Question by User southpvw
I’ve recently been taking a beginner salsa class locally. I was invited by some friends. By no means am I a dancer and when I have danced it’s not coordinated like salsa. I was hesitant at first but I’ve enjoyed it so far. It’s challenging learning a move and the Spanish call-out and having to switch constantly though. Also, I’m a lead for reference.
I’ve noticed that the class is hosted by a salsa group and many experienced dancers are participating in the class. This is fine but I’ve noticed there’s plenty of them in the beginner course and it’s obvious that they get frustrated when I mess up or they’re impatient. This is compounded by the fact that the class moves fast because it happens once a week over the course of a semester so its plenty of ground to cover. As soon as one move is taught, another is introduced. I now don’t want to go because of indirect complaints about newcomer performance to the instructors. I’m going to try to practice more alone but I didn’t give my all in class because of this.
That doesn’t seem to be a great learning environment if there are experienced people in the beginner lessons… one of the things about beginner classes is that everyone is a beginner so that you don’t feel like you’re the only one who is new to salsa. If possible, I would try to join a different class where you can feel more comfortable with the speed of the teaching and the people you’re learning with. You shouldn’t be dealing with any sort of stress about other people being impatient or something, you should be enjoying yourself and learning at a steady speed with others at your level- not being constantly worried about learning faster to match other dancers.
If it is your only option then I recommend taking a video of the move you learn that day, and then you can practice the steps at home with counts and then with music. After that you need to apply it by practicing with one of your friends or at a social event or something so that your body can get used to it and commit it to memory.
Sounds like a class that isn’t paced very well nor does it focus on fundamentals. A pattern driven class.
I took a lot of those when I was starting out. Just keep going, and if you can walk away with 1-3 things each class, call it a success. You aren’t going to be stringing together patterns as you learned anyways.
Also remember that your class-taking skills will improve too.
Just like with being in the wild you have to be open to communicate. Don’t just shut up. Actively let them know that you’re okay with getting corrected, and then refine and do it again. You’re right, salsa isn’t just any other dance, it is constructed, disciplined and it reminds me (personally) of Fidel. So tell them what you’re doing wrong and take it.
I honestly also know where you’re coming from because it’s definitely frustrating.
More so when the partners are snobby. Or want to back the lead, not everyone is going to like you or how you dance. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer to find what clicks. And you just try and base it off on that. Going back to how discipline and orderly it can be, most people end up not dipping deeper but some take the drill to become fanatics. You’ll hate being a fanatic because dancing will have to be a part of your lifestyle, but then again, later on, you might find a hidden gem as to why you want to keep it as part of your life.
Just like watching TV as a hobby. Salsa could be. It can also be time-consuming and even a bit expensive, but not as much as other hobbies. You have to also take into account, the time, travel, and most importantly nutrition you have to spend plus miscellaneous such as gels for soreness, physical therapy, clothing, shoes, mentality (on nights 40 out of 10 would not want to dance with you again, either because they’re too intimidated, they don’t like your style or you’re still learning) until everything clicks. This is of course for most who started late in their life. I believe if you started when you’re a kid, you’d have the neurons already built and set. But this time, it’ll take awhile, so you’d either thread the storm or take it easy one by one. It’s up to you.
Man sorry about your bad experience :/ sounds like you’re in a bad environment tbh – any other places in your area where you can learn? You mentioned going with friends – can they practise with you outside of class?
I’m going to assume you’re a lead here so this doesn’t necessarily apply but as my experience very early on when I was learning to lead I would subconsciously say “whoops” or “oh no” etc when I made a mistake… and one time a follower thought it was her… no you’re fine I’m getting frustrated with myself. So sometimes if a partner is getting frustrated it might not be you at all.
No one starts off great. We all gotta learn. It’s rude of people to get mad at you. The only people who bother me are those who think they know more than they do and you don’t sound like you’re in that category.
Is your difficulty in remembering a pattern or is it when you do the move it doesn’t work how it looks?
Try asking the follow “how does this feel?”. Feel free to ask further questions, typing this on mobile so it’s bit all over the place .
First of all, IMO there is a huge difference between cuban style salsa or puerto rican style (the two most known styles). It depends on which one you are learning. I first started with puerto rican but then noticed that cuban style fits me more, as it is less show dance but more the going out / street stylish kind of dance. Which IMO is also easier to learn and you’ll sooner be able to dance free without instructions. Maybe you want to think about that.
Secondly, i find it very uncommon that beginners have the same classes as the advanced dancers. Obviously you’ll not learn new moves as fast as the advanced dancers. You do not have to feel bad about it! I think it’s also bad organization from your dance school.
But most important! Don’t let that bring you down!! I think the first year is the most difficult one. After that, when you beginn to dance more freely then you’ll start to like salsa even more! But like u/californiastateuni already mentioned. Salsa needs to be a part of you lifestyle! You’ll learn faster if you listen to salsa music also in your spare time and not only when you are in classes. I think you really see the difference between salsa dancers and people who casually learn salsa, by how much they listen to salsa other than in classes.
My GF introduced me 4 years ago to salsa. I have spent much money and time into courses and parties. But i would in a heartbeat to it again. Once you get the taste of a good dance then you’ll want to improve it everyday.
I hope you don’t give it up!!