Three Naughty Words To NEVER Say On The Dance Floor

Let me ask you something...

Do you ogle good-looking strangers across the room while on a date? Do you take over conversations with stories of how great and talented you are? Or do you strike up conversations with strangers using "Are you single?" as the opening line?

If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, read section four of my ebook No Thumbs. The Salsa Dancer's Guide To Leading So Great She'll Ask You To Dance. It's all about creepy guys (or girls) and how not to be one.

If you wouldn't do it in a conversation, don't do it on the dance floor. All too often, basic social skills - such as listening and being considerate - disappear the moment the dance shoes are on. Scouring the dance floor for better dancers while dancing with someone else is rude. Leading fancy moves to show off your skills, with no regard as to whether your partner can follow them, is rude. And asking insensitive questions is, you guessed it, rude.

Which brings me to the one question - composed of three little words - you should never ask when dancing with someone of any skill level. And just to be safe, don't say these words right before asking someone to dance either. Let's just make it a rule: Don't say these three words unless your goal is to be perceived as an arrogant oaf. Yes, an oaf.

What are these three little words that can wreak big havoc on your dance floor reputation?

"Are you new?"

The moment these words leave your mouth, you transform from nice to narcissistic in 0.3 seconds flat. At least in the eyes of the other person. Either your partner will assume you dislike dancing with newbies and are asking to make sure she's not. Or she'll assume you think she's not very good at dancing. Which may be true. But either way, there's no happy ending.

The only exception to this rule is if your partner brings up her skill level first. Then it becomes a safe topic. Otherwise, just keep your pretty mouth shut and do your best to enjoy the dance.

Here's to not ridding the dance floor of douche bags.

P.S. This applies just as much to the ladies.

Posted in Social Skills

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How To Feel The Music

Dancing off time is a common problem. Not just for beginner dancers either. Many experienced dancers still haven't mastered their ability to dance on time consistently. If so many dancers struggle with timing, can you guess how many more dancers struggle with 'feeling' the music?

A lot.

Dancing on time helps you stay coordinated with your partner and the music. This is an extremely important skill when it comes to partner dancing. But to be a great dancer, you must go one step further and learn how to interpret what you hear in the music through your body and energy. This is what we call 'feeling the music'. Great dancers have mastered both timing and musical interpretation.

How can you learn to 'feel the music' so to speak?

Start by learning how to dance on time consistently. Once you are able to dance on time, you have proven that you are sufficiently in tune with the music. This is absolutely necessary because the music should be your primary dictator when it comes to dancing. The music drives what you do. Not the other way around. Once you can keep tempo with the music easily, comfortably and consistently, then it's time to work on your musical interpretation.

Feeling the music is nothing more than hearing something in the music and expressing what you hear through your body. For example, let's say you hear a strong cowbell accent in the music. What could you do with your body to express the cowbell? You probably wouldn't skitter lightly across the dance floor on that accent. While musical interpretation is subjective, and I won't say what's right and wrong, the idea is to relate to the music. A light skitter on a strong accent may end up feeling like you're not giving proper expression to the accent. A stronger-than-normal step or a heavy drop or a hit may feel more relate-able. You must interpret the music in a way that feels good to you.

Learning to feel the music requires you give your attention and awareness to the music. Practice listening to the different sound qualities of the instruments, vocals, accents and pauses. Is the sound long and suspended like a saxophone? Is it sharp and staccato? How can you express these sounds in your body? Get creative. Be fearless.

Most people hear the music, but don't listen to it. Developing your musical interpretation requires active listening. With enough practice, it will soon become second-nature. You will start to hear patterns repeat. You'll be able to predict upcoming accents. And eventually, your body will be able to react so quickly and spontaneously to elements of the music that it will seem as if you've heard the song a thousand times, when really you've never it before.

A dancer with acute musical interpretation is a great dancer. These dancers, through their expression of the music, can make you aware of nuances in the music that you wouldn't have picked up on otherwise.

From years and years of dance experience, I can tell you this...

You haven't experienced the full joy of dance until you've been able to 'feel' the music. In other words, until you've honed your musical interpretation skills, you won't have any idea how fun, satisfying and fulfilling dance can be.

Unfortunately, many dancers don't make it this far. They give up too early. They don't have the knowledge or the desire to practice. Even dancers with years of sound technique can lack keen musical interpretation. It's not easy. Otherwise, everyone would be able to do it.

If you struggle at all with timing or 'feeling' the music, then this course is right up your alley:
Dance With Feeling: Stop Counting And Start Dancing.

To your dancing success!

Posted in Blog, Salsa Music, Timing

Timing Is Everything!

No sooner had I stepped foot into the dance club when a smiling young man asked me to dance.

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Listen Up…Literally! Leading And Following In The New Age.

Traditionally, we were taught (and still are) that the leader's job is more important. Not only does he have to know his steps and have proper leading technique, but he also has to creatively direct the sequence of the dance. The follower is merely a compliant responder. This ends up placing a huge amount of pressure on the leader and makes for a less interesting, challenging and creative experience for the follower. Read more ›

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The number one concern students express in class is

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I started the beginner session of salsa at this location. I was very impessed with the teachers. They make you feel comfortable and do not call you out. They are willing
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The classes. I have referred friends here also and they feel the same.

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