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    Dance Swagger

    Only have a few moves and want to look a little more advanced? Why not try to work on your dance swagger. What’s swagger? Well, as the Urban Dictionary puts it:

    “How one presents him or her self to the world. Swagger is shown from how the person handles a situation. It can also be shown in the person’s walk.”

    In salsa, a person’s swagger is a mixture of how they move, their personality and how they make their partners feel. While this may sound silly to you, it’s something that resonates on the dance floor. You’ve seen those people out there…the sexy ones, the ones that always have their partners laughing, the romantic ones, the crazy dippers, the ‘getting-all-my-cardio-for-the-week’ ones, the dark and mysterious ones…

    Now here’s the best part: you can have any dance floor swagger that you want.

    While some people develope it naturally as they progress, you can learn how to fake it till you make it. The best way to start is to watch dancers who personify the type of personlity that you’d like to incorporate. Watch how they move, their style and think about what you can do to interpret it.

    In Tango and Bachata, we talk about the dance term, ‘Intention’. By moving your frame and a certain level of condfidence your lead will be easier to interpret. I’m always saying in class that in order to develope intention, I dance as if I were Batman. He’s confident, strong and has a bold movement style. In reality, I’m Tony, a somewhat soft-spoken guy with a fondness for hats, but on the dance floor, I am a armour plated superhero who’s ready to save damsels in destress from bad dances! By being ‘Batman’, I feel less shy about doing sexy moves or pulling off a dip in true superhero-fashion.

    You don’t have to be Batman, you can be James Bond, or Madonna, or Lady Gaga, or Jim Carey, or Don Juan… anyone you want and whenever you want. My buddy will be leading the more romantic bachata one-minute to having the funniest cha-cha the next.

    Learning Swagger
    I remember learning how to make my combs more ‘romantic’ by watching a few different ‘romantically swaggerific’ dancers do theirs. I even asked one of them for advice on how they interpret their combs. Then I went on to watch youtube videos of other dancers and have created a comb that I feel that matches my personality.

    You may be thinking, ‘How do you make a comb look romantic?’. Being a swimmer, I started to pretend that I’m doing a comb underwater, so that I ease out my combing speed at the end. I also turn my hands like how gentlemen used to ask ladies to dance (from classic movies). Yes, it does sound super silly, but wow, the girls love it when I treat something as simple as a hair comb with such care.

    Another great way to start thinking about adding some style to your dancing is by taking a styling class. TDS offers both STUDS and DIVAS classes that focus on adding styling, attitude and fun to your dancing. Over the years I’ve spent much time taking styling classes as well as emulating my favourite dancers to create a dance swag that’s truly my own.

    So get out there, watch those dancers that you admire and figure out what it is about them that you’d like to help shape your swag. Usually it’s the little things, watch how they lead turns, how they step during a cross-body and even how they spin.

    Just a word of advice, try to not let your swagger get in the way of you enjoying your dancing! It’s just a tool in your arsenal to help you have a little more expression. Also beware of the dark side, as people usually don’t like people who have creepy, arrogant or mean styles of swagger.

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    Sexy Salsa Ladies Needed for a Threesome!

    I know what you’re thinking, but no, not that kind of threesome… but it does involve two girls for every boy ;) While the spaces are filling up fast, we do have a few spots left for ladies on our upcoming Salsa Threesome Performance Team! Wait!?! Before you get scared away, it really is going to be an awesome experience and if you want to take your dancing to the next level; you’re going to love being on the performance team!

    I remember how I felt about my first time, but seriously, once you try it, you’ll love it and never want to go back! Performing can seem so scary, but there are so many pros that you should really just sign up…

    Performing will make you a better dancer
    I will guarantee that being on a team will help so many aspects to your dancing. Unlock your inner salsa diva by working on your styling, body movement and having some sexy salsa spicy attitude. I remember my first performance team partner, who could barely do a coca-cola when we began, went on to win the TDS competition only a few months later.

    Performing is really, really fun
    While being in front of a crowd dancing can seem really, really scary… it’s actually not that bad when you have a solid team dancing with you. Not only that, your dance partners are just awesome as they’re going through the same thing that you are. I can only say great things about my two performance teams as both groups just made it all super fun.

    Nothing beats having a salsa wing-girl
    Quick, name three other girls from your salsa classes… what? you can’t? Oh yeah, it’s because ladies usually don’t meet the other girls from their classes. What’s so great about dancing with another girl is that a) you will make a really awesome new salsa lady-friend as well as b) become a way better follower because you need to dance with your lead and sync up with another girl!

    One of the most common comments I hear from lady-helpers is that they really enjoy getting to know the other girls. Not only will you be a sassy lady social butterfly, but you’ll have the best lady entourage group in all of Acrobat!

    Hair Done, Nails Done, Everything Big!
    Another great aspect to performing is justifying getting all dolled up to perform! You can totally justify getting that new dress, getting your hair did and put on some body glitter guilt-free! Trust me, the Salsa guys will be lining up to dance with you once they see you all done up.

    Threesomes are just awesome
    No, seriously… it’s going to be pure shenanigans and a performance that people will be talking about for a long time! From taking your dancing to the next level, to bonding with great people and getting all dressed up; the salsa performance team is just for you! There are only a handful of spots for the ladies left, so take a deep breathe, you know you can do it… and you won’t feel guilty for doing it!!!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseras!

    A Beginner Salseros’ Guide to Social Dancing

    Having recently helped a level 1 class with Tracie and Daniel, it was interesting to see how many of the leads had questions in regards to becoming better dancers and if they’re ready for social dancing. I remember a few years ago when I had started level 1 and how impossible it seemed to go out and dance the night away. Hopefully, with a few of these helpful tips, you’ll be out practicing your moves in no time!

    Get Out There:
    The best way to learn is by doing and while class time is great, you really need to social dance to get better. For level 1-2′s, I’d suggest going to the TDS Sunday Socials as they are so casual and that the majority of people on Sundays are beginners. You can also get to see some of the more advanced dancers, which is always great as if you only do a couple of dances, you’ll get really inspired.

    Outing Classes:
    Whether it’s a TDS social or Plaza, I highly recommend doing the beginner class. One reason for this is that you can always ask someone who’s even less experienced than you are to do the lesson. You’ll look like a pro in their eyes and you’ll have a blast learning the basics and a few moves to add to your arsenal.

    Dont’ Expect, Suggest:
    I always tell both men and women to ask people to dance. When I first started, I always mentioned to my partners that I was new to salsa, but would love to dance with them. I found my Follows were very polite when dealing with my bad dance skills. I think most of us realize that within 3-6 months, those dancers who aren’t so great will become the next top stars, so being polite is key because you never know.

    Dance Floor Etiquette:
    As a lead, always take small steps and protect your partners. This means don’t guide them into other dancers and try to space yourselves out from other dancers. I’ve literally had people start dancing right in front of my partner and I, thus making it difficult to dance for everyone involved.

    Another tip is to be polite at all times. Apologize if you bump into someone and be respectful if someone refuses a dance… you never know if they’re tired, dizzy or just not feeling well. I’ve seen some people take dance refusals really poorly and you’d be surprised about how that kind of thing will stick with you for ages.

    Start Small, Aim for Smooth Transitions:
    When I first started, my buddy Mike and I would say ‘Tonight, I’m aiming for 5 dances’. This helped give us a goal and be courageous enough to ask a few girls to dance. After you have X number of dances you can relax and soak up the ambiance.

    The key to salsa isn’t about many moves, it’s all about transitions. So make sure that when you go from one move to the next, to be smooth in your body movements and confident in your hand/body guidance. I remember practicing on my own for 20-30 minutes a night just to smooth out my transitions.

    Wingmen/Wingwomen:
    One of the reasons I really stuck with dancing was due to my friend Mike. We met in level 1 and have been encouraging each other to go out to the clubs for years. Not only do you go out more often, but you learn quicker from friendly competition.

    Know someone from class that you gel with? Ask them to start going to the clubs with you. You will see how quickly you’ll get better together because you’re used to dancing with each other. Before you know it, you’ll be tearing up the dance floors.

    While there are countless other tips to follow, you’ll soon find that this strange and somewhat scary world of Salsa will become your happy place. Be polite and get out there as much as you can! Speaking of which, be sure to check TDS this Saturday for our annual Holiday Party! With 3 performances, beginner and intermediate lessons, you’ll have an amazing time!

    Be warned though, our Holiday themed parties are usually packed so be sure to get there early! Last year’s Valentines’ Party had people lined up down the street! Get there early and be prepared for an amazing night!

    I wish I could be there, but am in San Francisco, visiting my parents for the Holidays! Be sure to post video on Facebook and I’m looking forward to seeing you on the dance floor!

    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!

    A Leader’s Take on Following



    A little while ago, Andrea had asked for tips from a leader’s perspective on how to become a better follower. While attending this week’s Sunday social, I spent my focus on coming up with some thoughts on this subject. While I haven’t truly learned to follow, I’m hoping that these ideas will help and am looking forward to hearing your imput (whether you lead, follow or both!)
    Aim to become a ‘lighter’ dancer : I believe it was Sarah who brought this up in class, but essentially there are two types of leads and followers: those who use little and those who use great resistance to lead/follow. It is natural for beginners to need strong signals as guidance but the problem with those who use/need great resistance (aka, heavy dancers) is that you tire out quickly and are slower when executing moves. The real trick is to try to step and move as lightly as possible and to focus in on the resistance that your leader if giving you during the dance.
    Don’t be afraid to politely ask your leader to be more or less firm during a dance. It takes time to develop your dancing skills so that you’re a light dancer but when you get there, you will spin and glide like a champ!
    What Would Sadie Hawkins Do? : While at the Sunday Social, I saw a lot of women sitting on the sidelines waiting for guys to ask them to dance… actually, I see this a lot at many social salsa outings. Trust me, you spend a lot of time learning how to dance, bought those great pair of heels and even have your double turns down; so why just spend the event sitting down? Trust me, us leaders’ love to be asked to dance and not only will we be flattered, but chances are will try out a few cool new moves with someone as bold as yourself ;)
    Whether you’re 2 lessons in or salsera supreme, don’t be afraid to ask us as it’s rare we’ll ever say ‘no’. The Salsa scene is so amazing for that reason alone. We’re all here to learn, get better and have a blast doing so, so next outing, please ask any and all of us to dance. You’ll not only increase your social circle ten-fold, but you’ll become an amazing dancer in no time!
    Add a little more Diva-Style to your dancing : This may sound like a no-brainer, but if us guys have to spend countless hours learning combos, timing and being a great lead than it’s only fair that you spend some time learning how to properly style.  I’ve always found it funny that while you learn how to style within the first 2-3 classes and yet I see people in levels 4-5 and 6 who don’t have it down. Now I’m not saying that you have to do the pops and waves and such all the time, but styling helps round out a follower and also serves the great purpose of connecting and transitioning moves.
    Time Travel : This tip is involves two ideas: learn how to dance on time and keep your steps/turns small. Why did I include both of these ideas in one tip? Well if you take smaller steps and travel less during turns you will increase the amount of time you have to complete your steps. From a leader’s point of view, we always appreciate someone who stays on time and doesn’t require us to lunge in order to give you a scoop.
    Dance in the Slot : While I could do an entire blog about this concept ( blog coming soon! ) dancing in the slot is a way for a couple and a group of dancers to stay in line with one another. Wikipedia puts dancing in the slot perfectly by saying:
    “As a rule, the leader mostly stays in the slot as well, leaving it only to give way for the follower to pass him. The leader almost never makes the follower to circle around when passing by. They may go into a common rotational figure when the follower happens to come close, but such figures are usually in a tight position and do not change the overall “slotted” appearance.” 
    So, what does this mean? Essentially when dancing you are at one of the ends of an imaginary slot/line. When you do any cross body move, you basically trade places and end up on the other side of said slot. This keeps the dancers in line with one another and allows for proper execution of moves.
    My tip for followers is to learn to execute traveling moves so that they move from one end of the imaginary dance line to the other, not diagonal from it or a few feet away from it. How to practice this? Purposely practice or dance keeping the lines of the tiles/wood on the dance floor in mind and use them as rules to dance on.  It is so hard as a leader to dance with someone who strays from the slot/line as you’re bound to bump into other dancers.
    Break Back (but not ALL the way back) : When doing break-back moves, please don’t allow for your arm to fully extend. First of all, it breaks the tension between two partners, Secondly, it takes longer to retract and could cause you to go off-time and Thirdly, you take up way more space on the dance floor. How far do you allow your arms to break back? Comfort is always key but I would only go as far back as to when you feel enough resistance  to complete the move. Trust me, bigger is not better in this situation.
    Well, I hope these tips have helped and would love to hear your comments/advice/concerns so feel free to comment away!
    Till then,
    Stay Shining Salseros!