Steven’s Email

I received the following email from Steven, a salsa lover who likes this blog. Here it is:

“Dear Sharon,

I really like the blog’s you always write on your site. Although I do not live I Canada, I often can relate to the story’s. On an dutch website* I saw an interview with Edie the SalsaFreak. In this interview there is an question about “social dancing” and “show dancing”. I’m just curious about how you think about that and maybe write a blog about it.


Steven, The Netherlands

Quote from the interview (quoted from: :

Sederick (the interviewer): As long I have you here and you’re being so open hearted I’m burning to ask you this question. I find that Salsa dancing is heading towards being a bad copy of Latin dancing in the international Salsa scene, and in particular the (international) Salsa dance competitions. We’ve had a big discussion on the Net about the difference between ‘dancing for the Inner Self’ (social dancing: dancing with your partner and the music, and taking care of the rest of the dancers on the dance floor) and ‘dancing for the Outer Self’ (dancing only to show off, using your dance partner as a rag doll, using the music as background, and not caring for the well being of the other dancers on the dance floor). What can we do to solve this ‘problem’ ?

Edie: By organizing unrehearsed Musicality demos by your top social dancers at your monthly social events! Fabrizio and I did a Musicality demo at the Salsa Beach Festival last July, and Randolph and I did one recently here at Casa Loca! Plain and simple. Doing Musicality demos once a month by two top social dancers (chosen by drawing their names out of a hat – whomever is there that night) and making sure they are not regular dance partners, SURELY wins the crowd’s applause and cheers.

Why? Because this is a TRUE test of pure LEAD and FOLLOW. ANYONE can rehearse for six months a two-minute routine and make it look good on stage…, BUT CAN THEY DANCE? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve danced socially with great stage performers and have been shocked and disappointed at their lack of lead and following skills. It blows my mind. We need to get back to pure lead and follow. We need to get back to the romance and drama of the MUSIC – the way the musicians originally intended it.”

I think this is a great topic of debate. Thanks, Steven, for bringing it up. I know how disappointing it is to expect a dancer who is a great showperson to be a good dancer and then seeing that this is not the case. I think there are three types of dancers:

a) The social dancer – this is the person that is addicted to going out to clubs,dancing with as many people as possible and getting the high from the music, the partner and the dance
b) The show dancer – this person loves the limelight and gets the high from attention. This is not always a bad thing, it is fun and entertaining to watch show dancers. We need them to motivate us and inspire people to become better dancers. However, it has to work for the partner or it is just not working
c) The combo dancer – this person can do both and do it well. The find importance in the dance itself, the partnerwork, the challenge of the lead and follow. Yet the could put on a great show when inspired.

It is definitely important for instructors to discuss the essence of partner work. Salsa is not about one individual – it is a team effort. The lead and the follow is the most challenging part of the dance and what makes it so unique. Salsa is an ad-libbed dance. Choreography has little place on the club dance floor. If we start talking about this issue in class, on websites and at congresses and raising awareness there may be a shift back to the basics.

We also need to be more honest on the dance floor. If we are being used as rag dolls or if our partner has forgotten about us during a 4 minute shine session, maybe we should be more honest? Short term it may not make you popular or liked but it will ensure there is personal awareness.

If anyone has any comments on this issue I would love to hear about it. Thanks to Steven for bringing up the topic and hopefully he can share more with us in the future!

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