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, one person follows), we have had mothers lead their daughters in class…it’s not actually gender specific. That’s what I love about dance.
Traditionally in Salsa men lead and women follow BUT that’s not actually the case. Though on most dance floors you will find that, I ,as a dancer both lead and follow.
I started out as a leader and once I got good in my role, 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 leader in Salsa by the very word leads. I don’t believe that makes it clear, let’s get a bit more specific. A leader starts the steps and the dance, does the signaling and thinks ahead about what the follower will do next (such as turns, movements, tricks) as well as his/her own movements. You can think of it as the driver, you are the CREATOR of the 4 minutes of dance you get to have with the follower. Ultimately, the leader’s job is always to serve the follower, so a great leader learns to focus on doing moves the follower enjoys. Kind of like a great relationship, it’s all about taking care of your partner. I personally started out 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. I think of it that way. Imagine you have something to get off your chest and you go to meet a friend. You start to talk about your day and they listen, they don’t interrupt and allow you to just get it off your chest. That’s what a follower is, because it’s not about who is in charge, it’s about one person sending out signals (leader) and one person intently listening (follower) to those signals. Being a follower is super fun, when I dance and 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 vacation that’s planned by the other person…amazing right!
Over the years I have danced I have learned that pick the role you prefer…it doesn’t matter what things are like. Ultimately, what you feel you want to learn, that’s great, and if you ever want to learn the other role, you can do it once you start. 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 (be a leader) if you want to be in the passenger seat, experience the trip, and see the scenery, then be the follower.
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