Live music for health: how dancing and live events can boost your mental health
By: Katie Sipes
The growth provided by music is hard to track on a chart. Fortunately, we can acknowledge how we, as people, have benefited individually. The nourishment provided by live music is not that of typical sustenance, but it is spiritually fulfilling. According to a 2013 article published on the neurochemistry of music, the environment of concerts and music festivals alone provides dopamine and serotonin while also introducing us to new people and places. And this is just one of the ways in which live music can be beneficial for your health. Finding nourishment through music and dancing is intuitive to all of us. By investing our energy into experiences like these, we’re given back what we put in tenfold. We recharge ourselves in ways that some have never heard of.
How live music can be beneficial for your health
To many, music in general is an escape. It allows us to sit with the emotions we’re experiencing and overcome the struggle of moving on from certain trials. Live music, however, refills us with the energy we lose during our day-to-day lives. It provides a change of pace and an opportunity for us to let go of what ails us. Take the Okeechobee Music Festival, for example. After months of filling out college applications, ensuring I had adequate grades, preparing to graduate, and hosting an open house, I was beat. I was stressed about the future and how I was supposed to manage a job, a life, and four more years of school.
In early March of 2022, my goal to have exceptional grades was met, and I was able to take a week off from school to travel to Florida for the Okeechobee Music Festival with some friends and my brother. On top of the good company, being able to let loose and see some of my favorite artists was just what I needed to get back into my “groove” at home. I noticed more motivation when doing my schoolwork, I came out of my shell a bit more, and felt more open in general. Simply having zero responsibilities for a few days created exceptional feelings of freedom and peace. It set me up for success in the coming months of school and until my next festival, Forecastle.
My peace of mind at work and in social settings was also more clear due to the time I was able to spend with myself at Okeechobee. I knew that I was benefitting from my favorite hobby at this moment, but what about the moments I was growing from these adventures without realizing it? The friends and memories I’ve made at concerts have made me the person I am today, providing opportunities, consolation in my times of need, and simply just brightening my days. These indirect results live on long after the festival has passed and the artist has moved to their next tour stop.
The physical and mental benefits of dancing
Personally, I’ve been attending concerts since I was 10 years old and they’ve always been a nice change of pace. But for me, music festivals have been the ultimate escape and reset. On top of music, having the ability to dance freely has impacted my health in many ways. I’ve noticed more physical strength in my legs, a positive impact on the function of my injured knee and back, and my breathing has also been positively impacted, as I have asthma which is commonly affected at music festivals due to the dust and smoke.
In a 2017 TIME Magazine health article by Markham Heid titled “Why Dancing Is The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Body”, there’s an analogy used comparing dancing to driving. While “running is like driving on a freeway”, due to the straight, non-stop motions, dancing is more comparable to“motoring through a busy city”. This is seemingly because when running, you’re at a set pace, going a specific distance. For dancing, however, your body goes in multiple different directions and rarely stays on a course. You’re working any and all muscles possible instead of only one, and burning “more than 300 calories every half-hour.”
These physical aspects of live music for health are very important and quite noticeable, but the confidence boost that I gain from dancing has been the most rewarding. Attending concerts, a space I feel the most comfortable in, has shown me that, truthfully, as I dance, no one is watching! I’ve been able to completely be myself and dance with others, showing them as well that even if you “don’t know how to dance”, there’s no wrong way to dance or be yourself. I can be whoever I want to be, and no one is going to stop me. This part of festival culture is my favorite, because there’s not a single soul that is going to tell me I’m being myself “incorrectly”. As the beautiful people around me lift me up, I feel like I’ve finally found somewhere where I know I belong.