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SalsaCrazy's Salsa Dancing FAQ

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Welcome to the SalsaCrazy Dance FAQ.  This is a collaborative effort for Salsa Dancing information.  Hopefully it will continue to grow as people contribute thoughts and ideas.  Anyone can contribute to this FAQ, by clicking the link above.  The FAQ will be continually updates, as time allows.  

Table of Contents - Last FAQ Update 8/16/01.

  1. Latest FAQ Changes.
  2. I've never danced before, How do I Start?
  3. What is Salsa Addiction?
  4. What is a Salsa Fix?
  5. Where can I find a teacher ?
  6. Beginner Friendly Clubs
  7. Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - For Everyone 
  8. Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Male
  9. Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Female
  10. Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Beginners
  11. Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Advanced
  12. Dance Partners
  13. Demo Dollies
  14. The Too Long Song Advice
  15. Where can I buy the music?
  16. What are some other online salsa sites?
  17. Salsa Travel: How to travel and dance your way around the world. 
  18. Hints for Life

FAQ Changes

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1/28/00 - Added Advanced Etiquette.  Added one more item to Beginners Etiquette.

2/10/00 - More Male Salsa Etiquette!  Talking about that first dance . . . also new words on "Teaching Partnerships".

2/14/00 - Added more to Advance Etiquette and Male & Female Etiquette.

2/22/00 - Added Demo Dollies Section!

2/28/00 - More added to Etiquette for Females (leaders off beat). New, General Etiquette section, applicable to everyone.

3/6/00 - "Salsa Fix" section added.

3/25/00 - More General Salsa Etiquette added (from a few other people!).  Added "Hints for Life".

4/15/00 - Added Salsa Fix Story.

5/1/01 - Added, The Too Long Song Advice!

8/16/01 - Added, The Travel Dilemma to Demo Dollies

How do I Start?

Well, you've gotten this far! You are actually at a salsa website.  Congratulations!  If you are just starting out, welcome to a wild ride.  Salsa Dancing will prove rewarding to you in ways you can barely imagine right now!  It's the most fun you can have standing up. However, starting out isn't easy! You'll miss the beat, lack coordination, fear the unknown, and of course be scared of making a total ass out of yourself.  These ALL play into the equation. It takes time, lessons (yes, it does), practice, and a little addiction, to get the most out of it. 

The first thing you have to do is take lessons, and I recommend at least 2 times a week (and three is better). Why so much? Well, it takes a little time to get the beat that you hear in your ears, and feel in your heart, into your feet. Repetition helps!  If you take lessons in the beginning, many times a week, it reinforces things you learn.  In addition, after two to three weeks of group classes, take a private lesson! Private lessons really help you pick up the style, and leading/following technique, that aren't necessarily abundantly clear (or even forthcoming) in group classes.  You want an example?  Well, a perfect example, for the ladies, is "arm tension" (i.e. how to feel a man's lead without locking up your arms in front of you).  Private lessons can REALLY help!

Next up, dance!  Dance with everybody, everywhere, anytime.  You're just starting out, you're not expected to be Fred Astaire!  Dance with as many people as you possibly can, and don't be afraid to ask that great dancer that you see in the club for a dance, or some help (or some pointers). When asking people more advanced than yourself, be mindful of Salsa Etiquette for Beginners, but generally, you're ok asking just about everyone you see to dance.  Even if you have a partner (which we discuss under Dance Partners), don't only dance with them!  It pays to learn to lead and follow from a variety of people, spread yourself around.  You will learn FASTER!

Finally, get out of the classes into the clubs! That's where a lot of the fun is anyway, and why hold it off.  A lot of the classes are in the clubs anyway, but if you're taking classes at a ballroom or a private studio, make sure to make it out to the clubs at least once a week (preferably more).  Not only is it a blast to go out dancing, but in the beginning it can help reinforce those things you learn in class.  Nothing like some real world practice.  It also help you get used to the music which is played in the clubs, which by and large, is faster than what you find in your typical salsa class!  Check out Beginner Friendly Clubs to find places to go out that are better bets for beginner dancers!

Most importantly, have fun (you'll find it hard not to)! We begin with this, and we end with this.  That's what dancing is all about. Relax, take a deep breath, and get ready for the ride of your life . . .  

Need more info not found in the FAQ? Need to know where to go? Ask SalsaCrazy Anything - Email your questions!

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Salsa Addiction

You used to go to a salsa class a week, and maybe go out dancing once a month right?  You used to go to movies, bars, maybe even a show or two.  You used to have a group of friends who didn't dance! Slowly but surely, you started taking more classes, maybe even two or three a week, who knows, maybe even more . . . You suddenly started making excuses to your friends who don't dance. "uhhh, can't go out tonight, sick . . .", or "busy tonight . . . got a date", when in reality, you were sneaking out to dance. 

You're family hasn't seen you in over a month, you're friends (who don't dance) think you've entered the witness relocation program, your job receives one tenth of the attention it once did, you've become known in the salsa circle, people recognize you wherever you go, your dance teachers know you by name, club owners warmly greet you, what the hell is going on? 

You're a Salsa Addict.

Don't worry about it!  It's really not such a bad thing.  Thinking back on it, you're probably much better off.  What did you used to do with your nights anyway? Can you even remember? Could it possibly have been this fun? Could is possibly have been this aerobic (alright, maybe it could)? All of a sudden your social life is jam packed! Could you remember the last time you went on five dates a week?  Now your social calendar is filled! You're meeting new people every single day, you're staying out until 3 a.m. every night, you're walking down the street counting 1-2-3, this is living.

Not everyone becomes an addict, but I've seen it too many times now to discount the fact that such a condition DOES exist!  I'm not sure what exactly predisposes a person to salsa addiction.  Maybe a study someday will uncover the truth. Which bring us to the point, salsa is a great life!  Am I addicted? Hell yes! Am I having fun? Oh yeah! But now I need my FIX . . .

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What is a Salsa Fix (a.k.a. Salsa High)?

It's been days . . . I'm getting irritable, snapping at people, a little shaky . . . I break into cold sweats now and then, finding it very hard to pay attention to . . . anything . . . I've been out dancing, but it's eluding me . . . I need it!  I need a fix . . . 

What is the elusive Salsa Fix?  If you're an addict, you know what it is.  In the beginning, when you started dancing, these seemed to be easier to come by.  Every night you'd be able to get a "fix".  You'd be satiated.  Now, after years of dancing, you're lucky to get your fix once a week.  Sound familiar? Many people actually have equated the elusive salsa high with drugs (imagine that . . .). The more you seem to take, the more you seem to need in order to reach your old "highs".  It might be a single dance, a series of dances, whatever, but it just transports you and makes you feel great.  It's almost dreamlike.  At the end of the dance, you just sit back and say "wow", it's magic. So what is it? It's that feeling of dancing on air, and being one with the music.  Where every move you and your partner make are in sync, and play off of each other.  When you're in the groove (the same groove as your partner), and you both just fly to the music.  Super fast and sharp or snail slow and graceful, it doesn't matter.  It's that one dance that can make your entire night.

These highs can be powerful stuff.  A somewhat embarrassing story I remember (and I don't EVER recommend doing this), but early in my dancing, after this just simply amazing dance, I was just totally swept away. After the dance, I just leaned over and kissed my partner (no, not on the cheek, which would at least have had a semblance of appropriateness).  I was just totally swept away, and before I knew what I was doing, I was doing it.  Whoops . . .  I mean, it's awkward to kiss someone you JUST MET four minutes ago, apart from being wholly inappropriate and totally whacked.  A slap might have been the appropriate response, had we not shared this salsa fix together. This story actually had a very happy ending (after we both got over the initial shock), and since that time, I don't let myself just lose it like that (don't worry ladies, you're safe for now), but it serves to demonstrate that salsa highs can be a powerful feeling.  Salsa Dancing can evoke some powerful emotions . . . and I'm not talking about lust (although there can be plenty of that) . . .  

On the topic of lust, another analogy might be to sex I suppose as well.  I mean, you might have sex with a ton of people, and it's always pretty damn good right? That's just the nature of sex. Then, all of a sudden, wham . . . one time you have sex with this single person and it's just beyond fantastic, and you're ecstatic.  Well, before long, you find yourself yearning for that same experience again, only, it might not be available. You have to work a little for it.  (ok, so maybe that analogy sucks . . . it's hard to come up with a proper analogy, YOU try!). ;)  

When you dance as much as I do, you can pick out the people who need their dance high! You see them, night after night, prowling for that awesome dance that just makes the world a cool place to be.  Not to get into the sociological aspects of salsa addiction and the salsa high, but it seems to affect certain people more than others.  I mean, I first went salsa dancing with my brother, who thought it was cool, but never got as "into it" as I did.  It seems to only affect certain people and there is no racial, social, economic, or other identifying trait I can zero in on that makes one person more susceptible to it than another.  When I first heard the music, it just spoke to me (and through me), and the rest is history.  Time to go get my fix . . .

This response was written by ADorth@aol.com:

"I just howled when I read your description of how the addiction starts and how we go getting our FIX!  I still remember my first "high" and it happened on a Sunday afternoon at the S.F. Dance Center last year, shortly after I had started taking Salsa classes.  Richie (I didn't know him at the time or his name, found out several months later) asked me to dance and it was obvious that he was an advanced dancer.  I felt privileged to  be dancing with him. I loved his light, smooth movements and his smile.  Pretty soon I felt like I was flying, moving in sync with him, and I was grinning with delight.  I was just seeing his face in front of me and became oblivious of my surroundings, we were on another level, I felt like I was in an altered state.  Well, after  that experience I began going more frequently to the different clubs in search of that HIGH!  And, every once in a while it happens, you just can never tell when,  your salsa evening at the club is different each time and that's also part of what makes it interesting, stimulating and keeps you coming back for more.  In describing my salsa craze I've made the remark
to my non-salsa friends that it is like having "safe" sex, I mean really fantastic sex.  Of course, my salsa friends just bob their heads up and down vigorously in agreement. I'm entering my second year of salsa dancing and, I feel like I'm just getting started.  Thank you for letting me "vent"!"  Editorial Comment: Couldn't have said it better myself.

Do you have Salsa Fix stories? Do you know what one is? Have you experienced it? Can you explain it better than me? Send in your comments!

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Where can I find a teacher ?

It's very important to find the right teacher, that suits your style and that you feel you can learn from.  Luckily, the Bay Area is home to over a dozen brilliant teachers. Our site has a complete list of classes, sorted by day, to help you find the right class, at the right place, at the right time.  If you are looking for specific information on a teacher, oftentimes the teachers link directly to their own websites so you can learn more.  Feel free to ask people you run into, or post questions on the email list, or use the handy Message Board!

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Beginner Friendly Clubs

So, what makes a club beginner friendly?  First, a beginner lesson that is well attended!  Second, other beginners who come to the club.  Third, a general lack of the "Salsa is Competition" element replaced by a helpful "let's practice and have fun" element.  Not all clubs are created equal in the salsa scene.  As a general rule, those clubs that don't have lessons before the club opens, are generally less "tolerant" of beginner dancers.  Not to say you'll go there and have a bad time, but you'll certainly find fewer people to dance with at these venues than at other more "Beginner Friendly" places.   Let's get right to clubs:

Cocomo's on Thursday, Glas Kat on Tuesday, Casino Lounge on Wednesday, Metronome Ballroom on Sunday, and Allegro Ballroom on Sunday.  Alberto's in Mountain View on both Tuesday and Thursday's is an ideal beginner's location!

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Dance Partners - Find a Dance Partner in the SalsaCrazy Dance Partner Database!

What are they good for?  Surely for fighting, but beyond that, dance partners serve numerous purposes, and it all depends on your level of dancing, and the goals that you hope to attain from the partnership.  

Beginner Partnerships: As a beginner, partnership's are all about getting down the basics.  If you can partner with someone slightly more proficient than yourself, so much the better.  A partner simply gives you someone to practice with, and as a beginner, you need to get in a lot of practice.  Without a partner, you have to get in a lot of practice with people you don't know at clubs, which can prove awkward for some people (especially when you don't necessarily want to dance, but just practice new moves, or work things out). Where can beginner's find partners?  At the classes!  You dance with someone a few times, it's ok to ask them out to practice.  Don't get overly crazy about this (there's plenty of time for that later), keep it very casual.  You're not asking for super commitment, no rings or contracts are involved, you just want to speed up the learning process a little.  Make sure to clearly state why you want to get together (i.e. to practice), so no hurt feelings are involved later (i.e. I thought this was a date).

Teaching Partnerships: When I decided to start teaching, it was a reasonably quick and easy decision.  I had been dancing for years, and I felt I had something to give to other people who were learning how to dance.  At about this same time, I was approached by someone whom I had been enjoying wonderful dances with for quite some time, we clicked, and since she was already teaching, I just came along for the ride.  I found that I really enjoyed teaching, and that the classes were a lot of fun to do.  Our classes were quite large, but the fear of public speaking was quickly overcome when I saw the eagerness of people to learn. 

Teaching partnerships require a lot of give and take!  Ideally, you both actually talk during class, thus giving students the benefits of both of your experiences.  For example, I partnered with a classically trained ballroom competitor, while I am a very club oriented dancer (non-competitor). This allowed us to give our students a taste of some very different styles!  I honestly believe the best partnerships come from stylized dancers, and by that, I mean dancers who have developed, or are developing, a "form or style" in which they dance.  A partnership needn't have both dancers dancing the exact same style, merely that both styles look good and work well together.

Communication! The best teaching partnerships come from people who can communicate well, not just to the class, but with each other as well.  I just took this Swing class with this couple, Benji and Val (or something like that), and these two were hysterical!  Not only were they very good in depth teachers, but they were just so damn entertaining to watch!  It was like paying for a stand up comedy act.  The other extreme can be equally amusing, and make for a good partnership.  People who are just ALWAYS fighting, and are always visibly angry with each other. This can prove very amusing as well.  As long as the communication is there, be it positive or negative, the results are usually pretty good. 

The other side of the coin, which is no less valid and also can provide very good results, and the way I actually learned to dance, was the typical, "guy teaches, woman looks good" way of teaching.  This is a very typical way of teaching, especially in salsa dancing.  This is basically, the guy talking the entire class, and the woman serving to help demonstrate the moves.  As long as the two LOOK GOOD together AND are moving in-sync (i.e. she's doing the correct patters, at the correct times, with him), there's no problem!  Totally valid way to teach . . . to each his own!

Enough banter!  So, you want to start teaching with someone, what do you look for?

1) Communication Skills - He/She should be a very good communicator, both with you, and in a group.

2) Mastery - He/She should understand the basics of dance!  This means that being a good club dancer, or a top-notch competitor, may not necessarily make for the best teaching partnership.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to explain the basic step, but beyond that, there are a lot of nuances, tips, and dance fundamentals that a good teaching partnership should be able to get across to their students.

3) Connection - Ideally, the partner's dance well together and can demonstrate the patterns clearly and confidently.

Tip: Romance tip #1.  For most partnerships, I wouldn't recommend sleeping with your partner, but hey, beginning partnership and teaching partnerships are a little more low key than others, so if you have to, by all means . . . It will probably add some spice to your classes. For some reason, there are more romantically involved teaching partnerships, than competition partnerships (probably all that stress of competition).  

How do I ask that special someone to be my teaching partner? . . . "uhhhh . . . would you like to teach this class with me . . . please . . .", usually works . . . Don't forget to say please!  Don't be offended if you get a "no", teaching isn't for everyone.  It doesn't reflect on you.

Dance Competition Partnerships: Coming soon!

Professional Partnerships: Coming soon! (looking for a writer!).

The Golden Rule (for 95% of partnerships, except as noted): Don't sleep with your dance partner unless you absolutely have to. ;)

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Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - For Everyone

From Bailando90@aol.com a few comments:

1. If you try to do a fancy move and your partner doesn't get it, it's
probably ok to try it again, but if she doesn't get it that time, please
DON'T keep trying it over and over again! (unless she asks you to)  It's
frustrating for both of you and embarrassing for her. Even if you're an
excellent dancer, she won't enjoy dancing with you if you keep trying to
force her to learn something that she probably needs lessons to learn!

2. When it's really, really crowded, PLEASE remember to alter your dancing
(make it "smaller") and don't spin the woman out to go crashing into the next
couple. Men, it is YOUR job to stay in your area and prevent spike heels from
going into the next woman's foot! Your shoes are closed so they better
protect your feet, but you don't know what it's like for women who are
wearing open shoes to get stepped on and sliced open by a pointy heel! 

3. To salseros who know lots of footwork / shines: if you can see that the
woman doesn't know many steps to do without you, please don't leave her
hanging! It might not be fun for her to dance alone and to keep doing the
basic by herself. Save your fancy shines for a woman who loves to do them too.

4. When a woman says no b/c she's going to the restroom, she doesn't like
merengue, or she's getting a drink, it is NOT a personal rejection of you!
Even if you've asked women who have made up excuses, that does not mean the
rest of us aren't being honest.

5. Advanced salseros: PLEASE remember lots of people have been in car
accidents, have neck and back problems, and have had sports injuries, so
please be careful and respect the woman's wishes if she resists neck rolls
under your arm, etc.

Thanks for reading this!  Also see salsacrazy.com's etiquette. (editorial comment: Thanks!).

From Rita -

Get to know your partner.  Let the first dance be a warm-up or introduction
for you and your partner.  Don't begin a dance with new partner with all your
most complicated, difficult moves.  Allow yourself time to communicate your
style and rhythm to your partner.  This applies to both leaders and
followers.

Respect your partner. If your partner seems tired, tense, anxious or just
having a bad night, adjust your dancing speed and style to make him/her relax
and feel comfortable.  If you are dying to try out triple turns or fancy
patterns, wait until you're both up to the challenge.  If not tonight, then
there's always tomorrow.  At the end of the dance, be gracious, express
thanks and appreciation for your partner efforts.

Relax and have fun.  Many people dance salsa to decompress after a stressful
day at work, school or home.  Try to leave your troubles at door and enjoy
the warmth and positive energy of f the people around you.  If it helps, tell
your friends that you've had a rotten day and that you're glad to have a
chance to unwind.  Most people will identify your situation and will be
supportive.  Smile, make eye contact and have fun with your partner. 

Be patient.  Both beginner or experienced dancers have "off nights" 
Sometimes your rhythm, timing and control are just not there.  Don't get
upset, take a deep breath and go easy on your self and your partner.  Don't
berate yourself or your partner for mistakes.  Just smile and keep going. 
This is not a competition and your life does not depend on how well you
execute moves like "The Tornado".  I am still grateful for seasoned dancers
who stayed calm and supportive and smiled inspite of my mistakes.

Be thankful.  Be thankful for your non-dancing friends who never see you
anymore but still love you anyway.  Be thankful for your spouse/significant
other and family  who forgive you for the dirty dishes in the sink, unpaid
bills and unfinished chores that pile up while you spend your nights at the
clubs.  Show appreciation to the band members and D.J.s who give us the
wonderful music that inspires and excites us.  They love talking with the
dancers.

Know the music.  Listen to the music in the clubs, on the radio shows and in
the CD stores.  Find out what artists and types of music you like and talk to
the D.J.s and band members about different music styles.  Salsa music is
incredibly diverse and constantly changing. Listen to the local radio
programs that discuss the roots, history and trajectory of salsa music.  A
greater knowledge of the rhythm and structure of the music will improve your
dancing and heighten your appreciation of the salsa experience. 

From Caren -

1.  No dancer, no matter how advanced, should give instruction or "hints" to his/her partner unless and until the partner requests it.  Unsolicited "help" presumes (usually incorrectly) that the help-er is more advanced than the help-ee, and is typically not welcome.  If I'm uncertain whether or not I did what the leader intended me to do, I usually say "Did I do that right?" or "I didn't catch on to that -- could we do it again so I can learn it?" or "Feel free to give me any hints that will improve my following/make me more fun to dance with."  Likewise, even in class, I never "help" a leader unless they say something like: "Was that right?" or "Was my timing off?" or "I'm not getting this -- do you know how to do it?"

 

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Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Male

How do I ask a lady to dance?  The wrong way: Point to the lady, then point to the floor right in front of you. Snap your fingers a few times for effect, and grimace as if she is taking to long. As she's getting up, turn your back to her and march on to the floor (don't bother to check if she's actually following you).

The right way. Walk to the lady, make eye contact, ask her "May I have this dance", in Spanish or English, or something to that effect. IF she say's yes, extend your hand and lead her onto the dance floor (walk with her on to the floor, don't march out there alone).  After the dance (even if the dance was "bad") do not bolt for the exit. Take her and lead her, approximately, back to the place from where you picked her up.  Thank her for the dance!

SOME BIG (AND NOT SO BIG) TIPS FOR ASKING WOMEN TO DANCE:  

Here are some clues for asking that special someone to dance.  These aren't rules, just tips you might want to think about.

.5) Hygiene!  Hello . . . Wear deodorant, aftershave, cologne (in REASONABLE AMOUNTS).  Don't stink when you dance. ;)  There's no reason to.  If you are getting turned down a lot, check your breath and your body odor.  One more tip, mailed in by one of our SalsaCrazy users, don't overdo the cologne!

1) Make eye contact (if possible): If it appears as if she is avoiding looking at you, you're facing a possibility of being turned down.  However, that shouldn't faze you necessarily.  Only if it's obvious that she is avoiding looking at you, should you consider just staying away.

1.5) Never take being turned down to dance personally.  There are SO many dancers in this world, and not everyone wants to dance with everyone else.  Just move on to the next person, you can even add a "Thanks anyway". 

2) If it appears they are on the way to the bar, or the restroom, wait for a more opportune time.

2.5) If the woman is coming off the dance floor, and looks like she's about to pass out from dehydration, you might want to wait for a more opportune moment, or go buy her a water, and then ask her to dance.

3) If they are obviously with someone else, you may want to read the body language clearly before asking her to dance.  I ask women to dance all the time that are "with" other people, however if I don't already know them, I acknowledge the guy, usually with a nod, to let him now it's cool.  Opinions vary on this, but there are plenty of women who go to clubs with guy's (boyfriends) and dance with other people. Likewise, there are plenty of people who will not take kindly to you asking THEIR date to dance.  Pay attention to the body language, and read the situation before asking women to dance that are obviously with significant others.

4) Don't interrupt a conversation that a woman is having! Now, I do this all the time.  When a good song comes on, I will butt in, admittedly rudely, and ask one to dance (even though I can plainly see that two people are conversing).  Well, I can't recommend this, even though I am guilty of it.  It's rude and extremely bad manners.  However, it's ok to park yourself close enough to the two that are talking so that she can see that you are anxious to dance.  At that point, it's up to her, if she wants to talk, or wants to dance.

5) Look at the edges of the dance floor! That's generally where people stand that are waiting to be asked to dance.  Look for the woman madly tapping her foot, or swaying back and forth to the music.  These are pretty telltale signs she's ready to dance, quite probably with the first guy that asks her, so GET MOVING!

 

What should my first dance with a new lady be like? The wrong way: Grab her and immediately start throwing her into every conceivable move you've ever learned in class.  Forget about the closed position, just spin her absolutely as fast as you can, without stopping, in order to impress her with your amazing leading abilities.  Forget about the rhythm, and through sheer force of will, get right into the most complicated and intricate patters that you know.  Do all this as fast as humanly possible  . . . If she can't keep up, she'll just be impressed with how good you are. ;)  If you're not very fast, grab the woman in as close an embrace as possible, pressing her body up against yours so she can tell exactly how many sit-ups and crunches you do every day.  Enjoy the dance, because it will probably be the last one you have with this follower . . .

The right way.  Once on the floor, take the lady in closed position.  Try to actually keep your right hand up high, under her shoulder blade, and put some strength there (so she has a nice place to rest her arm).  It's a pretty clear clue to ladies, when a guy takes her in closed position and puts his right hand on her ass, that he's not that great a dancer (or interested in something completely different). Likewise, give her some space.  Now, I like to dance very close sometimes, but with new dancers, I always let THEM determine the distance of the dance.  I'm not going to plaster them against my body right off the bat (I wait at least until the middle of the song . . .that's a joke). ;)

For those who have taken my classes, this should be familiar. Start with "The Rock" (TM). "The rock" is exactly what is sounds like! You rock back and forth, with the lady, to the rhythm of the music.  This can last from 5 seconds, to a minute, but I don't recommend starting to dance until you both are rocking (back and forth) in unison.  This assures that you both are on the same beat (and listening to the same music).  When you both are feeling the rhythm, start of with the basic step!  Keep her in closed position for a while, play with it, try a few simple inside/outside turns.  Get to feel each other for a while. At this point, you can actually stop staring at the floor (your feet) and take a gander at who you're dancing with!  Smile . . . relax . . . the rest is up to you.  

Important Note #1:  Try and determine the level of experience the lady has with dancing.  A good leader will always match his skills with that of his follower (i.e. making it easier for her (and you both) to have an enjoyable dance).  Obviously, if she is a beginner you don't want to be dragging her forcefully around the floor with complicated arm movements, and vice versa, if she is advanced, you don't want to keep doing the basic forever (although this can be ok in some situations).

 
More Coming soon!
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Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Female

I don't want to dance with him, what do I say?  A simple "No" is NEVER the correct response to being asked to dance! While it is perfectly acceptable to turn down a dance with anybody you don't want to dance with, it is never acceptable to do it rudely.  Generally, learn to add a thank you, and even an "excuse" to your "No".  

A few examples: 

"No thank you" 

"No, thank you, I'm just listening to the music"

"No thank you, I'm relaxing", 

"No thank you, I'm getting a drink"

"No thank you, I'm tired"

"Not right now, thanks"

 

Say it with a smile! It's generally considered polite to avoid the "distasteful" or "exasperated" look when a guy asks you to dance.

Don't say "No thank you, Maybe later", unless you mean it!!!  Just makes more trouble for you later if you didn't want to dance with him in the first place.  Firm yet friendly . . .

Can I ask that guy over there to dance? In a word, hell yes (ok, two words)! Now, I'm not a lady, nor do I have any idea how women think (or really do I know anything at all about them, as I have proven over and over and over again in my life).  However,  I've always thought it was nice being asked to dance.  Maybe I'm just lazy (which is probably true), but it sure is great when all you have to do is relax and be approached by people who would like to dance with you.  Should a woman have to sit and listen to song after song go by that she wants to dance to, but doesn't get asked?  I say, hell no.  

However, in the same breath, I urge common sense in this situation.  This applies to both men and woman and is covered in other places, but let me review some basics.  If someone is coming off the floor from a dance, and is a sweaty mess, that might not be the opportune time to ask them to dance.  If someone looks like they are bee-lining for the bathroom or the bar, that isn't the correct time either.  If someone is obviously avoiding making eye contact with you, you might want to think twice about approaching them for a dance. Just use the basic telltale signs! All you have to do is reverse the roles.  Ask yourself what you would be doing when you want to dance, and you are waiting to be asked.  If you see a guy on the edge of the floor, tapping his foot madly, chances are, he's just waiting (like you would be).  Go get him!

From Caren -

What should a follower do when she's dancing with someone who is not staying on the beat and/or gets off on their footwork?  I'm not sure what the answer is but have thought of a few possibilities.

With respect to a leader that is "dancing to a different drummer": 

A.  Just follow the leader's rhythm.  (This is really hard to do when your feet & body are wanting to groove to the beat.  Not to mention it makes for a miserable dance experience.  Plus you run the risk of other potential partners crossing you off their dance card 'cuz they think you're rhythmically challenged.  But if that's the general consensus, that's what I'll do."
B.  Ignore the leader's rhythm and stick to the rhythm of the music.
When a leader's footwork goes astray (this happens a lot with beginning dancers when they start doing fancier patterns):
A.  Follower continues and waits for the leader to "catch up"
B.  Follower "catches up" with the leader
When I first started dancing about 10 years ago, I think I remember Alex DaSilva telling us that it is always the leader's responsibility to catch up, no matter who made the mistake.

What does SalsaCrazy say?  You've got a rhythmically challenged partner, what should you do?  A follower's "job" is to follow, so I say try your darn-dest to figure out what beat your partner is on, and try to keep it.  If there is no rhyme nor reasons to the rhythm of your partner, then I believe it is ok to "help him along".  When I use to dance with people (women) better than myself, I noticed sometimes they would help me stay on the beat (in essence, back-leading me). I never minded this at all, but BE CAREFUL.  If the follower starts dictating the rhythm and speed of the dance, it's not salsa anymore!  What I am advocating is a very gentle process!  Really, this is no different than an unguided follower's turn.  During a free spin, or dancing shines (not in closed position) the follower is expected to keep perfect rhythm anyway, now the follower is just keeping that same rhythm in closed position, gently guiding the leader to follow it!  

With regards to mistakes . . . I have to agree with Alex!  Followers, unfortunately, it is your job to catch up to the leaders beat.  However, when I'm dancing, I always compensate (as a leader) for my partner.  If my follower skips two beats, and say starts a back step to her basic two beats early, I will just go with her, right into a basic, two beats early.  This can lead to confusion however, if you both are trying to compensate for EACH OTHER, which happens on occasion.  

What do you think? Email in your etiquette!

More Coming soon!
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Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Beginners

Practice makes perfect! Just make sure not to practice on the edges of the floor, taking huge steps, bumping into everyone around you, throwing your arms, elbows, knees, and heads into anything and everything that gets near you. That would be bad! ;)

The Six Golden Rules: (most of these apply to everyone, not just beginners).

1) Be aware of the people around you and actively avoid hitting them!  Sounds simple right? Well, if this sounds simple to you then you haven't been dancing in some of the more crowded nightclubs. This can prove very difficult at times, and you have to keep your wits about you in order to "steer clear".  Avoid throwing your partner (i.e. the follower) into people as a means of clearing space for yourself (that's a joke).  If you're dancing in a crowded place, don't take large steps, keep your steps smaller (this will help with the faster music anyway). 

2) If you knock into somebody, or step on somebody, acknowledge your mistake.  Say you're sorry!  You don't have to get on your hands and knees and beg for forgiveness (although it might help), but you do have to actually look at the person and acknowledge the fact that you hit them, stepped on them, whatever.  Even a friendly nod is better than nothing! If they are busy dancing, and they ignore you, it's ok to go up afterwards and just say your sorry.  Ladies with spiked heels that step on somebody DO have to get on hands and knees and beg for forgiveness.

3) Let the show-off's, show off! You can't stop them.  Salsa is a beautiful dance, and it's gorgeous to watch two people really groove.  As a beginner, it might be in your better interest to actually give these guys some room (as some can be mighty forceful in taking it from you).  Just move your partner to a safer place on the floor.  Generally, salsa "shows" are held on the outside of the floor, the edges.  If you're going to show off, you want people to see it, so you're not going to go to the center of the floor right? Beginner's may find more space, and easier dancing in the center, or even in front of the band (if there is one).  

4) Salsa is a show-y dance! It's nice to have people admire your dance style and super fast, razor sharp moves.  However, as an alternative view to that above, show off's have to pay special attention to rule number 1!  Be aware of your surroundings!  The worst part is, most show off's are good dancers, thus they already are aware of their surroundings.  They just don't care.  They are going to clear space for themselves to do their stuff, at whatever cost to those dancing around them! Well, that's just life.  Some people are cool, some aren't! As a beginner, my advice is to avoid these people like the plague.  Believe me, you won't be able to miss them out on the dance floor.  When you're watching them, you'll be awed and entertained, when you're dancing next to them, you won't be!

5) Lay off the fancy dips! I know . . . believe me.  They'll be plenty of time for that later. For example, let's say you just learned this great dip in class and you want to twirl the lady around five times, absurdly fast, catch her with one hand behind your back, and gracefully take her body to the floor, as the woman is astonished by your grace, and the crowd is awed by your speed.  Unfortunately, this often turns out quite poorly when starting out!  The five quick turns don't go as well as planned as the lady spins out of control crashing into the couple next to you.  In a flailing attempt to grab her, you leap forward catching her and throwing her into a dip far to fast.  As you are lowering her body, you notice the spiked heel of the lady dancing next to you flick up in the air towards your partners head.  As her head and the lady's heel nearly collide you attempt to jerk her out of the way, throwing her into someone's ass, and then throwing both of you off balance, as you land (not so gracefully) on the floor, on top of the woman who is never going to dance with you again (nor will any of her beautiful friends).  Not the most beautiful of pictures eh? Well, I see it all the time!  It never ceases to amaze me. 

6a) Leaders (protecting your partner): Adding on to all of our previous tips, the underlying theme is, your partner is gold.  Her safety is in your hands, and only your hands.  Whether she is a rote beginner, or a truly advanced dancer, you are the leader (at least in most cases).  You've learned that through the use of well placed turns, and cross body leads, you can deftly navigate the most crowded of dance floors.  Your partner is not a weapon, to be flung out like a dangerous projectile, in order to clear more space for yourself.  Likewise, if she is swinging out of control, you might try to reign her in a bit.  Remember the simple truth, followers are following your lead.  If an accident happens it's always the leader's fault (whether it IS or not). Leader's need to be vigilant in preventing dance accidents before they happen! Stay sharp . . .

6b) Followers (protecting your partner):  Does that mean you can close your eyes, and go blithely wherever led?  Well, yes and no.  In many cases, you are at the leader's mercy, however, in some cases (cross body leads for example), you have many choices.  For example, let's take the biggest problem. Huge steps!  Most of the time, unless your in a ballroom, your not going to get away with taking enormous leaps away from your partner! Keep it small, keep it tight.  Watch some of those advanced female dancers we have in our midst.  I hate naming names, because inevitably I'll leave out someone who will read this, but I can't think of a female teacher who takes big steps (when not performing).  One dancer in particular, you'll know her when you see her (and if she's at the club, you WILL see her), is just lightning fast in the smallest space I've ever seen.  In fact most of the really advanced dancers, dance incredibly tightly, and very controlled. Oh, and one more thing, if you see your leader about to crash into someone else behind him (he can't see back there, trust me), it's polite to give him a little pat (with either your left or right hand), alerting hit to the impending crash

Sub Rules of Dipping: Know which direction you are going to dip the lady, and make sure your not dipping her into somebody!

The two not-so-golden Rules

1) While it is ok to ask someone phenomenally better than yourself to dance, it's not ok to do it more than once, or over and over throughout the night (unless invited). Be respectful of their right to dance at their level.  They're out to have a good time just like you.  If you are going to ask someone phenomenally better than yourself to dance, be understanding of the fact that they may wish to wait for a song or two. If they say no, don't take it personally.  You may just have asked at an inopportune time (i.e. their favorite super fast dance tune just came on)!  It's ok to ask again, once, but usually not in the same night.  

The Opposite View

Advanced  Dancers:  Wow, a beginner just came came up to you and asked you to dance during your favorite fast song, so you said "not right now, maybe later, thanks for asking", and went to dance with someone else.  Be aware, and sensitive, to the fact that it is NOT easy to ask people to dance.  He/She may have walked all the way across the floor, with her friends watching, to ask you that question that you so easily brushed aside.  If you really just didn't want to dance with a beginner for that particular song, FIND him/her later and say something to the effect of "how about that dance".  If you don't want to dance with a beginner, be POLITE about it, and go out of your way to be both charming and respectful.      

More Coming Soon, but by all means, if you agree or disagree, drop SalsaCrazy a line.

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Salsa (Dance) Etiquette - Advanced

Ok, you've been dancing Salsa for years.  When you dance, people clear the floor.  You've worked hard and are a skilled salsa dancer.  Yet, some pretty basic etiquette rules still apply for you as well.  Most involve the use of floor space, and the "gentle" use of some of those skills.  Finally, some special Etiquette (i.e. a higher standard) applies to teachers.

Let me start by acknowledging a simple truth.  As you become a more advanced dancer, the ability to express yourself from and  through the music greatly increases. You no longer have to count, nor think about "what am I going to do next"?  Your body is now comfortable doing all the salsa moves (yes, even the neck wrap, and drop).  The dance becomes, ideally, an extension of yourself and your personal interpretation of the music.  With this in mind, let's get to the meat.    

Let me tell you a story, just from last night actually.  I'm dancing, and I am in to the music.  I'm really feeling it, and the amount of space I'm using is increasing.  Pretty soon, I've cleared a nice area around myself, and I'm just flying through this dance.  Then, out of nowhere, this total beginner couple comes right smack into my dance space, and starts practicing! I just can't believe it . . . right next to me, flinging his partner (and her shoes) dangerously close to my (and my partner's) heels.  Ok, one of two things can happen at this point.  I can either take my space back, which isn't very difficult, or, I can utilize my years of dance training to rein myself in a little.  What did I do?  Did I hustle this brand new dance couple off the floor because their drunken obliviousness interrupted my dance?  That certainly would not have left them with a good feeling about their first trip to a salsa club!   

It ultimately is going to be determined by the specific facts of the situation you are in (and your mood at the time), but the FAQ urges restraint!  Reign it in, keep it tight, give them a little more space. It takes a great dancer to dance fast and smooth in a very small space.  I'm not saying it's easy to dance with speed and grace even in a large space, but I am saying that to do it in a controlled manner, in a smaller space, requires much more skill. Anyone can flail at enormous speed in a vast space.  We see it all the time.

The Rule: Even more so than beginners, advanced dancers have a responsibility to be aware of their surrounding.  As a beginner, you may not have the requisite skill to avoid another couple.  As an advanced dancer, there's no such excuse.  

Teachers: Pure and simple, teachers set the example for their students.  In many ways, students emulate their teachers not only in their style, but in how they approach the entire "salsa scene".  I've actually seen a teacher, who shall of course remain nameless, clear space for themselves in the most alarming manner imaginable.  As an example, these teacher's, while dancing on the edge of the floor,  had a couple encroach upon their space (granted, it was during a pretty damn good show).  The guy was definitely noticeably angry at this (at least it was noticeable to me), and on a back step (a rather large one), brought the back of his heel crashing down on the back of the encroacher's heel.  Needless to say, the encroachers, who had been painfully oblivious to their encroachment, quickly retreated (in quite a bit of pain).  No one was injured, no one's life was dramatically changed forever, but a pretty bad precedent was set, not only for the teachers themselves, but for anyone actually watching the "show".  The moral of the story is pretty simplistic, as is the story itself. Teacher's have to set the example for their students, and keep salsa friendly.  

Every beginner (and even advanced) class should end with some basic rules about dancing and etiquette.  After all, if they don't learn it from you, who exactly are they going to learn it from?  The basic rules I recommend, 1) Be aware of those dancing around you, 2) Say you're sorry and acknowledge stepping on somebody,  and 3) Keep it small, and keep it tight.  Grace before speed . . .

Being Asked to Dance by beginners, or in some cases, anyone: In this case, I think I'll start with what I consider to be "the rules", and digress (significantly) from there.  

1)  Always be respectful!  It's just plain hard to ask someone to dance in the first place, but asking an Advanced Dancer to dance is even more difficult. They know they may not have the skills you do, but they've asked you to dance anyway, and that takes guts. In addition, respect the fact that in our society, women ask men to dance less often that vice-versa and thus, it takes more guts, and self assuredness, for women to ask men.  Men, be extra-understanding of this!  

2) If possible, say yes!  By this I mean, if circumstances permit, and you've been asked to dance, say yes.  What circumstances might prevent you from saying yes?  A great song, wanting to dance with someone else, getting a drink, the list is endless . . . However, the rule is simple.  If you can say yes, do! This is one dance.  3-5 minutes.  You might even like it (or you may not).

Now, after stating these basic rules, I'm going to give them some meat, and shred them to pieces.  Remember these rules, as I tell you a few real life stories!

I remember, years ago at Kimballs, asking this fantastic dancer to dance.  I mean, she was awesome.  She looked me up and down, and asked me quite simply, "are you any good"?  I had to answer, "well, I'm a beginner", because hell, it was true.  With a look of absolute distaste, she said "I don't dance with beginners", and turned away from me. I was pretty crushed. Now, I might have stomached this better if my friends hadn't been watching the entire exchange, but of course, they had.  Fast forward FIVE years, and I still remember this exchange!  Must have been pretty powerful eh?  Since then I've learned that being turned down for a dance isn't that bad a fate, however at the time, it was a powerful motivator to get better. I suppose some people are better at taking rejection than others.  

Fast forward five years!  I probably shouldn't write this,  but since it happened recently, I thought I'd relate another personal experience.  Last night, after a so-so band, the DJ finally decided to play some Cuban music.  I felt great (because I love Cuban music) and I was ready to dance.  Right when Bamboleo came on, one of my favorite bands, out of nowhere, this woman comes up, grabs me by the hand, and says, (I kid you not), "you must dance with me".  Now, this is one great song, and I was bee-lining for Kristiaan (a great dancer), but what the hell, I said yes.  As I lead her out on the floor, the real pain set in.  She says "this is my first night dancing, and you absolutely have to teach me everything".  Oh god! But I'm still ok, the music is just too good.  However, as we dance, she continually asks me questions, stops to converse, etc . . . "How do I do this?" , "Am I doing this right?" Etc . . .  All I want to do is dance! The entire 6 1/2 minute event "bummed my high".  After the dance I made sure to lead her back to her table, and offer to get her a teacher's card for local lessons, but by that time, I really needed a "Salsa-High" dance.  In retrospect, I could have handled it better by being a bit firmer with her (i.e. Thank you, but not this dance, maybe in a bit), but at the time, for whatever reason, it just didn't occur to me.  Granted, if I had been having good dances all night to great music, this probably wouldn't have been a very big deal, but since I hadn't yet had that one good dance, I was kind of yearning for it.

So, what the hell is the moral of that story?  I certainly don't want to turn off beginner dancers from asking people to dance, because that IS the BEST way to get better, and I want to greatly encourage it (and I do mean GREATLY encourage it).  However, I also want these same people to take a "no" with a grain of salt, and understand what might be behind it.  These are two very different stories, one from each angle.  

Moral #1, It is better to give than to receive. Whoever thought of this really pisses me off, but alas, it's got some tiny, miniscule bit of merit (somewhere). Here was my chance to bring someone new into the salsa world, and show them what a great time can be had dancing to the music.  Should that make me feel like I missed out on a great dance? Or should it make me feel like I've just done a pretty nice thing? 

Moral #2, in the final account, you, and everyone around you, are out at clubs to have a good time.  That means, in a nutshell, you have the right to say no, and dance with whom you want to dance, when you want to dance.  In retrospect, I should have just said, "I'd love to dance with you, but I've promised this dance to someone else" and left it at that, possibly returning later.

One final note, I love seeing teachers dancing with their students. In fact, recently, I've noticed a change in the scene. When I go out and dance I see more and more teachers out at the clubs, having a good time.  When I see teachers, who I of course will not name, that I see out dancing a lot, dancing with everybody, and I mean, everybody, I just think that's cool.  Always looking like they're having a good time, regardless of the level of their partner, or the song that comes on.  Not being obsessed with how they look, or who's watching them.  That's just very cool (and very rare . . .).

Coming soon.    Preview: Some teachers, you never see dance with their students.  Some advanced dancers, you never see dance with a beginner.  We were all beginners at one point, what do you think the rules are?

More Advanced Dancer Etiquette. Coming Soon!  Have something to add or change? Send it in.

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Demo Dollies

(Don't take this too seriously!) ;)

 

The demo dolly is a term that refers to a female (or male) partner whose sole goal and purpose is to show off their partner, and make him (or her) look good. It was originally coined by a male teacher in the Bay Area (whom shall remain nameless) for his beautiful female dancing partners, as they would generally remain silent, and help him demonstrate his moves (making him look like a god). 

The demo dolly has many uses, and I'll explain some right after this short story. When I tell people that I am sometimes turned down when I ask women to dance, they all appear shocked. I mean, why would I get turned down? I know how to dance right? I'm good looking right? ;) Well, guess what? It happens to everybody (and I do mean everybody)! Nobody bats 1000! Men (and women) alike are going to be turned down for a dance at sometime in their lives. In fact, once again, it happened to me last night. But would it have happened if I had a demo dolly? Probably not, and here's why!

Last night, I was at a new club, where few people knew me. I was dressed rather poorly having just come from a work out, and I was asking someone I had never seen before for a dance (in English, at a very Latin club, which didn't help things). I got a simple "no", which always serves to tick me off (as I find it rude). Well, since there were no dancers present, I had to sit and wait for someone I knew to show up. Being in San Francisco, it didn't take long for a fantastic dancer to show up! After my first dance with her, I wasn't turned down for the rest of the night. 

A "demo dolly" serves to show people that "hey, you actually can dance" and "I have some semblance of rhythm". It answers those all important questions that plague those people whom you ask to dance. Will he step on my feet?I won't step on your feet. Will he make me look like an idiot? I won't make you look bad or silly (not that it should matter, but it does to many people), and I, most importantly, won't flail around uncontrollably. Generally, when you have a demo dolly, they are going to make you look great! After that, not only will you not get turned down for a dance, but you'll generally be asked by people in the club FOR a dance! It works perfectly . . .

"BYODD"; Bring your own demo dolly to new clubs . . . For men and women, this is a big help! This would be a good time to point out that Demo Dolly's can definitely BE MEN! In fact, in many ways, women get more "bang for their buck" with a male demo dolly. Since generally women have to wait for men to ask them to dance, it really helps to have a guy who can "show you off" to the other guys so they feel more comfortable asking you to dance. Oftentimes, for better or for worse, I'll actually wait to see if a woman can dance before asking her myself. If she has a guy to dance with her, that can run her through her paces, well, it makes life easier for her. A point of caution for women! If you get shown off TOO WELL, it can backfire. Men can easily get intimidated if your male Demo Dolly is too good and show's you off too well. Then they (the men) won't ask you to dance because they are simply afraid that they won't measure up! Gotta walk that fine line . . . Get shown off Good, but not too good. 

Fortunately, for men, this same logic does not apply! The woman can NEVER make you look too good. Generally, the better you look, the easier your time with all the other women in the club is going to be (you can take that line however you want to).

Having traveled over a good part of the world, I can tell you, it makes a HUGE difference when you have dance partners who can show you off in a new place. Oftentimes I have wished, while in some far off country, I could just have one of my partners from the Bay Area to show these people that I can actually DANCE! Over and over again, through country after country, I had to find a dancer (whom I didn't know) get her to dance with me, and hope for the best. Quite simply, if you have a bad dance in the early night, with someone who is respected in the club you're in (for example, I would always try to dance with the teacher first) you're not going to find many more good partners that night. Quite the opposite is also true, one good dance in the early part of the night with the right person, can often times bring countless introductions to the other dancers, and a full night of dancing with great new people.

Contrast this however to when I arrived in Spain, where I actually did know some Bay Area people, it helped TREMENDOUSLY to have them dance with me. I mean, I was NEVER turned down for a dance my entire time there, and I have to attribute that to my excellent Demo Dolly's on that portion of my trip (they get to remain nameless as well, although they certainly deserve the recognition!). ;)  

 

As you can see, Demo Dollies serve an important purpose for both men and women, especially when you are dancing in new locales!  Like the American Express card, don't leave home without one . . .

 

The Too Long Song

 

You hear it!  That great song you've been waiting for all night.  You make a mad dash for the floor with that women (or man) you've been eyeing for hours, and you throw yourself into the heat of the music.  A great horn solo, conga solo, piana solo, vocal solo and . . . bass solo later, you're starting to sweat.  5 minutes pass . . . 10 minutes pass . . . you and your partner are starting to show signs of severe exhaustion . . . dehydration . . . hard to move the feet . . . you can barely see through all the sweat . . . 15 minutes pass . . . the song has GOT to be over soon . . . then another round of solos start.  Yikes . . . what is the band thinking?  After 20 minutes you're just going through the motions.  You're vainly hoping that the song will just end so you can collapse in a heap on the floor.  Your partner, whom you used to admire greatly, has turned into your worst enemy.  Why, oh why, won't the song end!  Your feet have become lead weights, and yet still . . . the song plays on!

 

What can you do when a song plays for too long? You DO NOT have to wait it out.  Some bands like to jam, and it can last for 30 minutes or more, regardless of the dancers.  When this is going on it can become an embarrassing scene for some of those dancers who keep thinking to themselves, the end is right around the corner.  I've seen people sweating so much it looked like they might drown.  The light is gone from their eyes, and they've become zombies.  It's time to do the right thing (for both you and your partner), and call for this dance.

 

It's hard to do - but you've got to lean over to your partner and call it quits.  It's ok to say "I'm getting a bit tired", or "this is too long a song". You can make a joke out of it, crack a smile, talk about how you're getting old (maybe guys will want to stick with this one).  The bottom line is that either partner can do it, IF it's done right.  

 

For the men - you're the leaders.  It's up to you to do it if you see your partner waning after 20 minutes.  Be nice, be gentle, give her the opportunity to say enough.  She will be so happy you had the courage to call it.  What do you say? Be honest. Something to the effect of "This is a long song, would you like to break?".  Then, DANCE HER OFF THE FLOOR.  Do not just drop her and walk away.  Take her in closed position, and, if possible, dance towards the edge and walk her from the floor.

 

For the ladies - Yes, you can do it too.  However, it must be done with real flare. You've got to go the extra mile so the man doesn't think it's because of his dancing or him (yes, even if it is).  

 

It's nice to say something to the effect of "Let's dance again later . . .".

 

Good Danceable songs usually last between 3-10 minutes, with a sweet spot of 4-6 (in my humble opinion).

Salsa Travel

This is a mind boggling section!  When I first did the things I'll explain in this section, the response I received blew my mind.  But before we start, let me ask a question.  How many of you have traveled to a new place (anywhere, even in the US), gone to a salsa club, asked people to dance, only to be turned down over and over again?  How many of you have been able to walk into a club alone in a new area, find people to dance with, and make a ton of new friends without getting sloppy drunk? :) No, it's not impossible, but it's damn difficult.  Well, actually, it doesn't have to be.  Before I get into it, let me tell you in advance, this section is written by a guy, who at the time was a beginner/intermediate dancer.  I'm not quite sure what the results would be for a woman (they would probably be ok), but I can't recommend it (for obvious reasons as may become evident).

If you had asked me about trips to places I had taken before, I might have answered "they were fun", and maybe I had met a few locals wherever I went.  However, since I've started dancing, trips and vacation have taken on an entirely new meaning (both for good and bad, as I'll explain). I've done some extensive traveling since the time I started dancing, and I've certainly had some of the greatest experiences in my life during these travels.  I enjoy traveling quite a bit, but my job used to keep me from ever being able to do it, so when I got a chance to go travel a bit, I leapt on it.  In the last three years, I have been throughout Paris, London, Israel, Spain (Madrid/Barcelona), Rome (Venice, Florence), and I sincerely hope my travels are just beginning.  (Cuba, Caribbean, you're next!).

Wherever I have gone, even though I often travel alone, I have instantly made friends, met numerous people, and been invited into people's homes and lives.  I doubt that, without dance, people can appreciate the kind of social avenues dancing opens up for you during travels.  It's absolutely incredible, and it's a significant part of what this section is about. In summary, before I get down into it, the crux of the matter was, wherever I went, I instantly had a huge (sometimes too big) group of friends who went out dancing.  Now, it certainly wasn't confined to dancing (some showed me around town, the sites, let me stay with them, etc . . .), but to arrive in a strange new place, and instantly have a large group of friends whom you meet and bond with almost instantly, NO MATTER WHERE IN THE WORLD YOU GO, is simply incredible.  Whenever I went somewhere I knew absolutely NOBODY, yet by the time I left, it felt like I knew EVERYBODY.  All this, sometimes in the course of just a few days . . .

On these trips, as opposed to trips earlier in my life, I would tend to go out dancing almost every single night.  Some of these trips were quite long (a few weeks or more), so you can imagine the amount of nightlife I'm talking about.  

More Coming Soon!

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Hints for Life (By Edward Muniz, Email at emuniz2000@yahoo.com).

1. It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return, but what is more painful is to love someone and never find the courage to let that person know how you feel.

2. A sad thing in life is when you meet someone who means a lot to you, only to find in the end that it was never meant to be and you just have to let go.

3. The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.

4. It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose it, but it's also true that we don't know what we've been missing until it arrives.

5. It takes only a minute to get crush on someone, an hour to like someone, and a day to love someone but it takes a lifetime to forget someone.

6. Don't go for looks, they can deceive.  Don't go for wealth; even that fades away.  Go for someone who makes you smile because it only takes a smile to make a dark day seem bright.

7. Dream what you want to dream; go where you want to go; be what you want to be; because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

8. Always put yourself in the other's shoes.  If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the other too.

9. A careless word may kindle strife; a cruel word may wreck a life; a timely word may level stress; a loving word may heal and bless.

10. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

11. Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, ends with a tear.  When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.  Live life so that when you die... you are the one smiling and every on around you is crying.

12. Final thought - Only one person in this world will make you happy and that's yourself.

I hope this makes a difference in your lives. Once in a while I'll share my thoughts with everyone.

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