The best way to improve is to just continue social dancing. You’ll get comfortable and confident over time.
Be consistent with taking weekly group classes. Research instructors/schools in you area. Also, if you REALLY want to become the best dancer you can be..then you need to take private lessons. Private lessons is where you will get the real technical knowledge behind movements etc. Plus, it’s one on one focused, so your skill will get better faster. Socials are very important as well. Classes is where we train…Socials is where we put our training to the test.
1. Go to several studios and teachers to find which ones are the best for technical instruction and which are most fun. They might be the same person, or it might be a combination of 2-3 instructors. If anyone offers a good series class that builds on previous weeks, take it.
2. Find a group of friends at a similar level. If you can find a friend who is willing to practice 1x per week for an hour, that is golden.
3. When you go social dancing, at first try to focus on the basics you mentioned, plus 1 pattern. Initially your mental database may be small, so you might want to ask people to dance halfway through a song. That way you’re not doing the same move for 4 minutes straight 😉
4. Next time you go out, try focusing on 2 patterns, plus the basics. Etc. Over time, you’ll learn, forget, randomly remember, and eventually combine patterns without knowing where it came from. Takes a while though.
*** Most important thing is consistency. It’s really detrimental if you do the 2 weeks on / 2 weeks off thing. If you are having a super busy week, at least take one class that week. It will help significantly with maintenance.
Lots of classes and socials. I know some feel tons of socials is the way to go but I disagree. I think 2-3 classes per week and 1-2 socials is ideal when a beginner. Be patient – you’ll get there, friend; we’ve all been there!
This is pretty normal. The fact that you practiced some basics and had fun is good for a first social, just that your expectations were a bit high.
One view that has changed for me over time is I’ve stopped valuing classes where we do complex sequences, and value more a class when I learn one or two new things really well (the ins and the movement related to the count, how to setup the right distances, how to indicate to the partner whats coming up, etc). The next social I’m only going to remember one or two new things anyhow, its better to learn just that in a class really well than barely get through a complex sequence which will fail miserably when I try it in a social.
In classes where the partner is following a sequence while you follow a sequence you totally miss out on the feedback about how you are leading. Some follows are good in that even when there is a sequence in class they follow you whether you lead the sequence or not. But try sometime in a class to just not lead the sequence and watch the follow continue through the sequence.. it just demonstrates how incomplete that type of practice is.
Don’t worry what anyone else around you is doing — except enough to not bump into them, haha. The only time to pay attention to their moves is when you’re taking a break between dances.
Whenever in doubt, do a cross body lead. It should be your staple move when you don’t know what to do or lead next. The basic CBL is much less boring for a follow than you might think. It is easy for you (you basically stand in place), but the follower moves all the way across from one side to the other and gets to prance around and look pretty and do all sorts of styling
Trust me, if 50% of what you do during a song is cross body leads, and you do it confidently and with a smile on your face, all but the most snooty followers (whose opinion you shouldn’t care about anyway) will enjoy the dance.
If learning anything was as simple as watching Youtube videos, everybody would be an expert in everything (like we are on the interwebz).
Listen to a lot of salsa. Dance at home. Just dance, by doing whatever you want (without trying to dance salsa). Learn shines and do them to music. Go through partnerwork with imaginary partners, to music.
Don’t worry about doing anything fancy, focus on keeping the beat and having a good time. Nothing wrong with basic turns and a cross body lead if your timing is good. Make small talk, learn names, say that you’re a beginner but that you’re trying your hardest to improve. A little humility goes a long way towards leaving a good impression.
You don’t want to experiment doing a move you saw a pro move on youtube and end up dislocating a shoulder or moving someone aggressively. That’s how you win a reputation as someone to avoid.
As for practice, listen to the music in your spare time, play the popular songs so you get an idea of when the drops and the pauses are, do your basic while doing everyday chores. If you have the time, try to find another salsa class in your area so you’re getting more practice and techniques, and often times they will have a free class at the beginning of the workshops. Lookup beginner shines like the suzie Q and add that in to your practice and social dancing.
Remember! Every person you see doing those fancy steps on the dance floor started as a beginner. Consistency and dedication will get you to their level before you know it.
Just wait until you go to your first congress, trust me the best is yet to come
When social dancing, the music, the beat, the vibe, your partner’s skill level etc. will totally throw you off at the beginning, being good in class doesn’t translate to social dancing, you should be super proud of yourself to put yourself in an un-controlled environment.
I am a newbie (also a slow learner) with about 8 months of classes, there were times I felt shit about my skill and didn’t go, but I would pick myself up, and go back to social dancing. I am not sure if you would feel that way, just keep plugging bro and enjoy the fun of salsa.
To your question, when social dance, wait for a song that fits you, you don’t have to dance every song, I didn’t know that when I started…
In no particular order of importance:
1. Forget about being embarrassed- everyone starts from zero and it will just impede your progress if you are too self-conscious
2. Go at least twice a week so you can build up without forgetting
3. Be patient, it takes time until your brain and body learn to understand the rhythm intuitively.
4. If you’re going to clubs, it’s helpful to know the difference between the various genres such as Salsa, Bachata, Merengue etc. salsaorbachata.com can help with that
5. Learn the basic step and a few moves and keep practicing until you feel competent. Then continue to build up your repertoire. I found it helpful to memo in my own words the various moves I learned so that I would remember them later on and could practice at home
6. Have fun!!! 💃🏼🕺