1a) The place is private, where you won’t be disturbed by anyone while practicing. Clubs and parties are not suitable for off-class sessions.
1b) You will have 20 sq. meters (215 sq. feet) of unobstructed dancing surface.
1c) The place has a mirror. If you don’t have a mirror it’s helpful to film yourself while practicing and then watch the video in order to get the details right.
2) You have to prepare what you will be practicing.
2a) You can and you should ask your dancing partner to look for something that she will be interested in learning. Ask her to send you some videos before you meet.
2b) If you know each other from class you can practice combinations that you’ve learned there the first few times you meet.
2c) If you decide to go for learning new things you can follow bachata tutorials or pick individual moves from people dancing at socials / your favorite bachata couple.
2d) Send a few(!) tutorials to your dancing partner that you would like to try out every time before you meet or discuss what you would like to do next time once you’ve already met. That way she can mentally prepare for what you will be dancing as well as the decision process of what you will be doing once you meet will be significantly shorter.
3) You have to prepare the music that you will dance on. In addition to your favorite bachata music, have a couple of slow rhythm songs that you will use when first learning the steps.
4) You need a laptop or something with a bigger screen so that you can follow the tutorials. Smartphones won’t cut it.
5) Depending on the size of the room where you will be practicing you might need a (portable) speaker.
6) In addition to the above-mentioned things bring 2 bottles of water (one for you and one for your dancing partner) and a spare shirt / t-shirt with you.
7) Before you meet you have to set the time, the date and the place where you will meet. If she asks you about the duration of your practice tell her to free 1.5 – 2 hours of her time.
8) Make sure that your hygiene is on point before you meet. Shower, brush your teeth, put clean clothes on. If necessary bring mints / chewing gum / mouthwash with you. With regards to perfume, less is more, 1-2 sprays max.
9) An example of what your practice could look like is:
chat -> few songs of dancing freely / repeating what you’ve learned last time -> learning a new move / figure -> trying it out on 1-2 slow rhythm songs -> trying it out on 1-2 fast rhythm songs -> mixing it in with other moves and figures that you know
10) Make sure that your dancing partner has also a say on what figure you will be learning and what music you will be listening to once you meet.
11) Respect the boundaries of your dancing partner. Before trying out more sensual moves ask your dancing partner if she will be feeling comfortable with them. While each follower is different, it usually takes time for a follower to build trust in you and to become comfortable with more sensual moves.
12) When learning a new figure each of you should be focusing only on your respective steps.
13) If you don’t get a particular move/step/signal right off the bat, replay the video at 0.5 or even 0.25 speed.
14) In order to get the leading right, trust your gut but also ask your dancing partner for feedback. Specifically, ask if it feels fine while you lead a particular move and whether your signals are clear enough. Additionally, you can put yourself in her spot to understand better how to lead a particular move. For that, ask your dancing partner if she minds switching roles for a minute.
15) Use the mirror to make sure that what your doing corresponds to what is shown in the tutorial. If you don’t have a mirror you can film yourself and then watch the video in order to get the details right. (Protip: use the opportunity to also work on your posture).
16) If a particular move is too challenging, try a different one or just call it a day if you are already feeling tired.
17) Don’t learn more than one new figure at a time.
18) Have fun with the learning process. Be open to suggestions from your dancing partner. Think of ways how to modify what you learn to make it your own. For example, shuffle in other moves/steps that you know, add an additional turn for you or your dancing partner, play with the hands, add footwork, extend a wave or a dip by 4 counts, insert breaks, etc.\