Question by User u/phoenix_electric
Hi everyone, I’ve been dancing salsa and bachata for about a year now. I have the opportunity to do some social dancing in Vietnam and Germany next month. It’s my first time dancing outside of the states. I have no idea what to expect. Help!
Having danced in several countries and many different states – small towns and the biggest of cities – I can tell you the one thing you will not realize until you experience it is how every different area, despite dancing the same dance, may have different “dialects” in the way people lead.
Sometimes it’s enough that it can be startling and make you feel “off” or like you’ve suddenly forgotten things. Some places have a much much lighter touch on their lead, on average, others are very firm. Some cities have very exaggerated leads, others are subtle. Just relax, keep breathing, and focus on your fundamentals. If you can do that, then you’ll start to recognize the differences and you’ll start to follow just fine.
I have no idea about Vietnam, though in Germany, assuming it’s a large city (Berlin?) then the dancing is actually very likely a decent ability level.
it’s pretty fascinating to me, as a leader. I first started dancing in Athens, then Boston, then Philly for a year. In the mean time, managed to make it to NYC for some socials and the NYC salsa congress. The differences between the 4 cities was pronounced.
I had always heard that NYC women like “strong” leaders and that you could be exhausted by the end of the night having to lead as hard as they like it. But I’ve found that description to be a bit lacking and I suspect many of the people who assume that are compensating where they don’t understand. In my experience it is more confidence and sharpness to movement and timing, rather than an overall expression of strength or aggressiveness that defines the NYC dialect.
Boston is pretty funny, because it very much depends on whether the dancer prefers on1 or on2, and if they dance on1, what their skill level is. The on1 dancers in Boston very much seem to need more exaggerated leads until you start dancing with the more advanced dancers, where the primary on2 dancers tend to be a fairly light touch.
What I remember of Philly dancers is that most of them seem to want to be dragged around through moves, unless they were at a level where they were learning to do performance.
Athens, I can’t really comment on because I was too new a dancer and I haven’t been back yet.
Australia, they were mostly less experienced, but super enthusiastic. I made so many dance friends and saw many of the same faces repeatedly in the short month I was there. (I suspect the teaching is not a very high level because lots of people, even those who appeared to be higher level, were often dropping their heel on the back side of the count, so they’d be slightly late often, for example.)
Regardless, it’s still amazing to be able to go anywhere in the world and find people excited to dance.
I am also a follow. I have unfortunately never danced in the US (yet) so I cannot really do a comparison but I can describe what I do and have seen. As for what to wear it of course depends on what you normally wear. I usually dance wearing all black to hide sweat.. jeans and top and prefer buying 2 of the same tops so if I need to change once one is soaked I have an exact same one in my bag. But that’s a personal preference and I don’t know anyone else who does! I often wear dresses too with leggings. If I had the body for it I would def wear crop tops.
In Germany I found the follows dressed less flashy than for example in Eastern Europe. It reflects the culture.. Eastern European women are much more prone to going all out with makeup, shoes, hair, nails than their mainland European counterparts.
As for the crowds, most anywhere people are friendly but unless you are super good looking and or super talented you might not be asked non stop to dance. It was a bit of a shock the first times I danced outside my local group where I knew everyone and could dance without a stop the whole night. I have found it much easier to get dances in a new location where I don’t have any leader friends in the crowd if I join a class. Many places will have a drop in class at the beginning of the night. In my experience I am asked more often to dance at local social nights than at congress socials. But anywhere that you are an outsider you will often need to ask rather than wait to be asked.
To get a better idea of the typical dance outfits and dance style search for the fb groups for the congress or club for the socials. Might also find pics etc if you find a fb page for the salsa school hosting the nights.
Another thing to consider is that different places have different concentrations of on1, cuban vs la style etc.
I can only speak for Germany. On 1 is prevalent, then comes Cuban and than NY/On 2. In Germany, many socials start with an introductory course in Salsa/Bachata/Kizomba, but it depends on the City. Mostly, the age range is pretty mixed between 18-60. In cities with universities you will have more people in their 20. As a follow you will asked significantly less to dance if you use your smartphone. Otherwise it is also common and accepted for the follow to ask for a dance.
the best place to dance in Frankfurt is Conexion on Saturday night. They have four floors: Salsa Cubana, Salsa NY, Bachata and Kizomba.
There is Monika Bauer Dance School party on Friday with Bachata (Sensual) and Salsa.
My Zeil on Thu. Orange Peel in Frankfurt and ParkCafe in Wiesbaden on Wed.
It is a party almost every day in Frankfurt\Wiesbaden area.
Bachata is mostly Sensual. Salsa is mostly on 1, 50% in line and 50% cubana.
As to wear, everything that makes you comfortable is acceptable.
BTW, with corona virus around here in Europe, expect some of the party to be cancelled. Think twice to go to any party. I personally dance at home with my partner. Not going to any party anymore.