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Music is the Answer: The health benefits of clubbing


Most of us know what it feels like to wake up on a Monday morning after a long weekend of clubbing, head pounding and body aching all over. The sunlight streaming through the window is blinding and the dread of having to make it to work in an hour is all-consuming. Replaying the events of the weekend leads us to question, was it all worth it?

Surprisingly, the answer to that question could be YES!

As the ritual of clubbing has been integrated into mainstream culture, we have been exposed to the obvious cons, but less so the pros.

Things we might consider to be the ‘unhealthy side’ of partying include the overconsumption of alcohol, social smoking, sleep deprivation, and binge eating.

Given these examples, we cannot deny that the cons of clubbing exist, but there are potential pros which are not spoken about as much. Research suggests that not only can clubbing pose benefits for our physical health in the form of dancing, but also our mental health as music allows for self-expression and increased social connections. From this, we might see improvements in our mood and reduced stress levels.

As a psychology undergraduate, I’m currently working as a Research Assistant on the eBRAIN study. Our research focuses on the correlations between early life experiences, brain maturation, and the mental health of young people. My primary interest lies in exploring ways to improve our well-being and enhance our overall quality of life. So, whilst it can be reassuring to believe that our weekend clubbing antics are somewhat beneficial, we need to take a closer look at the ups and downs in order to make responsible and informed decisions that promote our health and happiness.

But first things first...

What do we mean by "clubbing" and where did it come from?

According to the Dictionary, clubbing refers to "the activity of going to nightclubs, especially to dance to popular music, drink and socialize". Whilst this pretty much sums up a night out on the town, the definition may vary from person to person. For some, it involves dressing up to the nines for a luxurious night of classic R&B hits. For others, it entails seeking refuge from reality in a run-down warehouse while listening to a blend of techno records.

The history of nightclubs is a fascinating subject, but it’s not without its mysteries. Tracing their exact origins can be quite challenging as they date back to the ballrooms and dancehalls of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since then, club culture has come a long way, shaped by different musical styles and cultural influences. From the jazz clubs of the Roaring 1920s to the disco craze of the 1970s and the rise of European electronic music in the 1980s.

Given the enduring popularity of nightclubs, is it possible that they’re doing something positive for our mental well-being?

(Note that individual and situational differences can affect the benefits discussed. We do not encourage reckless behaviour.)

What does the research say?

As published in DJ Mag, a digital magazine dedicated to dance music, research conducted by a club in Bristol found "90% of young people believe clubbing improves mental health", and there are a number of explanations as to why this might be.

Dancing not only improves our cardiovascular health as a form of aerobic exercise, but it can also be a great way to release pent-up tension and stress, while offering numerous mental benefits, facilitated by social bonding. A recent study carried out in Brazil found that synchronized dancing to music encourages a sense of cohesion within a group and raises pain thresholds. This is partly due to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural "feel-good" chemicals, during dancing, which creates a feeling of closeness among the dancers and a better ability to cope with pain. For this reason, we tend to experience a sense of belonging and togetherness, fostered by a club environment.

What’s more, dancing can be an excellent form of self-expression and can be beneficial for self-esteem and self-confidence. It can be used as a tool to understand our identities and connect with like-minded people.

For young British South Asians, clubbing and dancing have been especially significant as it allows them to "explore a new part of their dual-cultural identity". Nightlife and dance music provides a platform for them to break free from societal expectations and unleash their creativity.

An integral part of clubbing is the music, and regardless of the genre, it can have a positive impact on our mental well-being. Typically, music releases dopamine and therefore as humans we obtain pleasure from listening to a mix of melodies. Music has also been found to have therapeutic benefits, and we can use it to help us relax and meditate. This means that clubbing can be a way to disconnect from the outside world and focus on the present moment.

With all these benefits in mind, it’s no wonder that a night out can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

What do I think?

For me, there’s nothing quite like going out dancing with friends to release the tensions of daily life. When you enter the club, you can forget about your troubles and immerse yourself in the music and energy of the people around you. The pulsating beats and positive vibes create a unique environment where you can express yourself freely and feel accepted. The sense of community and connection that comes with dancing is unparalleled, and it’s a great way to recharge. By practising moderation and self-awareness, you can ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time on the dance floor.

‘Sunday Downtime’ Event Source: Author's own image

What are some tips for getting the most out of a clubbing experience?

  • Find an event that suits you: Ring up your friends and pick a local event you like the sound of. You could also try practising some mindfulness while dancing, by paying attention to your movement and breath.

  • Take a class: If you’re not big on nightclubs, enrol on a dance or gym class with a club atmosphere to reap the benefits. Many health clubs and community centres offer dance classes for all levels, while some gyms offer High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT) sessions and spin classes with pounding beats.

  • Conscious clubbing: These events allow you to enjoy the social elements of a night out, whilst excluding alcohol and drugs.

  • Dance/music therapy: If you need more than just a quick fix, you might consider dance or music therapy. Dance therapy uses movement for self-expression and communication, while music therapy uses sound to facilitate relaxation and emotional expression.

So, while clubbing may not be the first thing that comes to mind, the plethora of research suggests going out and having fun with your pals can be a great way to unwind. From reducing stress and boosting mood, to improving physical fitness and social connections, clubbing can improve our overall well-being. To avoid negative effects, we must be mindful of recreational substances, prioritising sleep and taking care of our bodies. So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider hitting the dancefloor and discovering the power of clubbing for yourself!


2 Comments


Michelle Catapang
Michelle Catapang
May 30

Lovely! Thank you for providing these blog. I will be looking forward to more content similar to this!

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Graham Cook
Graham Cook
Apr 26, 2023

Great read and very noticeable that you mention mental awareness a lot and I believe it always helped myself in my younger days to go lose yourself dancing the night away

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