The salsa life healthy or unhealthy? Is salsa addiction real?

#1
I have been thinking about this a lot recently due to my health troubles. Even though I have taken measures to better my life (healthier diet, drimking more water, more exercise, better quality sleep), my body does not respond well to a night of intense dancing and i often spend the next day completely lethargic and without energy.

Let's take a look at what a typical salsa evening looks for me:

Average party start time: 10pm (usually after a day of work. For most people, that is 8 hours)
Average party end time: 12am midnight ( which means going to bed at 12:30am earliest. But it is also common for me to leave a party well past 2am or even later, further cutting into sleep)
Activity level: 15 dances minimum up to 50 per night! Lately my average is 30 dances, which often leaves me feeling completely exhausted and barely able to walk.

I was told that the best time for the body to recover with sleeping is between the hours of 10pm-2am.
Seriously?? 10pm is usually the start of the party! Even if i spend most nights going to bed early before 10pm, dancing just 1 or 2 nights a week - which i consider moderate levels for a salsa dancer - will still leave me feeling fatigued.

I also have a hard time believing that dancing socially is good for your health. I don't feel it is any different than going clubbing. Even though you are technically moving, the effects of such a night can be damaging to your health.

The only good effect of dancing seems to be the motivation to workout more just so you can continue dancing and fuel this addiction!

The more I dance, the more I feel what people say about it being a healthy outlet is pure BS.

Physically, you are damaging yourself. If you have any prior injury (knees in particular), dancing will worsen it.

The social benefits of social dancing, while may seem great, produces a lot of superficial frienships and delusions of grandeur. Granted i met many real friends through dancing, but to be honest, the best friendships occured with those who quit dancing after they realized there are more important things in life.

I hate to say these things because dancing is a major part of my life (those of you who know me for real can testify my passion for this dance). But sometines I feel i am just addicted to something i can't escape as my entire life revolves around it and is causing me major harm :(
 

DJ Yuca

Son Montuno
#2
Why not try looking at salsa as a whole rather than just perceiving it and participating in it in the way that it has been defined by the salsa scene. I.e. by spending more time on 1 or more of the following:

listening and collecting recorded music
watching other dancers when you are at salsa events
(if you're not native/fluent) learning Spanish
studying the history of the music and dance
learning more about Latin America and its history
learning other related dances i.e. son, cha cha cha
learning one or more Afro-Cuban percussion instruments

Some of those are more solitary pursuits however others will give you the opportunity to meet plenty of people.
 
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#3
I have been thinking about this a lot recently due to my health troubles. Even though I have taken measures to better my life (healthier diet, drimking more water, more exercise, better quality sleep), my body does not respond well to a night of intense dancing and i often spend the next day completely lethargic and without energy.

Let's take a look at what a typical salsa evening looks for me:

Average party start time: 10pm (usually after a day of work. For most people, that is 8 hours)
Average party end time: 12am midnight ( which means going to bed at 12:30am earliest. But it is also common for me to leave a party well past 2am or even later, further cutting into sleep)
Activity level: 15 dances minimum up to 50 per night! Lately my average is 30 dances, which often leaves me feeling completely exhausted and barely able to walk.

I was told that the best time for the body to recover with sleeping is between the hours of 10pm-2am.
Seriously?? 10pm is usually the start of the party! Even if i spend most nights going to bed early before 10pm, dancing just 1 or 2 nights a week - which i consider moderate levels for a salsa dancer - will still leave me feeling fatigued.

I also have a hard time believing that dancing socially is good for your health. I don't feel it is any different than going clubbing. Even though you are technically moving, the effects of such a night can be damaging to your health.

The only good effect of dancing seems to be the motivation to workout more just so you can continue dancing and fuel this addiction!

The more I dance, the more I feel what people say about it being a healthy outlet is pure BS.

Physically, you are damaging yourself. If you have any prior injury (knees in particular), dancing will worsen it.

The social benefits of social dancing, while may seem great, produces a lot of superficial frienships and delusions of grandeur. Granted i met many real friends through dancing, but to be honest, the best friendships occured with those who quit dancing after they realized there are more important things in life.

I hate to say these things because dancing is a major part of my life (those of you who know me for real can testify my passion for this dance). But sometines I feel i am just addicted to something i can't escape as my entire life revolves around it and is causing me major harm :(
There are pros and cons to everything we do in life. Any good thing done to an extreme can be unhealthy.

Most research suggests that sleeping late is harmful health wise. I still will not like to believe it :) I have always been a late night bird as long as I remember.

More than salsa, I see tango dancers who tend to go out more often, for long periods of time and stay up as late. Average salsa life of person tends to be between 3 to 4 years and then they slow down or disappear. After ten or years or more I see many tango people still going strong dancing several nights a week.

If we were to believe that staying up late at night is harmful to health (which is indeed as all research suggests), then that is one aspect. How much weight (in terms of statistics) you like on that is more of scientific subject. If you do it only once a week vs several times makes difference. It can be counter balanced by aerobic workout you get, which gets counter balance by carbs you put in if you drink beer. You get the idea. There are opposing forces which act positively or negatively depending on your habits. Dancers in general seen to be more healthy lot but may be that is only my bias. Though empirically any physical activity -dancing, running, biking, swimming, etc if done right will be net positive.

Injury prevention is key in all physical activities including dancing. That is where proper technique comes in. Many people pooh pooh the technique as killing fun or not for people who are just out to have fun. But if that fun means you are going out dancing regularly, then you should seriously strive for techniques. It helps reduce injuries. I rarely seen salsa instructor explain technique and why doing it XYZ way is easier on feet or knees or back. In Tango world I have seen emphasis on avoiding injuries and therefore this technique to walk, etc from multiple instructors. I guess it is same in ballroom, ballet, modern, contemporary and other more structured dances.

I see guys using sneakers with soles that cause lot of fiction on the dance floor. That can be bad for knees, if they are dancing version on salsa we are familiar with. Therefore it is better to have dance shoes that are right for your feet. Where you dance and how you dance should dictate your gear, not your fashion choice or what looks cool.

Long and short of it is how someone takes care of their body while pursuing what they like. You could do everything right and still be unfortunate to get into health issues. There are smokers who live beyond 100 years and there people with very healthy lifestyle who get afflicted with chronic diseases. All you can do is try to minimize the risks, without going overboard.

So, no. Salsa is no more unhealthy than any thing else. Addiction is now getting classified as illness. Clinically speaking any addiction is bad. Addiction is bad when it starts affecting your well being in a negative way.
 
#4
I agree with most of the things you say, but it depends on one's approach whether it's unhealthy or not. To get really really good, almost everyone has to go through a phase where they go out 3 nights a week or more. But that's not sustainable and is really only necessary early on, to figure out 'the rules of social dance' so to speak. As your body begins to feel the wear and tear, you learn to shoot your shot more selectively.

-Less nights a week or month
-Rest more often during the night you're dancing
-Show up early, go home early. If you're really popular, people will notice and feel the motivation to coincide with you.
-Recover at least a few days.
-Invest more time on exercise outside of dance to keep yourself healthy and optimize your dancing.
-Practice more, go out less.
-Choose your dance partners more carefully. As a girl, learn to stay in areas that pretty much make you 'off limits'

One of the positive aspects of salsa is the sense of overcoming yourself and whatever limitations you have. 99% of people, myself included, don't practice enough on our own. Which is funny, because in the mambo days so many people talked about working on things they created themselves and showing them off after being nice and polished. Many people generally frown upon 'learning from youtube' or sometimes, experimentation in partnerwork. So many people pay privates and invest so much money and place their faith in instructors to help them improve, as if one hour with so-and-so will change their dancing life. Instructors are important, but what most people need is just some time in front of the mirror dancing to their favorite salsa songs.

TL,DR; most people don't spend enough time applying what they learn in private. You don't need to sacrifice sleep or your health to enjoy salsa on your own. The more you invest on your own, the better your more carefully selected dances will be. Quality over quantity.
 
#5
You described very well, that the working life is unhealthy.

The amount of movement we do in a night during dancing - given that we apply a good technique, good floor etc and a decent level of training - is nothing in relation to what our bodies are meant to. Of course we are tired afterwards, but it does not destroy the body.
And even the long nights with 5+ hours of mainly dancing, are no big deal as, unless we drug ourselves, the body will slow down on it's own anyway.

The problem is, that we force ourselves to stand up shortly after midnight to sit 8-10 hours in front of a screen to do work that, well rested, can be done in 4-6 hours straight, if we were allowed to start at 2 p.m. well slept.
 
#6
my salsa night is as follows depending on venue.

while the real party starts at at certain time. I usually arrive an hour prior. Since the doors are open and music is playing and dance floor is empty. Tipically me and my partner are the first couple to hit the floor.

I usually say for an house or two. I like to have plenty of space on the dance floor plus
Im not a fan of the "mingling". I do dance couple songs with friends but that's it.

thats my salsa fix ans I like to be early in bed.
 
#7
T



Average salsa life of person tends to be between 3 to 4 years and then they slow down or disappear.


.
To a certain degree with this exception. Latinos . They do eventually become less frequent but do reappear .

As to the health side of "dance ". I used to teach 8 to 10 hours a day 5 days a week on 4hrs on Saturday and this was 1 on 1 NOT class work. and go dancing socially right after lessons . Did this for multi years (as did others I know ) ..so, maybe its genetics and a decent life style .
There are numerous teachers in the BR world in their 70/80s and a few in their 90s, ( I'm in that mix ! ) granted they do not have heavy schedules but still active..
 
#8
(usually after a day of work. For most people, that is 8 hours)
But it is also common for me to leave a party well past 2am or even later, further cutting into sleep)


But sometines I feel i am just addicted to something i can't escape as my entire life revolves around it and is causing me major harm :(
It might be your work schedule that is unhealthy ( I am not joking). About 30%+ of people are late night people and most jobs start early. THAT is unhealthy. If you are a late night person and were not dancing salsa, then you might be doing something else at night and be just as tired. People do need 8-9 hours of sleep.. Period. Most late night people cannot get that due to work schedules and therefore live unhealthy lives.
 
#9
Solution: confine most of your late night dancing to weekends. Or get a job with really flexible hours. Am I misremembering, or are you a software dev Chris? If so, should be possible to find a job where you can start at 10 AM no?


I feel you btw. Went to bed at 1 AM after dancing for 4 hours yesterday, tossed and turned for an hour before getting up at 6 AM. Gonna be a productive day at work...
 
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#10
I have pondered this question for a while, and decided it can be answered two ways:

1. Yes it is an addiction. Just as happens with runners and triathletes, your body is producing pleasure neurotransmitters when you go out and dance. As time passes, your body craves more, yet since habituation decreases the pay-off, you do more and more and get less and less, the result being stress and damage accumulating on your finite body. So you can quit cold turkey, or taper off, but unless you do one or the other your body will suffer. It is already suffering, trying to tell you things are out of balance.

2. No it is not an addiction, just a pleasurable activity which has gotten out of balance with the rest of your life. The good feelings from dancing can be achieved any number of different ways, many of which have some big advantages over late night dancing - meaningful friendships and relationships come to mind; other physical activities such as hiking, biking, travel; intellectual or artistic pursuits; volunteer opportunities, family connections, and on and on. Dancing is carrying too much of your life's burdens, it needs help!

Either way, 1) or 2) it is about getting life under control and in balance. The way you word your post seems very depressed and even cynical, which is uncharacteristic with your personality which I have come to know somewhat and appreciate through your history of posts; I am hoping you are just venting and not in such a hard place as your descriptions suggest. I am guessing that it is the case.

The thing that strikes me the most about your lifestyle is the sleep deprivation. One solution would be find an early evening or afternoon venue (or create one yourself, that's what I did) and just do one late night, hopefully on the weekend so you can recover. Or teach a class, which you can schedule at a time that suits you. Less body stress, you get to enjoy and share what you love, and you get to connect on a whole different level with students. I am pretty sure you have a lot to share and have already good teaching experience.

In any case, I wish you well and know you can come up with a creative solution to your situation.
And as for your comment about dancing creating delusions of grandeur, hey, in the absence of grandeur I am more than happy with my delusions, and you should be too!
 
#11
Thanks for the responses. I didn't end up quitting salsa. I'm actually dancing more than before and have now added more dancing to my schedule! I'm the definition of addicted. I just can't see myself disentangling from a world that gives me so much joy. Also, there is something about dancing in this location that just feels so special and magical. I traveled halfway across the world to find my dance haven. I'm not going to give it up so easily.

I don't live a typical working lifestyle. I don't have a 9-to-5 job. I set my own hours. Though lately my hours are waking up early then having the afternoons free. Nothing unhealthy about that. My health is bad for other reasons.

I really dislike the idea of sleeping late since I completely believe that those are lost hours I will never get back. Unfortunately, if I intend to continue being a social dancer, this is what I have to do. But I do know that at some point, when I am ready to settle down and raise a family, I will have to stop. I don't know any couple with kids who continue living this way unless they center their business around dancing and fitness.
 
#12
You are doubling down on something you said was bad for your health (in OP)? :)Sometimes it is good to restrict yourself to become healthy or staying healthy. For example the diabetics can lead healthy lifestyle by cutting the carbs to minimum.

Vienna is salsa heaven? :)
 
#14
You are doubling down on something you said was bad for your health (in OP)? :)Sometimes it is good to restrict yourself to become healthy or staying healthy. For example the diabetics can lead healthy lifestyle by cutting the carbs to minimum.

Vienna is salsa heaven? :)
Like I said, I am addicted :)

I don't live in Vienna, but of course I love dancing there. It's like my backyard.
 

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