Who Leads in Salsa Dancing? 

Anyone can, and that includes you! Of course, that’s not the answer you are looking for and maybe you want to figure out which roles you should learn first.

We have same-sex couples dance together (where one person leads and one person follows), and we have had mothers lead their daughters in class. Being a Leader is not gender-specific. That’s what I love about dance.

Traditionally in Salsa men lead and women follow. But there are no rules. I started as a leader. But once I became a good Leader, and wanted to get better as a dancer and become an instructor, I learned to Follow.

Here is a breakdown so you can figure out what role you want to take.

Leading in Salsa

A Salsa Leader initiates the dance, does the signalling and thinks ahead about what the follower will do next (such as turns, movements, and tricks). He or she is responsible for not only his or her own moves but the moves their partner will do as well. It is a lot of multitasking!

Salsa Leaders are the creators of the dance. They are in the driver’s seat and get to decide on the destination. But Leaders must remember that they are there to serve the Follower. Do moves that the Follower will enjoy. You are creating a partnership, a relationship for the four minutes of the song. So while Leaders are in the driver’s seat, you don’t want to take your Follower to a place they don’t want to go. I started as a leader and love being able to create the next set of moves and set the pace of the dance for what’s coming next.

Following in Salsa

A Follower in Salsa is someone who is a great listener. Think of the best conversations you’ve had. You spoke and the person really listened. They didn’t interrupt or try to change the topic. A great listener allows the other person to express themselves. A great Salsa Follower does the same. A great Salsa Leader sends out clear signals and the Follower listens and follows the signals. Being a follower is super fun. When I follow, I don’t have to think ahead. I don’t have to plan, the planning is done by the other person. It’s like going on the perfect vacation that’s planned by the other person…amazing right?!

Bonus Thoughts

Pick the role you prefer. It doesn’t matter. You want to be able to dance for years, so you should pick the role you are most comfortable with. If you ever want to learn the other role, you can do that too. The BIG tip is, to stick with one role long enough so that you can learn it and feel comfortable. If you want to be in the driver’s seat and plan the trip then be the Leader. If you want to be in the passenger seat and experience the trip and see the scenery, then be the Follower. Click here for more tips on How to Dance with a Partner. And in reality, the answer to who leads in Salsa is that anyone can, including you.

I can’t wait to welcome you to our big family, having you come in week to week, having fun, connecting with new friends, and letting loose to amazing Latin songs. Click here to check our current schedule.

If you have any questions you would like me to answer here are some ways you can contact me: message me on Instagram (torontodanceSalsa), on Twitter (#torontodanceSalsa), on Facebook (Toronto Dance Salsa) or email me at [email protected].