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Dance Etiquette in Salsa. Do you have some?

Have Some Dance Etiquette in Salsa Salseros!

Dance etiquette for salsa dancing should be common sense, but some of us don’t even have that. If you fall into this category, please read on.. Even though if you do have common sense, these tips may still come in handy.


Handbags are a no no…

Dance Etiquette

If you are a new woman learning to dance salsa, you may want to dance with your bag hoisted on your shoulder. This is natural, because in a normal club, you can’t leave your bag laying around.

You’ll come to find that the salsa scene is very different. It's a safe place and everyone is like family. If you look around, most people leave their gear on the ground or on their seats. So take those handbags and put them down. No one should take it. Its not good dance etiquette to have a bag on your shoulder whacking the guy in the head when you turn.

I remember going to club Cache in NY. I was very worried about leaving my thing slaying around, but after being there for a few minutes, it felt like home.

Rule of thumb: If other people are leaving their stuff laying around, it's probably safe for you to do the same.

On the other hand, if they need to pat everyone down before entering, then you might take a little more caution.

Getting stepped on

Most likely this will happen to you more than you would hope. It usually happens in a crowded area or if you are surrounded by beginner dancers. Here’s some good dance etiquette.

The best medicine to this is prevention.

Guys, protect your dance partner by paying attention to your surroundings. The women can't see behind them and they put all their trust in you. If you see someone is about to back into her, firmly but gently pull her out of the way.

Women, you have their own responsibility too. If you don’t give the guy enough connection, then he won't be able to lead you properly or save you from being stepped on.

One huge mistake I've seen is taking huge steps and letting your arm extend all the way straight. If you are getting slammed into people and stepping on people, it may be your fault. For beginners, this is usually the culprit. One way to avoid this is to take uncomfortably small steps… Your heel should not go past your other foot's toe.

Stepping on someone

Inevitably, you'll end up stepping on someone no matter how hard you try. Kindly turn to the person and apologize. Try not to step on them again but moving a little farther from them.

If its really crowded, you'll want to concentrate on dancing in your slot.

Never turn down a dance.

If you've come to a salsa club to dance, it is proper dance etiquette that you should never turn down a dance. It doesn't matter if you don’t know much salsa. If you've danced with at least one person that night, you shouldn't turn anyone else down.

When you dance with someone, you may be surprised. It may be the best dance of your life. If its horrible, then it's only a few minutes that you've wasted and never can get back. But the best part is, you don’t have to dance with them ever again if you don't want to.

Ways to avoid a dance..

This is a fun topic.. We all do it from time to time. Its more of an art than a science. Its not necessarily mean, but just gives you an appearance that you aren't quite ready to dance yet. I’d say that this is in the grey area of dance etiquette.

Here are some ways to avoid getting asked to dance at a bad time.

When you see someone coming to ask you to dance that you don't want to dance with at the time, do not look them in the eyes when they are coming towards you. Once you lock eyes, it's the kiss of death. You have just increased your chances of being asked to dance by 90%. In which case, see the section entitled Never turn down a dance on this Dance Etiquette page.

If you see someone coming towards you, get engaged in conversation with one of your friends. This has about a 60% chance of working if the person knows you and a 90%-95% chance of working if the person that wants to ask you to dance doesn't know you. If they ask you to dance, don't refuse. See the section titled Never turn down a dance on this Dance Etiquette page.

Here's another way to get out of a dance. You can turn and run with your tail between your legs and go to the bathroom when you see them coming. It's a cowardly way of getting out of a dance, but if you must, you must.

Some legitimate excuses…

There are some legitimate excuses for turning down a dance:

  • You need to go to the bathroom.
  • You need to rest and get a drink.
  • You're feet are hurting and need a rest.
  • You really don't know how to dance.
  • You are about to go home.
  • You are taking off your shoes and are about to go home.
  • You already have one shoe off and are about to go home.
  • You’re not really there to dance.

Some rude things to avoid:

  • Don't go dance with another person just after you've turned someone down. That's just plain in-your-face rude dance etiquette (or rather lack thereof).
  • Don't just dance all night with the person you show up with. Salsa is a social dance, and its customary to dance with everyone.
  • Don't keep stepping on someone. If you keep on stepping on someone, there's something wrong. Try moving away from that person and taking smaller steps. Also pay more attention to your surroundings. Its bad enough that you stepped on that person once, but if you keep on stepping on them, it may make them a little angry.

Return from Salsa Dance Etiquette, to Beginners Guide to Salsa

1 Comment     0 Pings

By alex Sun Jul 27th 2014 at 2:23 am  

That is a very nice overview of dance etiquette in salsa. I wish I read this post just when I started salsa dancing. I used to think that the girl saying she needs to get a drink, is because she is thirsty. Now I know there is about 50% chance she simply does not want to dance with you.

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