Murder on the dance floor

In December 2014 on December 1, 2014 at 2:08 pm

kirsti country races

Kirsti: I spent a great day at the picnic races recently. Dolled up and sipping champers with my man and new friends, we watched in awe as horses pelted down a dusty race track on private property in the New England Tablelands. It was the quintessential Australian country experience.

But that’s not the story here.

My tale started that same night, at the post-races ball. We enjoyed a lovely meal and company, and enough wine to give us the nerve to steal the cup from the winning lads — who were sculling beer from it just behind us. You know, all that stuff you normally do at country races. Then a couple of us headed inside.


The tracks pulled around 20 people to the dance floor, and the lively 100-120 beats per minute (BPM) were perfect for post-races, post-dinner shenanigans. Everyone was smiling and shaking their booties.

Then the tempo changed. Actually, it died.

We stopped, readjusted our dance steps, and attempted to push through the soulful beats that were around 75-80 BPM. But we just couldn’t do it. The vibe was gone! We were mortified!! So we left the dance floor. This scenario played out a few times more before I lost faith in our DJ and called it a night.

Most of us inherently know that keeping dance floor music upbeat and consistent (often through a technique known as beat-matching) is important for happy dancers, a happening venue and increased bar sales. But there is more to the story. Research tells us that certain BPMs motivate us very differently, and modify our behaviours. For example, listening to self-chosen motivational music while running can improve pace by reducing perception of exertion, and increasing heart rate. Listening to a steady 66 beat per minute track can reduce anxiety, and both low- and high-tempo music are associated with more risky gambling behaviours.

There is so much more research to be done on how music and BPM affect our cognitive processes. But already music therapy is helping thousands of physically and mentally ill people improve their lives. The Australian Music Therapy Association has some really interesting links if you’re interested.

If there’s any research happening on how beat-matching affects dance floor participation rates, I’M IN! The next DJ that murders my dancing is gonna get it…..

kirsti empty dance floor


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