Salsa – The Best Leaders and Followers(Part II)

Part II

*Hey peeps, if you are reading this article and did not read Part 1 (click here) to go check it out & then come back. You know, I got a lot of pressure from the Salseras to put this article out ASAP, so I am publishing this 2 days earlier than expected. Enjoy ladies 😉 *

Before I get into it, I would like to tell you how the idea for this article came about. A female friend of mine once asked me, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy dancing with me?’. At first I thought this was a trick question, however, after speaking to her and digging deeper I realised she enjoyed dancing with me so much, she wanted to make sure I was having just as much fun as she was. Adding on to that, she wanted to know what she could improve on while on the dance floor so that after a guy dances with her, they would keep coming back for more.
Thus the idea was born & the research begun. Now to answer her question and inevitably, every lady’s out there:

On the Dance Floor, everyone is looking for 1 thing, CONNECTION. So I went in search of the specific things that make up this “Connection”.

Please remember, for this article I spoke to really good Salseros both locally and internationally. Salseros who are never short of ladies to dance with and who ladies will actually walk up to and ask them to dance.

I searched long and hard for this info & there is plenty of it, but as this is a blog i will keep it abridged yet insightful. Disclaimer: I am not going to hold back any punches, I am going to say it as it is for those women who really want to get better. This is what all the Guys have wanted to say, and just never had the guts to. Time for some tough love…..

REALLY FOLLOW (the universally most important thing for a Salsera to do):

This sounds obvious does it not? However, what this follow means is much more than just following the man’s lead. It means:-

FEEL: Women should feel instead of think. Following in this sense refers to feeling the lead and the rhythm, not thinking what does the man want me to do now? This kind of following requires a lady to be totally receptive.

Imagine the Leader is like a radio station sending out signals or sound waves, and you the Follower are like a radio with it’s antenna totally receptive. The whole dance is the interplay of opposites but these opposites need to blend together to work in harmony and become one, just like the yin-yang symbol.

Below are some of the following techniques that can help you Ladies achieve this:-

HANDS: A lady should have hands that keep a solid connection yet do not push or weigh the man down. You should keep your arms slightly relaxed (Stiff or Spaghetti arms are not cool), so that they can respond instantly to the man’s lead. Learn to understand reciprocation of tone (when the man’s arm tenses up, you reciprocate by giving more tone in your arms, and when his arms relax, your arms should relax also.)

HOOKS: Keep those hooks ladies. It’s the man’s job to let go of your hand when he desires. Trust me, there is nothing more frustrating for the man than planning the perfect move and having it interrupted because the Lady decided to straighten her hand at the most critical moment. On the other hand (no pun intended 😀 ), don’t grab to the man’s hand like your life depended on it either.

DON’T STYLE AT HIS EXPENSE: While we all love women who can style and play with the music, beware  when you start using a dance as a chance to show off your styling and focus on making yourself look good instead of the dance feeling good. While other women will admire your styling, the men will say you are a nightmare to lead.

DON’T BE A PREDICTOR (Refer to predictors in part 1): If something goes wrong in the middle of your dance, just find the beat and get right back into it. Don’t stop the dance to try and figure out what the step was or ask the man to explain what he was trying to do, rather wait till the song is over.

LINE OR CIRCLE?: Dance in a straight line or in ‘the slot’ when dancing with an LA or New York Lead. Move in a circle when dancing with a Cuban Lead. Don’t chop and change when it suits you.

BE AWARE: Keep spotting the man’s face with your eyes so you can follow with ease ready for the next lead. A good rule of thumb, 70% of his lead is in the arms the other 30% is in his body language.

When you are on a full social dance floor, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t take HUGE steps or spin wildly out of control. Adjust your movement to suit your surroundings so the man can still enjoy dancing with you in a restricted dance space knowing you will not wipe out the couples dancing next to you or spin your way into a wall. 😉

ATTITUDE

SMILE! You are not on camera, but the man you are dancing with is subconsciously judging himself based on your facial expressions and body language.  If you smile and show him you are having fun and give him a ‘happy look‘ and start to ‘play’, it will encourage him and he will definitely be asking you to dance more often. If on the other hand, you are rolling your eyes, or look bored out of your mind & can’t wait for the song to end, don’t be surprised if you never see him asking you to dance once the song is over. Remember, Good dancers usually have plenty of options of people to dance with.

Play with the Music! It’s nice to dance with a woman who can interpret the music and have fun with it and with the man. So start learning to style and play on the dance floor ladies, it will do wonders for your dancing & your confidence.

CARRY YOURSELF:

Carry your own weight ladies. Keep your weight forward on the balls of your feet as this will help you remain light and turn with ease. A man’s job is to lead on the dance floor. The less he has to baby sit you = The more he can do with you. The more he can do with you = The more he will want to dance with you.

Ladies that are able to complete their turns and keep their balance by themselves are more sought after to dance. (Because, let’s be honest; most men are Lazy).

With this thought in mind, remember practice makes perfect. Men hear lots of Ladies say they only do Social dancing and they do not need to do any Group / Private Classes. Dancing is an art-form and just like any art-form, you need practice.

To illustrate, imagine a really good singer. They start off singing at home in the shower, then they start to sing anywhere and everywhere they can. At some point they start to take their singing really seriously and actually start setting aside time every week to practice on their voice and eventually they are able to and start to sing and perform in public. Now imagine that once they start performing in public, they stop practicing & the only time they ever sing is when they are in-front of an audience.  How long do you think they will stay good singers? Social Dancing is just like when the singer is performing. Going to group or private classes or practicing is just like a singer rehearsing & practicing their voice.

Social Dancing is only 50% of what makes you a good follower, the other 50% is up to you improving your own skills and dance ability. You can do this via Group /Private Classes or alternatively if you are at a certain level you can do this by practicing yourself.  A good rule of thumb to check your level: If you can do a triple spot turn (and actually stay on the spot) by yourself without falling over and you and can do multiple travel turns in a straight line without getting dizzy, you can probably do your own skills training. However, if you can’t even control yourself in a double spot turn, you should definitely still be attending classes and working on your technique because you need it.

OTHER HELPFUL TIPS:
These are the things that came up, but were not as important to every man. However, these are definitely things you should incorporate and are much easier to fix.

Social etiquette – Its ok to say No if you don’t want to dance with a man. However, be nice about it. Don’t say ‘NO’ to one man, then 5 seconds later be shaking it up on the dance floor with another. That’s just rude.  Not only will the guy you said No to probably never ask you to dance again, but he will tell his friends (who might be the good dancers you want to dance with) and they will never ask you to dance either. On a side-note, if you are saying NO to dance with a Man because his lead physically hurts you or he has bad B.O. (Body ordour) or Breath, do him a favour and find someone you both know in common so they can give him the heads up. 😉 You would be surprised to find out how some men never know the reason why certain women always turn them down when they ask for a dance.

Dance with beginners – Remember, these will be tomorrow’s Great dancers. The more attention you give them now, the more they will owe you in the future. They will be your dance slaves ready to do your bidding on the dance floor whenever you call. (LOL)

Show you can dance – If you can dance and no one ever asks you to dance, it is probably because they don’t know you can dance. So stand by the edge of the dance floor and start doing a basic step with some spot turns. If you are doing it on time to the music and show musicality by hitting some breaks every now and then, I guarantee men will be asking you to dance in No time.

Look Good and Smell Good. Nuff said. On a side note, no one minds a little sweat, but if you know that you get really sweaty or have sweaty palms, freshen up in the course of the evening. (Not only Men need to do this you know.)

That wraps up Part II. If you wish to view the profiles of all the Salseros who contributed to this article, click here. (*A Special Thanks to all the Salseros who took time out of their busy schedules to give me such Great feedback.*)

Alright Men, I take you apart and put you back together next week. So all you Wannabe’s, here is PART III

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About Chilly

Causality - I believe for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Cause and Effect. I am the cause - what will be the effect?
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3 Responses to Salsa – The Best Leaders and Followers(Part II)

  1. Regan says:

    Fantastic Chilly!! All good advice!!
    Let’s not forget that girls that make an effort when going to Salsa to dress up a little will also get asked more often.

  2. Chilly says:

    True Regan. So True….

  3. Nick says:

    Sir,
    I hope some of the lasses I dance with read your top tips!
    I am setting myself up for a big fall now…..part 3….advice to the lads!
    Part 1 and 2 have been good reads. Thank you.

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