Why is salsa so hard to learn?

I often have potential students call me for more info on our salsa classes and many have an unrealistic expectation of how long it takes to learn to dance and how easy it is to learn.

It is deceiving to watch a great couple dance together. Everything looks smooth and simple and easy to execute. The reality is that becoming that smooth takes a lot of hard work and practice.

So there is no short answer on how long it takes to learn how to dance. It depends on whether you are leading or following or if you have prior dance experience. Even certain sports experience can assist in your learning capacity. I have found over the years that those with martial arts experience and gymnastic experience will learn faster generally. It also depends on whether you are naturally musical and how strong your memory is to master moves and choreography.

There are many factors that determine how fast one learns to dance. The key point is that everyone can do this. I started my salsa dancing with zero dance experience, no athletic background and no musical talent to speak of and with determination and drive I was dancing well in 6 months. I went out dancing every night of the week though and practiced at home, but the results were obvious after 3 months.

Anyone who takes a full level 1 class and practices the moves regularly will find they can already feel quite good on the dance floor after 9 weeks. Just a little practice and a regular class can make a big difference and improve your dancing.

Keep at it and you can reap the benefits of dancing!

2 thoughts on “Why is salsa so hard to learn?

  1. HI. I just looked at your web page and wanted to get some advice from you. I’ve been trying to learn salsa dancing for the past 3 years and I’m not having very much success at it. My girlfriend is an advanced dancer and has been doing salsa for 14 years and she is so frustrated she won’t dance or practice with my any more. I’ve taken 30 lessons so far, with 10 of them private at a dance studio. The other lessons I took at a local Community Recreation Center and at the local university salsa club. I just can’t seem to remember the moves and have no idea how to string, or put moves together. I also cannot comprehend how to move my body in the cuban hips action. I feel I am musicall inclined as I was in college marching band for 4 years and play saxophone piano, but I am just overwhelmed and feel bad because dancing looks like so much fun ! Also, I havn’t had much luck with my lessons in waltz, foxtrot or east coast or west coast dancing either.

  2. Hi Brent,

    Learning to dance Salsa can seem very daunting when you are constantly trying to catch up to the level of a more advanced partner. It can make you question your progress at every turn and be extremely discouraging. Dancing is supposed to be fun, and it sounds like you are placing a lot of pressure on yourself to become a ‘good dancer’ and a good match for your girlfriend on the dance floor.

    The best recommendation I can give you is to take a group class at your own level where you will be rotating partners frequently, try dancing with as many followers as possible and make it a point to go social dancing at least once or twice a week. Every time you social dance try to focus on one thing, practice your timing and rhythm, or perhaps focus on your cross body lead, another time concentrate on your body movement etc. We can’t possible improve everything at once, it becomes too overwhelming and frankly, where is the fun is that?

    As for remembering the patters you learn in class, this is not a huge priority, a combination is only taught in order to help you transition from one figure to another, when you dance on your own, it is not necessary to remember the exact sequence you learned in class. Try to think of everything as a variation of the fundamentals, everything stems from the basic step, right turn and cross body lead, in fact you can have a fun dance with just the three elements I mentioned.

    Finally, I just want to re-emphasize how important social dancing is, in order to really start feeling like you are dancing, you must step outside the classroom and take your new moves for a spin. Social dancing should be a necessary complement to any class you take!

    Keep in touch Brent, and let me know how you progress.


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