Are you ready for your first salsa dance? Most likely you're getting dragged out
to a salsa club by a friend or you've been taking salsa classes for a while and
want to get out and do some dancing outside of class.
To calm your nerves, I'll clue you in to what you can expect.
For women its much easier to go to a salsa club and start dancing because women
don't need to know much except for the basic step. If she knows the basic step,
then a guy good at leading will be able to dance with her.
New salsa men will experience a little more anxiety, because the guy needs to know
what he's doing and has to have a quick mind and make split second decisions and
also protect the woman.
Go with a group
It easier for you to go to your first salsa dance with a group of friends so that
you'll know someone to dance with. You'll probably be comfortable going with your
friends because they may know people there or are at the same dance level as you.
Ok. When you get to a club, the first thing you'll do is pay at the door. Admission
is usually between $5 and $12 and could be as high as $20 to $30 for the really
hot clubs or special events like salsa fest, or salsa congress Latin socials. If
you are still under 21, you might get carded, but that depends if the place serves
As you walk in, you'll probably see a ton of good dancers already dancing up a storm.
If you come when the dance first starts, you may be able to get a free lesson. Dance
instructors usually give a free lesson before the dance to promote their studio.
Going for a free lesson before the dance is a good idea so you can meet new people
and be comfortable asking them to dance later on.
Now that you're in
If you're a woman, all you have to do is stand around and look like you want to
dance and someone will eventually ask you for your first salsa dance. But what usually
happens is that you'll be too shy to dance with anyone and want to hide in the corner
and just watch.
Guys will have the same problem of being shy. They'll just want to watch from the
sidelines but won't have to worry much about a woman asking them to dance.
Ready for an anxiety attack?
When you are asked to dance your first salsa dance or ask someone to dance, most
likely you're hands will get all clammy, your pulse will quicken, you'll feel like
it got hot all of a sudden, and beads of sweat will run down your face. Ok, so I'm
being a little overdramatic, but it really does happen. Just prepare yourself for
it. After a few dances, it won't be as big of a deal.
You'll probably tell your dance partner that you a new dancer, but there's no need.
The other person will be able to tell right off the bat. If they can't, then they
are probably not paying attention to you or you're a natural born salsa dancer with
salsa flowing in your veins. If you are a guy, you might want to tell the lady that
you are a new dancer anyway and that you just know 2 moves. They'll be sympathetic
towards you and at least they'll know what to expect.
Your first salsa dance might be awful
Your first salsa dance might be awful, but that's expected. Just keep dancing and
eventually you'll be dancing like the seasoned dancers. Just remember take small
steps, and guys! Listen up! Protect your partner.
What do I mean? Well, the floor might be crowded and you'll need to watch the people
around you. You don't want to back the girl into another couple and you don't want
anyone slamming into her either. So, just keep an eye out and pull the girl out
of danger if needed. You'll be her hero!
It's a crowd with a crowded dance floor
Salsa dancing is extremely popular and there will probably be many people on the
dance floor. Expect that you might get stepped on. Its common place to get stepped
on or to step on someone else when you are new.
Here's how to avoid the pain and embarrassment at your first salsa dance. Its really
simple. Take pathetically small -- uncomfortably small steps. You're still new and
you'll take huge steps without even realizing it. If you keep them uncomfortably
small now, you'll avoid having to break a bad habit that needs to be broken.
Anyone you know?
If you know anyone there, especially your dance instructor. He or she might ask
you to dance. Don't refuse a dance with your dance instructor. Just suck it up and
deal with it, you'll be better off in the long run.
I remember when I was at the 8th floor salsa club in Philadelphia for my first salsa
dance. Barbara, my dance instructor, asked me to dance when I only knew 4 moves!
I remember being so nervous that I couldn't really remember anything I learned.
Most of the crowd is sober
The salsa scene is different from a normal club. You need to make quick decisions
and have a sense of balance. Because of this you don't see many people drinking
to get drunk. They might just have a drink or two. If you get asked to dance by
a drunk person, avoid them at all costs.
Expect to get better
Dancing out of salsa class is a whole new experience. You're on your own and you
don't have to follow a routine and the woman won't know what coming. After this
first salsa dance, you'll have learned plenty and will have reinforced what you've
learned. If you are a guy and don't know many moves, make sure you practice 1 or
2 moves that night. Once you've learned the moves well, then you can add another
1 or 2 moves the next time. Keep doing this and you'll have a whole portfolio of
moves you can do.
You might be overwhelmed by everything and want to leave early. That's ok. You don't
have to close out the place. Most places close around 2 am and sometimes 3 am. In
New York, they can go all the way up to 5 am.
Chances are, you'll have a great time and want to do it again! You'll be less anxious
the next time and be a little bit more confident.
I hope this gives you some idea of what to expect.