There is an interesting debate in the salsa community regarding the pros and cons of club classes. Obviously it is safe to say that the quality of club classes does not compare to a progressive group class. There is little emphasis on musicality, timing, and leading and following techniques in comparison to a good quality progressive group class environment. However there are pros as well which I would like to discuss.
Every time I teach a club class I worry about the quality of the lesson. It is hard for the students to hear and see, there are sometimes up to 80 people in the class and there is little in the way of assistance. In addition, everyone is at a different level. While we ask that only a certain level attend the class, we find that absolute beginners will take the class side by side to an advanced dancer. This makes it very difficult to teach properly. Because of this wide variance in skill level and the time constraints of trying to teach an interesting turn pattern in a short time, the quality suffers.
A group class allows for a weekly progression and there is time to focus on important exercises such as leading and following, musicality and timing, body movement and more. There is time for repeat practice and the very important aspect of creating muscle memory. While the focus is less on a “cool turnpattern” and more of how to dance, it is more beneficial for a serious student.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in club classes. I think they are an excellent way to come out a practice, meet new dance partners, experience different instructors and learn new moves. As long as you pair this up with the group classes or private lessons so that when you are quickly taught a turnpattern you already know how to lead it properly and musically.