How do I become more playful & musical while social dancing?

Question by LetsKeepLooking

I’m a lead who has been dancing bachata(mostly sensual) for more than a year now. I feel like I struggle with being musical & playful with the social dancing. I used to be very nervous while starting out & feel like I’ve improved a lot over the past year. I’ve gone out social dancing regularly the past few months. People have suggested listening to a lot of bachata music, which has helped. Sometimes even when I know a hit or a musical instrument in the song, I don’t know how to express it in dance movement/leading. Sometimes there are points in the music which are really good to slow down or pause. But I’m still doing combinations & patterns and my mind in too much in the 1 to 8 counts. How do I break away from patterns & counts and be more playful with the follow? I’m looking for suggestion on how to improve and video suggestion on social dances(where people are doing random complicated moves) which would help gain some inspiration. Thanks 🙂


User JenstarAus 

Drill the steps at home until they become second nature. We default to what we’re comfortable with – which are the steps that we’ve done the most – which are the basics. I find it best to pick one new step at a time, drill like crazy at home, and then challenge myself to use it in every dance until it becomes natural; then do the same thing for the next step, and the next. Listening to the music is the best thing you can do for musicality, but you also need the steps to back it up. Just don’t forget – a lead with great musicality who uses basic steps is 1000% times more enjoyable to dance with than a lead with a lot of steps and no musicality. 😘

User kowoof 

Yup, listening to music improved my musicality a lot too – I know almost all accents in about 100 songs ;D

Go sensual/wave/bodyroll (even common ones) stuff if you see that music slows down. Followers hate it when you go basico especially whenthere is no bongo and guira. If you don’t know any moves, even pausing, looking closely at your partner, smiling, singing for a while would be a lot better than going against the music.

User -champi0n-

(1) Listen to (even) more bachata songs. Most songs have a similar structure, which can be predicted / anticipated when listening to the ques in the song. After a while, you will be able to interpret songs on the go even when listening to them for the first time. Check this source for further in-depth information:

PM me if you need some suggestions for bachata music.

(2) Close your eyes when listening to bachata music at home and just enjoy the music. After a while start thinking about moves and isolations that you can do at specific moments in the song. It’s fine to pause the song or replay certain parts when something comes to your mind. This will promote your creativity.

(3) Dance more with beginners. First, this will improve your leading. Second, you will be limited in the moves that you can do so that you will improve your fundamentals (i.e., basic steps and turns). Third, you can do basic steps and simple turns for the whole song without having a feeling that you are not doing enough. When dancing with beginners (and generally) think first and foremost about their enjoyment of the dance with you, second about the music and third about the patterns that you’ve learned.

(4) Don’t be afraid to appear goofy and silly and don’t be afraid of mistakes when dancing, but do respect your partner and her boundaries.

(5) Use the beginning of a song to build a connection with your partner. Avoid doing patterns and avoid doing anything complicated. Do everything slowly (while of course listening to the music). In most cases, you will be doing body isolations such as head, shoulder, and body rolls, dips, caricias, you will be playing with the hands and making steps in place.

(6) Look for social videos on YouTube and try to get some fresh ideas from them. What I usually do is download a clip that I particularly like using a YouTube downloader (e.g., and then using a video editor cut the parts (e.g., 10 – 15 seconds) that fit my style and I am willing to try out. Before social events, I will look at these parts again and then while dancing I will listen to the music and search for similar moments as in the original video to insert a particular move. My go-to channel for social dancing videos is

(7) Learn some footwork and practice it at home by mixing it with basic steps while listening to music until you are not thinking about the footwork anymore but rather you are only listening to and enjoying the song. Then practice some more. Do this whenever you are listening to music at home and you have the opportunity. Check this channel for some footwork tutorials

(8) Look for dominican bachata and sensual bachata workshops in your area. They will improve your musicality in your feet and in body isolation.

(9) Don’t go to social events when you are tired or when you are not in the mood for dancing.

(10) Avoid dancing to songs that you dislike.

(11) Your dance would be musical when it’s either matching one of the instruments or the singing. Usually, your focus will shift from the singing to the instruments (or vice versa) depending on which of the two is emphasized at the particular moment. For example, you can shift your focus on the singing (a) when a vowel of a word is elongated (here you can do a body roll or half a circle with your partners hand (top-to-bottom / bottom-to-top)), (b) when the singer sings staccato (here you can chop all of your moves / make your dance choppy), (c) when the singer takes a deep breath while there is no pronounced rhythm (usually in the beginning or the middle of the song) (here you can make a small pause and look at your partner) or (d) when the singer makes a pause between multiple phrases in a roll (same as before you can make a small pause at the end of each phrase and look at your partner).

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