Question by User sdo17yo
I have a problem with the On 2 count.
I probably am an advanced beginner and I’ve been dancing and also taking classes with the On 1 beat. But now I would like to try On 2.
Everytime I start, I feel I’m ok but somehow I revert back to the On 1 count.
Is there any advice you can give?
Keep doing it. I was “trying” to only dance on2 for about a month until my brain finally stopped trying to switch. Then I couldn’t dance on1 without accidentally switching. Now I can kinda do both, but am far more comfortable on on2.
I used to have trouble the other way. Just like it took time to find the beat on 1, it takes time for on 2. The best way to practice is by listening and dancing to the music. Tap out the beat, do your basic, dance with a partner who is more comfortable with the timing.
What helped me in the beginning (a lead) is if noticed that I turned back to on1: fake my 1 step forward into a right turn, after which I would step forward in 5 and 6. And you’re back to on2 again.
In general, I tried to get the basic to a “natural” flow. After which I stopped counting. Instead, i noticed in what space of the flow I was, so I would know what to do. Obviously, you can still check if your 1’s are still on time.
I had the same problem of starting a pattern On2 but then reverting back to On1 by the end of it. It is a problem of muscle memory.
If you catch yourself reverting back to On1, see if you are still stepping back on the 5 with your right foot (as a leader of course). I caught myself always trying to step back on the 5, which resulted in reverting back to the 1.
Eliminating this made my transition to On2 much easier.
What helped me with consistency during my switch was humming the beat triplets in my head with strong emphasis on the 2nd one. Not “pam pam pam … pam pam pam …”, nor “PAM pam pam… PAM pam pam…” as most on1 dancers probably feel it, but “pam PAM pam … pam PAM pam …” to clearly mark the break step and make it harder to enable the autopilot. 2 is just a number, it’s all about the break step. Beats are preferable to explicit counting in this exercise imo, as you get more intuition about the music out of it.
Figuring out the structure of the music helps too. You can pay attention to the clave, which hits 2 or 6 on its 2-side. Congas are even better as the tumbao pattern has strong 2 4& 6 8&. Can’t go wrong with that. Literally learned that shit from a youtube clip. Never played the real drums, but my hands can tap tumbao out in my sleep, and I can hear it clearly in my head even if it’s not in the foreground of the song. This way I can never lose 2/6.
There’s no magic pill to take. Repetition. Count. Get back when you fall off. “on (beat) 1, go back” as a leader.
You need to train your ears to listen to the rhythmic pattern of the congas. Research Conga “Tumbao” and study the basic pattern and learn where the beats land in relation to the “dancers” count (1234-5678) as opposed to the musicians count (1234-1234). If you can get your hands on some percussion and actually play along to some Mambo on 2 style music that would be even better. It’s all about training your ears to listen and understand where the counts fall. Don’t fake it until you make it. Actually learn some basic music theory and learn about the different sounds a conga can make ( for example, open slaps closed slaps, base, tip, flam) It will be sooo worth the investment if you plan on dancing alot of on 2 later and it will also improve your musicality for on1.
Go to this website, Mute all the instruments except for the congas. Just practice your basic step to the conga tumbao alone until you start to feel comfortable, then start adding other instruments in.
AND COUNT YOUR BASIC OUT LOUD. one TWO three koon koon five SIX seven koon koon. ( 2 and 6 are emphasized because you’re either breaking forward or backwards on those counts. The Conga slaps land on those counts too. They act as a great anchor if you ever get lost) (The “koonkoon” imitates the repeating open tone notes in the tumbao pattern. Mambo dancers often play with those hits when doing shines.)
All comments so far provide some good tips, one thing to think about is that, there is a difference on 1 and on 2, you should be able to tell that difference, your body should know. It is that different feeling that will allow you to separate one from the other. If you have trouble doing this there are things that you should pay attention to, like the type of music, try both on a single song, be aware of what happens and the more differences you find the better