Social dancing

At the dance studio alot of students that take either group lessons or private lessons and are never seen at the Salsa nightclubs or parties. 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 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.

Nothing beats being in the trenches taking grenades. 
Salsa Classes & Salsa clubs/parties, 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 – that’s 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 difference. 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. That’s 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 that’s 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 that’s the key fact - you are still dancing, still moving and more quickly becoming a better dancer just because you are out there.


Here are some good tips:

• Don't try things in a crowded club that you have not mastered through practice first in an uncrowded place.

• Women should refuse to execute moves that they know the partner hasn't the skills to lead when it puts her (and others) at risk

• Same for the guys, some of the women are crazy - don't let them be.

• The men are leading the women as though they are driving a car in traffic - so the men MUST be aware of the surroundings and know that when the partner finishes a move - will the space already be occupied by another moving couple? 

• Small controlled steps will prevent all of those painful instep injuries that result when beginning dancers take big steps - especially on the back step - and step on other dancers.

What is dance floor etiquette? The art of dancing, whether good or bad, in your own space. The art of not being all over the dance floor, unaware of or totally oblivious to the other people dancing around you. The art of having consideration for other dancers and of not intruding into their space, just as you wouldn't want them to intrude into yours. A problem today is that too many people want to show off, whether they have the ability or not, or if they do - whether or not they have space. They want to turn, dip, flip and spin and don't seem to care that there are others on the dance floor, too.Every dancer must adopt the philosophy of dancing in the "slot", remaining in their own space, completely aware of who is around them and of how much space exists between them and the other couples. If the dance floor is crowded, don't try to dip your partner or to do a fancy turn combination because it will put your partner in someone else's space and put your partner at risk. Learn to dance in a "contained" manner. If the floor is really open and empty, only then can you get fancy. If the floor is crowded, contain yourself, stay in your space. Guys, remember that you are the one who leads the lady into everything that she does "normally". You must be in control at all times and know where you are leading her, without invading another couple's space. Ladies, if you are dancing with someone who is twirling you like a top, who has no control and who has you out of control - stop dancing, even if you have to pretend you suddenly have a sore foot! or let your partner know that he needs to work on his control. You do not want to be at risk because he hasn't the control to lead you well. If he does not listen, if he shows no consideration, then politely excuse yourself off the dance floor. Do not embarrass yourself or the person you are dancing with. It is preferable to being hurt yourself and preferable to hurting someone else. Guys, if you are dancing with someone who does not know how to turn, who does not have the footwork, or who is herself wild, let her know that it is unbecoming or that she should take lessons. If you are not a dance Instructor yourself, then recommend someone that can help. Advise her to always be more conscious of the dancers around her.It is our mission to make New Zealand and the Dance communities of the world safer by having ALL dancers be more aware and considerate of each other.

Social dancing in couples is mainly a phenomenon of Western European culture. Social dance has structure but is not executed in the form of routines i.e. basic rules which once understood allows two individuals to dance together and flexibly determine their choreography, even if they had never met before. This demands that each move element of the dance posses a unique identifying start signal. Initiation of the signal and compliance with it result in the co-ordination of the move element by both partners.

When a couple takes to the dance floor, both partners cannot initiate at the same time, neither ca they both comply. Therefore one partner initiates and the other complies. This is known as leading and following respectively. Traditionally the lead role has been assumed by men and the following by women.

The lead (known as la marca meaning "the mark" in tango) for a move can take a variety of forms, usually presenting itself as a change in pressure (increase/decrease) as the point of partner contact. or in the body position of the leader relative to the follower. The most elegant leads are clear and considerate to the follow without being obvious to the casual on-looker. The challenge to the follower, in choosing to comply with the signal, is in finding ways of self-expression whilst dancing within its constraints.

Consequently salsa demands the abilities of lead and follow of its dancers in order for it to be executed on our club floors in a social context.