The International Living Podcast

Episode 52: Dance Yourself Healthy in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

November 22, 2023 International Living
Episode 52: Dance Yourself Healthy in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico
The International Living Podcast
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The International Living Podcast
Episode 52: Dance Yourself Healthy in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico
Nov 22, 2023
International Living

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A study found that there’s one physical exercise that protects from both dementia and Alzheimer’s… and it’ll give your social life a boost, too.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a 21-year study of senior citizens, aged 75 to 85. The researchers discovered that the only physical exercise that provided protection from both dementia and Alzheimer’s was… dancing. Whether partnered or solo, frequent dancing provided a 76% risk reduction!

IL contributor Ann Kuffner tells Jim about San Miguel de Allende and the dance venues where you can practice your moves.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform:

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Send us a Text Message.

A study found that there’s one physical exercise that protects from both dementia and Alzheimer’s… and it’ll give your social life a boost, too.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a 21-year study of senior citizens, aged 75 to 85. The researchers discovered that the only physical exercise that provided protection from both dementia and Alzheimer’s was… dancing. Whether partnered or solo, frequent dancing provided a 76% risk reduction!

IL contributor Ann Kuffner tells Jim about San Miguel de Allende and the dance venues where you can practice your moves.

If you’re enjoying the podcast, we would really appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

00:10 - Jim Santos
Hello everyone. I'm Jim Santos and this is the International Living Podcast. In this podcast series, we introduce you to a bigger world full of communities that are safe, welcoming, beautiful and sometimes undiscovered. A better world too. A friendly, warm, great value world where you can live richer, travel more, invest for profit and enjoy a better life. So let's get started. Hello everybody and welcome once again to the International Living Podcast. This episode is special to me for two reasons. First of all, this is our 52nd episode of the International Living Podcast. That's right, we are officially one year old today. I'd like to thank our listeners for their support and their comments and we'll try to make our second year even better than the first. The other reason is today's topic is an important one for seniors and involves an activity. My wife and I also enjoy dancing. Now don't get me wrong, I don't have the moves of Fred Astaire, in fact, I don't even have the grace of Fred Flintstone. But Rita and I have enjoyed ballroom dancing classes as a way to get exercise, become closer as a couple and just plain have fun.

01:28 - Jim Santos
Our guest today, International Living contributor Anne Kuffner, has another good reason to put on your dancing shoes. She wrote the article The Exercise That Staves Off Dementia and Alzheimer's in the October 2023 edition of International Living magazine. And she joins us today from San Miguel Daliente in the Mexico highlands. Anne. Welcome back to the International Living Podcast.

01:50 - Ann Kuffner
My pleasure. It's always fun to talk to you, Jim.

1:53 - Jim Santos
Last time we talked it was about wine, this time it's about dancing. Is life just one big bacchanalio for you there in Mexico?

02:02 - Ann Kuffner
Well, not all people think that exercise is know from my know, but I will say on that note, I've always liked to combine the two. When I was living in California and I used to know a biker, I actually do biking tours where we would bike around in the wine country and after we did our biking, then we would drink wine. So why not?

02:27 - Jim Santos
The more wine you drink, the better you dance, right?

02:29 - Ann Kuffner
There's no reason not combine those things and exercise shouldn't be punishment.

02:35 - Jim Santos
Now, in the article that you wrote, the exercise that staves off dementia and Alzheimer's, you mentioned a 21 year study that was published in New England Journal of Medicine. Can you tell us a little bit about that study?

02:47 - Ann Kuffner
It's been a while since I looked at the details of that study. Actually, I reviewed quite a few studies while I was writing this article, which when was it published now? I think it was earlier in the year. I don't remember all the details. I think I was just reading the article again yesterday. But I think that particular study was focused on people from 75 to 85, which is what was really interesting to me because that's truly getting into an elderly crowd, but I actually read quite a few articles. This one was the most specific for dancing. But there's so many other articles that talk about the benefits of any type of exercise in terms of helping you. It's just that it's helping your long term health, et cetera. Usually it's focused on the heart. And what I liked about this one is that it was focused more on the brain and the aging of the brain. And part of history is this of course, is my husband and I take classes here at the only Arthur Murray Ballroom in Mexico, at least at this point in time. And our teacher, she's in her late forty s, and she used to be a teacher in Ohio, I think, and she was the one that first said to me, you know, there's so many health benefits of dancing that go beyond the other types of exercises that you do.

04:07 - Ann Kuffner
And so she's the one that starts saying you should do more research on this. She sent me two articles. But I think one of the things that's very interesting about dancing compared to other types of exercises is that it's kind of comprehensive. It gets the heart from the standpoint of getting your heart rate up. It gets the brain from the standpoint of depending upon the type of dancing you're doing. Most dancing, you have to be able to learn some types of patterns. So you have to remember, as you know, my husband, it's gotten a lot harder for him to remember those patterns as he's gotten older, but we do it every week. And then the other thing is that it's very social and those are the three things that when you put them together, when you read any article on aging and how you can keep your mind active and put off dementia, those are the three things that are mentioned. Aerobic exercise, any kind of mental activity where you have to learn new things and then also socializing and making sure that you continue to have a socially active life. And we found that in dancing for us, we definitely get all three of those things.

05:19 - Ann Kuffner
That's one of the benefits because obviously there's all kinds of other wonderful exercise you can do that's easier. I mean, we walk a lot and walking is easy and you don't need to memorize patterns and you can do it anywhere. So I'm a big proponent of walking and other types of activities for us. And then the other thing about dancing is you've got music. So the impact of the music on your brain is also very beneficial. So it's harder to find a dance class and a means to dance unless you're just kind of booking in your own house to music that you like. But it definitely has a broader range of benefits. And there are now quite a few articles out there about that.

06:00 - Jim Santos
The study that you cited says that there's a 76% risk reduction for these people who dance, that's pretty significant.

06:08 - Ann Kuffner
Risk reduction significant, but I think it also is based upon dancing regularly. In other words, if you only dance a half hour every couple of weeks, you're still going to have benefit, but it's not going to be as deep of a benefit as if you're doing it on a regular basis. For me, even though I love ballroom dance with my husband, I've been like a dance aerobics person for many, many years. So that's part why I talked about in the article that for people who don't have a partner and who don't really want to have to pay to learn complicated patterns that you would see in ballroom dancing, something like Zumba, for me, is fantastic. I love it here because I could do it outside. We do it outside, too.

06:55 - Jim Santos

06:55 - Ann Kuffner
The guy that teaches it here, he does it in the park and oh my gosh, there's probably at least 50 to 100 people there every week of all ages. Locals and expats. I get such a kick out of these guys. There's a couple of guys in there that are in their late seventy s. And I have one friend who is 86 and he still does it. He doesn't move a lot. One of the guys doesn't follow the patterns at all, but they have a good time and they socialize and they're moving, and it's always a fun environment. So there's a lot of different ways to do dancing depending upon where you live, of course.

07:36 - Jim Santos
Right. But for the benefits that we're talking about, we're not talking about the kind of dancing where you just kind of get up and gyrate randomly. We're talking about the more stylized ballroom dancing or Latin dancing where there are certain steps and you're working with a partner.

07:50 - Ann Kuffner
Well, I would say they all have benefit. I mean, that was part of the thing that I was trying to get across in my article, because we have quite a few friends here who dance all the time, but they don't do any I mean, they dance. Together, but not as they're a couple, but they aren't connected and they're not doing patterns. They're just doing their own thing. Kind of like we did more in the they're getting plenty of benefit. They're not getting as much benefit, but they're getting a lot of benefit.

08:18 - Jim Santos
Yeah, I have to say my wife and I both have had ballroom dancing lessons and have enjoyed doing it. Going out to social events where a lot of clubs will have like a monthly party where we just get together and dance. And it's amazing how much exercise it is trying to do like a swing dance for three minutes, or a chacha for four minutes, or salsa. Or salsa. Yeah, it is quite an aerobic exercise.

08:41 - Ann Kuffner
If you do those kinds of dances. It's really aerobic. When I do my Zumba or my online aerobics class here, which I do at the house. My heart rate doesn't typically go up over like 125 beats per minute. But when I'm doing our private class at Arthur Murray, my husband usually dances with the teacher, and then I dance with the pro because I'm more advanced than he is, and my heart rate is up considerably higher. Dancing that way. And a couple's dance, especially with salsa, the songs tend to be very long, and they're long, but swing, East Coast swing, which is Mike's and my favorite dance, you get a really good workout with that.

09:24 - Jim Santos
You talked about walking as a form of exercise too, but like you say, the dancing actually combines music with repeated patterns, and to really enjoy it, you try to intermingle those patterns also.

09:37 - Ann Kuffner

09:38 - Jim Santos
Some of the things that have been found to help stave off dementia are music. Either singing or learning another instrument, learning a foreign language. In a way, music is a foreign language, right. That you have to learn.

09:50 - Ann Kuffner
That's true.

09:51 - Jim Santos
And then the dancing, that mental activity. So you have something that combines a lot of different factors.

09:56 - Ann Kuffner
Right, that's true. And when I was writing the article, I was thinking about, okay, how many people will this apply to? Because for us, my husband and I actually met dancing. We used to West Coast swing dance, like 30 years ago when we were living in California, and we met at a West Coast swing conference, actually. And so we've danced together off and on different periods of our life for most of the time we've been together. But when we moved to Belize, I kind of assumed, okay, Belize is on the border with Mexico. I thought they'll probably have Latin dances there, but they didn't. We had very little opportunity to dance there, and we lived there for ten years, so it was really a big disappointment. There was some fun dances that they were more like beach dances, dancing in the sand with a live band to rock and roll. But that wasn't on a regular it wasn't all the time. There wasn't the opportunity to do that all the time. Whenever we could, we would do that. But to be able to learn other to actually learn how to do different kinds of dances or I knew how to do salsa already, mike did not.

11:06 - Ann Kuffner
But I was shocked that there wasn't salsa music. You know, that wasn't the main reason that we left Belize, but it was one of many reasons. And I realized there's going to be a lot of places that people move to that won't necessarily have a diversity of different types of dancing. And that's part of why I wanted to mention that even if you just during COVID so many online classes became popular and I found one or two that I liked, and it's pretty cheap. I pay, I think, $10 a month to be able to access this online dance aerobics program that I do a couple of times a week and in the privacy of my home where nobody can see don't, and then I can do it any time of day that I want or whenever it's convenient. When Mike heads out to do a task or whatever, I can put my dance aerobics class on and do it there. So there's a lot more options of ways to dance than there was in the past. I think that COVID actually helps with have to there's patterns in that kind of a dance class. I mean, if you're living in a part of the world where just as an example, and I don't know if this is even relevant, but if you were like someplace like Boquete, Panama, it's kind of more out in the middle of nowhere.

12:28 - Ann Kuffner
Do they have dance classes and dance halls there? I have no idea. But I would guess that maybe if they do, there wouldn't be very many options, but you would still have access to the internet. Actually, all kinds of ballroom dancing is taught on the internet as well. So if somebody's kind of hesitant and they just want to give it a try, they can go put something know on the internet and check it out, some of the basic steps and stuff, and try it without anybody even seeing them, so they don't have to be embarrassed.

12:59 - Jim Santos
You mentioned cost. I was going to talk to you about that. When we started ballroom dancing classes, we were in a small town in West Virginia, and there was a ballet school that also taught different types of dance, and you could sign up for a six week course. It's like 80 or $90 a couple for a six week course. Then we moved to Ecuador for six years, and we couldn't find any ballroom dancing. There was only salsa. Right. We came back to the US. In Knoxville, started looking around at the dance schools here, and we were surprised. One school quoted us a yearly price for foxtrot rumba, cha cha, swing and waltz. That for what they were asking. We told them we could actually fly to Vienna and stay for a couple of months and learn how to waltz there and then come back. What was the cost like for the dance classes?

13:46 - Ann Kuffner
It varies know, we were in the Bay Area when we started dancing, and there were so many different options to do. It kind of partially depends upon whether you're doing group classes or private classes and whether you're taking classes from a local or from a pro that's come from the United States. Now we're taking classes at Arthur Murray, and I'll tell you, that's the most expensive way to go. But we're doing private classes and we've become very serious. But that's not what my friends do. And if all of them do, and if they ask me for advice, I try to figure out what their motivation is. If they just want to learn how to do the salsa so they can go to clubs. Then I say we'll find one of the local classes that are in town where maybe they charge you $3 for a group class. There might be ten people in the class. And then you learn the basics. And a lot of times the teacher will then do group excursions to the local clubs and where you get a chance to dance with your instructor when you go there. So a lot of people do that here in San Miguel because salsa, salsa, bachata and Combia, those are the most popular dances in the clubs.

15:04 - Ann Kuffner
And we have quite a few clubs here. They're really popular. And so, as a matter of fact, a lot of those venues, the bars and stuff, will have a free class before the live band starts. So most of my mean, not most of them because I have a lot of friends at Arthur Marie, but a lot of my friends who enjoy dancing take classes that way. They don't want to learn ballroom, they just want to learn Latin. And there's absolutely no reason for them to commit to a long term program. But for know, Mike and I, because we've been dancing all of our lives. And as you know, because you've been dancing with your wife for quite a long time, you know that as a couple, when you've danced together a long time, you can have some differences in your approach and how you want to do things and how you feel about the dancing. And I like to joke that our dance teacher is actually our dance couple's therapist because for so long, we stopped dancing when we were on the Know We're in Ambergus Key. And then we came here and my husband was remembering all the steps, some of the steps differently, right, than I was remembering them.

16:16 - Ann Kuffner
And I didn't want to get into a difference of opinion with him on that. So I would let the teacher always tell us the proper way to do things and to stay on the beat, because that's important to you know, when we first started at Arthur Murray, I just wanted to learn the Latin dances. And then as we got into it and we found that that was a really nice community. I'd never gone to that kind of a thing in the States. I'd never gone to an Arthur Murray. But here it's a real you know, with us doing some shows and stuff, it became such a fun environment that I just decided that we were going to work that into our budget and make a commitment. Because it was more than just learning to dance. It was doing these we used to go every Friday night there would be a dance and dinner at Arthur Murray. And that became our major social activity before COVID and we used to go every Friday. That was kind of our set thing. It was like 300 pay and then you didn't have to be a student at that point in time.

17:20 - Ann Kuffner
It was like 300 pesos, which is the equivalent about that included a dinner and a half hour class for the group and then hour and a half, 2 hours of dancing. So we kind of got into that routine and then just decided, okay, we're going to make a long term I thought this is going to be a long term commitment for us because I saw the health benefits, the mental benefits, the social benefits. And so we pay more than our friends do for classes, because we're going to Arthur Marie and those are all private classes and we're like climbing up the ladder to get to the different levels. And I really like that. I mean, I'm a little bit competitive that way. You're not surprised about that, right? But most of my friends just want to go out and boogie and we all go out together and everybody has a good time, so you don't have to know. The thing about dancing is you can go for whatever level you feel like doing it. And let me tell you one story though. I have one friend that when we first started, Arthur Murray, and he's a doctor and he's a really very quiet and he to see him on the dance floor in the beginning when we all were just started going there, that he and his wife had just moved to San Miguel, he was so stiff.

18:39 - Ann Kuffner
This guy was like it was a little bit at the time I thought, wow, I don't think he's going to continue with this. He ended up loving, loving, loving dancing. It just shocked me. And his wife's mother had owned a ballet studio in New York. They're from New York because she grew up being know, a really good ballet and dancer in general. But her husband ended up loving the dancing more than her. And he's competing all the time now. He's gotten to be so it's crazy, it's crazy. He loved it so much and she doesn't even go to all the performances and stuff. It's not as big of a deal to her as him, but he goes to all of them.

19:22 - Jim Santos
Yeah, it's interesting because I've noticed in a lot of the classes that we've been to, usually the men are kind of reluctant and a little stiff. And my attitude was, I don't care how much I screw up, we're just here to have fun. That's right, just go ahead and try and learn it.

19:38 - Ann Kuffner
That's the best attitude. But you know what? I have another good example. Here another one of my friends, and this couple is Canadian, and they're only here six months a year. They're pretty good friends. And she is very serious. I mean, she's gone to conferences around the United States and here and performed on her, not with her husband, on her own. Her husband wasn't as serious, but he had a brain tumor, and for about a year, year and a half, he could barely walk. He was having all kinds of problems as a result of that brain tumor that he had removed. And he had it removed here, actually. And it occurred while he was here in Mexico, and he had it done locally before they went, not when they were in Canada. A year or so later, when he started his physical therapy, he hated the physical therapy because it was so boring. And so Christie, our instructor and the owner of Arthur Murray, said to his wife, well, why don't you have him come in and I can work with him and know, do some really basic stuff and see if that can help him, if he likes it, make a long story shorter.

20:46 - Ann Kuffner
He ended up feeling like that was the best therapy for him. And he came back and started dancing. I mean, he's at a different level, his wife, so in performances and stuff, they perform separately. But he said that was just so much easier and more fun for him. He was motivated to go through the physical therapy, which helped him with his memory and bringing his brain back to be more active than trying to do just, like, boring exercises.

21:12 - Jim Santos
We had an experience where one of our sons, who's kind of shy, introverted, was into magic cards growing up, took karate, got his second degree black belt in karate, and went off to college. Been his second year or so of college. One weekend, we're asking him if he was free, if we came up to visit him, and he said, no. That weekend, we're doing a competitive dance in Philadelphia.

21:38 - Ann Kuffner
Was that a surprise?

21:39 - Jim Santos
We were just shocked. It's like we'd never seen him dance or do anything like that at all. But there had been some club at school, and he tried it out, and he found that learning the dance moves was similar to learning karate moves.

21:51- Ann Kuffner

21:51 - Jim Santos
And he just really enjoyed it, was doing it and dancing competitively.

21:56 - Ann Kuffner
Competitively. That's the thing. You just never can tell who's going to like it and who isn't going to like it. But I think for me, it's really important. Like, in our relationship, I actually said that I would never marry a man that wasn't willing to learn how to dance or couldn't. You know, I think it was a good decision because Mike and I, it's something we've done together our whole lives. But my best friend was a prima ballerina in San Francisco, and her husband hates, hates, hates to dance. And she's forever frustrated because she loves dancing. But the only way she can do it is if she goes out without him. It's always worth it if a guy is willing to at least try, because it's so important to us, most of us women.

22:42 - Jim Santos
Yeah, we've seen places where couples are dancing and someone makes a mistake and one or the or both of them get angry about it. And for us, we tend to just laugh all the time. Yeah, I think your attitude is very important when you're doing something like that.

22:59 - Ann Kuffner
Well, if you take formal classes, the first thing that they teach you first of all, one of the differences I think people don't understand is when you're pretty serious about dancing, you want to dance with a lot of different people and there's no stigma associated with that. It's just that the more ways you dance and the people you dance with, the better of a dancer you become. And for us, as to if it's a couple's dance, we're supposed to be able to follow anybody. And when I was first learning, like even the swing in the Bay Area, the first thing they taught us know, don't say no when somebody asks you to dance and don't ever criticize them or make them feel small. The whole thing about dancing is for people to have a good time and to feel good about it. And the last thing you want to do is in any way make people feel small or to make them feel bad about the fact that they're not good. When I actually won a contest at Arthur Murray. We had this contest one year where we had to, over a period of time, dance with a lot of different people and the person who looked like the most enthusiastic.

24:09 - Ann Kuffner
No matter who they were dancing with. Won the you know, if you got good music and some of the guys were not really good dancers, but they were having fun and everybody's so supportive there. That's why we like it, because we're all totally supportive. And if you do any kind of a performance, everybody just raves and says, oh, that was so great. Even if it's like the first time you've done it and you've made a lot of mistakes.

24:34 - Jim Santos

24:35 - Ann Kuffner
That's really nice. That's one of the things I really like about being in a dance community, per se.

24:39 - Jim Santos
What kind of dance style do you find most challenging?

24:43 - Ann Kuffner
Oh, for sure, Argentine Tango.

24:45 - Jim Santos
That was going to be my guess was tango.

24:47 - Ann Kuffner
Yeah, but that's the one where Mike hit the wall. And, you know, when we went to Buenos Aires, I loved Argentine Tango, but it's very hard because the men add libid a lot and the women have to follow them. And when we went to Buenos Aires, I said to Mike, because I knew he didn't really like Argentine Tango. The other thing is, Argentine Tango, it takes a lot of form and for people who haven't had classical dance training, it's like a lot harder to understand that. But I thought, we can't go to Buenos Aires and not do know tango, not take some classes. But he was very hesitant and so I cut him a deal. I said, okay, let's take some private classes. And here's the deal. I won't bother you. You can eat as much steak as you want. You can drink as much red wine, and we can have ice cream after every class. Normally, I try to keep him, like, not to eat too much red meat. Right. You know how that goes.

25:48 - Jim Santos
Well, in Buenos Aires, though, that's doing yourself a disservice not to try the steak.

25:54 - Ann Kuffner
Right, exactly. That's pretty much all you can mean. You hardly see any seafood there. It's like steak everywhere. But what I meant was I wouldn't bother him about it and say, don't eat. I wouldn't cuss through him about it. But it was wonderful. We took private classes there, and we went to, you know, we had a great time. It was very intimidating. We were very intimidated. We had to have every time we went to mean it seems like everybody in Buenos Aires, no matter their age or their sex or whatever, they all are really good dancers. And so you go into a club and you're like, so intimidated. And so we'd have to have a couple of glasses of wine.

26:36 - Jim Santos
Yeah, we saw some tango shows in Uruguay and in Buenos Aires, and we were know, I can't do.

26:45 - Ann Kuffner
Hard. It's really hard. And when we came back to, oh, well, obviously, they don't even have tango music. They hardly have any different kinds of music except the punta kind of stuff there. So there was absolutely no way we could practice it. And when we came here and started studying at Arthur Murray, I thought, well, we could we could do that. But there were so many other different styles of dance that Mike liked better and that were agreeable to both of us that we focused on kind of more the things we could do in clubs and the things that we both enjoy, because there's so many different options. So we don't do mean we did they've had some Argentine tango dances here and conferences. There is an Argentine tango dance community here in San Miguel, but I kind of wrote that off a while ago because I think it was just definitely not something Mike was real interested in.

27:41 - Jim Santos
If you're new to this and thinking about trying ballroom dancing classes, is there a particular style of dance that you think is easiest for beginners to pick up? Oh, jeez, I'm thinking foxtrot myself.

27:54 - Ann Kuffner
But what I would think about is what dance can you do at a lot of different places? Okay. And so I would say a Bachata. Do you remember what a Bachata? Or do you know what a bachata is?

28:06 - Jim Santos
You know, I was at a social event where they had, like, a half hour bachata lesson before the dance, but I forget completely. Is it similar to cha cha?

28:14 - Ann Kuffner
No, it's a lot easier. It's like step together, step two steps in one direction, two steps in the other direction, and then there's turns in there. It's really easy, and there's a lot you can. Do with it. And although it's basically a Latin dance, you can do it to a lot of modern music. And when we about a year and a half ago, our grandson got married, and he and his wife actually got married in, you know, close to Cabo San Lucas, and the whole family came down, and they know we're big dancers. And so our grandson said, you guys are going to have to dance. Like, we're going to do the mother and son and the bride and the groom, but we expect guys to dance. And my husband was like, oh, he likes to dance, but he doesn't like to be the center of attention. And they weren't going to really be. I asked my grandson, our grandson, what kind of music are you going to play? And so he sent me, like, the playlist. And I found a modern song all the young people would recognize and that they would be playing.

29:21 - Ann Kuffner
And I told our dance teacher, I said, I want to kind of change our Bachata style to work on doing this to modern music. And she said, oh, yeah, Bachata is great for that. Chacha is actually really good for that, too. Salsa. You have to have salsa music, but there's a lot of other modern dances that you can do. Chacha, two of the chacha is more complicated than Bachata. I love Bachata. Mike, that's the one dance he never forgets. The basic steps. It's easy for him. And he loves to do turns. So there's a lot of turns in there, but you don't have to do them. So I would say that for anybody that wants to take a class for something that they can do in a lot of different ways, bachata is really good for somebody who is really intimidated and wants something easy. I used to tell the guys when we were in California, do a Zydeco, learn how to do Zydeco. You know how Zydeco is?

30:16 - Jim Santos
No, it's a dance from Cajun.

30:19 - Ann Kuffner
Kind of dance isn't like, you know, stomping of excuse my language, but it's really basic and it is so much fun and it's very good exercise. And they used to have Cajun dances when we were living in the East Bay, in the Bay Area, there was one place that had this great Zydeco band, and they would do Zydeco dances, and we would go and it was just like anybody could do that dance. And so for guys who wanted to learn to dance but were real intimidated, I'd say, Why don't you try to do the Zydeco? Learn that one first, because it's really easy.

30:55 - Jim Santos
Have you done any polka dancing?

30:58 - Ann Kuffner
Yes, my father and I used to do the polka. I grew up with the polka. I love the polka. It's really fast. But where do you do the polka? I mean, maybe you guys are in Ohio now, right?

31:08 - Jim Santos
We're in Tennessee now.

31:10 - Ann Kuffner
Oh, Tennessee. I mean, well, maybe they have country polka there.

31:14 - Jim Santos
Well, we're getting back out and traveling more. We just got back from a few weeks in Europe, and actually I was interested in your article. You had the list of places to dance in San Miguel this spring. We're going to spend a month in San Miguel.

31:26 - Ann Kuffner
Oh, you are?

31:27 - Jim Santos
Yeah. So I'll have your list with me. So we can you know what?

31:32 - Ann Kuffner
The thing is the venues change a lot, right. So you really have to pay attention. Well, when are you going to be here? Because we'll be here in the spring.

31:43 - Jim Santos
Basically the month of May.

31:44 - Ann Kuffner
Okay, well, we'll be here for part of May. I think we'll probably be leaving around the middle of May because it's really hot here in So. But one place you'll absolutely have to go is Zandunga, and it's out in the country, and maybe we can do that when you come. We should make a point of going since you're dancers anyway. They mainly are doing Latin music and Latin dancing now. But it's a beautiful, beautiful venue out in the country where you pay one price for the food and the music and the dancing, and you just spend the whole Sunday afternoon. That's kind of one of our favorite places, although we don't go there all the time and it's a little bit pricier and out of the way. But Trina's is a small restaurant cafe right, in San Miguel that's pretty consistently been having one night a week where they do swing and one night a week where they do salsa. And it's really popular. People like it's. There's no fee. You can eat there. They have fantastic cocktails, and we quite often meet friends there. That's one place that you can circle on that list.

32:55 - Ann Kuffner
And the nice thing about Trinas is they start at seven to 730, because a lot of people our age, including my husband, really don't like to be out a lot later than nine to 930. I can go till 1030, but yeah, Zandunga. Those are the first two I had, Zandunga and Trina. So maybe when you come, give me a heads up ahead of time and maybe we can go Zandunga together, because you would absolutely love that.

33:25 - Jim Santos
Oh, absolutely. We'll have to do a little practice and brush up here, though, because COVID really slowed us down as far as dancing goes.

33:31 - Ann Kuffner
Yeah, well, once again, it's places like, in particular at Zamdunga, some people are just doing their own thing and some people are doing couples dancing. You get a real mix of the levels of yeah. You know, get into shape before get back into practice before you come.

33:49 - Jim Santos
Yeah. I'd like to point out, too, for listeners who are wondering just what the heck this has to do with international travel, I just need to point out that if you're not healthy, you're not going to be traveling very much.

33:59 - Ann Kuffner
Oh, that's true.

34:00 - Jim Santos
And this is a kind of exercise that is really easy to do and you can do a lot of different places and have a lot of fun doing it. So it's important to really make sure that you're taking care of yourself, especially if you're going to be out and about. Like the few weeks that we just spent in Europe, I got to say it was pretty tiring.

34:20 - Ann Kuffner
Oh, yeah.

34:21. - Jim Santos
Traveling from spot to spot and walking around and seeing all those places, you really need to build up a little bit of asphanima and a little bit of aerobic exercise is certainly good for that.

34:31 - Ann Kuffner
Right. The other thing is, I was just looking at some of the Spanish immersions. I'm a big proponent of Spanish immersions. A lot of those Spanish immersion programs include an option to do dance classes on the side. And most of know since it's Spanish, it's typically, you know, I've been to Cuernovac a couple of times now and I'm looking at like maybe Oaxaca or Mexico City to do an immersion at one of those places or both in the future. And they offer Latin dances and going out, know, with other students in the class. And I think that's really cool. These kinds of programs, they offer like you can do cooking classes or you can do tours or you can do dance classes. And almost all of the Spanish immersion programs typically offer the option to take salsa classes.

35:21 - Jim Santos
Well, it's just another way of appreciating the culture where you are.

35:25 - Ann Kuffner
Yeah, because it's big. I mean, Latin dancing is just, it's fun, it's energetic and live. Just it's a nice way to see different parts of the Latin culture. It's a little bit different, but almost every Latin country, whether it's South America, Central America, Mexico, or Spain, and the other countries in Europe, I mean, they all love dancing and a lot of them do salsa there too.

35:54 - Jim Santos
We've been talking about the benefits of dancing for us older folks with Anne Kuffner from her article, The Exercise that Staves off Dementia and Alzheimer's. You can find it in the October 2023 issue of International Living magazine. Diane, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today and maybe we'll see you on the dance floor in San Miguel this spring.

36:11 - Ann Kuffner
Well, I'll be looking forward to that. I'm going to hold you to it.

36:24 - Jim Santos
The International Living Podcast is a production of International Living. If you enjoyed this episode and you'd like to help support the podcast, please share it with others, post about it on social media, or leave a rating and review. If you have an idea for an episode or a question you'd like us to answer, email us at And don't forget to put podcast in the subject line of your email that's We created the International Living Podcast to help showcase the ideas we explore in the magazine and our other publications each month and to grow our community of travel lovers, expats, and experts who believe, as we do, that the world is full of opportunity to create a more interesting, more international life. You don't have to be rich or famous to do that. You just need to know the secrets. And that's what we bring you at International Living. If you haven't become a member yet, you can do it today with a special discount offer for podcast listeners. You'll receive our monthly magazine, plus a bundle of special extras. You'll find the link in our show notes, or you can go to podcast.

37:33 - Jim Santos
That's podcast. Be sure to join us next week as we start our second year of the podcast. And until then, this is Jim Santos for International Living, reminding you there's a bigger, better world out there just waiting for.

The Exercise That Staves Off Dementia and Alzheimer’s
You Don’t Need to be an Accomplished Dancer to Benefit From Dancing
How Expensive Are Dance Classes in San Miguel de Allende?
What Dance Styles Do You Find The Most Challenging?
What's The Easiest Dance For Beginners?
Dancing Venues in San Miguel de Allende