This article applies to all Street Latin Partner styles including Salsa, Mambo, Bachata, Zouk, Merengue, Kizomba, Cha Cha etc...
At the dance studio allot of students that take either group lessons or private lessons and are never seen at the Salsa night clubs. This is very disturbing, often when asking students why they are never at the Salsa night clubs/events the answer is usually "well, I don't think I'm quite ready"
Going to the Salsa Night club or Salsa Parties, festivals & congresses is the MOST important thing for any level! Ready or not, first of all going to the club should be main reason you are trying to learn salsa - to dance AT the actual Salsa night club or party.
There is no point in learning Salsa if you are not really using it - keyword 'using' instead of 'will use' (future tense). It is like learning a language in class, but not using it in a daily basis - in the long run, you won't get good in the language or worse, you'll forget it. Another comparison, it's a little like learning to drive a car in a car park around cones and never using it on the road.
Nothing beats being in the trenches taking grenades.
Salsa Classes & Salsa clubs, they go hand in hand, they both help each other, but at some point you need to use the skills.
An analogy would be on how to drive a car by learning how to read a book or by a driving school.
The learning does not SUBSTITUTE the fact that you will do most of your real time learning while you are behind the wheel.
You can certainly always up skill with classes too!
Now, some of you might say that "well, private lessons or classes are like driving the car too", - well that might be true, but its like driving a car on a closed course. What about traffic? What about traffic lights? What about different types of terrain? What about drunk drivers?
Different types of cars, with different handling? ...and many more
Nothing beats real-world scenarios.
So, you might be practicing with your instructor or a partner or class mates - but what do you personally do when the dance floor is really crowded? What if your partner can't turn correctly or keep balance? What if the floor is sticky, or too slippery? What if you have uncomfortable shoes? What if the lights are dimmed or too bright in your face? What if you can't find the beat in the music? What if you've had a couple of drinks? What if your partner has had a couple of drinks? ... or what if all the people around have had too many drinks!
Mistakes are an essential part of learning.
When you go to the club, with a specific move in mind - you will make mistakes. Maybe during the first night - you don't get to do that move or combo correctly at all or in the ladies case following those moves.
But, you should not give up. The next time you go to the club and try that same move, maybe you'll only make 3 mistakes. Maybe the next time you go after that only make 1 mistake.. and so on. That is how you get better. It doesn't magically come out right the first time, on the 10th time it will be much better than the first time I did it - its a simple law of economics.
The 3-1 rule.
Very simple and specifically for lessons: for every 1 hour of lessons you take, there should be at least 3 hours dedicated to social dancing and practicing what you've learned in that hour. Now, this might sound insane, but its not. If you take the fact that you go to a club at 9pm and possibly leave at 12am - thats already 3 hours! If you go out dancing twice a week, then you're more than done! It is the same idea from taken from college teaching and homework.
Practice makes perfect:
Some students take weekly private lessons - but here is the main problem. In a private lesson, if the instructor is very good, you'll learn a whole lot of things that you need to work on. In group lessons its much the same thing too, all the little details make a huge diference. PUT INTO PRACTICE what you learned in that lesson. If not, you'll be either learning the same issues you had in the previous lesson, or working on new ones - without previously fixing the old ones which (if fixed, or worked on) could help reduce the remaining ones. Thats why some people never see an improvement in their dancing - they take and take lessons, but never put into practice what they are learning. It is like going to a class in college, sitting and listening to the instructor - but never doing homework.
Homework is the key in becoming great at the material.
There is not a more fun homework that going to a salsa club and dancing! If you do take private lessons, if it's a good instructor, the instructor will know that he/she should space them out for you - because again, you need time to soak the knowledge in, practice it on your own, and try it at the club and join classes.
Because when you try it at the club, you'll potentially make mistakes and you will come back to him/her with questions.
But, you will show progress! ...and thats the important part, because each time you come back, the questions become less and less.
Intimidation is a sin.
To be intimidated to the point that you don't even go to a salsa club - thats a Capital Sin!. The best cure is just to get out there and dance right away. Choose to dance with person you know you have good chemistry with, a friend or a person on your dance team or class that is on a similar skill level. Do this because its harder to screw up and if you do, then they'll be entertained and have fun anyway. And thats the key fact - you are still dancing, still moving and more quickly becoming a better dancer just because you are out there.
Social Dancing Tips
Salsa is a social dance, you can go anywhere in the world and dance with anyone. This is the same with other dance styles such as Bachata & Kizomba. When should I start dancing socially? Right away! Another important part of learning salsa is social dancing, this will help consolidate what you learn and you will progress at a faster rate! Yes we highly recommend dance classes, this is essential, but dont get stuck on just classes. You need to get out there as soon as you start learning, so why wait to join in the fun? The Best place to start is regular Salsa Nights & parties that your dance school host. You will have familiar faces go along to these. They’re a great way to practice what you’ve learnt, have fun and socialise. These include; Regular Salsa nights some come with Free Intros & sometimes performances. Annual Events which can include Workshops such as; Festivals & Congresses, these usually are 3-4 day events with non-stop dancing, Workshops, parties & performances. Then there are Competitions is there is some local, come along to these as they are hugely inspirational.
What is the best way to ask or get a dance?
• Guys, simply the best way to ask for a dance is to present your hand. Ask ladies ‘standing’ nearer the dance floor for the best results.
• Ladies, traditionally Males ask for the dance. However, if you want a dance with someone, try these 2 tips. Firstly stand near the dance floor so you look like you are ready to dance. Or you could try going up to someone and presenting your hand.
Tips for the dance floor
• The floor is for dancing. Walk around the edge of the dance floor rather than trying to thread your way through the dancers. You could casue an accident.
• Take off sharp rings, bracelets, hair pieces and keep your nails short guys too.
• Also make sure your breath is sweet and use deodorant. Manage your well being. Take 2 shirts if you need to.