You are having a fantastic time going along to Salsa classes right now. Your current mission is to learn more Salsa and become a better dancer. In fact, you want to become as good as you can as fast as you possibly can. Of course you do- most of us do too! But I’m not going to lie to you- it’s going to take money, time, passion and practice to get as good as you really want to be. However there are a few easy ways that you can shorten your journey from beginner to great Salsero. Here’s how to get the most from your Salsa class so you can do just that.
Relax and listen
This is one of the most important tips that we are going to give you today and it’s also the most simple. The key to learning anything at all, whether its dancing Salsa or even brain surgery is to relax, listen and engage. Learning just won’t happen if you are feeling stressed, anxious or just bored- that’s just the way that the human body is built. It’s also really important to be present in the moment and really listen to what is going on in front of us. Sometimes we just can’t help drifting off for a second or two, I understand completely. But the ability to listen will pay off immensely in the future, supercharge your dancing and thrust you forward in your journey to becoming an expert Salsero .
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck
Have you even avoided asking someone to clarify something for you, in fear of looking a little ‘stupid’. I know I have. But this is a huge mistake and one we really need to tackle right now. Maybe you aren’t sure exactly how that turn pattern is supposed to work? Maybe you thought that you had it cracked, but now you’re losing faith? It’s okay. It’s highly likely that there are many more people in the room that are feeling stuck and are also a little afraid of asking. Don’t be shy- just ASK! After all, that is what the teacher is there for and if you don’t, you will find it harder to progress forward.
Dance outside of class
It’s vitally important to dance outside of your Salsa class so you can actually use what you have been learning. (For more details on this, see the article Why Social Dancers are Keeping Salsa Alive).
At a beginners level, this means literally dancing a little outside of class. Like any other skill (like riding a bike) there comes a point when you don’t need to consciously think about it anymore- it becomes second nature to you and is part of your muscle memory. Take a look at the tracks below, stick them on whenever you get chance and move your feet a little. It will really pay off- I promise.
As an ‘Improver’ and beyond it’s really important not to dash off at the end of a Salsa class and instead to stick around for a few dances at least. Better still, stay for the club night or find a local club night where you can practice what you know, meet tons of lovely people and get inspired by all of the other great dancers around you. This is what really cements things in your brain and your muscles. Personally, I’ve spent so much time dancing that I don’t need to think about any of it any more (unless someone gets really off the wall with their moves :-))
Get yourself familiar with the music
Salsa dancing is not something that you can do in isolation- music is the other half of the equation. Some people can feel a little daunted by Salsa music as their ears are not naturally tuned to its polyrhythmic qualities. Yet it need not be so scary. All you need to do is listen a little and it will soon become wonderfully familiar. Here are some great tracks for beginners to listen to and become friends with. Try to ‘understand’ the music a littleat least at a level where you can hear when you are supposed to be moving. And if you can hear the instrumentation and break it all down, better still. Can you outline a bar of music? This is what we are listening for, and it means being able to hear the 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 which is important for learning to dance Salsa. If you are struggling, see our article How to Find the Beat in Salsa Music.
La 33- El Robo
Pupy y Los Que Son Son- Dicen que Dicen
Havana D’Primera- Después de Un Beso
Don’t arrive drunk
A little alcohol might help loosen things up and quell any nerves if it’s your first time dancing. A glass or two won’t do much harm. However, it’s really not a good idea to go beyond that, and here is why. Firstly, you will have less control over your body and so you will find your physical body movement harder to control. Secondly, alcohol impairs our memory and concentration so you are less likely to actually retain what you have been learning. And what a waste that would be. Save the drinks for after the dance class when you are having fun on the dance-floor.
It’s easy to get the most out of a Salsa class and really take massive leaps in your journey to becoming an even more amazing Salsa dancer Please don’t take yourself too seriously- have lots of fun and remember that Salsa is all about the ‘fieeeeeesta’ (party) .Enjoy yourself, make friends and love this passion that you are feeding. Where will it take you?…
Photos © GlastoLatino @ Glastonbury Festival 2014