Bad Dancing Explained by Scientists

Yes, we’re talking to you. We’ve seen you at weddings, at bars, at clubs. You’re a little shy at the beginning of the night, but a few drinks turn you into a bobbing, gyrating eyesore in the middle of the dance floor. We’re glad you’re having a good time (honestly!), but for all our sakes, please take a hint from researchers who’ve put the stamp of science on what we all know: you’re a really bad dancer.

Psychologists from the University of Northumbria have identified the concrete differences between good and bad dance moves (can we have their job?), which means guys no longer have an excuse to flail around like a dying fish on a trampoline.

Male test subjects were asked to dance to a simple drumbeat for thirty seconds while they wore motion capture equipment. Their routines were then animated into faceless avatars—to remove the men’s outward appearance—and shown to female subjects who were asked to grade the dancing. (To check out an example video, click here.)

The results showed that those judged to be good dancers varied their movements and included more gestures that involved tilting and twisting the torso and neck. In contrast, those judged to be bad dancers tended to employ highly repetitive moves with only their arms and legs (but not the rest of their bodies.)

“It’s rare that someone is described as a good dancer if they are flinging their arms about but not much else,” said Nick Neave, a psychologist at the University of Northumbria, the head researcher of the study. “When you see brilliant dancers, you’ll see their bodies, heads, and necks are all doing ever so slightly different things in time to the music.”

Not a good dancer? No worries. Bud Light still salutes you.

About Lu Fong

Lu Fong was a staff writer and blog editor for the Good Men Project in its formative years. As the requisite woman on staff, her hobbies included cleaning, cooking, knitting, fainting, and childbearing. Follow her on Twitter @lufong.


  1. So that explains it! I always knew there had to be an explanation for why he can’t dance!


  1. […] have already identified the telltale signs of a bad dancer. Now a team at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland has found that the way you dance can be a […]

  2. […] same researches at Northumbria University who taught you how not to dance are now studying the effect that a woman in heels has on a man. The study looks at women, ages 18 […]

Speak Your Mind