There is a saying out there that implies once you put 10,000 hours into something you will then become a Master at it. I don’t know how true that is, but that statement is the inspiration for this article (that + the number of times students ask me at every group class).
Now you can relax, it definitely won’t take you 10,000 hours to learn to dance Salsa (or at least I hope it won’t), but before I answer the question, lets cover 5 things that should get you dancing Salsa really well.
1. Group Classes:
Group classes are one of the fastest and easiest ways to learn Salsa. Most Salsa Schools have what are reffered to as Drop-in Group Classes and these usually happen every week.
If you have never done salsa before, this is the best and easiest way to start. You can rock up anytime and get a quick and easy introduction to dancing Salsa.
The teacher will usually start the class with a warm-up to get you relaxed and excited. They will then go on to give you a concise version of how salsa works, explaining the basic step and the timing to the music. At this point you will learn a move or 2 in the class, dance it a couple of times and change partners and voila – you have begun your journey of learning to Salsa.
The additional cool thing about Group Classes (apart from the fact that everyone else in the class is also a beginner) is that it is a great way to meet people. You don’t need to come with a dance partner, so you can come with a friend or even ride solo. Most Group classes are set up in a way that accommodates everyone.
2. Private / Focus Group Classes
Once you have taken a few group classes, I would definitely recommend you take some private classes. In a group class, the teacher is taking care of the group and hence you get no ‘individual personal attention.’ In a private class, its all about ‘YOU!’ All your quirks, problems and bad habits will be fixed and you will also get a much deeper and personal understanding of how Salsa works. There is however 1 catch; Private Classes are not cheap.
If you can’t afford private classes, you should definitely consider doing some kind of focus group or workshop that runs over a period of time that continually builds off a foundation. You will not learn as much as you would in a private class, but you definitely start to get a better understanding of how everything fits together.
Once you have learnt the basics & how to do a few moves, its time for the pedal to hit the metal. I am assuming the reason you are learning to dance is so you can actually dance?? Well then you should be DANCING Socially. This is the Number 1 Guaranteed way to improve your dancing. Imagine going to University and getting a degree, but refusing to get a job in the real world? That is exactly what it is like when you attend classes all the time yet you refuse to get onto the social dance floor. You have all the theory and non of the experience.
4. Challenge yourself
Set yourself Goals and constantly challenge yourself especially when you are at socials.
I recommend the following:-
a. Ask every lady to dance at least once at every single social that you attend. FYI, every lady means EVERY LADY, from the Novice Beginner to the Advanced (add on-to this, learn to not take rejection personally. If a lady says No, just move onto the next one.)
b. Focus on mastering and perfecting 1 move at a time (Mastering a move means that you can lead 3 different types of ladies successfuly into the move (i) was not in the group class where the move was taught (ii) goes to another dance school & (iii) is an absoulte beginner).
a. Do not be afraid to ask the men to dance if they are not asking you to dance.
b. Do your best to let go and feel a mans lead rather than to predict, think or react to it.
c. Never say No when a man asks you to dance ( unless he physically hurts you or is inappropriate on the Dance Floor). Start to consider every dance with the guys whom you do not like dancing with as a challenge to see how well you can follow even the most outrageous leads.
Listen to it and make sure you can at least find the 1 in every song and always ensure that you are dancing to the right beat. To take it even further & in the words of Frankie Martinez; when you dance, you must become part of the band and your body is your instrument. 😉 (Deep stuff….)
Ok, now that I have listed the 5 things, I guess it time to answer the question you have all been waiting for.
How long does it take to learn to dance Salsa?
It Depends. (I doubt that is the answer you were looking for, but hey, its the Truth.)
Some people take months and others take years. Yet I would say 3 Things apply above all else.
1. The more time you put in, the faster you will learn and the more you will get out.
2. First you must Learn the rules, then you must follow them, once you Master them feel free to bend or break them.
3. It does not matter how good you become, you will always be learning. So just make sure you are always having fun! 😉
Que Viva La Salsa!
Nice article Chilly! I miss salsa, I really should arrange some private classes to get back into it again. I hope you are well?
I will add a #6 *Watch others dance*. Pick a favorite dancer. Watch. Not in the sense of learning his/her moves, but in the sense of totally enjoying the beauty dance. If you are technically inclined, find the technically proficient. If you are creatively inclined, find similar. Watch. Don’t try to copy or memorize their moves. Watch. Pretend it is you who is dancing. If it s at all possible (and it is) enjoy it even more than them!! Stalk them. Stop your dancing when you see them dance. Watch. Enjoy. Really enjoy it. Pretend it is actually you who is dancing. Watch. Feel. Enjoy. There is nothing more natural than watching and enjoying something that you like. Watch. Enjoy.
Guess what, whether you like it or not, you find yourself becoming more like that someone that you like. Not only that, you will also bring your own individual style into it because you were not really interested in mimicking your master. What will surprise you the most is, you will find yourself executing moves you never thought you had. Oh what joy! Very soon there will only be joy. You will forget about moves. You go where the music takes you. You will be happy just moving. You will not care if you are dancing with a pro or a beginner. Your infectious energy makes everyone feel just as crazy as you are. You break all the rules and you get away with it. Now that’s when you know you are dancing.
Good job Chilly ….. i am so looking forward to getting to the rule breaking stage!!!
I can remember when I was a beginner and watched an intermediate/advanced class and “accepted” that I would never be able to do that. Decided that it really doesn’t matter. I’ll just enjoy every moment on the dance floor and the music. Now I fit in with the intermediate/advanced classes. It just came like a bonus!
@ Chris – I am well Bro. Hope you are too. Definitely make your way back for some classes and parties too.
@ Salsa – Nice one! I like. Thumbs up on No.6
@ Tammy – Don’t worry. Its coming. Just dance more Bachata 😉
@ Anna – The one thing I love about Salsa, the more you give it the more it gives back! Awesome! 🙂
Thanks guys. Que Viva La Salsa!
Wow. Just got some major goosebumps from Salsa’s post on enjoying the beauty of the dance. That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Crazy! YEAH!
Chilly this was an awesome post. I was just considering doing a post like this but you beat me to it 🙂 now I ‘ll send my readers over here to check it out 🙂
Thanks Wil. The re-post will be appreciated. 😉