You’ve seen the salsa studies. You know salsa dancing is a great way to improve your health, especially the physical and social aspects, but another study suggests that salsa dancing can help revive passion. According to British researchers at Strathclyde University, Kathy Hamilton and Paul Hewer, salsa dancing is a “promising” social drama that can help put more life into “consumer culture.” The researchers used netnographic analysis based on the success of similar analyses by Kozinets, to suggest that dance is a reflection of knowledge throughout the bodies. “Dance then makes possible shared passions, exhilaration and desires lacking from people’s everyday lives granting them a space for expression.”
You can read the entire findings in NA—Advances in Consumer Research (Vol. 36). The study, “Salsa Magic: an Exploratory Netnographic Analysis of the Salsa Experience,” looks at the farther reaching impact of salsa dancing. “The anticipation of the night, Your skin prickling with electricity thinking about going dancing … the feeling in your stomach as you enter the dancehall and look around. The first beat of the drum reverberating around your soul. The automatic smile when you see people enjoying themselves. The wonder and amazement at all the bodies moving so well and so naturally. Being kissed by the magic in the air from all the chemistry, charisma and the good energy flowing all around. The nervousness of my first dance, yet the beautiful realization that my body and soul remembers what to do and shall guide me through it. The ‘thank God’ feeling that my body and mind can take me to that beautiful place of euphoria again that comes from dancing.” This quote from a male salsa dancer in Australia sets the stage for researchers who reflect back on the cinematic representation of dance, from Fred Astaire to “Tony Manero.”
Sex sells—and so does dance. Perhaps it’s because the two have so much in common! The researchers note that using dance to appeal to consumers has been a long-standing tradition, citing the iPod “Silhouettes” campaign. However, looking solely at salsa narrows the focus and is timely since “the scene has grown significantly over the last ten years.” The researchers were surprised by the minimal amount of studies that have “taken dance seriously,” especially as dance is a representation of cultures (and consumer cultures). Since dance “promises transformation and transcendence” it has the power to shift the thinking of consumers.
Dance has the ability to “blur and overcome contradictions,” which is why it’s so popular in advertisement and cinema. The research pair looked at online salsa forums to study “people’s talk.” The international forum www.salsaforums.com offered a variety of subjects and has been an established resource since 2004. Although there are various forums within the website, the researchers stuck to the “Just Dance” area with 1,750 discussion threads. Three critical themes arose: the salsa experience, talking about the “magic of salsa,” and how music, the body and the self intersect.
The researchers note that the gestures of the body have always been key for how we construct, reconstruct and view society (just look at ancient shamans!). “Salsa culture has always offered a rich and fertile ground for the transcendence of cultural forms … On the basis of our exploratory netnographic study of the salsa experience we reveal in this study how dance forms such as salsa are rooted in a renegotiation of the relationship with our own bodies and those of others,” concludes the researchers.
We need movement in our lives daily, urges the researchers. It’s how we release and transcend, and a dance technique and style can help with the underscoring. Our desire to dance is a response to the need to break free of existing structures, offering an “imaginative release.” You get eye contact, touch, and ultimately a connection of magic with your partner via your body. It’s natural and common to forget yourself on the dance floor, and that temporary loss is a great achievement. Without the use of conscious intervention, you get flow your holistic body and mind craves.
Who knew there was research to back up what salseros around the world have long known? Salsa dancing heals, connects and helps us re-define who we are and even our culture.