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Good Vibrations: Inclusive Dance Party

27 July 2018

photo of people dancing and smiling

Before we get into it, dance and music are universal. It is arguably human nature no matter how we experience it, so come and experience it with ONCA on 27 July for an Inclusive Dance Party run by the inspiring, fabulous and welcoming Louise Lily Gibson.

Ok, now STOP. Be still and just listen.

How did you listen? With your ears or body? Now listen again with your body.

Did you experience the sounds around you differently? If you were lucky there were some sounds, like a bus rumbling by or the heavy bass of dance music that you FELT with your body. Sounds are literally waves going through the air. Google explains it: “Sound waves exist as variations of pressure in a medium such as air. They are created by the vibrations of an object, which causes the air surrounding it to vibrate.” I find this extremely cool, because sound, as changes in air pressure, exists independent of how an individual experiences it.

These variations in air pressure can be felt, yes by our ear drums, but also by our bodies. The louder the sounds the larger the pressure change is, this is why extremely loud sounds can be felt by your whole body, but also risk bursting your ear drums. Imagine a jet stream of air suddenly crashing up against a piece of tissue paper – that tissue paper is your eardrum next to the speakers at a Beyonce concert. Ouch.

infographic on sounds

Image source: The Science Learning Hub. Check out The Science Learning Hub for more information about how pitch and volume work. It is a great resource for kids…which is all of us!

It makes sense that loud sounds are felt in the body more then quiet ones, because of the large peaks and troughs (changes in air pressure) felt in the air, but the reason we feel really low, or bass, sounds is even cooler (in my humble opinion). Music with a lot of bass, like “drum and bass” (duhh!) or other dance music, can usually be felt in the body, but why? The lower the pitch, aka bass, the lower the frequency (think rolling countryside hills rather than the steep ups and downs of Brighton). A healthy human body has a frequency of 60-70Hz, and a bass drum (I don’t really know what that is…but I googled it) has a frequency of 20-100Hz, which means there is a high probability that the bass music will match, at some point, the natural vibrations of your body, thus making your whole body vibrate. This is called resonance. According to Wikipedia, resonance is “the phenomenon in which a vibrating system or external force drives other systems to oscillate with greater amplitude at specific frequencies”. So we feel the deep bass of music because it matched the frequency of our bodies allowing resonance to occur. Wanna resonate with me?!

So clearly there is a lot more to sound beyond the auditory component. We have all felt our body rumble as we stood next to a speaker, again think back to all those Beyonce concerts you have attended. It has been researched that no matter if we experience music with our ears or our body, it fires up the same areas in our brain: auditory cortex, sensory cortex, nucleus accumbens and amygdala. Check out a great article on this at Medium.

So, with all that said, how do you throw a dance party that everyone can enjoy, regardless of how the attendance experience the music? As an organizer of inclusive dance parties, check out Morning Jam to learn more, this question is an important one to me. The easiest way is to use a lot of bass, because that relies on resonance rather then high volumes, to translate the music as vibrations in the body. Other creative ideas I have thought of are to have pools of water or other materials that translate the sound waves into visual and/or tactile waves so that the music can be experienced by many senses.

Regardless of how you experience the music, we all deserve to dance, so get out there and shake your bootie any way you can. Check out a few music suggestions below for deep bass groovy tunes.

Dirty Bird

Drop it Network



27 July 2018
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ONCA Gallery
14 St George's Place
Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4GB United Kingdom

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