My brother is in town from Miami, and he's recently begun his foray into Salsa. Watching his beginner glow is indeed adorable. His smiling, his laughing, his obvious thinking... he's got "just learning" written all over him. Every time he visits, he practically demands lessons - or do I force them on him? Details. So, this week I'm inspired to give my brave (and fantastically naive) beginners a leg up. For those of you who aren't new to Salsa, keep reading - you may discover some habits you want to drop after reading this;)
The first thing you should do is forget everything you think you know (and see) about Salsa dancing. Dance is very deceiving. What people are actually doing isn't what it looks like they're doing. The perfect example of this is moving the arms. New people are always circling their arms emphatically because they see better dancers "doing that". In truth, the arms shouldn't move if the rib cage isn't moving. You never want to circle the arms for the sake of circling your arms. It's confusing to the woman. If the arms are going crazy, and not connected to the rest of your movement, we can't tell when you want us to turn. Plus it feels silly. Keep your arms and hands in a neutral position.
For my ladies, don't try to move your hips when you're new. I cannot adequately express to you how silly it looks when you "try" to move your hips, but trust me - it's not as hot as we think it is. Get your feet right first. Work on your turn out and landing on bent knees, and the hips will come. I spend so many lessons correcting bad behavior with hip movement. So, if you never learn the wrong way because you are diligently staying neutral with your hips, you'll save yourself lots of money (and embarrassment;).
Back to my guys - don't rush into learning lots of moves. Women would rather dance with someone who can lead four moves well, than fifteen moves poorly - I promise you!! Take your time and get it right. Dance is muscle memory, so if you learn it wrong, you dance it wrong - for a long time! Slow down and get it solid.
Ladies, do not step before the guy! Our job is to follow. If you step before him, you're not doing your job. You're back leading - which makes his job near impossible. I know you're trying to help, but it's infuriating, literally. Don't believe me? Try leading someone who does it. You'll never do it again:)
For both guys and gals, keep your shoulders quiet! I call it the "white man's shuffle" when I see shoulders shrugging up and down with each step. I know you're excited, (believe me, I've cornered the market on excitement) but it's not Salsa. It's not any dance actually, (save maybe a touchdown dance) so stop.
Basically, less is more. I know that sucks to hear when you're new because you're intoxicated by this new world of dance. You want to throw caution to the wind and rules be damned! Like I said, I get it. Let me offer this: dance in front of a mirror at home (yes, you too guys). Play with different ways to move your body. Watch what you do when you're dancing and see if you like it. If you do, Great! If you don't - call me for a private lesson:)
I still remember my first dance lesson. I still remember flinging my body through space and Loving It! I'm not hatin' on beginners. I'm proud of you! My brother included. I love when people finally get up and dance!! I want the whole world to be that brave and free! I only offer these tips because I wish someone had given them to me sooner. On the dance floor: less really is more. Which, if you think about it, makes dance that much more enjoyable because now you can relax and have fun!
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!