The Three Secrets of Salsa Dancing: Salsa Dance Tips for Success that Masters Know, and Rarely Share

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The Three Secrets of Salsa Dancing: Salsa Dance Tips for Success that Masters Know, and Never Share…

SalsaCrazy of blows the lid off Salsa Dances Least Discussed and Oft Misunderstood Secrets to Success

Never discussed in any salsa lesson, rarely if ever covered during your thousands of dollars spent on private lessons, and never whispered about in any salsa competitions you have ever been to, there exists three secrets to salsa dance success that elude all but the elite. Never discussed by anyone except the die-hard social dancers, there are three secrets to success in salsa that are so fundamental to the dance, so elemental to achieving an advanced level, that without truly understanding them, you simply can't become an intermediate social salsa dancer.

So, what are those three things, that every social salsa dancer should have been taught in their very first lesson, yet is rarely, if ever, discussed. Easy to grasp principles, yet very difficult to master, they are: the music, your partner, and dance connection. Together, they form the foundation of social salsa dancing.

We can argue endlessly about which one is most important, and which one deserves to be considered more important than the rest, but the truth of the matter is, it requires all three to really have that great dance or dance "fix" (as it has become commonly known). Salsa dancers have given the name dance "fix" to that dance which makes your night, transports you to that fantastic place, and where all these three elements come together.  It's what most social salsa dancers, myself included, search for almost every single night, and as you get better, it becomes harder and harder to find (but we'll save the discussion on salsa "fixes" for another article).

Connection is that elusive feeling of elasticity that partners share on the dance floor.  What is elasticity? Like a rubber band, it describes the feeling of tension and pressure, between tight and rigid, and loose and "spaghetti-like". We're looking for something in-between that both partners love. Elasticity is the ultimate expression of perfect leading and following. While technique is important, training and practice (and many, many different dance partners) is the only way to truly be able to understand proper arm tension, finger tension, and arm elasticity required to allow your partners to float around the floor.

While I equate connection with a very gentle and sure lead and a graceful, smooth and fast follow, it's important to point out that there are dancers who will view connection as having occurred even with lots of force and harsh movements (a more LA flashy style). However, my personal preference not-withstanding, I personally equate even hard and flashy stuff as perhaps having good connection if both dancers in the partnership, like that style. So in that sense, it fulfills their fix and gets them that connection they crave. It is not defined by what one person likes, but that feeling of connection which they BOTH like. For me, that's light, tight, and fast. For others, it could be hard and fast. It's the relative tension, so it's balanced AND counterbalanced by personal preferences.

So, what then is the partner element? Well, the secret here is that, for a great dance to occur, your partner must be everything. That's your focus. Whether it be leading or following, it's the focus on your partner that creates a connection (along with technique). Is the music, or your partner of primary importance in the dance? Are you thinking about something stuck to your shoe, or your next appointment with the dentist? Are you enjoying how this person moves, and their timing and styling? Different dancers will have different opinions, yet every social dancer makes a choice. Whether that choice is dictated through ruthless adherence to a specific timing, or allowing and moving with whatever timing your partner has, there's a choice that every social salsa dancer has to make.

Finally, it's the music. Possibly the easiest of the secrets to understand at first glance, its definition is not what you'd expect. It's not just the music itself, but the expression of the music through your connection with your partner that makes a dance a great one. Perhaps you should re-read that line above. It's not the music itself, but the expression of the music through and with your partner that make a dance a great one (a social dance, not a performance).

Those who have purchased the SalsaCrazy Salsa Dance Mastery System, have heard this repeated over and over, but to others this might seem an entirely new concept.  In the early stages of dancing, which can easily last several years, leaders are focused on so many things: timing, leading, and of course, learning enough patterns. They have to make it through a dance, and be able to decide and execute, again and again, for at least five straight minutes. Followers, likewise, have so many things to focus on; timing, spinning, following, patterns, shines, styling.

In order to fully grasp, and appreciate, the concepts above, you need to move past the absolute beginner level, so hang in there!  Yet I believe it's a huge mistake, and a major disservice to students of dance, and to the dance itself, to not address these things in your first few lessons (and certainly in any beginner's course you teach, as well as all private lessons).

So, my favorite analogy is the older couple on the dance floor, who only dances the basic step and with very few variations. Yet they do so in such a connected way with each other, and such a musical manner, that they dominate your attention. You can't take your eyes off of them. They are the expression of the three secrets, and we should all be so lucky.

Remember, regardless of the order you put them in, your partner, your connection to one another, and how your interpret and live the music together, will always make the greatest dances. Styling, technique, and endless patterns all have their place, and I'm not demeaning their importance, however I will stand by the thinking that without the three elements above, you'll have a hard time getting that salsa fix (at least I do).

I look forward to hearing your comments! How do you get your salsa fix. Comment below (you have to register first). :)

Here's to your salsa fix, where you can find it, and however you get it…just get it!

SC (SalsaCrazy), Evan Margolin

ps  Learn more tips and see more salsa dance articles by the worlds bestselling, 5 star reviewed salsa dance videos, or join us for learning online, at the worlds first online salsa dancing school.


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