Whirling Dervish of the Ballroom

Whirling dervishes have always fascinated me. These mystics spin in circles as a way to alter their consciousness. Years ago, I came across an article about them that had some really interesting facts. They spin in circles with their eyes closed, entering a trance. They spin at a rate of 20 to 30 circles each minute, a rate which coincides with frequency of theta brainwaves, the ones that are responsible for daydreaming. Since then, I can’t help wondering if Lindy Hop isn’t somehow connecting to the same sort of meditation.

For instance, a lot of music for lindy hop hovers around 200 beats per minute. Divide 200 beats into 8 count groups, and you get 25. If you did swingouts for a minute straight, that would be 25 revolutions with your partner, well within the spin rate of 20-30 that the dervishes do. Of course, I realize that this is all speculative on my part. I don’t know of anyone who is researching the effects of lindyhop on brain wave activity. Somebody should get on that.

Until they do, I’m just left with my speculation and anecdotal evidence. Personally, I have had some really amazing experiences while dancing. Usually, these moments where the heavens open up to bless me in my dancing happen at Sunday afternoon dances at exchanges. I also find that dancing can alter my mood, usually for the better. Anyone else out there have anecdotal evidence of the spiritual, meditative, brain altering effects of lindy hop?



Filed under C-Jam, lindy hop, Theory

4 responses to “Whirling Dervish of the Ballroom

  1. Ceste

    I have struggled w/ depression for years and dancing never ceases to help w/ them…but back to the brain thing…When I first started dancing, the spinning made me nauseated. After I got a regular dancing partner, he knew that I couldn’t go more than 2 spins w/o getting dizzy and losing my balance. Ever since I was a kiddo, I had thrown up on every airplane I’d ever been on and avoided roller coasters like the plague. The 2nd summer that we were dancing together, I was working my way thru grad school summer classes and learned the braindance
    The last thing you do in braindance is stare at ur thumb and spin round until your dizzy, then stop & focus on a spot & get ur balance. Then stare @ your thumb and spin the other way and stop & focus on a spot & get ur balance. Now when the tchr was 1st explaining that, I was like, yeah right. Not doing it. Don’t feel like hurling. But then she was like, if you get dizzy easily, just bend over and swing your arms back & forth. So I did that & 2 swings and I was super dizzy & nauseated. Well, we did the braindance everyday for 2 wks before class and I cautiously tried out the spin and found that I could go around 2 times w/o hurling. I went dancing that night & proceeded to spin 5x in a row. My partner just about passed out he was so shocked. I was like, I’ve been doing this braindance thing. For while I was doing it every day and gradually it was taking me forever to get dizzy. I’d have to go around 6-9x. Now I’ve gotten lazy and just do the braindance before I go dancing. If I don’t do it, the dizzyness hits me pretty hard. What that stare thumb spin thingy does is that it gets both sides of your brain engaged and crossed and equalled. I have a medical condition and part of the the symptoms is that I like the fire element in my body and hence the sluggish digestion etc. The only way to get that fire element up is to move and listen to music that is 200 bts a minute or more. Anyways, I’ve rambled long enough. Hopefully this is semi-coherence. I’d love to write a book on this

  2. Ceste

    semi-coherent…and that should be lack the fire element, not like

  3. Colleen Vernon

    My first year of teaching was a year of pain and psychological hell; I actually finished the year with a raging case of mono, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me because I didn’t have to teach for a month! Pretty sad when one prefers mono to their job….

    But anyway, every Wednesday I would drive 90 miles from St. Mary’s County up to K2 studio, and for 2 hours, I could smile and laugh and completely forget about my horrible day. I remember very vividly the contrasting lightness of spirit I felt during dancing that year. Some people drink, some smoke pot, some dance! Doesn’t Tom K always say that teaching lindy hop is like selling crack?

  4. Jerry

    I could write pages about this, but I’ll just share this powerful post which I just posted on the FB page of my blog just today.


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