Do you know something random I love about salsa?
It removes all the status with which people are normally labelled. What I mean is this: On the floor of many salsa parties are heart surgeons, computer geniuses, CEOs, business owners and those who only need to work for six months of the year. Dancing right alongside them are penniless students, NGO volunteers, teachers, lecturers and the down and out. Yet most often, nobody knows and nobody really cares what their dance partners do – as long as they dance and enjoy it!
It’s about the dance, it’s about the music, and it’s about the fun. It is not about what you do in the week. That doesn’t matter. You’re there to dance!
I grant you that there may be a little awe here and a pat on the back there for those more experienced dancers, but this in no way determines any hierarchical order within the salsa community.
Tell us what random thing you love about salsa?
Dance on salsa lovers!
Simply put… Stubbornness.
The best dancers are incredibly stubborn! When they know they can’t do something, they do it. Usually over and over again so that what they cannot do becomes what they can do. Often it irritates them so much that cannot do something that they determine to get that something right usually before the next time they are going to dance.
Seldom do they get it right in a studio. Most often it is in the kitchen or in front of the tiny bedroom mirror, in the shower or randomly in the street. Or, and this is a common one, in the grocery queue. This is because the best dancers dance absolutely everywhere while life happens around them. They do not let it go! It’s stubbornness!
Every opportunity to dance is taken. It is not given up for the comfort of home or for an enticing fad. Whenever they can dance, they do. With whomever they can dance, they do. If they happen to hear the right music, they dance. If there is a dance party, they go and they dance. If there isn’t a dance party they throw one, and they dance.
Dance stubbornness perseveres. It doesn’t leave you be. It doesn’t stay for only a short time. Good dancers do not dance for a few months only, they stick to it for years. And their stubbornness sticks with them.
Starting salsa is for most people like a baby learning to take its first steps: it can be scary, you feel completely uncoordinated and people may laugh at you! But like learning to walk, being able to dance makes it well worth the effort!
So here are some tips for the new Salseras and Salseros
Tip 1: Count continuously!
Keep counting and don’t stop even when your feet get all muddled up! Counting keeps your rhythm and your timing going. Keeping on counting will make it easier for you to keep moving even when your body is lost. It will also help to build up your muscle memory.
Tip 2: Dance on tip toes!
Stay on the balls of your feet. Dancing on the balls of your feet will help lift your centre of gravity which makes your body feel lighter and makes it easier for you to move. This will mean you keep to the timing of the song and that you move with more ease.
Tip 3: Small steps!
How can you tell if someone is a beginner dancer? By the size of their steps! Keep your steps small, no bigger than your own shoe size. This will not only help your timing but will also help you to move more naturally, which is key to looking natural on the dance floor!
Tip 4: Arms up!
Many people don’t know what to do with their arms and it makes them feel awkward. Keep your arms up as if you were running- no one runs with their hands dangling by their sides! Lifting your arms tells your mind and your body that it needs to be ready to move.
Tip 5: Repetition!
That hated concept: practice, practice, practice! Alas, the body was made for repetition! Without practice your body will have to relearn steps every week! But if you go through the steps a few times in the week the next class will be so much easier!
With these aspects in place the awkwardness of being a beginner will be whisked away and you will start feeling like a dancer!
See you on the dance floor!
Just Dancing Salsa is teaching L.A style salsa in Cape Town! We teach at Barbosa Social Cafe at the Waterfront! Classes are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays weekly!