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My first salsa dance. What can you expect?

Your first salsa dance can be nerve racking ..

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.

First Salsa Dance

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 alcohol.

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!

First Salsa Dance Crowded Floor

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.

Good luck at your first salsa dance!


Return from First Salsa Dance, to Beginners Guide to Salsa

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