Monthly Archives: March 2011

Salsa Advice from Guest Blogger Ivan (Salsero) Ruiz

Here is a great article with some very useful tips from Ivan (Salsero) Ruiz, a salsa instructor in Vancouver.  Check it out!

5 Things I wish I would have known when I started salsa dancing.

1.  Its OK to go alone.
90% (completely unscientific stat) of the people who go to salsa nights are there to just dance.  Many of us go alone and leave alone.  Heading to the club was something I kept putting off because I had no one to go with, but after my first time I saw how may people come alone and it was out almost every night afterward.  Always try to do the club lesson to meet all the other people who are new to dancing and start building your “salsa friend” base.

2.  Latin Nights and Salsa Nights are different.
While both are lots of fun I made the mistake of going to Latino Nights expecting to salsa dance and barely hearing salsa.  Latino nights are more like club nights with not just salsa but also reggaton, merengue, reggaton, bachata, reggaton and other varieties of latin music like…reggaton.  These nights are great fun, but are different from salsa nights in both the crowds that come out and the vibe you will feel.  If you are not sure what kind of a night it is ask your teacher, call the promoter and ask what kind of music they will play.  If they say reggaton its probably a latin night, but this can vary depending on your location.

3  Its OK to say No.
This applies a lot to ladies, but once in a while to guys too.  If you don’t want to dance with someone its OK to say no, my feet are tired, sorry I am a bit dizzy or anything like that as long as its done nicely.  I have had it happen to me and its hard to not take it personally.  There are a lot of reasons why, but as a beginner its can be deflating.  Try to keep this in mind.  Salsa is a scene and the ‘dancers’ tend to recognize one another and while new faces are welcome people might need to see you dancing a few times before they realize that you are a ‘dancer’ as well and not just trying to pick up.  Ladies if you do say yes and half way through the song you feel uncomfortable (your are dancing with the 10% see point one) don’t be afraid to use one of the above excuses to detach from the dance.

4.  Be prepared,
Salsa is high energy, you almost have to think of it as a workout.  In all my time of dancing I have consistently heard complaints about breath, sweating and odor.  Make some rules for yourself.  Here are mine.  I always add extra deodorant under the arms (double up), bring deodorant with you and keep it in your bag or the car, every two songs new gum or mint, hydrate – most bad breath comes from dehydration and no amount of breath stuff can help if you have mouth pasties.  Lastly if you are a sweater like me bring some extra shirts or take a break every 3rd song.

5.  Be the fun one
I must admit to always feeling a bit of jealousy when I talk to girls who rave about how fun someone was even though they didn’t have a lot of moves.  If you are dancing, try to add some funny little bits to your repertoire of styling. Personally I love adding a little shimmy, butt shake or cheeky grin at the end of moves, but that is my style.  Observe yourself in other situations when you are being funny and see if you can put that on the dance floor.  Be the fun one to dance with.

Article by Ivan (Salsero)  Ruiz
Ivan is a local dancer and instructor in Vancouver.  He is one of the organizers of the Vancouver International Salsafestival and has a blog called SalsaMe.  You can contact him or find out more about him at his blog:

A great testimonial!

Thank you to Nina, one of my students who has just completed Level 3, for her fantastic testimonial that she emailed me a few days ago.  We love to hear your feedback and this one really made my day!

“Although I only began learning salsa six months ago, joining Toronto Dance Salsa I already feel like I’m part of a welcoming and exciting community. I have enjoyed all the classes I have taken so far, with Sara in Level 1 and Sharon for Levels 2 and 3. The atmosphere in the classes is always friendly and fun, and the material is taught at the perfect pace, with lots of opportunities to practice. And I love dancing with and hearing the advice of helpers, who really are helpful. Having said all that, it comes as no surprise that I’m developing a salsa addiction, the benefits of which are incredible. In the last few months I have met so many interesting people and got to dance with many of them at the Sunday Socials (at which I am now a regular) and some of the outings. And, it seems like the salsa addiction sparked by TDS is contagious, because I’ve already got several friends as enamored with it as I am. All in all, I am excited for my salsa journey to continue!”

- Nina Gheihman, Level 3, Toronto Dance Salsa Testimonial

Keep the feedback coming our way – email me at with your comments!

Compliment your dance partner!

It’s so great to have an enjoyable dance with either a new partner or someone you have been dancing with for a while and receive a compliment on your dancing.  I think we should all be much more open to praise our partners – it is a great feeling to hear that someone enjoyed dancing with you.

Don’t hesitate to be specific.  Telling your partner you love a specific move or styling that they use is great feedback as well as a positive lift to the dance.  I always try to tell my dance partners that I enjoy dancing with what I enjoyed about the dance.  Whether it is the smoothness of the lead, the lightness of their follow, the energy they demonstrate or the shines they use, compliment, compliment, compliment.  It will brighten up someone’s day.

This is especially great when you see improvements in your partner.  You see the hard work that they have been putting towards developing the dance technique with additional salsa classes or salsa practices.  When you point out their improvements all that hard work will have been worth it for them and you will inspire them to continue to develop.

You never know when someone is feeling down about their salsa progress and these compliments are a great boost.  Whenever a student tells me about a compliment they received they are so affected by it that it makes me realize how important a little positive reinforcement can be on the dance floor.  So go out dancing and let the compliments begin!