Salsa as therapy
But salsa doesn't just boost your physical health. There's something about the music that irrepressibly lifts the spirits.
"It's a happy sound," says Percival, who thinks people associate it with the fun-loving aspects of Latin American culture. And like any exercise, dancing releases feel-good endorphins in the brain.
Dance is even used as a form of non-verbal psychotherapy to treat people with serious psychosocial and behavioural problems, including schizophrenia, depression, autism and eating disorders. One dance therapist in the South Bronx by the name of Dianne Duggan uses salsa to help teenagers with severe emotional disabilities.
Dance is all about moving to a rhythm, says dance therapist Laurel Bridges of the Wesley Institute in Sydney. She says dance is therapeutic because it is a unique way for people to express themselves and make connection with others. There's a cathartic aspect to dance, says Bridges. It also helps people regain lost pride and feel good about themselves.
But you don't have to be seriously unwell to benefit from the therapeutic effects of salsa – as I found out from talking to some fellow dancers.
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