Salsa > 1 or 2 beats behind the music

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by aimerrouge, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. yippee1999

    yippee1999 Member

    Thanks for your measured response Don.

    I guess I should clarify... I didn't really mean to say that I dance on beat the entire time, if I am with an off-beat lead. Cuz obviously then it would look like we were "fighting" the entire dance. But I will try to bring him back to the beat from time to time. So we might pause for a bit, and then I'll take it upon myself to start up, and he will usually follow suit. Then he eventually gets off beat again, and at some point I'll give it another try to correct. BTW, I find this more common with beginners/beginner intermediates for some reason. I don't recall ever having a timing issue with more advance leads.

    I'm not sure why this is though, because a good ear is a good ear, regardless of one's dance level. I suspect that perhaps part of the problem with the some of the lower level leads could be that there is a certain level of nervousness, and of their feeling overwhelmed with all their responsibility (thinking a number of steps ahead, being aware of the floor space around them, etc.) So I think perhaps some leads don't "allow" themselves to really hear/feel the music, because they are focusing so intently on the technical aspects of their responsibilities, even if dancing on beat could be considered one of them...
  2. Mostly Ballroom

    Mostly Ballroom New Member

    Thanks Don. I wasn't sure whether to keep the beat or not in general if the follower is off.

    This follower wasn't brand new. I don't know how good she was but not brand new.

    I wonder how important the pause is on 3,4 and on 7,8. I sometimes wonder if I'm not pausing enough. I may be moving my body anticipating the next beat and I've wondered if this will send a signal to a follower that I want to step. Sometimes I'll just stop and stand there on 3,4 and on 7,8. This usually gets the job done but seems extreme. But could this anticipating the next step be the reason for her confusion?

    The other thing is my level of confidence to handle all followers in salsa is not high. There are just so many variations of following in salsa. I sometimes wonder if the follower just assumes I don't know what I'm doing and just does her own thing.

    Either way it seems that she can't hear the beat. (I've got a good musical ear and almost always hear the beat. If I'm off I know I'm off. What will get me off the beat is doing a turn or pattern wrong and I come out off the beat. But then I know it.)

    I suppose she could be concentrating on following and maybe my anticipating the beat is messing her up?
  3. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    We are on the same page... I've seen lots of follows bring guys back to the time during breaks and/or shines, and doing subtle things along the way to bring them back. It's fine, appropriate and can help the guy get restarted correctly. It makes sense when done with finesse. It can help to these beginning guys, although many don't realize how much you are helping or that you have done them a favor.

    Via a message board things can appear black and white when they are gray.

    Beginning guys can get overwhelmed with too many things and tune out the music at points. They would probably be better off reducing the complexity of their dancing and staying on time, but at the beginning you see all the guys around you doing "more" and we tend to think more is important to our partners. At the start some guys don't realize how the movements fit with the music, and at points it's just all a mess. (All us guys go through it...)

    I suspect you help them in a thoughtful way, and having been a follow in classes I feel sorry for what you women put up with while we are learning to lead. The ladies get the worst of it while we figure it out.

    I totally understand ladies turning guys down if they don't know much about them or if they know they are true beginners and/or dance off the time. I agree it can be painful to dance a complete song with someone off the time from start to finish. I have a hard time watching... being in the dance is worse :).
  4. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    Hard to say for sure. The first thing is to be 100% sure your basic footwork/body-movements are in sync with the music and you are confident with those steps. If you can, take a private lesson or two with a quality instructor and just tell them you want to learn/practice basic and a few minor variations during the lesson. You want it to look and feel good, without any partner dancing.

    When your basic is solid, comfortable and well practiced, your confidence and feel with a partner will be dramatically enhanced. If you can't take a private, find a class where they do basic footwork for the first 10-15 minutes and attend a few times (or more) until you are among the strongest in the class with those steps. There are also a large set of beginning DVDs out there, so invest in a few.

    Partnering gets much easier when the foundational steps are in sync with the music and on auto-pilot due to enough practice. Many guys think basic is for beginners, and they push to get the "good stuff" without enough grounding. The best dancers I know invest significant time refining their foundational footwork/movement with the music.

    Take a month or so and focus on making basic mindless so you steps are clean and confident. That will do more for your dancing than you can imagine, but few guys will actually do it.
  5. Mostly Ballroom

    Mostly Ballroom New Member

    Am I right that you're talking about more than just keeping the beat. But that your body is moving well within the beat. That you have rhythm? Staying on time is not a problem for me. But the rest,.. does feel off somehow.
  6. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    Yes, it's not just the feet moving, it's the complete basic and how it relates to the music. Plus almost all patterns start/end in 8 count increments (although you can break them down further if you wish) and some combinations make more sense than others.

    When very advanced, you can do as you wish, but if ladies are being confused, I suspect the overall lead movement is not consistent with the music. That said, I could be totally out to lunch because via this board it's hard to tell what you're doing great, and what could be refined to make things clearer for your follow.
  7. Mostly Ballroom

    Mostly Ballroom New Member

    We've met a few times. I'll PM you with the details. You may not remember.

    Mostly women can keep time with me. My leading, well, is not consistent in general. Some women don't want to hold my hand but prefer slightly bent fingers and pressure between our hands, others don't want to move, others follow great and feel like a ballroom dancer. But I know it's difficult to answer such things online. Thanks for your time Don!
  8. noobster

    noobster Member

    Have you ever tried to lead yippee?

    I have never had a problem with timing as a follower (heard the beat immediately, never had to 'learn' it), but I have definitely had the experience of being unable to hear the beat when trying to lead. And I mean literally unable to hear the beat. I was thinking so hard about all the stuff I had to do to lead that my 'circuits overloaded' as Don says and the music just started to sound like random noise. I guess I just didn't have a single brain cell to spare!

    I'm not surprised the newer guys have more trouble with timing. In many cases they probably don't hear the beat; but even when you can hear the beat just fine normally, concentrating on leading can wreak havoc with your timing.
  9. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Let me start this off by confessing that I don't dance salsa much. But I do dance WCS a lot, and I think many of the same concepts of lead/follow and rhythm apply...

    That's probably the best of all the possible bad answers, there being no good answer. I want to clarify, though, that we are not talking about leads who just dance ahead of/behind the beat, but leads who are chasing the beat all over the place or just have no clue. I'll have to confess something here: one of the few things that a follow can do to really, really get on my nerves is refuse to follow my timing. I may sometimes choose to dance a bit ahead or behind, depending on the mood of the music and what to emphasize, and I don't appreciate having to wrestle with follows who want to dance their own timing. I think it's rude to a lead, to have to deal with a willfully uncooperative follow, no matter what the lead's level is. However, note that I'm not talking about bad timing, but simply a variation that I've chosen to do. If I do actually lose the beat (and I'm certainly not claiming it never happens), I don't expect the follow to try to chase me around the floor. (I dance smooth/standard a lot, and there are certain sadistic DJ's at some social dances who will toss out a waltz or foxtrot or tango that isn't in strict tempo, leading to that awful feeling: "What the heck happened to the beat? I had it pinned down just a moment ago! :eyebrow:) So yes, if the lead's just totally lost it, there really isn't any "right" answer for what the follow should do. Once it's happened, all possible outcomes are bad.

    This reads to me that there is an implied assumption that most people (at least, most people who dance) have good ears, and should inherently be able to hear the beat. I respectfully disagree; IHMO this is not so. Most people, including most beginning dancers and a fair number of intermediates, have to be taught how to hear the beat and understand the rhythm's relationship to the whole song. And I think a lot of dance studios don't do much to help their students in this area, because a lot of instructors don't really understand it either. :rolleyes:

    That is absolutely a problem for beginning leads. It's the old "I'm just trying to get this foot in front of the other foot. I'll worry later about when it should happen." :D
  10. yippee1999

    yippee1999 Member

    Noobster: I've only tried to lead on a very casual with a friend where all I attempted was the basic step and maybe leading her into a single turn. I wouldn't even attempt anything beyond that because all my training has been as a follower, and I'm not er...what's the word...conceptual enough?? ....that I could reverse everything I've learned as a follower, and do it from the leader's POV.

    But as mentioned, yeah, I think part of it could be that these particular beginner guys are too nervous in trying to execute the moves as a lead, to hear the music. And I actually like when some guys switch things up a bit playing with how they hear/interpret the music, adding an unexpected pause here and there in the movement, because that forces me to be more alert in trying to figure out what he's trying to accomplish... what his style of interpreting is... getting it...and then responding in kind. I'm talking about guys who clearly just aren't hearing the beat, for whatever reason...
  11. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    There is nothing wrong with a ballroom style although many follows prefer a lead that is a little less strict and formal. Salsa is it's own art and has it's own distinct feel, and many ballroom dancers don't invest enough time making the minor modifications that would give them a better feel for salsa.

    For example, there are many hand holds that work, but it makes sense to adopt one of the ones common in our local salsa scene. That may or may not be consistent with a ballroom style, so as a dancer I should adapt based on the context.

    Of course, this assumes I want to be an above average dancer in my scene, if I don't care, anything goes as long as my partners have fun with it and will continue to dance with me.

    Most people who take the time to read/post in this type of forum are the ones who want to be above average someday, even though most of us are a work in progress today.

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