How to Be a Better Follower in Salsa

Being a better follower in Salsa is a lot like being a good friend. You have to be a great listener. A great follower in Salsa is attentive and pays attention to their leader’s cues. Then the magic can happen. As an instructor, I had to learn to be a follower and of all the tricks I have learned, here are my top 3 tips for “How to be a better follower in Salsa.”

Be late

A great follower is always slightly behind a leader. The better the follower, the more micro the delay. But the delay is there and they are late. So think of it this way, imagine you meet a friend and you want to talk about your day. But every time you try to finish a sentence, your friend interrupts you and makes everything about himself. Very annoying! You wanted a friend to listen, not to lead the conversation. The best followers, just like good friends, listen to their leaders. If followers try to anticipate the moves, the leader can’t lead. You can practice by closing your eyes the next time you follow. We do this at our school. At first, the followers get nervous but by the end, they are surprised at how quickly they can listen and be better followers in Salsa. 

Hand, Body, then Foot

When you do Hip Hop, Ballet, Jazz, or any style of dance that is solo, you lead first with your body, then your foot comes along for the ride. Think about it this way, when someone taps you on the shoulder, you turn with your torso and then your feet come along. Well as a follower in Salsa, you are connected to your partner with your hands. So even a basic turn will get better if you let your hand (think of it as your compass) go first, then your body twists and then your feet will come along for the ride. Hard to master but amazing once you get good at it. I call it the top-down method. Next time you are following, remember Hand, Torso and then Foot. It will make a world of difference and you will become a better Salsa follower.

Know your Salsa counts

As a follower, you are asked to listen, be late, be patient, don’t overthink and stay in the present. The only trouble is, much later (usually in Levels 2 and 3) you start to focus on knowing the Salsa counts yourself. So I always encourage my followers in Level 1 to practice counting. This way, you know just as well as the leader, WHICH foot should be on which count. The leader may direct you to a specific place but it’s on the follower to land on the correct foot. Start simple with this rule. As a follower, your Right foot always moves on 1 and your Left foot always moves on 5. (This is based on L.A. Style or On 1 Salsa of course). So to become a better Salsa follower, listen to some Salsa music and count out loud. For more tips on how to be a Good Salsa Dancer, click on the link.

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