After finishing all of Sharon’s classes up to Level 6, I can now say I should be somewhat more competent in salsa as a follower. And when Sharon asked us to start assisting some of her classes, I had no problem helping the ladies when they had questions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t usually the ladies that needed troubleshooting. It was the men. And although you women may be grinning and thinking its simply because you’re naturally the more graceful of the two genders, thats not necessarily the case. There are plenty of men who are great dancers! The problem is, partner dancing puts a lot more “responsibility” on the person who is leading. Not only do they have to watch their footwork and timing, but they also have to think ahead for each move, execute the move, style, and gauge their partner’s enjoyment so as not to bore her with too many of the same combinations. Stressful, isn’t it? You bet. So give the guys a break when they’re first starting out. I should know…as I’m now learning how to lead…as a man…haha!

Picture this: Caryl Cuizon’s Level 1 class, first day. After learning some basic steps, Caryl starts the partner work. She instructs all the women to line up on one side and all the men to line up on the other. I’m the only female standing in the men’s line. After a few confused looks from the ladies (and I’m sure from the men too), we partner up and get into rotation to learn how to lead and follow together. At first, its a bit awkward for the ladies. Understandable, as salsa is traditionally seen as a partner dance between a man and a woman. I’m asked why I’m leading as a man. My answer: So that I can teach and help others how to lead in the future. This puts them at ease when its my turn to lead them.

Three classes later, the ladies are now used to dancing with other women, as other female volunteers have started to fill in for men as well. And you know what? Some of them have even expressed that they think we women, can lead better! Hahaha. But obviously, we can’t be too cocky since we’ve also been dancing salsa a lot longer. As experienced followers, we know what it feels like to be led, all the good and the bad. So, when its our turn to “take the lead,” we’re already in-tuned to what works and what doesn’t. But I guess I shouldn’t speak too soon, as I’m sure our classes will soon be ever more challenging. Nevertheless, I think I’m going to like leading. And not just because it means I’m in control! But it will surely add a new challenge and a new dimension to my dancing.

See you on the dancefloor!