Here is the second part of the article I wrote called “Salsa Dancing Etiquette – A Guide for Salsa Students and Dancers”.
• Turning down a dance
It cannot be stressed enough that rejecting someone’s offer to dance can be a very negative experience for that dancer and has even led some to give up dancing. Do your best to accept every offer unless you are uncomfortable with the person. Remember that people have very long memories and one rejection (for whatever innocent reason it may be) may be remembered for a long time. The salsa scene is a small one and people do relay stories about others. Be as gracious as possible. If there is a legitimate reason for the refusal, please specify it (e.g., I have just been dancing up a storm and am taking a break, I promised someone else this dance but maybe we can dance later, I am just about to leave, etc). Don’t forget to ask that person to dance later on if it is possible as a show of respect. Try to never reject a person and then go dance with another person immediately after. Dancers, especially beginners, are trying to build, gain and maintain confidence. This can be very hurtful and affect a person’s ability to ask others to dance.
If you are on the other side of this scene where you have been rejected for a dance, keep a practical and positive perspective and remember that it is not a rejection of you as a person but potentially the circumstance. There are many other dancers who would be more than happy to accept a dance.
• Ladies – how to get asked to dance
If you are not comfortable in the asking role, there are many tips to use to be more approachable. Always make yourself visible. Stand at the edge of the dance floor. Make eye contact with potential dance partners around you and those coming off the dance floor. Let your interest and eagerness to dance show and never stop smiling. Remember the rules of body language – gestures such as crossing your arms, looking down, looking bored, uninterested or unapproachable and congregating with groups of friends are just a few things to avoid. Dance with anyone who asks as women who dance throughout the night are seen by male dancers as more likely to accept their invitation to dance. A man is more likely to ask a woman as she is walking off the dance floor after completing a dance then one who is standing around. Also, the more partners you accept, the more dancers you get to know, and this opens up new networks and groups of dancers to you, as dancers often introduce you to their friends and fellow dancers.
• How to read your partner’s skill level
Every partner you dance with will be at a different level. If you are a male the best process to use is to start slowly and gain momentum according to your partners’ skill level. Begin by executing basic footwork, turns and basic cross body variations. If your partner is following with ease then slowly introduce more difficult moves. If you are a beginner female, specify this when you are asked to dance so the male is aware of your position and can work with your skill level.
Part 3 coming up in the next blog post!