Don’t be forceful. Don’t force the moves. Learn to lead well and practice, practice, practice.
Go slow before you go fast and lean how to execute the moves properly before you try to do them fast.
If the follower tells you something (especially something they don’t want or don’t like, or just can’t do), listen to them.
If you feel a resistance to your lead, either because it’s not understood or actual physical resistance, e.g. in the arm, especially if the joints don’t move as they ought, don’t push the move.
As a follower, I will 100% avoid dancing again with a leader who throws me around more than anything and forces his triple-pretzel-double-backwards-axle-moves come hell or high water. It’s a partner dance, not MMA.
On the other hand, I will always dance again with a gentle but clear leader, even if some cues get lost at first or if they use fewer “fancy” moves.
I used to prefer “stronger” leads as well, when I started learning Salsa. The trick, as a follower, is to have a certain level of body tension, especially in the arms and shoulders. It’s almost impossible to correctly interpret leads if the followers arms are like rubber and just bend every time you apply some pressure to give a lead.
Unfortunately, I had to take a Tango Argentino class to learn how to follow better, as most Salsa classes seem to focus mostly on the leaders. Followers often learn “when he moves hisb arm like so and so, you do this and that”. Which is not wrong, but also not the full explanation. I didn’t like that tango teacher, but she taught us how to get this connection between leader and follower and how to feel the “intension” or the preparation of movements in body weight shifts and tension/release in the connection.
When I have the right amount of body tension and if I feel that my lead knows what he’s doing and understands how he can ask me to move without dislocating my shoulder or elbow, (i.e. of I feel I can trust him), then the slightest tugs, nudges, raising or lowering of the hand can be enough to lead the most complex combinations. This is actually much more fun and less exhausting than getting pushed, pulled and twirled around. It’s not you who turns the follow. You ask her to do it and she does it herself.
Think of leading more as suggesting a movement to your partner, less of making them do something.
If you are as light as you should be, you don’t have to worry about it.
As light as you can be, and then be even lighter. That is how I was taught.
Connecting your arms to your frame does much more than adding force. But that takes a long time, so meanwhile, just be light.
On my phone so sorry if spelling or formatting is bogus.
Study the mechanics of human bodies, it’s not just lowering the arm to waist, its straightening it so that the bend at the elbow doesn’t pop it out sideways.
Always use a cup for a hand grip so that at any point the leader or follower can straighten their fingers to release the grip. And never use thumbs to hold on.
Study the followers footwork so you know when and where to position the arms for maximal comfort.
Even after you know all this talk to the follower about their bodies, some have injuries which prevent certain movements or range of movement. And either skip that class of movement or adjust accordingly.
Hand grips and positions will change your whole world, figure out what the most comfortable thing to do is, if it feels weird then explore to find something that feels good.
That’s all I have off the top of my head.
The follower can fuxk you up just as much of they hold on, so be careful out there 🙂
1. I’d practice the moves in class on slow songs first. Probably don’t just bust them out social dancing if you’re not confident yet.
2. Don’t hold her hands tightly. Just use a light fingers-to-fingers grip. I generally let her hold my hand rather than the other way around.
3. The girl should be turning with her relevant hand low and close to her waist. If her arm is out, don’t do a hammerlock type move.
4. I tend to lead it by rotating her hand at the wrist when it’s close to her waist. It’s actually a very subtle movement.
5. If there’s any resistance or something feels uncomfortable, just break contact and keep going. Let it become a free turn and continue dancing.
Even advanced guys make mistakes or surprise the girl. Just be gentle and if something feels wrong, just let go. Then have a laugh and a little groove, and pick her up again.
If you want to understand either be a follow and have somebody lead you, or just go through figures as if they were lead to you. Or find a follow and go really slowly through figures, without rhythm, focusing on seeing where arms go and how elbows bend.
And when leading figures, always be mindful of resistance at places where there should be none and be ready to let go (but make sure the follow does not fall over or run into things).
Magnetic fingers Meaning you refuse to take the hand of the follower, but try to make her attach to you only by a slightly bent fingers with tension
Timing, timing , timing…. ( repeat thousand times) Leading is giving the lady the suggestion o a direction before she needs to do it, and follow through if feet and body are at the right place. This can only be done if you either are both in sync with music, or you observe her timing and act on it
Restricted use of force. Only if you know she likes the assistance can you use force ( e.g. multiple spins)
Frame If you have tension you lead not only by moving your arms , but also by moving your body, which is more natural and gives less chnce of bumping eachother
Leading into a move E,g a hammerlock leading to a double hammerlock involves bending the arm behind the back. It looks spectacular doing this taking her hand and bending it behind her back. This is show, can be done if you both know the move and eachother and you know the position is okay. It is very dangerous for elbow and shoulder if you are only slightly off in timing or position. It can also be done in a social with an unknown follower if you take her arm at the upper arm and lead it to her back by sliding down the arm until her arm is on her back. Zero risk because the move is lead, and you feel any resistance and can stop.
Floorcraft Make it your business to know where the follower will end up and look if sombody will be there at the same time.
I know i went further then the question. But actally even somebody who knows anatomy perfectly will not be able to use it in dance without practice. So your process should be to learn it without hurting somebody by practicing, and the above helps.
I am a very experienced lead, not flashy, but get the feedback of clean, soft, musical leading