I picked up ballroom dancing first in the Bay Area, fell in love with it there, and started competing seriously out of Sam Sodano's studio in Columbus, Ohio, when I started teaching at Ohio State. When I became an associate dean at OSU, I gave it up due to lack of time. Nine years later, I started from scratch here in Houston. If you've watched TLC's Ballroom Bootcamp, you've probably seen my teacher, Billy King, on TV.
So why dance? First off, it really is a way of reducing stress. When I was having a bad day at work, I could leave the stress behind for a bit while I was taking lessons. When I was frustrated at my dancing, I could take some comfort in the fact that I was enjoying my work. When neither part of my life was going well, I came home and savored my family (cats included) and friends.
Second, dancing gives me an outlet for my love of performing. It's one of the few ways to play "dress-up" as an adult, and it's great exercise. It's not inexpensive, and that's one of the many reasons I consult--to pay for my dancing habit.
Finally, I have a whole set of friends from dancing that I'd likely never have met outside of dancing. Amateur ballroom dancers (which is what I am) are generally friendly, not competitive in the mean sense, happy to encourage others, and interesting. Most of the pro teachers and coaches that I've met have been wonderful to me, and I'm learning a great deal from them. It takes a lot of intelligence to dance well (and more coordination than I have at times).
I visited with a friend recently who works so hard that there's no time for hobbies. I felt the same way for a while, but I learned that I need my hobbies to keep that part of my personality alive. So for me, thank goodness for dancing!