All men, without exception, should know how to dance.

In medieval times, a knight’s training was considered incomplete if he could not dance. It’s no less true today. Here are 10 reasons why:

1) You can’t get out of it – so be prepared


You may think that you can get through life without having to dance, but I can guarantee you that’s not really possible. You’re going to have to get out on the dance floor eventually.

At some point you’ll end up getting dragged out to a club by some friends. Eventually you will go to a house party. Not only that, throughout your life there will be countless weddings to attend. There will be dancing at all these events, so you may as well accept that dancing is inevitable and be prepared so as to bust out some sweet moves on the floor.

2) Dancing together teaches respectful gender interactions


This is the main reason why I think teenagers should learn some form of formal dance. Partner dancing has much to teach us about right interactions with members of the opposite sex. It teaches kids that dancing can be fun without being sleazy. It can teach them that it’s possible to dance with someone without the sole motivation of getting a girlfriend or simply to find someone to use for the night.

In an introductory lesson, I always make a point of explaining to the guys how to ask a lady to dance. You might think this would be obvious, but experience has taught me that apparently it isn’t. I tell the gentlemen to…

(a) Walk up confidently
(b) Smile
(c) Ask the lady for the next dance
(d) Offer your hand and lead the lady onto the dance floor
(e) Dance!
(f) Thank her for the dance
(g) Escort the lady back off the dance floor

Unless I spell this out, the men’s attempts are, quite frankly, rather pitiful!

The last time I was in Seattle, I went salsa dancing with my girlfriend Jessica. We were having a drink at a table by the dance floor, and a guy came up and asked me if he could dance with her. I told him that it was fine with me, but that he ought to ask her. He laughed and then went to take Jessica’s hand to lead her onto the dance floor. At this point, I stopped him. That’s not how you ask a lady to dance! I made him start again and do it properly :-)

3) Learning to dance means learning how to lead


This is related to the previous point. As a man, part of learning to dance with a partner requires that you learn how to lead. If you’ve done partner dancing before, you’ll know that leading is tricky. There is a real and substantial difference between “leading” and its common counterfeit, “domination”.

When one leads, one does it with strength, but also with gentleness. It is done with confidence, but not as subjugation. It requires the man to make decisions, to communicate his intentions clearly and then to invite the lady to join him. Now ladies, don’t these sound like qualities that you’d like to find in all men?

4) It helps build confidence


Once you learn how to lead a lady on the dance floor, feel comfortable within your own skin, and moving your body to music, your self-confidence will grow, both on and off the dance floor.

5) It will increase your enjoyment of music


Learning to dance will help you appreciate the music associated with the dance style which you are learning. My love of Latin music grew significantly when I started dancing salsa, and the same was true when I started Swing and Ballroom.

6) You learn a lot about a lady by the way she dances

When you get pretty comfortable with dancing, you will most likely notice that you start to pick up on your partner’s cues while on the dance floor. Through this increased sensitivity, you begin to learn something about your partner’s personality simply from the way she dances.

Is she comfortable with being led or does she fight it? Is she relaxed around you? Does she trust you? Is she playful or reserved? How does she respond when you make a mistake? After a few dances, you’ll quickly start to discover the answers to these questions.

7) You’ll become part of a community


I’ve moved around between countries, but everywhere I’ve visited I’ve had a ready-made community thanks to dance. In whatever city I’ve been in, there has always been some kind of dance group, giving me a place to go and have fun, as well as somewhere to make new friends. Although some groups can be rather inward-looking and cliquey, the vast majority have been incredibly welcoming.

8) It’s fun!

Dancing is fun! This reason is hopefully evident from watching other people dance! For example, just try and watch the couple dance in this video and not have a smile on your face…

9) It can improve your fitness


Men aren’t always light on their feet.

Learning to dance can help you improve your coordination and the control you have over your own body. For example, did you know that the world-famous martial artist Bruce Lee was a Cha Cha champion?

Dancing is also really good cardio exercise and far more fun than getting on a treadmill at the gym. Not only that, your enjoyment (reason #9) will keep pushing you to continue dancing even when you’re tired.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been out dancing and have been drawn back onto the dance floor by a song I love, thinking to myself “Well, maybe just one more dance…”

10) The ladies


Okay, I’ve saved the most persuasive reason until last.

At the beginning of this post I spoke about the difference in enthusiasm I’ve seen between guys and girls when starting dance lessons. When I teach teenagers, I typically separate the guys and the girls and then speak for a couple of minutes before we get going.

I ask the girls, “Who here likes going out dancing?” Lots of hands go up. “Excellent!” I say, “So you’ve clearly got motivation to learn how to dance!”. They nod. I then turn to the guys and say “You see all these hands in the air? There are lots of reasons why you should learn to dance, but if you have no other reason, allow me to suggest that here is your motivation!” This always gets a laugh and lots of giggling.

I said in reason #1 that you will be at lots of events in your life where there will be dancing. It is a simple truth that ladies typically love to dance. Therefore, if you would like to meet and impress ladies at these different events, then being able to dance is a must.

What if you already have a special lady in your life? I’m afraid to say that I have been to countless weddings where the boyfriends and husbands have been huddled around a table while all the wives and girlfriends have been out on the floor, dancing with other guys who have been brave enough to get out there. Do you really want some other guy dancing with your wife or girlfriend? Wouldn’t she far prefer to dance with you? I have taught quite a few married couples to dance, and my favorite point in the process is where the wife starts to beam with happiness as she feels her husband begin to lead her with confidence. It’s really adorable.

Finally, I should probably also point out that when I’ve gone out dancing, there is almost always a shortage of guys. This means that the gentlemen become a precious commodity! Even if the guys aren’t very talented, there is still a line of girls wanting to be asked to dance.

So c’mon guys, this isn’t a hard decision…

A version of this article originally appeared on Restless Pilgrim

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