Updated: Oct 7
TOP TEN TIPS
Salsa is exciting, refreshing, and maybe a little intimidating for the beginner but if you want to stick with it then you have to obey some basic rules of Dance Floor Etiquette. This is by no means a complete list but here are my top ten. So, let’s get started…….
1.) Don’t stand around waiting for a dance - JUST ASK!
Golden rule! This applies women. Never stand around assuming that someone will ask you for a dance especially as most salsa events attract more women than men. If you like the music and you want to dance just pluck up the courage and ASK a guy, sometimes you may feel that you are not a good enough dancer or you have not got enough confidence, or maybe just new to the club and don’t know many people, whatever your reason TRUST ME salsa is a very friendly environment and statistics tells me that 9 out of 10 times you’re guaranteed a YES!
2.) Gimme a Break – I’m sure I just dance with you 10 minutes ago!
Ok, I understand you like me, great. You think I’m a good dancer, cool. But please, don’t ask me to dance 4 songs in a row with you. I believe 2 songs is the maximum and even that can be a little much. Even the best salsa dancers don’t dance to every single song. I need to take a water break, it’s not a triathlon. A good rule of thumb is to space out the dances with the same partner; say 30 minutes or more. You don’t get an award for dancing with the same girl/guy all night. Again, creepiness is a factor.
3.) Salsa Groupies – I only dance with certain men and women!
It is important that when you are at a salsa club you ask everyone to dance. That means just because you may be in an intermediates class you only want to be dancing with intermediates and above. Remember we were all beginners once. A lot of us remember how some people made us feel after we had our first dance with them. Too many times have I seen little salsa cliques where women and men refuse to dance with a person because of their standard of dancing but then go and dance with someone else because they are better dancer. For the record that’s wrong and bad practice and if you ever see it at my salsa club, please let me know who!
4.) “We don’t need no education” – (especially a lecture whilst I’m dancing!!)
Try to refrain from teaching on the floor. If he/she is a friend, then fine but wait till the song is over and do it off the floor. It’s just as bad as people standing in the middle of the floor not dancing; it messes up the Feng Shui. An exception does exist if the man is not leading you properly and it hurts. Either you tell him to be gentler “because you’re hurting me” or stop the dance and get out of there. He’ll learn eventually.
5.) Territorial Salsa Boyfriends & Girlfriends – It’s just a dance not a relationship!
Being ‘overprotective’, bordering on control freak, will ruin your relationship. I know, guys, it can be hard to see your girl dancing with someone else, or girls for you to see your guy smiling, flirting, or talking. Remember it’s just a dance not a relationship. If you are really dedicated to your dancing, then you need to dance with a lot of different people with varied styles. But in the end, they are going to have to come home with you because you have the keys to the car …I’m sounding like a Marriage Counsellor!
6.) B.O. is a NO-NO!
Sure, we sweat so always bring a flannel or a towel and a change of T shirt or shirt. Sweating is natural but there is only so much your partner can take, which brings me onto the most feared subject of all; now smelling bad or having bad breath can be very off putting when you are dancing as couples therefore it is important to remember that peppermint sweets and deodorant are your best friends …so many times have I seen, particularly men, come to a salsa class like they have just fallen out of bed. Not a good way to gain a fan club on the dance floor even if you got the slickest of moves. If you’re in doubt, ask someone you know and who will give you an honest answer.
7.) Keep your eyes to yourself – Is he looking or staring?
Don’t stare at your partner. It’s uncomfortable, it’s creepy, and it’s just bizarre. That doesn’t mean you don’t look at your partner, but there is looking and then there is looking like you want to stalk her. Staring at other couples, looking at the floor, looking at yourself in a mirror are just as bad as staring straight into your partner’s eyes for a 5-minute song. The rule is: Do not stare at any one spot for too long and men do not stare at her chest as it is socially awkward, and you might get slapped. The best method for being spatially aware is using your peripheral vision. Now with that being said, the “Salsa Stare” can be used effectively if used sparingly. When you do a cool move you can shoot her a stare, or if you’re being playful then yes engage her. Enough said I’m sure you’ve got the message.
8.) My Hand and arms have gone numb – Help let go!
Remember dancing salsa is not an arm-wrestling match so when you dance as a couple, don’t grip each other’s hand until you start losing the blood circulation. Also try not to grip the persons hand so tight that when you do basic turns, they feel like their arm is going to be pulled from their sockets, and ladies please stop jerking the men’s arm when you step back even if you think it a bit stylish it is not clever and it’s painful. In short men use your fingers when holding the women hand and women dance on the balls of your feet so you can move around easier rather than been dragged around.
9.) Space Awareness - run from spinning ‘Elbows of Death’.
It is not clever trying to do complicate moves when the dance floor is packed. Too many times have I seen couples trying to do crazy moves when they have no room to do them. Men, you need to be aware of your surroundings. Spinning the women around like a weapon of mass destruction will get you quickly ostracized from the salsa community. Bumping into another couple happens all the time but elbowing or stepping on their toes every minute will gain you no friends.
10.) “Can I have some space please? You’re breathing in my ear!”
This one is especially for the men. When you are dancing with a woman it is important that you maintain space between the both of you as this can be very uncomfortable for the women whilst she is dancing. Never assume that because the music is slow and romantic that she wants to get slow and romantic with you.
“This is by far a complete list, but it gives you and insight into the things teachers just don’t tell their students…. hope you enjoyed it because we at Cuban Vibes Dance Company did!”