good example of the joy that can flow from movement to movement.

    I suggest hooping to EVERYONE and ANYONE.

  62. Great post, and quite a number of impassioned replies! I mentioned to Mark in an email a while back that I sometimes use Shiva Rea’s Yoga Trance Dance DVD as a means of getting down like Grok around the campfire. I don’t worry about any particular moves or rhythm, I just let the music take my body where it wants to go. I took ballroom dance my last semester of undergrad, thinking it would be a good social skill to have. It is. I followed that with Cajun dance, a useful skill here in South Louisiana. I put both to good use this past weekend at our annual Festival International de Louisiane, dancing to music from around the world. Between walking and dancing with a number of lovely ladies, I put in around 24,000 steps a day in my Vibrams. Great fun and great exercise! And a good way to combine primal laws #3 &7.

  63. I have always been attracted to African rhythms and have been dancing afro-cuban folkloric and samba – great workouts because of all the isolation! Zumba is also a lot of fun and of course, salsa! Thanks for the great posts

  64. I totally love to dance. My husband totally loves to watch me dance. All my babies (5) have loved to sit on my hip and dance with me, which is no small feat when they get to about twenty pounds or so–great for losing post baby poundage. My 12 year old is slightly embarrassed now when his forty year old mama starts grooving to the techno, but I’ll bet he’ll be glad when I’m dancing with HIS kids on my still intact, limber hip!

  65. GO MARK! LOVE it when a Primal HE-Man sez Dance is GOOD for you & promotes my first Art-form & first LOVE. As a ballet dancer in my teens–I was asked to SECRETLY work with my jr high and high school football teams–after all the New York Jets were doing ballet to be better athletes! DANCERS are the PEAK PERFORMERS of the Art world. In ’98–when I was told I’d be permanently blind, brain-damaged & disabled–MD’s pushing for a board & care–it was my early ingrained training & habits that had become not just second nature but NATURE–including HOW to take care of myself “lifestyle”-wise–what I ate, massage, SELF-care–as well as my daily Dance practice that SAVED my life & let me GET WELL AGAIN despite the MD’s prognoses and all the odds! Still DANCE daily. An intergral part of Zeeva’s Art of Wellness For my fitness, the Health & Wellness of my Body-Mind & Spirit–and the pure JOY of it!

  66. Dancing is my passion and always has been! I do it because I love it, and the fact that it is great exercise is a plus! It is fun. I believe some people are born with natural rhythm, but everyone can learn to dance. I’m 38 yrs. old and take jazz dance classes at the local community college. They have amazing instructors, teach sound technique and it is an excellent stress reducer for me. It’s my “me time”. Even though I’m 20 yrs. older than most of the kids in the class, I don’t really care. Try dance. If you’ve never tried it, you will learn something new and broaden your horizon. If you used to dance as a child, why not look into taking adult classes at the local parks and rec, community college or dance studio. (Although I find that dance studios don’t generally offer much in the way of adult classes.)

  67. I love this post! And I believe in dance as a spontaneous, freeing form of exercise. So much so that I started my own weekly dance session called Dance It Off! Here’s my website. If you live in Chicago, please come check it out – it’s a blast.

  68. bellydance! it’s the best!

    I loooove swing dancing with my hubby. I’m sending this to him, hopefully it will help get him up & dancing with me more! 😀

  69. Everybody can dance. Just because you can’t dance *well* doesn’t mean you can’t dance. And anything worth doing is worth doing badly. (Unless you’re getting paid, and then you have a responsibility to do it well. Other than that? Who gives a damn?)

    If you ask any class of kindergartners “Who here can dance?” “Who here can sing?” “Who here can draw?” every hand in the class will go up. Of course we can dance! Of course we can sing! Of course we can draw!

    But somewhere on the path to middle school they learn all the things they “can’t” do. It’s sad.

    You can dance, you can sing (great for your wind, totally primal), you can draw, you can do all sorts of things. Just because you don’t do them well enough to make ’em your profession doesn’t mean you can’t do them.

    Just have fun, and when you’re afraid someone might be laughing, laugh at them for being so constricted.

  70. I danced my way through the “Disco” years & thoroughly enjoyed it! worked-up a great sweat too! Glad you posted this Mark, it gives me a great excuse to have fun like I did in the mid 70’s!

  71. Dance has always inspired me. I’m a student of “belly dance”.
    I feel most free when I dance.
    Great blog.

  72. I have always loved to dance. I hear a beat, and my body starts moving to the rythmn. I just can’t help it. I taught group fitness classes for years, and the music motivated me. There were definitely instructors who did not “feel” the beat, and they had to work harder to be able to stay “on” the beat. I am one of the lucky ones where my body naturally feels the beat, and wants to move. So, at 46yo, I go out with my girlfriends to dance, I dance in the car, I dance in the house while I am cleaning or cooking, I have dance parties at my house, complete with DJ’s, I dance at any and all events that have dancing. When I dance, I feel free and feel like I am doing what comes so naturally for me. There was a time when I tried to inhibit myself because it was not “appropriate” to behave that way as a wife and a mother. Now, in my 40’s, I allow myself to enjoy the expression of my body to the beat of the music, and I feel like that has helped me be a sexier wife for my husband of 22 years.

  73. I was about to come clean about how I really don’t dance too often unless I have had some beers or whatever, but then I realized that I do dance, I dance hard. Two words: mosh pit. If you’re ever looking for a good work out get into the circle pit at a thrash metal show. There’s something so primal to running around in a circle while roaring along with a killer band, what a rush!

    Mark, I stumbled on to your blog and have found it to be very inspirational, you can count me as frequent visitor.

  74. I love dancing more than anything else… I guess I am somehow trying to get back to my primal roots by dancing in the great outdoors (it’s just not the same in a dark club), but there’s something about going to an outdoor party or festival in the trees, by the ocean, with a bunch of crazy humans and dancing my face off… this is when I definitely, with out a doubt, feel the most alive!

  75. I am far from what you call coordinated, and I’ve never been a dancer, but I swallowed my pride and joined a Christian/Messianic dance troupe. We do a lot of Israeli folk dance which KICKS your hiney. If you can grapevine/maiam, you can dance:), trust me.

  76. I teach Blues and Swing dance and have enjoyed watching people progress from awkward and uncertain about how to move their limbs, to confident, smooth and rhythmic.

    Dance is a wonderful thing for your mind, body, heat and your social life! Thank for promoting this wonderful activity Mark!

  77. My husband and I started ballroom dancing lessons about five years ago! Yikes…we then found friends who also took lessons and we would practice together. In no time we were having a GREAT time, but it takes alot of patience, persistence, and motivation to become confident. It is NOT something you are born being able to do. My philosophy is, if you can walk, you can dance. We have branched out to other dances which we actually like better, like Hustle, Nightclub two-step, Country two-step, Country Waltz etc. We dance once or twice a week with lessons and once or twice a week with friends…it has been great for our marriage and great for me, because it is the only physical activity that I enjoy!!!! Who knew it would come into my life in my fifties. I had been exposed to ballroom as a child and took some modern dance as an adult but what we are doing now beats it all and I will do it until I can’t walk! Which hopefully will never occur! Sorry this is a year late on your dance blog, but I’m just discovering PB and your emails…Great timing for me!

  78. To say that anyone can dance is absolutely wrong. Sure anyone can get up and make movements to the beat of the music, but moving does not equal dancing. I am 54 years old and this has been a frustrating issue all my life. I have tried may lessons in various style by different instructors, and I cannot get beyond 2 or 3 steps without getting completely lost. Sure the instructors are happy to continue to take my $ and let me step on their feet, but there comes a point where you just have to cut your losses and accept reality.

    I would love to be able to dance. It would have saved me much embarrassment over the years. I write this because by this article you propagate the myth that anyone can dance and encourage the rude behavior of people that try to pressure you to dance in social situations and act offended when you politely refuse. I can accept the fact that I do not possess this particular ability. We ARE NOT all capable of everything and we should be accepting of everyone according to their abilities or lack thereof.

    Please do not encourage this attitude towards those of us who seem to have no natural talent for moving our bodies in coordination with music. It is at the least rude if not mean spirited.

    1. Gee whiz, cat…how can you take a post encouraging people to do something as fun (and good exercise besides) as dancing and turn it into such a diatribe and accusation of mean-spiritedness as you just did? I got news for you, brudda, you CAN dance. Maybe not well, maybe not in time with the music, but you CAN dance. People get so wrapped up in thinking they have to do something as close to perfectly as possible that they don’t allow themselves to experience the sheer joy of doing something half-assed because it’s fun. Nobody’s keeping score and you don’t get voted off the show if you aren’t as good as anyone else at it. Some of the “best” dancers I’ve ever seen aren’t all that “good” but are having a blast because they don’t care about doing it “right.”

      Now if you don’t want to dance, that’s your perfect right. But surely you have interests that you’ve invited people to participate in and they haven’t cared to. It’s not being mean spirited to invite folks to do something you like…you just want to give them a chance to share in something you like.

      1. You do not have to dance in time with a partner to be able to dance. I used to be “able” to dance before I had three children. Since then I have two left feet. But that does not stop me from putting the music on at home and dancing with my two left feet on my own when nobody else is watching. Dancing is fun and it is good exercise. It lifts the spirits. I don’t care that I am no longer any “good at dancing”, I still dance anyway. If you really want to dance, and it sounds like you do, then dance on your own, in your home, with your favourite music. It does not matter what you look like and you won’t step on anyone’ toes. I also met a group once that used to do what they called traditional American Indian totem animal dancing, where you danced like your totem animal. I never joined but I watched them and they were having a great time. None of them were necessarily dancing in time to the music, there were no special dance moves, they just made it up as they went along. But they were all having a GREAT TIME!!!!

  79. Great post! Even if you’re not that Asian guy on Glee, you should take every opportunity to dance. In his novel Refiner’s Fire, Mark Helprin writes about how the the early settlers of modern Israel were always dancing because “dancing, like nothing else, says I am still alive.”

  80. Someone posted this earlier but I just want to share it again in case someone hasn’t seen it:
    I seem to watch it every month or two and every time it brings me to tears (I’m not usually much of a teary person). It is beautiful and is amazing how his jig started as a joke because he ‘couldn’t dance’ and evolved into a video that’s been viewed over 36 million times–and I highly doubt anyone watching would make fun of him! Like Mark said above, it’s definitely envy people have while watching him dance.
    ANYONE can dance….especially alone around your house!

  81. I’ve been belly dancing for five and a half years and wouldn’t give it up for anything! It’s incredible exercise, it’s great for making friends, and it turns uncoordinated gals like me into strong and elegant dancers. I think all women should try it, and interested men too! 🙂

  82. Dancing is my favoutrite movement practice – besides martial arts and everything with flow quality.
    I love swing dancing. In 2012 I will start hip hop and parkour. Somewhat the natural progression/next step IMO. 🙂

    Swing Kids:
    Geek Swing at Stanford.

    Richard Powers (Stanford Dance Department)

  83. Primal POLE! I’ve been doing vertical fitness (some call it pole dance?) for about a year now, and I think it’s the perfect Primal Workout. Short bursts of energy, heavy lifting, and an amazing high afterwards. I think Grok would approve. 🙂

  84. a good dancer is someone who has fun while they’re dancing. it doesn’t matter what it looks like to others. it’s what it feels like to you. go for it. dancing can rock your world. it does mine:)

  85. Ohh cool! I was reading your newest article and commented on how I use dance as adult play and then found this post. Fantastic musings. So excited to see adult play being broadcasted!

  86. Cool post! As a Psychotherapist, one thing I notice in my counselling practice is that people with anxiety, more specifically social anxiety are inhibited to do the things that draws attention to them. Whether it’s walking through a mall, socializing at a party, dancing…

    however, we are human! Which means, we are social creatures. Some times we have to do the things that make us uncomfortable, and leave the feeling of being judged at the door.

    For many of my clients, suggesting a dance like, Nia, which is a sensory based movement, helps loosen the restrictiveness that anxiety brings, and heck, many clients have loved it!

    So, get out there and dance!

  87. I wonder, 3 hours of dancing a week could take care of the Primal recommended low level aerobic weekly activity?