I had a request tonight for a blog post. (How exciting for a new blogger!) He wanted me to write on the rules of Salsa for a new guy. However, he said he was going to send me something about it - so, because I don't want to miss any angles he wants covered for the men - tonight I'll focus on the ladies.
Ah, ladies...how we love our dancing. We love the outfits, the music, the turns! We can get a little excited, let's admit it. And while we're opening up, I'll start: I'm the worst of all! I've never met anyone more excitable than myself. (Sometimes in private lessons when students do well, I literally jump up and down! If you've never seen me teach, just count the number of exclamation marks in a blog...and I'm really trying to limit that?!) The good news is, it's OK to get excited. People feed off your enthusiasm. We just have to remember dance is like a conversation. We obviously don't scream with ecstasy for entire conversations - so why do we let our bodies run away (most often, without us) when we dance?
So, rule #1 is stay excited (or get that way if you're not because dancing is downright Awesome!) just keep it within reason. Be bubbling on the inside, but controlled on the outside. Basically, you should simmer. (And aren't we thrilled when we can get things to simmer properly. It's a mess when the sauce boils over. Don't be a mess. I'm suddenly hungry...)
Rule #2: Smile! Leading is HARD Work! Guys have gone through a lot of trouble and put in a ton of effort basically to impress you. Cut 'em a break! A smile helps them relax and get out of their own way a little. Again, remember the conversation analogy - imagine how weird it would be to have a conversation with someone who smiled the whole time. You'd start looking for their Stepford switch.
So, smile when he gathers the cojones to ask you to dance. Smile when he starts. Then look at his chest for a while. Check in with some eye contact but refrain from inadvertently staring him down the whole 3.5 minutes. Smile after he leads a move particularly well - even if that move is a cross body lead. Smile at the end of the dance as you thank him for dancing with you. But, most importantly, smile when you or he makes a mistake!! We all do it. We have to learn to laugh at ourselves! Life's too short people. (And to quote the Indigo Girls: "it's only life after all".)
#3: FOLLOW!! If I had a dollar for every woman that has told me "I've gotta lead" or "I'm a natural leader" or "I'm no good at following" or my personal favorite: "He's a terrible lead. I'll do it" I'd have my son's college already funded. Ladies, as previously mentioned, leading is a lot of work! We don't want any part of it. Or at least, we shouldn't. The dance floor is the one place where we can relinquish control and just look beautiful! Revel in it!! (Plus, why do you think guys dance? It's nice to finally be able to tell the woman what to do once in a while. Let him!)
I know it's hard! I could've shaved three years off my learning curve if I had just followed sooner. I thought I was being helpful (or smart) by back leading. I wasn't! Learn from my mistake...don't be that girl! His task of deciding early so he can execute a move properly is hard enough without us throwing our own agendas in there. We want to dance with him, not fight him. If we don't listen, i.e. wait, there's no way he can communicate his moves. Again, ponder how much you'd enjoy having a conversation with someone who's too busy talking about themselves to let you get a word in. Probably not much. I repeat - don't be that girl. I could go on and on about this one, but it is 11pm and I have two kids who wake up at 7am.
#4: Control your own weight. This is a biggie ladies (even if you only weigh in at 80lbs). It's the guy's job to suggest the move, the woman's job to accept. I'll go over this more when I talk about the guys' rules, but in short: when he asks us to move somewhere, we don't ask him to pull us there. We have to stay on top of our legs. We have to move when he says move and stay when he says stay. Woof, Woof! (But at least we get the chance to be sexy bitches;)
If we're throwing our bodies through space, we're not controlling our weight. (We're also a danger to everyone around us). Take controlled, small steps. Not wimpy, weak steps - cleverly calculated ones. You'll be surprised how many problems this fixes!
Next on the list: Land your turns. This is tied to the previous rule, b/c if you're controlling your own weight you'll be able to stop on a dime, but it takes practice. Here's the truth: everyone can turn. Not everyone can stop. When you get stepped on on the floor, it's most often from someone who is falling out of a turn. Learn to stop with control. Call me for a lesson, we'll go over it:)
Connect your arms. Arm movement should start from your center and/or back. Flailing your arms about in an attempt to look sexy is anything but. It has to come from a source of power. All things grow inside to out. The same should be said of your arm movement. Play with this in front of a mirror and don't be afraid to get silly with how much you move your center. It might look better than you think.
Last, but not least, (and this - like most dance lessons - is a life lesson as well) is the Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. Few things break my heart more than a dancer with attitude. It's so sad that s/he has forgotten that they probably sucked when they started. Even if they were fast learners, they did some things really wrong. And let's face it: we're all still learning! Or at least we should be. It'll be a sad day if I ever think I know enough. So try to be kind and find a way to have fun with everyone you dance with. You never know who's life you might change:)
I hope this was helpful. If all else fails ladies, take comfort in this: you'll probably never make as many mistakes as I have (and sometimes still do) on the dance floor. Re-read rule #2, and I'll see you on the hardwood!
Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!