Observations Of A Salsa Dancer

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As a male dancer with over a decade of dance experience I have made some observations of during my salsa life. Below are some observations, in no order in particular, from one man’s point of view.

You will only get one “sorry “ per dance, use it sparingly. Ideally on occasions where violence has been accidentally committed.

Women invite, men ask. Open your eyes for the sub-communication.

A good connection and decent timing will cover over a multitude of sins. Turn patterns and foot work are good and can denote a unique dancer, but dance is a social interaction to music, so connect and be on time. All else is window dressing.

Musicality is like marinade on a steak – lay it on thickly.

Dance teaches men to have strong frames. Low confidence, sheepishness or apathy are not something that true salsero embodies.

Body odor is violence on the olfactory sensitive.

20 % of the male dancers get 80 % of the attention, be in this 20%.

Women don’t know about that great pattern you saw on Youtube and cannot remember right now … and they don’t care.

Nobody cares how long it took you to be good, they just care that you have arrived. Salseras who ignored you as a beginner may be more favourable now that you are good. Make your progress look effortless.

Exert your right to be on the scene. Everyone was an awful beginner once.

The man leads, the woman follows, and for three minutes everything seems to be OK in the world.

Right now, you probably suck. Leave your ego at the door and take some classes.

Salseros tend to be libertarian minded. I am not sure why this is.

Salseros tend to be educated in technical disciplines. Engineering, I.T., science are over represented in salsa.

Accept that not every girl you will dance with will like you. For whatever reason. Also, accept that some girls will go for lessons just to get their egos inflated.

Treat it as a social scene, not a bar. You will see the same people over and over, maybe for years. Befriend everyone.

This isn’t a quick way to pick up girls. It takes lots of training and you should actually enjoy the music and culture of it. The fun, the parties, the scene, the friendship, travelling to out of town events, is all worth it.

Private classes are worth it.

The more people that can dance, the more valuable the skill is. This is called the network effect. Choose your salsa nights out accordingly.

Men should consider learning to follow.

The women who dance only with the best men are as close to an “alpha female” as you will ever meet. Approach with caution.

Learn from men how to lead salsa, if possible. Women often don’t know how to teach the lead.

Alcohol can make a more creative and smoother dancer, but peak coordination is 2 or 3 drinks closer than you think.

The girl must follow/be lead for it to work. You lead by default. If you mess up it’s your fault, and If she messes up it’s your fault. Therefore, a strong, confident lead can make almost any girl look good without any effort on her part.

Although it is not a dating scene, women will seldom date downwards on the dance status ladder. Men will date up or down.

A good congress can make you jump a level. 24 hours dancing across a weekend and you’ll ascend from this mortal plane to the nirvana of pure musicality.

Women can learn to be very good by dancing with men better than them, the reverse is not true.

Dancing will make you more philosophical and observant, and prone to making lists – like this one!

Some people never improve.

Youtube is the motherlode of untapped patterns. But you might need someone patient to practice on…

Dancing is good cardio, and weight loss will follow. Lose yourself to dance, and you’ll lose the pounds too.

Women want to be lead and they HATE when you can’t. Even if you suck, you are the lead. Be the lead.

Dancing is a good proxy for health and desirability. Science even says so.

To go from your local dance scene to a congress can truly reveal the “Big fish in small pond” phenomenon.

Dancing on 1 or on 2 is not something understood by Latin people as is commonly thought.

Dancing skills can transform an otherwise mediocre guy into a star in some circles (or situations).

Regardless if travelling for business or for pleasure, salsa is a ready made night’s entertainment and easy introduction to the inhabitants of a foreign city. Regardless of the language, we all speak the same in dance.


  • Debbie Taylor says:

    I really liked this list right up to the part where it says men should always learn to lead from other men because women often don’t know how to teach the lead… I’d venture to say that I lead as well as any man in Oklahoma & can teach other men to do the same. We have only two male instructors in our area that teach Salsa & they have only been dancing for a few years. I learned to teach the lead more than 10 years ago… It’s not very fair or accurate to say that women are not capable to teach the guys to be good at leading… Nobody knows better what the difference is between a sucky lead and a fantastic lead more than a woman who’s experienced them all! As a studio owner & teacher of Salsa I can’t repost this otherwise very entertaining writing because it could give some potentially awesome guy the wrong idea that he needs to go learn from the less experienced instructors in town just because they are male…

  • Melissa West-Koistila says:

    I have to agree with Debbie. Overall, this is an interesting article, but there’s a layer of sexism that is hard to ignore in some of the writer’s observations.

  • Thompson says:

    I think this applies in large part to other partner dances as well.

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