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Become a Great Salsa Dancer in 6 Easy Steps

Do you watch other dancers around you and wish desperately that you could look just as good as they do? Think about the difference it would make to your life to be be as confident and sexy as they are…

I remember being that person standing at the edge of the dance-floor in awe of the incredible dancers before me. I spent hours wishing that some day I could be just like them. The trouble was that at that moment,  ‘someday‘ seemed so far away and close to impossible to achieve.

But you know what- it didn’t take as long as I thought to become a great Salsa dancer. If you learn a few simple tricks then it shouldn’t take you long either to turn heads, melt dance-floors and take your turn at inspiring those around you.  You’ll also boost your Salsa appeal, become everyone’s favourite dancer, win friends and see your self- esteem soar. Sound good?

 Here are 6 simple steps to take to become a great dancer.

1.  Get Yourself a Solid Core of Moves

It’s a bit of a no-brainer to remind you that to be able to dance you need to, well…know how to dance!

If you’re the kind of person that likes to learn complicated turn patterns, shines and impressive tricks then great. You’re doing brilliantly. Just make sure you’ve got the basics sorted first. It’d be a foolish builder who threw up a skyscraper without any foundations.

I’m not talking about flinging yourself around like a wannabe Latin John Travolta (or Baby) but having a solid core of moves that provide the foundations for higher level stuff. Yes, this means practicing, practicing and practicing the basics ’til you can’t take any more. Men- work on your leading (signals) ladies, work on your following. This dancing lark is teamwork after all.

2. Are you laughing?

Or even smiling? C’mon guys, you need to get yourself a sense of fun. Salsa is supposed to fun, this is play for adults! So let’s see a little playfulness on that dance-floor, a little silliness and tongue in cheek stuff too please. It’s fun and it shows that you aren’t taking yourself too seriously. Arrogance ain’t cool and won’t win you either friends, fans or dances!

3. Find the Salsa Beat

A dancer must be in time with the music: Dancing is a physical expression of sound. Nothing is worse that watching someone who isn’t in time with the music they are dancing to. It’s embarrassing. It looks like you are trying and failing at one of the fundamental parts of Salsa dancing. If this is a weak spot of yours, FIX IT NOW! Check out my article on How to find the Beat in Salsa if you need a helping hand.

4. Be lovely

Salsa is a partner dance. When you dance, you are letting someone join you in your personal space and so the friendlier you are the better! Make eye contact with your partner, exchange a few words if you can and smile! Grumpiness or arrogance is not welcome here. You’re putting your partner at ease, building bonds with a fellow human being and best of all, it’s free.

5. Be considerate

When you’re deep in dancing bliss, it’s easy to forget that there are other people around you sharing the same dance space with you but it’s soo important to stay aware. I’ve had several injuries to remind me. <sob>

Have great consideration for your partner just like in your life outside of Salsa (if you have one!) If you are leading, remember to take good care of your follower. Lead her into a safe space, make sure she has room to dance and protect her from nasty flying stiletto heels wherever humanly possible. And don’t forget that other people need space to dance too, let them have it.

6. Listen to the music

My last tip has the power to turn a good dance into an awesome one. During a dance, listen to the music, really listen. Familiarise yourself with its character, its behaviour and invite it to play. Use your body to experiment with the sounds and rhythms you hear and encourage your partner to do the same. Express yourself and have some fun!

You will become a great Salsa dancer

You can become the kind of dancer that is so popular that that you never get chance to escape the dance-floor, it’s so simple. And most of these things could probably be applied to general life. Be kind, show consideration, have fun and go with the flow. You’ll be pleased you did!

Now it’s time for you to tell us what you think. Were you surprised by our selection? What would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

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Image © Brendan Lally

2 Comments on Become a Great Salsa Dancer in 6 Easy Steps

  1. In terms of point 6 – Typically in a room full of salsa couples it is rare to find more than one or two who are actually “dancing”. Knowlege of the music – hitting accent points for spins, drops etc., changing there moves and style with the musical energy, are non-existent. The leaders are just robotically grinding out a series of “clever” moves from bar 1 to the end bar, with no thought to appropriateness to the music playing at the time. Thinking they are fantastic of course.

    If you can “feel” the music and actually dance TO it, you will automatically be in the top 10% of salseros, even if your repertoir of moves may be limited. Simple moves danced well are better than all the clever moves danced badly.

    Point 2 4 and 5 are all very well but the delicate topic of “personal freshness” should also be brought up. Actually fundamental really. You are close up with someone – wet shirts and bad smells will not be compensated by a smile.

    • Hi Paul,

      You bring up some great points there, thanks for commenting.

      I completely agree that there are a lot of people that dance and consider themselves fantastic dancers who are just churning out the moves they have learnt. Worse still, they might be off-beat or have no real connection with the music itself. In your opinion, and also my own they are not ‘hitting the spot’ when it comes to dancing. However, if they are enjoying themselves then let them get on with it. Are they hurting anyone? Salsa is meant to be fun after all.

      You are right about ‘personal freshness’- it really does make a difference to being a good dancer or being a considerate person in life outside of Salsa.


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