While it may be frowned upon, dancing or choreography can become quite creative with the use of cannabis.
Is dancing better when you’re high? It’s an age-old question, one that can only be answered by someone who has both smoked and boogied down. Luckily, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to teach dance lessons and perform for a while now with the Army of Sass.
While smoking marijuana has been closely linked with activities such as video games, movies and of course munching out. And while that couch-lock idea is really nice and relaxing, if you feel energized, dancing could be the answer. Whether or not you want to go out, or you have a dance class to attend, or perhaps your teaching, cannabis can benefit each activity.
Great for social interaction, cannabis also has the unique benefit of enhancing music and connection to rhythms. You just might discover a new outlet for your creativity!
Before diving into answering whether dancing is better when high or not, let’s see what the science behind music sounding better under the influence of marijuana is.
How Is Music Better When Dancing High?
Have you ever felt how the music experience is enhanced when the same song is experienced under the influence of cannabis? There are many possible explanations for this phenomenon. The first is that cannabis acts on the area of the brain that processes auditory stimulation. The connection between music and cannabis has a rich history, dating back to the emergence of jazz in the early 20th century. Many pioneers in this improvisational art form were regular users of cannabis, including Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.
When test subjects were exposed to burning cannabis leaves, they were able to better recall lyrics, understand differences in sounds and other nuances that make up musical pieces and make rhythms sound better. Some subjects even reported that the lines between the visual and auditory senses were blurred causing a sensation known as synaesthesia.
Is Dancing Better When You’re High?
There are actually many benefits to actively using your brain and smoking weed. And it can even be beneficial for picking up a new skill. Despite any claims of memory loss, this information may be contradictory to the experience.
In fact, a year-long study conducted in the Netherlands asked Alzheimer’s patients to play video games they were unfamiliar with. The games introduced grew more complex and challenging. As a trail, one group was given marijuana before each play session, while the other played sober. It turns out that the group that smoked obtained scores 43% higher on average!
But why does music sound so good when you’re high?
While scientific research investigating this topic is rare, there are several hypotheses that attempt to explain the pleasurable duet that is cannabis and music.
Some theorists postulate that cannabis’ effects on an individual’s sense of timing might be responsible for its appeal amongst musicians. Previous studies have shown that cannabis speeds up our internal clocks, making external “real world” time appear to pass slower. For example, one study demonstrated that a 15 second time interval was “expanded” to an average of 16.7 seconds while under the influence of cannabis (while sober controls correctly estimated this interval). Indeed, some anecdotal reports suggest that this subjective expansion of time benefits an improvisational art form like jazz because musicians are able to mentally squeeze more notes in a given number of musical bars. These claims, however, have yet to be substantiated by empirical studies.
So, when you look at this response, picking up a new dance move can potentially offer the same mental stimulation and answer the question: is dancing better when you’re high?
Using cannabis can open up to mental pathways when cannabis is used. Activity will seem smooth and potentially more enjoyable. This is all due to the brain releasing dopamine. Dopamine is essentially behind all the enjoyable experience such as love, attention or motivation. Therefore, this will result in a high level of satisfaction while working in or teaching a new skill such a dancing.
According to individual user reports, modifications in internal time can alter our attentional spotlight, facilitating changes in auditory perception. When your time perception changes, your focus of attention changes which means you are listening to music and focusing on its beats with a different set of concentration. So when you put on a stereo headset you might have an enhanced ability to select certain information and disregard other information, which could help distinguish the individual sounds a bit more intensively. You can sort of see the space between the notes in music that is perceived to be much livelier, much cleaner, and much more distinct.
For those out there who are creators, cannabis has always been a beneficial tool for sparking that edge, but is dancing better when you’re high? While it isn’t necessarily a community that is pro-cannabis, they aren’t against it either. The facts are if you are teaching between the ages of 19, you should stay clear. But if you are home, creating your own lesson plans, there is no reason for despair. In fact, this may be your more energetically creative time for your dancing.
For many choreographers, this experience allows them to expand their skill and become more advanced. Allows for mental pathways to open and new ideas to be experienced.
Another way scientists try to explain the dancing and music being changed when high on cannabis is also through an alternative explanation for cannabis-induced changes in music perception that involves disruptions in memory processing. While high on cannabis, you tend to shift your attention more rapidly if it is an interesting-sounding piece of music.
Because you are rapidly shifting attention and assimilating more information than you have the capacity to retain, you end up “emptying” your short-term memory more often. As a result of this “compressed” memory, the listener is thought to be more present, more in-the-moment with the music, and can cultivate a greater focus on each individual sound.
The same energy and change in perspective from cannabis can change the whole experience. And smoking may create an extension of the music. The whole experience of music is all amplified by rhythms, beats, sounds and even instruments. All this will heighten your enjoyment of the experience. This could be a reason why so many of our celebrity music artist use cannabis and openly speak on this.
The facts are strong in ties to creativity, which can be amplified when dancing. It may be the rhythms of the bass or the melody of the voice that entice you. No matter what it is, it is a real experience that is heightened by cannabis.
This being said, the music-listening cannabis users experience changes in parietal, right temporal and left occipital cortices—brain areas that have previously been associated with attentional strategy, auditory processing, and spatial processing, respectively.
More specifically, the parietal (attentional strategy) cortex showed stronger activity in a particular frequency range called alpha. Interestingly, previous EEG studies have shown that students who are gifted in mathematics also display similar increases in alpha patterns in this brain region while solving problems, indicating that this activity pattern might be indicative of more efficient information processing than the average person.
In addition, increased activity in the right temporal brain region was also observed in stoned music-listening subjects. Because this area is primarily responsible for processing auditory information, these findings further demonstrate that a change in neural processing strategy could underlie altered music perception.
Scientists and researchers both have observed cannabis-induced changes in the left occipital area, a region in the back of the brain that normally processes visual information. This means, when you listen to music, it always has a spatial dimension to it. We need to know where the sound objects are coming from—that is evolutionarily important. And of course, the visual centers process this.
Changes in this visual processing might be connected with individual reports of synesthesia, or the blending of different sensory systems, while intoxicated. For instance, there are people that say they have enhanced visual imagery to the music after smoking. This makes the dancing high even better because you literally imagine each tone of the beat you’re hearing at the moment.
Other studies from the 1970s have also suggested that that stoned individuals have enhanced auditory intensity (i.e. loudness) perception, an increased tendency of “hearing” hallucinated sounds, as well as dose-related preferences for higher frequency sounds.
Is Dancing Better When You’re High? Benefits of Dancing
- Improved condition of your heart and lungs
- Increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
- Increased aerobic fitness
- Improved muscle tone and strength
- Bone Strengthening
- Better coordination, agility, and flexibility
- Improved balance and spatial awareness
- Increased physical confidence and weight stability
- Improved mental functioning
- Greater self-confidence and self-esteem
- Increased social skills
The final reason that music may sound better when a person is high involves the artist. Many pieces of music were composed, performed and recorded while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other mind-altering substances. Because of this, an altered mind can often appreciate the subtle nuances better than an unaltered mind.
The most important part of any experience is to make sure you are having fun. So, if smoking can create a space for that, then great news! Dancing is a full-rounded activity packed full of benefits for the body. And cannabis only supports this activity, whether you are teaching the class or taking one. And honestly, it really doesn’t matter why marijuana makes music sound more beautiful. What matters is that it does. So, turn on some tunes, light up a bowl, close your eyes and enjoy.
Plus, a night out with some girl or bro’s creates a great social atmosphere that is safe and healthy. From freestyling to planning choreography for your next class, using cannabis could be a potential benefit for you and your friends. The more effort you can put behind your movement, the better the health benefits will be.