We may not know how long our clubs, ballrooms and dance halls will remain closed as part of the Covid-19 lockdown.
But when they throw open their doors again once the threat of spreading the infection has passed, they could help us recreate social bonds, say scientists.
Social bonds are essential for our health and wellbeing, explain the experts in the journal Scientific Reports. Their study suggests that when people move together with music, their synchronised movements increase social closeness.
“There is something sublime and affectionate in moving together with people in the crowd of a concert or in a music club,” says Jan Stupacher, a researcher at the Centre for Music in the Brain at Aarhus University in Denmark. “Even just watching people synchronise their movements in dance or when making music together can give us a feeling of harmony and affiliation.”
Professor Peter Vuust, also from the Centre for Music in the Brain, says the study – which involved participants from around the world – goes to the heart of why humans are musical creatures in the first place.
“It shows that the reason why music connects us is that it combines bodily synchronization with positive emotions,” he says. “It indicates that if there is an evolutionary advantage of music, it is probably due to its ability to synchronise our movements, emotions and brains.”
Other researchers writing in Scientific Reports have also found when people play drums together their heartbeats synchronise (or, rather, their hearts’ interbeat intervals synchronise). This, say the experts, helps increase the feeling of belonging within the group.
Meanwhile, scientists from the University of Oslo have been studying how and why music makes us move. One conclusion they’ve made is that it’s almost impossible to stand completely still when we hear music – even when we actively try not to move. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they found electronic dance music was the type of music that makes us move the most.
If you can’t wait to get back on the dancefloor, try an online dance party such as the Instagram sessions hosted by dance instructor and choreographer Ryan Heffington,.
Ryan says the world needs to dance.
He could be right.