Guidelines for your first dance class (Salsa, Bachata, Cha-Cha, Argentine Tango, Waltz, etc).
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What to wear?
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Personal Hygiene, Dehydration And Contagion
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What to Do and Not to Do on a Dance Floor
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Here are a few notes for all of you who are new to our Salsa world.
If this is your first time attending any kind of salsa class, let me just give you a few recommendations about what to bring and what to wear.
1. Bring the right shoes.
- Beginners don't need specialized salsa shoes. Basically any kind of shoe that has a flat sole is acceptable.
- More experienced dancers taking the Level 2 & Level 3 class will be expected to do spins so please have a pair of comfortable ballroom shoes with suede soles.
- Do not bring shoes that leave black streaks into the studio, it destroys the floor. Leave at home any kind of shoe with too much grip like basketball sneakers or running shoes.
- Ladies, you can wear heels but stay away from high heels. I recommend 2.5 inches and 3 inches at most. People do dance in high heels but I certainly wouldn't recommend it for a beginner.
- Don't wear shoes that are slip ons because you might slip out of them. Keep in mind that you will be required to do spins in class so check your shoes. Make sure your wearing a pair that fit securely on your feet and have a fairly smooth bottom.
2. What to wear.
- Something you feel comfortable dancing in. Salsa is a very active dance so don't show up in a suit because you will break a sweat in this class.
3. If you usually sweat a lot most likely in this class you will sweat even more. Bring a small towel with you. Guys usually keep it hanging out of their back pocket and ladies keep theirs in the bag or any other place you want.
Sometimes bringing an extra shirt is also recommended. A lot of guys who are going out dancing with our group are doing just that. Guys, girls will really appreciate this. Same applies to ladies too.
4. This brings us to the next point. Dancing is a contact sport. You have a partner, you might dance very close to each other, not always because you want to but because there isn't enough space on a dance floor. So please, please do not forget to use your deodorant. Bring it with you if you need to and apply it as needed.
You might need a small bag for all this but that is exactly what most dancers, guys and girls, carry with them.
5. Lastly, BE ON TIME: When you arrive late to a class you not only cheat yourself, you also disrupt the class for the rest of the students. It's preferable to arrive a few minutes early so you can change your shoes (if necessary) and mingle with your fellow students. If everyone arrives a few minutes early the class can start right on time.
See you all on a dance floor!!!
Dancing is a contact sport! Remove keys etc. from your front pockets before stepping onto the dance floor. Then take off your watches, rings and bracelets! Watches and bracelets, especially when worn on your right wrist, tend to scratch your partner's hand, arm, and/or neck.
No extravagant belt buckles either! You can test what you choose to wear to determine if it is hazardous by rubbing your hand over it. Jewelry, of course, should be very carefully chosen. Be sure to check your rings, bracelets, and belts for sharp edges or even small points that can catch in your partner's clothing or jewelry.
Long necklaces can also be hazardous, particularly if you're a fast spinner. Long chains with heavy broaches can be hazardous when she spins. Same goes for long hair, particularly pony tails. Sylvia Sykes has extremely long hair that she braids and pins to her chest. The way she spins, her hair would be lethal! Ladies, avoid high hair, doubly-so if sprayed. And don't forget to check your fingernails and any imperfections they might have that could damage someone's clothes - if there's anything wrong, borrow a nail-file.
Regardless of gender, when selecting an upper-body garment for dancing, it is _very_ important that it be cut high in the arm pits and not have baggy or loose sleeves that can interfere with your partner getting a hand to your back. Aside from the inconvenience, such garments can also be dangerous as a leader might be looking for a way to get around your garment rather than looking to avoid other dancers. You may even have to baste shut men's long sleeve shirt cuffs because the buttons can get caught in the lady's hair.
The waist and bodice should also not have excessive fabric. Not that you should not wear skin-tight garments nor even tight-fitting ones, only that excessive fabric can create problems and accidental undesired body contact. You should also avoid lace where your partner's hands are likely to be (on the dance floor :-) Jewelry can sometimes catch on lace or other loose weaves.
Long skirts that fly out when you spin can often be interference. This is particularly true when they're cut so that they fly out from higher than mid-thigh. The shorter the skirt, the higher the fly-point can be. Long skirts provide the lovely sight of flowing fabric, but it's very important that there be enough room for the leader to get his knee between the follower's legs; many skirts prevent that. For men who have to wear a jacket and tie to an event: take off the jacket and tie when you dance!
Be sure to wear an undershirt - sweat spots show much worse on your typical dress shirt than they do on the multi-colored rayon shirts so many of us wear as standard dance fashion. Avoid silk shirts without an undershirt. Or bring an extra shirt to change.
You don't necessary need to carry all of this, but I would def. recommend that you have water, dance shoes, chewing gum, pain pills, towel, shoe brush and powder.
Things to carry with you to a dance on a regular basis:
- Dance shoes
- Notepad and pen
- toothbrush, toothpaste, chewing gum, breath mints, mouthwash
- Paper fan, several towels, handkerchiefs
- Extra shirt & t-shirt (2 extras for swing dancing), deodorant
- Plastic grocery bag (for sweat-soaked clothing)
- Shoe brush
- Spare shoelaces
- Water bottle
- Safety pins
- Towel - One good wipe between dances can make a difference! Nothing is
worse then a sharp head snap in my direction that flings sweat drops in my eyes... well maybe when a dancer (either leader or follower) wipes their hand across their face during the dance and then hands it to you for a lead (or follow)...
- dance floor wax, cornstarch, powder (you are free to carry this with you
if you'd like, but I'd hesitate to spread it on the dance floor, for it
generally makes serious dancers and club owners want to kill you!)
I've been dancing for several years now and while I tried dozen of dance shoes, it is still hard for me to find one that I really like. Dance shoes are not just any shoes. They represent my style, overall look and how I feel on a dance floor. They protect my feet and toes when somebody steps on me and they help me glide from one side of a dance floor to another with ease. They are a MUST for anyone who considers dancing in a long run. They make all dance and practice classes much easier then any other shoes and also help you master those simple turns and spot spinning that are so common in salsa dancing.
So how do you pick one? From my experience, if you are a dance addict and go dancing at least 2-3 times a week, I highly recommend that you get one that are low maintaince and very soft. Soft leather is usually the best because it is easy to clean if you spill something or they otherwise get dirty. Black color is def. the easiest one to maintain but be aware that if you are fair skin color as I am, black shoes won't really compliment your skin tone and your legs when you wear skirt, dress or some shorter pants. Black dance shoes make your legs look shorter and kinda like cut off at the end. I wear black shoes only during the winter time when I wear black pants, socks, etc so that there is not too much contrast in colors between my feet and my black shoes.
Be sure that you always try your shoes before you buy them, especially those of you with narrow foot. I bought some online and sure enough, it was not a good fit. They were too wide, I never used them and they are still collecting dust somewhere in my closet.
Another MUST, when you buying your first dance shoes is a shoe brush (if you buying dance shoes with suede bottoms). Cleaning your dance shoes after each class and dance social will make your shoes last soo much longer. I did not know that when I bought my first pair of dance shoes and sure enough, after two months bottom was in terrible condition and were no better then any other street shoes, if not worse.
This was my two cents about dance shoes but please read the rest of this article I found on another website.
Try both shoes on as one foot is normally a different length and shape than the other.
Dance shoes are generally worn smaller than you would wear your regular street shoes. They must always fit snugly without hurting so you maintain proper balance on the dance floor. This means that all parts of the shoes should be covered by your feet. If your feet can move easily inside the shoes, you cannot properly control your balance or your dance posture.
In closed-toe styles (ladies and men's), the toes should be as close to the end of the shoes as is possible without actually rubbing. In the sandals, the toes should completely cover the soles of the shoes and it is preferable if the toes actually "hang over the edges" of the shoes just a bit (up to 1/4 inch.)
When the shoes begin to stretch enough to allow feet to slip inside them, invest in a pair of foam inner soles and use them. The more your feet can move inside dance shoes, the faster the shoes will stretch, become misshapen and wear out.
Be sure to polish leather shoes regularly to keep them from looking scuffed and brush the suede soles of your shoes to keep them free of wax build-up from the dance floors. The wax causes soles to wear faster and clings to small dirt particles that can cause the soft suede soles to wear away. Use a silicon oil or polish to keep patent shoes from sticking and cracking.
NEVER WEAR YOUR DANCE SHOES OUTSIDE AS LONG AS YOU WILL BE USING THEM AS DANCE SHOES. The beautiful shoes you buy are made by skilled craftsmen, balanced and especially made for dancing. They are a necessary accessory of the dance and will make your dancing far more enjoyable.
From www.danceshoes4u.com website.
Suede sole shoes:
Suede is commonly used on the soles of ballet, ballroom and jazz shoes. It gives enough traction on wood floors for quick, controlled movements but allows for sliding and easy multiple spins. Here are some things you can do to care for your suede soled dance shoes:
Use suede soled shoes indoors. Avoid beer and other liquid spills in dance clubs.
Dry shoes completely between wearings.
Use shoe trees, shoe forms or balls of paper to retain the shape while drying.
Use a steel wire brush to clean the debris from the sole of the shoe.
If the shoe must be worn outdoors or on very uneven indoor surfaces, consider rubberizing the soles. You will still be able to enjoy the benefits of a light, flexible dance shoe which can be then used in or outdoors.
Yes, it matters - big time. Depending on type of work you do or for how long prior to dancing, it is still very important that you pay attention to your personal hygiene. Most of the time, especially if you are really addicted to salsa dancing, you are going to dance for at least 2-3 hours and will definitely become all sweaty and smelly at the same time :). That is normal, but imagine if, after hard day of work, you came to dancing already like that? Now, that would be a BIG NO, NOOO. No matter how cute, good looking and awesome dancer you are, I can guarantee that no one will want to stay around you for too long if you don't pay attention to your personal hygiene.
If you're going to spend so much time and energy learning to dance with other people, it really doesn't make any sense to neglect your personal hygiene: things like breath odor, body odor, cleanliness of clothing, hands, fingernails, etc.
Drink a lot of water. If you drink a lot of water before you go dancing, you may prolong your need to replenish your liquids. They say if you get thirsty, it is too late - you're dehydrated. I've shared this with a few friends, who have tried it and found it to be a success.
We're taught to cover our mouths when we sneeze, and usually we cover them with our hands, and if we're social dancing we'll then be joining those same hands with countless other people. Just something to be conscious of, now that flu season is upon us.
Yep, watch out what you eat right before going dancing. There is nothing worse than dancing (or even seating close by) with a person who just ate a lot of garlic, onion or even a fish... Please don't do that... If you absolutely must eat something that has such a strong odor take a chewing gum or mint candy, anything. We all will appreciate that!
A lot of instructors teach us how to dance, tell us how to do this or that but most of them never say anything about etiquette on a dance floor. Here is few, but you guys feel free to add more suggestions, comments, your experience on a dance floor - good or bad, etc...anything that would help us be better dancers and better members of our dance community.
1. Please don't smoke on a dance floor. The only thing flaming on a dance floor should be you.
2. Likewise, please don't bring your cosmopolitan onto the dance floor (unless you are extremely coordinated and almost totally sober). If you do, you are almost guaranteed to spill your drink on someone wearing an irreplaceable vintage silk shirt.
3. Please don't wear irreplaceable vintage silk to a crowded club -- that is, understand that when you go out dancing, you may be jostled a bit, there may be a bit of beer sloshed on you, and so on. You must be able to take these things graciously in stride (if you can't, then crowded nightclubs are perhaps not for you). Sometimes, having good manners means being patient with people whose behavior is less than perfect.
4. If you do happen to slosh a bit of your drink on someone or accidentally step on someone's toes, please do try to make eye contact and apologize (or at least make an apologetic face). A little "Excuse me" goes a long way.
5. Please do keep in mind that the entire dance floor does not belong to you. Yes, yes -- we're all terribly impressed with your form; but it is crowded in here. Be considerate of others -- there may not be enough room to wow the crowd with your "dahnce" training.
6. Before "bumping and grinding" with someone, please do make sure that your attentions are desired. Of course, in a loud nightclub, you can't exactly walk up to a person and ask, "May I have this dance?" But pay attention to eye contact and facial expressions, and make an effort to introduce yourself before grabbing someone around the waist. Failing that, start by touching someone's arm or shoulder to get his or her attention. Make sure that gesture is well received before moving on to dirtier dancing.
7. Please do relax and have fun. Try not to be too self-conscious about your imagined lack of dancing skills, or too shy about dancing "alone" on a crowded dance floor. One of the best ways to meet cool people is to be nice, friendly and polite, and to stop worrying about the judgmental snickerers who turn up every now and again.
8. Please do be respectful of nightclub staff: Tip appropriately, obey security personnel and don't pester the DJ. (She/he has your request, and will play it if and when it fits into her set.)
9. Please do leave the dance floor if you're not dancing. If you must have an important conversation, move to a quieter area (no one likes to be screamed at). And don't attempt to have a cell-phone conversation while dancing.
10. Please don't leave garbage and empty glasses on the dance floor. And be alert: That lime that sticks to your shoe (or that beer bottle on the dance floor that's five minutes away from sending your favorite person tumbling to the ground with a fractured ankle)? Pick it up and put it in a trash can.
These few definitely do not cover all Do's and Dont's but are the ones that you should pay attention to anytime you go dancing.
So different people have different opinion on this one but here is a few general rules that you should know about.
- If you are interrupting a conversation to ask someone to dance, you should at least apologize to both people for interrupting the conversation. Unfortunately, even this simple courtesy can't be found in many dancers.
A general rule is that one should always say yes (once per evening at least) when one is asked to dance (this is true whether a leader asks a follower or a follower asks a leader.) Exception: if one has reason to believe that person would hurt you or if one is in an unusually fragile state due to injury recovery. If you find yourself in a painful situation, don't be afraid to stop and say something like "I am sorry but some of your moves are aggravating a past injury and so I will have to sit the rest of this dance out." Nobody should, out of politeness, risk injury.
If a man leads you badly - especially when he tries to do something that endangers or hurts you - you can:
1) Subtly refuse to follow... don't pull away, just backlead or do something very different from what he's expecting.
2) Boldly refuse to follow... let go! Become physically detached from him and tell him (out loud) that it hurt!
Smart guys will at least realize that they've done something wrong and will get the idea after this happens once or twice. Dumb or uncaring guys aren't going to get the idea, but you'll know to stay away from them in the future. Don't feel that you have to get through the dance with them. Guys, this is not to say that only you as a lead can be the one to cause all the mess on a dance floor. Ladies can do that too - especially those who are drunk enough that they can barely walk, much less dance. In general, you are the one in charge on a dance floor and the one who initiates all the moves when dancing so this kinda applies more to you then to your follower.
What are the consequences of saying yes and do you accept those? I have danced with a few ladies who said yes and then intentionally showed little or no interest in dancing or were rude in other ways. I would have preferred them to have simply said "no thanks" if they were not really interested in dancing with me.
Men and women are both allowed to refuse a dance and "sit one out". If they do, the rules of etiquette say that they must sit it out completely, regardless of who asks them to dance. Exception: a woman (or man!) trying to shake someone who is hitting-on/pawing her should be free to ignore the cad and immediately go find someone else with whom to dance. Why let a bozo spoil a nice evening of dancing?
If you have trouble telling people that you don't wish to dance with them, try this rejection line: "I'd love to, but I think I'm going to mingle--there are many people I haven't danced with yet. Perhaps we can get in another before the end of the evening?" [The second sentence/question is optional]
On rules of etiquette... Social dancing is as friendly a place as you make it, but it's not slavery. You aren't a paid taxi dancer, required to dance with whomever. Sitting out dances, just because someone you don't want to dance with asked you first, is not what you paid your money at the door for. Dance with whom you want to.
That being said... Remember that you may have to ask (beg, plead) to get the person you turned down (and maybe his friends also) to dance with you in the future. Maybe he won't have fun, will stop dancing, won't tell his friends how much fun it is, all your favorite dance places will go out of business, you won't have anywhere to dance, etc., etc. Aside from good manners, there *are* other reasons to be polite. Many beginners who later become good dancers remember who was courteous and who was not.
Looking at yourself in the mirror is definitely not correct behavior at a social dance. When you practice, especially by yourself, looking in the mirror can be helpful. Looking when you are socially dancing with a partner can be rude.
When you've finished dancing, always thank your partner first, thank them for asking you to dance if that was the case, and mention something that was inspiring if that emotion was tweaked.
Dancing with many different partners helps. Besides practicing with your regular dance partners, go to some of the social dances that are available and mix.
Everyone's lead and follow is different, and the variations help you to become a better dancer.
Dancing with someone more experienced might allow you to be more successful in trying something new or perfecting some styling. Once you learn how it feels, you can then do it with anybody.
Dancing with someone less experienced than you is very good in determining if you have a good lead. This may even be more useful than dancing with someone more experienced. When you can get a less experienced dancer to successfully do a step she has never done before, you know you are doing well. If you dance only with one partner, you will never learn to lead/follow; you'll only learn to compensate for each other's bad habits.
At many local weekly dances, all the best dancers take over one corner of the room and the beginners tend to stay at the other end and dance with each other. You can see how it would be rather difficult to ask the good dancers to dance if they all hang out in a crowd and you have to barge in to even speak to them. So, make a special effort to get down to the beginners' end every so often and ask someone for a dance. Resist falling into a clique at your local club: to outsiders, though you will be seen as the best dancers, you will also seem snobby and un-touchable.
Consider asking newbies: you were once one. Those experienced dancers who agreed to dance with you as a newbie gave you incentive (by "suffering" through with your learning) to keep going to reach a point of being a "decent dancer". Do the same for the newbies you meet and make then feel welcome - it is an investment in your future dance partners. Remember, as a beginner you don't know how perfectly right it feels for two people to dance as one until it happens to you for the first time
Great article about different styles of Salsa. Hope you enjoy it!
I've always been intrigued by all the different styles of Salsa. You go to the clubs and you see someone dancing a certain style and you say 'I would like to dance like that'.Then you see someone else dancing equally as well but his style seems somewhat different and you say 'What the hell is going on here?
Well there are various styles of Salsa which explains this difference. You may be dancing a certain style of Salsa say Cuban "On One" Style which you might well have done in your classes and at the clubs. This Page will introduce you to all the different styles.
After reading this you might like to explore some of the classes (if there are any) in your area and eventually you may find that you may prefer a certain style over the style that you started with.
The biggest benefit of learning different Salsa Styles is that you can dance with anyone and it solves the mystery of why you may be dancing out of step with a fellow dancer.
OK. Shall we begin?
b. The different Salsa Styles
There are many characteristics that may identify a style.
There may be different step patterns, different timing of steps, particular movement on the dance floor (eg: slot, circular), dancer preference of turns and moves, attitude and others.
The presence of one or more of particular elements does not necessarily define a particular style.
For example, many Salsa Styles can be danced "On One" or one style may be danced "On One" or "On Two".
The following are brief descriptions of major "recognizable" styles.
1. Cuban Style.
Cuban-style salsa is "On One". An essential element is the "cuba step" (also known as Guapea), where the leader does a backward basic on 1-2-3 and a forward basic on 5-6-7. The follower does the same, thereby mirroring the leader's movement. Another characteristic of this style is that in many patterns the leader and follower circle around each other.
The cross body lead is an essential step in this Salsa Style too and is referred to as Dile que no. The LA style is a later derivative of this, the difference again being that the dancers rotate a quarter turn around one another in the process.
This move also becomes essential in the more complex derivative of Cuban Casino leading to the many moves of Rueda, or wheel dance. Here multiple couples exchange partners and carry out moves synchronised by a caller.
2. Colombian style.
This style is common in Latin-American countries. The leader and follower do most of the movements while standing in place.
It stems from the Cuban style. As such in many patterns the leader and follower turn around each other.
3. Los Angeles style.
The two essential elements of this dance are the forward/backward basic as described above, and the cross-body lead. In this pattern, the leader steps forward on 1, steps to the right on 2-3 while turning 90 degrees counter-clockwise (facing to the left).
The follower then steps forward on 5-6, and turns on 7-8, while the leader makes another 90 degrees counter-clockwise. After these 8 counts, the leader and follower have exchanged their positions.
LA style salsa is also known to be the most flashy style commonly danced. The Vazquez brothers are widely credited with developing the LA style of salsa. Luis still teaches in LA.
4. New York style or Eddie Torres style.
The "NY Style" is a combination of the "On 1" and "On 2" systems. The timing of the steps are on the 1-2-3,5-6-7 as in "On 1" but the breaks (where the body changes direction) occur on the 2 and 6 as in "On 2".
NY instructor Eddie Torres developed this step pattern around the late 70's and the 80's and it's definition is quite clear since he is still alive and his followers are keen to keep the style intact.
5. Power 2 / Palladium 2 / Ballroom Mambo.
This Salsa Style is similar to Los-Angeles style, but it is danced "On Two". The basic step timing is 2-3-4,6-7-8 with the breaks on 2 and 6.
It is important to note that although this Salsa Style is also known as dancing "En Clave", the name is not implying that the step timing should follow the rhythm of the Clave as in 2-3 or 3-2. It only means that you take the first step (and break) on the second beat of the measure.
6. On Clave.
This does indeed follow the 2-3 or 3-2 pattern of the clave, e.g. for the 2-3 clave the leader steps forward with the left on 2 and with the right on 3, then does the other 4 steps of the basic on 5-8 (synchronizing with the clave on 5 and 8).
It's a traditional form and it's less known/used outside some Latin countries.
7. Puerto Rican style.
This Salsa Style can be danced as "On One" or "On Two". If danced as "On Two", it is always danced on count 2, and not on count 6 as in Ladies-style NY.
8. Rueda style.
In the 1950s Salsa Rueda (Rueda de Casino) was developed in Havana, Cuba. Pairs of dancers form a circle (Rueda in Spanish), with dance moves called out by one person. Many of the moves involve rapidly swapping partners.
Normally Salsa is a partner dance, danced in a handhold. However advanced dancers always include shines, which are basically "show-offs" and involve fancy footwork and body actions, danced in separation or in solo mode.
They are supposed to be improvisational breaks, but there are a huge number of "standard" shines. Also, they fit best during the mambo sections of the tune, but they may be danced whenever the dancers feel appropriate.
They are a good recovery trick when the connection or beat is lost during a complicated move, or simply to catch the breath.
That's all for now on Salsa Styles.
10. So there you have it
All the different Salsa Styles.