Most people get into salsa dancing because they want to build their dance confidence, they may have been inspired by ballroom dancing from movies and reality TV shows like dancing with the stars, and have been inspired to take up dancing.
In the salsa community dancing in a club is known as social dancing, and in this article I’m going to discuss the various ways in which you can rapidly increase your social dancing skills.
Find the right salsa dancing class for social dancing
A mistake I made with my salsa dancing journey was to attend salsa classes not really designed for social dancing. A lot of the moves I learnt were designed for performance dancing, which consisted of intricate dips and spins and tonnes of detailed locks.
Whilst I enjoy watching and sometimes attempting fancy moves, often they were taught at the expense of timing and moving in time with the music, which a lot of people would agree is a very important foundation in salsa.
Typically classes in salsa bars are focused on drawing in large crowds, making classes as fun as possible. So typically the teachers will teach a roster of a wide variety of different moves and techniques to stimulate the attendees. Classes in a studio setting are more designed for learning salsa rythm, timing, and perfecting the movements. Now there are no hard and fast rules, you may visit studio classes that absolutely suck and you may visit a bar class which is excellent. However for the most part trend is usually true.
My advice would be to visit a large number of classes to get a feel for the teaching style, are they simply teaching fancy moves? Or are they teaching the foundations? Because all you need for social salsa dancing are the foundation. Even the salsa mambo basic is enough for salsa dancing socially.
Whatever happens… confidence is key
From observation in myself and other dancers, one distinctive trait which differentiates good dancers with bad dancers is that good dancers even as beginners have self belief in themselves. What this translates to for salsa dancing is that even when they are beginners with only a couple of hours tuiton; they carry themselves in a way as if they are seasoned veterens. They’re happy to make mistakes and laugh at it, they’re not worried about being judged by others. A mindset like that will get you far is salsa dancing!
Body awareness comes first in salsa dancing the moves follow after
On the subject of building foundations, another crucial building block for effective social dancing is being comfortable with your body, not being inhibited and allowing you to free yourself from thought. Ususally after a couple of dances you start to flow better and become more expressive.
You should allow the music to flow through your body and be able to express the music through your body, this is what salsa is all about. The salsa steps are only a way to express the music, because the salsa music follows the 8 beat pattern.
Now a lot of beginner dancers make the mistake of dancing by numbers, that somehow following the salsa steps is enough to perform an effective salsa dance. Ususally this equates to a lackluster performance that neither party enjoys.
Before dancing you should get yourself in a neutral state of mind at least, forget about all the days stresses and worries, free yourself from thought. Feel any tension in your body and let it go, let it go by not resisting it. The tension will inhibit your salsa dancing, the less tension there are in your body the more free you become. Once you’ve done that pick a partner and dance away.
Remember, have confidence, be uninhibited, and have a few tricks up your sleeve just to fall back on