So you think you can dance? A local’s guide on where to go dancing in Miami

“Dancing? Um, no thanks.” I reply as my out-of-town friends suggest a night out club-hopping. The idea of scantily clad twerking tourists spilling drinks all over my conservative white cotton button down and reasonably long shorts gives me immediate chills. “Oh come on, it will be fun! We need to move,” they beg. After a few minutes of convincing with a side of wine, I agree to a night on the town with the stipulation that we would not visit any mega-clubs. The girls agreed, opting anyway for less dramatic venues where we could really let loose like nobody was watching.

Some may say that this cannot be done in a town of Ferrari-driving hoteliers and their plastic, long-legged girlfriends 20 years their junior. That’s because they’re not locals. Not only are there plenty of low-key, down to earth dancing options around the city, there are also real reasons why we should be doing it.

Let’s start with the why. Dancing, freestyle dancing to be specific, has multiple benefits for both the mind and the body. As we all know, movement is key to a healthy heart and body. It’s a much better option for your Saturday night plans than sitting at the local watering hole with your friends, chatting for hours about the highs and lows of the latest political drama. While yes, these topics are certainly discussion-worthy, save it for brunch.  Aside from getting the blood pumping and increasing your heart rate, freestyle dancing can tone your muscles and burn fat. It improves balance and coordination, and in some cases, can improve self-esteem. (Probably the less booze the better if you’re seeking that latter benefit)

Dancing is also extremely good for the mind. When a DJ leads the party, we don’t know what beats to expect next, so we are forced to make an almost-unconscious rapid decision of what to do with our bodies. This highly strengthens the mind-body connection. With the mind stimulated and the body following suit, stress and tension release, for at least a few hours.

Last but certainly not least, according to a study at the well-known Stanford University, freestyle dancing can lower one’s risk of dementia by a whopping 76 percent. Dancing can  strengthen your brain better than crossword puzzles, reading, or golf. Every night out you bust a move is a little more brainpower in the bank for after your knees give out.

So, where’s the best place to shake it up? Miami is packed with amazing places to let loose, but here are a few on our radar:

Ball & Chain: A popular Little Havana restaurant and nightclub that opened in the 1930’s and reigned until the 50’s is now a great dancing cove with live Latin and jazz music, a DJ, and fabulous mojitos.

Rec Room: 90s hip hop and r&b mixes? Be prepared for nostalgia to set in as DJs intertwine current pop hits with throwback TLC in an intimate setting with unisex bathrooms. Located underneath the Gale Hotel in South Beach.

TSL: With a solid DJ line-up and a funky outdoor lounge with couches, stringed lights and video projection on the side wall, the Social Lubricant in Wynwood also has the less healthy option of hookahs for between dance sessions.

The Standard: Lazy Sundays at the Standard, especially at sunset, are … well … sexy. The vibe is chill and the drinks are refreshing. The view is unbeatable. A great place to wrap up your weekend with friends while bouncing to decidedly chill  DJs with a cold gin cocktail in hand.

Nikki Beach: Yes, it’s cliche, yes it’s packed with tourists, but the bottom line is Nikki Beach is fun. It’s hard to beat a dance party in the sand anywhere, and when you’re surrounded by palm trees, glittering stars, and a cool breeze off the ocean, that party is even better. Day or night, this venue demands a dance. Suck it up and use your constant stream of out-of-town guests as an excuse to throw on your white attire and throw down.

Trio Yoga: If you’re ready to tone it down straight-edge style, or you’re looking to shake it up for a true release of emotional tension, head to a Dharma Dance at Trio Studio in Wynwood. Led by Miami yogi Ganesha Michael Shapiro on select Sunday nights, this dance party incorporates 5 dharma principles to help your connectivity, creativity, authenticity, and improvisation. The party is open to anyone and completely non-judgmental. Tickets can be bought in advance or at the door if space allows.