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Mondays, Join us for Salsa Club. 6:45 pm to 9:30 pm. All levels of Salsa taught. Cost, $10.00. $5.00 for students with college ID






Different Types of Lead

Followers should be knowledgeable of the different types of lead they will encounter when dancing with a partner. Having this knowledge will enable them to respond quickly when they are used.
Body lead.

The follower will feel any left, right, forward or back movement of the leader's body through her left hand, which should be resting just below the leader's right shoulder. When she feels the leader's shoulder come forward she should respond and take a step back. The same holds true for any other direction. Followers should be careful not to lean or apply weight on the leader''s arm. He is not responsible for holding you up!

Arm lead

It is important for the follower to keep a constant bend in both arms at all times. There should be a slight resistance from both partners. Once the leader has determined the position of the arms (Frame) it is vital that they remain constant. One of the biggest mistakes that dancers make is that once they start dancing the arms begin to shift position. The elbows droop down and the hands constantly move into different positions. These shifts and movements become very confusing to the partner. Remember, keep a constant bend in the arms never, never allowing them to straighten or lock-up.

Hand lead

The hand is used to push the follower into open positions, such as Open Breaks, help in leading a Cross Body Lead and to execute turns. These are a few of the important roles the hand plays in leading. The follower should become very familiar with all of them and respond immediately when the leader uses them.

Visual lead

This type of lead is used when the leader and follower are in apart dance position. Because there is no physical connection between the two dancers, the leader will suggest a move, such as a turn, and the follower will complement the move after the leader. Usually the leader will execute the move on the first measure of the basic and the follower will move on the second measure. This type of lead is commonly used on pivot turns, chase turns and shines. It is important that the follower makes herself very familiar with the moves commonly used with visual lead. 

Exercises for finding the One

An anonymous writer asks:
Many salsa dancers seem to have trouble staying on the beat, because the tempo is generally quite fast and has no breaks where you can easily recover and restart? Do you have any suggestions or exercises for improving this most basic part of musicality?

Suggestions and exercises for finding the One

When you are dancing and you find that you are off time, stop and start again.

When ever possible, listen to the music of the style of dance you're interested in and apply the great information Adam has given in Dance Tips, " It's All About the One". Listen for when the vocals start. Count and listen for the instrument that accents the downbeats and so on. It's a lot easier to hear these things when you aren't dancing and concentrating on learning or executing dance moves. I believe that many students concentrate so hard on learning moves that they don't even hear the music. So, spend some time, whether it's at home or in the car, just listening to and getting acquainted with the music you love dancing to.

Group Lessons VS. Private Lessons

Many students ask me which is better or which they should start with when deciding on dance lessons. I believe that if you are serious about dancing, then you should eventually take a combination of both group and private lessons. But, if you are just beginning your journey into the world of dance, then it could be to your advantage to start with group lessons. Here are my reasons why.
1. Save Money! If you are testing the waters, then group lessons are a very affordable way to do it. You may not be sure that you want to pursue dancing and may not be sure that the dance style you're interested in is suitable for you. The low cost of a group lesson makes it possible for a student to take several a week and try a variety of dance styles.

2. Group lessons are a great way to make friends and meet other dancers. Students will also share the challenges of dancing with other students and see that they are not alone when learning. Many students help each other out with trouble spots.

3. For students who don't have partners, group lessons are a must. Most group lessons pair students off and rotate partners. Since all social dances require two people, this is a great way to learn how to dance with someone else and practice what you' ve learned.

4. Because group lessons are affordable, students can try a variety of teachers and decide who they may prefer taking their lessons with. It is not uncommon for students to have a couple of teachers who may specialize in different dances.

5. Students can build confidence with camaraderie. This can be two-fold. They will feel more comfortable when they are in a group of students who are on the same level as they are. Also, when students see other students progress, they may be encouraged to try harder.


I know it's hard not to look at your feet when youre dancing but its hard to navigate the floor when you are. Work hard to keep your head up. This will encourage good dance posture which will strengthen lead and follow skills and improve overall execution of moves especially moves that incorporate fancy hand moves and changes. If you are too busy watching your feet, you stand a greater chance of missing important hand connections.
Leaders and followers, you will improve your turns immensely if you keep your heads up. This will also allow you to have more control on where you end up in relationship to your partner. Overall, keeping your head up will give the appearance of confidence and strength in your dancing.

It's All About the One, by Adam Schulz 

 To find the one, one must know what happens on the one. Instruments are the first you will likely hear in a song. It is easiest to find the one by listening to the bands? rhythm section and to know what instruments typically play on which count. For example, in Salsa, a cowbell will typically pulse on the downbeats 1-3-5-7, and a clave will mark 2-3-1(5)-&-4(8). Where in Swing, the bass guitar and ride cymbal are on the downbeat, and the hi-hat and snare typically marks the back beats 2-4-6-8.
Vocal and instrumental changes mark the beginning of verses, choruses, and phrases, which begin on the one. Instrument solo sections start on the one, begin a phrase and end on eight. Fills happen generally on counts of five through eight; pick-up notes happen on the eight. You may hear a pick-up note at the beginning of the song. This is the and of the last count which is followed by the one. Breaks happen on five and one. Key changes in the music are also a good reference for a downbeat. All of these guidelines are general to popular dance music and will vary from song to song.

Latin Footwork

The proper foot placement for any Latin dance, including all styles of Swing, is referred to as Ball-Flat action. This means that when you step forward the ball of the foot is the first part of the foot to make contact with the floor followed by the entire foot, hence the term, Ball Flat. This action would occur no matter what direction you step in. For a back rock, it would be just the ball of the foot with the heel lowering but never touching the floor. You should be able to slide a dime between your heel and the floor.
If you aren't transferring your weight properly, this will be a difficult endeavor. You must take your torso with you, as you step, in order to perform a ball flat action. Many students are guilty of just stretching their foot and leg out leaving their ribcage, shoulders and head behind. This type of action will promote a heel lead, which is taboo in Latin dancing. Taking smaller steps will help you transfer your weight easier so that you can achieve the proper footwork.

Try this exercise. Stand with both feet together and underneath your body. Step forward with your left foot and as you step forward, peel the heel of the right foot off the floor and push your body forward with the ball of your right foot so that your weight is completely over the left foot. This exercise can be done in all four directions.

Leader's Cross Body Lead in Salsa

2 measures
This is a slotted move and starts with a forward rock step.

On the first measure, leader starts with the left foot and steps forward on the 1. While stepping forward, on the 1, leader picks up his right foot but leaves it in place. On 2, he puts the right foot down. On 3, he pivots on the ball of the right foot, to turn ¼, so that he steps side with the left foot with his weight completely on it. Hold the 4.

On count 5 of the second measure, leader takes a side rock step on the ball of the right foot and pivots on it to turn another ¼ . On 6, he places his weight on his left foot. He should now be facing the opposite direction from where he started on 1. On 7, he takes a small step forward on his right foot. He holds count 8.

When done correctly, he will have completed ½ of a turn.

NOTE, Leader needs to make sure that he is transferring his weight on every step.

When leading the lady across, the leader needs to push with his right arm and hand. He should never pull the lady across with his left hand. He will just yank her forward and off her balance.

The Benefits of Private Lessons

In our Group Lessons VS. Private Lessons dance tip, we talked about the benefits of group lessons. But, group lessons aren't for everyone.
Some students refuse them because they find it difficult to concentrate with so many students in the room. They find it too distracting. Others, especially beginner students, are too shy and conscientious around other people. They feel intimidated and think that everyone is watching them.

Others believe that they are slow learners and want more individualized attention which they feel they won't get in a group lesson.

Finally, some students have hectic schedules that don't allow them to attend lessons on a specified evening and time. It is for these reasons that many students prefer private lessons.

Here are some of the benefits of private lessons.

Although, private lessons are more expensive than group, ranging anywhere from $35.00 to $120.00 per session, they better address the needs of the individual by offering features that group lessons don't.

A private lesson is just you and your teacher for the entire session, therefore, you get all the attention. A private lesson will address and focus on your strengths and weaknesses, as a dancer, and offer more attention to detail. They are tailored made to fit the student's particular needs in the dance styles he/she chooses. The student can choose to work on more than one dance style in a session. The student can move at his or her pace. The student can set the times and days they will take their lessons making it more convenient for them. Private lessons ,overall, offer a comfortable learning atmosphere for those who are too shy and conscientious about learning in front of others and who feel pressured to keep-up with the faster learners in a group.

The Rock Step, Part 1

The rock step, better known as a ball change, is an essential part of many basic dances in the rhythm family. Some of the more popular rhythm dances that utilize the rock step include all styles of Swing, all styles of Salsa, Mambo, Cha Cha, Rumba and Hustle. The Rock Step is danced in all 4 directions: the back rock, the forward rock and the side rock, with the back rock being the most commonly used. Let's take a closer look on how to do a proper back rock.
DANCE POSITION of the back rock for leaders is, left foot behind the right foot and for the followers it's the right foot behind the left.

RHYTHM The rhythm for a back rock is quick, quick.

1.I prefer using "ball change" to describe this dance element because it tells you exactly what to with your feet. NEVER, place the heel, of the back foot, on the floor when doing a back rock because it does not constitute a complete weight change but, rather, a change in direction. Instead, you will place the ball of your back foot on the floor lowering the heel, slightly, but never touching the floor. Instead, you will change your weight back to the front foot.

2. Don't take large steps in a back rock. A general rule to remember is, toe to heel. Large steps in rhythm dances will:

a. Slow you down causing you dance off time to the music.

b. Puts you into split weight making it very difficult for you to move into your next step without fumbling to change your weight.

c. Will place too much distance between you and your partner causing you to yank or pull him or her forward. Your feet should always stay under your torso.

The Rock Step, Part 2

3. Always mark time with both feet on a back rock. It's just like marching, in place, but with one foot behind the other. Some people just tap their back foot behind their front foot without picking up the front foot. This is incorrect.
4. Never flick or kick your front foot up on a back rock. This usually happens when you throw you body weight backwards which will pull your partner off his or her balance. Keep your body weight forward.

5. Never lock or hyper-extend your knees on a back rock. This will cause you to push your body in an upward motion. Again, the leg action is just like marching. Your knees should always be slightly bent and relaxed, flexing in and out.

6. Don't hook your back foot behind your front foot on a back rock. The back foot should be directly behind the front foot allowing for ease of movement into the next step.

7. Don't lean forward or move your back leg separately from your body on your back rock. This will cause you to stick your posterior out and that's not very attractive. Your body weight should move over the ball of your back foot.

Tips on Following, Part 1

A student asks, "What can I do to become a good follower?" Here are several important tips that you should know.
#1. Knowledge is power. The more you know about the dance style(s) you love the further you will go. This means that, in order to become a popular follow, you must take the time to learn the basic steps, dance patterns and elements that are associated with that dance. It is a delusion to think that the leader has to know everything while the lady just has to follow along the best she can. Learning as much as youcan, about the dance styles you love, will help you feel more confident, in yourself, as a dancer.

#2. The Man is the leader on the dance floor! Ladies, your job is to follow the man's lead at all times. If you want to be a popular follower then you must resist what is referred to as "Back leading". You must be sensitive to the man's lead by waiting for his physical instructions and be ready to move lightly to each step he prompts you to taking.

We discuss this further in Tips on Following, Part 2.

Tips on Following, Part 2

Many ladies like to take over this role(Backleading) instead of learning to do theirs better. It is important that followers do not anticipate the man's lead. In fact, if the lady is truly following, she will be a split second behind the man's lead. This will also ensure the connection and resistance necessary for a good partnership. I took the liberty to look-up the definition of follow and found this.

"To go or come after and in the same direction. To succeed in time or order. To hold to the course of. To watch or observe closely. To have an active interest in. To come after as a consequence or result (cause and effect). To be under the leadership or authority of. To move or come after, to pay attention to understand.

There are several things ladies can do to help keep them from backleading.

#1. Having a good connection with resistance is important. Being too light or wishy washy can cause the follower to anticipate the lead. There should be a good, physical connection between the man and lady at all times. The leader wants to know that he is dancing with someone and not the air.

#2. Keep the distance between you consistent. If the leader wants you a foot from him, then you must retain that separation. If he wants you closer, he will bring you in. What ever he decides, it's your responsibility to keep it constant!

#3. Do not anticipate a man's lead or determine what the move is going to be. Again, if you are truly following, you will move a split second behind the leader.

Weight and Foot Placement

Many students have asked about proper weight and foot placement. In all rhythm dances such as Salsa, Mambo,Cha Cha, Rumba, Merengue, Samba and all styles of Swing the weight should be centered between the instep and the ball of the foot. If properly done, this should cause a very slight forward pitch of the body.
The foot action, in all rhythm dances, is ball flat. This means that when you step forward, side, or back it is the ball of the foot, NOT THE HEEL ,that will come in contact with the floor ,first, and then the rest of the foot will follow. This foot and weight action allows you to be lighter on your feet, which will allow quicker movement and placement of the feet.

The slight pitch of the weight forward enables the dancer to place the ball of the foot on the floor first with ease. If the dancer is leaning backwards, he or she would find this to be an impossible task and would end-up taking heel leads which is incorrect for all rhythm dances.










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