Salsa > Ballroom vs Street/club Salsa

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by latindia, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. latindia

    latindia New Member

    Ok, I know for sure this has been discussed before. Can someone point me out to a good informative thread on this topic? If such a thread exists, I'd suggest making it a sticky, coz it seems to be a perpetual topic of discussion among seasoned salser@s and a point of bewilderment for beginners...

  2. alemana

    alemana New Member

  3. Danoo

    Danoo New Member

    :? :? :? :shock:
  4. tacad

    tacad New Member

    You ok? It looks like a good thread. I can't wait to read it more closely.
  5. Danoo

    Danoo New Member

    ill understand when the thread gets going :lol:
  6. b.b.

    b.b. New Member

  7. latindia

    latindia New Member

    Thanks for the responses!

    Alemana, your post was really useful. It was great to read about the history and different styles of salsa. In particular, as usual, Boriken's posts are as intense and informative as ever!

    BB, thanks for your post too, but unfortunately, that 6-page thread seems to have a simple summary: 'Ballroom salsa sucks', but doesn't elaborate why or what the differences are.

    However, over the past few weeks of reading posts on and here, I have gathered a few ideas which I will present here. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong about this. I did not grow up in a culture/area of the world where ballroom or partner dancing was a part of daily life, so there seem to be some fundamental assumptions which I am missing.

    * Difference in style: There seems to be stylistic differences between ballroom and street salsa, however, that alone is not the bone of contention here. Salser@s seem quite comfortable with different styles in general (LA/NY/Cuban...), so it does not seem consistent that one specific physical style should rile everyone up so. Some people say that Mambo on2=ballroom dancing...I'm not sure that's the only difference, it seems deeper than that.

    * Differences in 'culture': There might be cultural differences between Latin American and 'North American/Euro' cultures that underlie the difference. Salsa is obviously a representation of Latin American culture, way of life etc and salsa practitioners resent a more North American/European ballroom influence. Again, I'm not quite sure what these influences might be, but it does seem like a factor.

    * Difference in philosophy: 'Street/club' salsa dancers are mostly those who have picked up their skills by virtue of being Latino, and/or having family friends teach them and honing skills mostly in the 'real world' of clubs. They look down upon people who take 'ballroom' salsa lessons in dance studios and stick only to those styles, arguing that it is not 'real' salsa as it lacks certain intangible factors (spontaneity, sabor, flava...). 'Ballroom' salsa lessons start with a lot of patterns, and obviously dance is more than the sum of moves and patterns. So a ballroom dancer is not respected until (s)he has broken out of the regimented patterns, understandably enough.

    * Latino vs non-Latino: Some of these above debates boil down to Latino vs non-Latino, indirectly. See the 'Prejudice against salseros' thread. There might be some truth to some extent. Most non-Latinos would learn salsa by taking lessons at a dance studio, which would amount to 'ballroom' salsa, I suppose? (For instance, I dunno how I could learn otherwise. I have no Latino family/male friends). So, they would face some resistance from street/club dancers at the beginning. This is understandable and acceptable, you have to prove yourself in the real world and adapt your classroom skills, just like in anything else. But there seems to be a concern among some of it becoming unhealthy discrimination against non-Latinos in the spirit of 'You did not live in this your dancing can never have the same <name your intangible thing>'.

    All right, sorry for the research paper...I am a graduate student, after all!! :D These are just opinions I have built up over the last few weeks of reading, and I'd be delighted to be corrected on this, or have things added/deleted/flamed etc.

  8. genEus

    genEus New Member

    I'm learning at a dance studio, but the guy teaches NY/LA Club style. He says ballroom is too restrictive and doesn't provide enough energy in the dance. I tend to blindly believe everything he says because he's incredible. :lol:
  9. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    While I can accept that a givern style (in this case ballroom) may be too restrictive for what your instructor wants, the overall statement (as worded) is absurd. If nothing else, it is the dancer who provides the energy to their dancing, *not* the style.
  10. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    :lol: ...the 'research paper' approach is cool. It means you are keen to get the whole picture & make informed decisions.

    I think the whole point is attitude (of th didividual dancers), like most things in life. In the real world, where people gain acceptance/respect, the key skill is adaptability.....which requires a flexible/accomodating attitude.

    By simply sticking to comfort zones (in this case dance styles/schools) one limits/restricts their own developement. Regardless of cultural backgroud, the lack of interaction from other group would lead to lack of learning opportunities. Then resentments could arise from the lack of understanding.

    Street & Ballroom dancers (I'm using the term loosely here) have much to learn from eachother. As long as we all observe some kind of club ettiquette (seeing we all share the same clubs), and always have an open/flexible attitude, there really shouldn't be issues........
  11. Lucretia

    Lucretia New Member

    In Sweden - where I live - you can go to some danceschools learning street salsa and others where you learn ballroom salsa. These two worlds never meet. The ballroom salsa only lives at danceschools and competitions. The only dance you find at clubs is cuban salsa or X-body (and of course many homebrewed styles :lol: ).

    The American-latin culture does only exist in the minds of the people living here - but you cant find any difference in the dance. The latino people have probably a short start-up phase since they have lived with the music. But they are not better dancers or dance in a different way. They do the same steps and patterns. And those people who havn't been at a danceschol ever are the worst dancers. Beeing latino or not. It doesn't matter where you are born.

    (As a matter of fact I find those who say they are raised with salsa and don't need classes as the worst dancers :evil: . They have mostly no timing at all. And don't know how to lead. A Swedish guy would never dare to do the same....several clasess before first visit to a salsaclub)

  12. tacad

    tacad New Member

    I don't know of any ballroom dancers in my ballroom scene besides myself that also go dance in a salsa club. Maybe I know one but that's it. It's worth pointing out that I don't know anyone who dances what I would call ballroom mambo either. It doesn't seem to be emphasized in my scene. In our ballroom dances we all dance a toned down version of salsa on 1.
  13. Slawek

    Slawek New Member

    I totally agree. Those people usually dance on no particular beat. Anyway a lot of girls like to dance with them just because they are Latinos.

    It's definitely true that the best dancers in the world are Latinos (Cubans and Puertoricans mainly) but they are all trained dancers with many years of experience not only in salsa. Those Latinos who never learned to dance are usually worse then non Latinos who have attended dance classes.
  14. itorres

    itorres New Member

    I had written something about this elsewhere, so I'll post an excerpt. I usually don't state things this categorically, so as not to ellicit too much controversy like many of our topics are prone to do. :) Anyway...

    Sometimes I hear someone, (particularly untrained dancers here in PR, say "I want to take Ballroom Salsa lessons. I dance "street" Salsa." In reality there is no such thing as Ballroom Salsa strictly speaking. This term seems to come from people hearing about "Ballroom Dance". Ballroom Dances are International competitive dances. They are divided for example into Standard: Waltz, Viennese Walt, Tango, Foxtrot; Latin: Rumba, Samba, Cha Cha, Pasodoble and Jive. An aside: since when is Jive a Latin dance? :oops: Well, they make it part of the Latin division. What can I say? :roll:

    These dances are judged in competition and there are International organizations that regulate them. One aspect of this control is that, in order to judge competitions and assign skill levels to dancers, a syllabus of figures and moves has been created for all of those dances. There is a list of figures that must be demonstrated as a requisite to classify for the different levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. These steps are taught in order in the schools, dancers' mastery of these steps is evaluated by teachers and they are required and judged at competitions.

    Salsa doesn't have these regulations and it would be inappropriate to call it a Ballroom dance. Many call Salsa an other non-regulated dances Club Dances. Salsa can be danced very elegantly and smoothly, or it can be danced more loosely and with more flavor ("sabor"). It is a matter of style, but people are sometimes inclined to call an "elegant" Salsa style - Ballroom Salsa.

    Untrained Latin dancers who have been dancing a long time feel they dance "Street" Salsa and for lack of a better description they refer to having been trained as being a "Ballroom" Salsa dancer.

    All this having been said, there IS a Ballroom Mambo syllabus. The next step is debating whether Salsa = Mambo, Salsa ON 2 = Mambo, how the Mambo syllabus relates to typical Salsa moves, etc. This a whole other thing.
  15. kdogg

    kdogg New Member

    I consider myself a street salsa dancer. Lately I've been doing some ballroom mambo and salsa. Because ballroom salsa is more formal than street salsa, it follows the standard etiquette of other ballroom dances. In other words, ballroom salsa is more conservative than street salsa.
  16. alemana

    alemana New Member

    that's a little misleading.

    there is such a thing as ballroom salsa, but it isn't a competitive (Dancesport) style, as you say. correct, there is Mambo, with a syllabus and judging standards, as part of the American Rhythm category.

    but *ballroom* salsa is, in fact, taught as a social dance in new york in ballroom studios. it is taught without any association with competition, and without any association to the 'club' scene, where it has no place - you cannot successfully dance ballroom salsa in a new york club unless you take your friends from ballroomworld with you. otherwise, you'll have trouble partnering with on-2 dancers.

    you CAN dance it at your studio's social party. you CAN dance it at other studio's social parties. you can dance it at your cousin's wedding. you can join your studio's salsa performance troupe and take that show on the road (i did it.) and if you want, you can dance it exclusively without ever learning club style. there are studio socials every week and plenty of people get quite good without ever stepping foot in a club.

    in new york, ballroom salsa is usually danced on 1 and is taught by a very thorough mix of club dancers who work for multi-dance studios, competitive Dancesport dancers who work at multi-dance studios, and various other random people who work - you guessed it - at dance studios. none of the 'salsa-only' outfits teach this style - you can't learn it at Eddie Torres, Karisma, Santo Rico, Carlos Konig, Mambo-D's, Mambo-2-Cha-Cha, etc. You CAN learn it at Stepping Out, Empire, Dance New York, Dance Manhattan, etc.

    Many big studios hire semi-famous or blatantly famous on-2 dancers to teach salsa to attract the lucrative 'street' crowd - see Soho Dance studio, for example. So at that studio you might find the vibe tipping more toward club style than ballroom style. But the older, more established multi-dance studios, generally speaking, favor ballroom style. It can be taught by any random teacher they have available.
  17. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I agree with alemana. Hmmm...Second thingw e agree on today - first being dancing barefoot. :wink: :)
  18. itorres

    itorres New Member

    As I see it there are different aspects that define a real "Style".
    1. Basic step pattern
    2. Timing of the basic
    3. Movement - Slot, rotating, CBL based
    4. Overall style or character - smooth, sharp, loose or with more "sabor"
    5. Dance move preference - double hold turns, dips, lifts, etc.

    So what do you consider the difference between Street and Ballroom?

    What do you mean by it is more formal and follows standard Ballroom etiquette?
    What else in terms of the elements above or others is different?

    If it usually is danced on 1, then sometimes it can be danced on 2?
    What else in terms of the elements above or others is different?
  19. tacad

    tacad New Member

    My impression is that ballroom salsa is not standardized. But ballroom studios teach salsa because it is so popular. So it's not official or part of a syllabus. I'm not referring to American Ballroom Mambo here. All I can really add is that at the ballroom dances I go to, we dance what we call salsa, but it is very tamed down from what's in the clubs.

    And to second what alemana wrote about ballroomers going to a club in NY, I've obviously crossed over from ballroom to salsa in LA. It's danced on 1 here so I didn't have to change that. But the styles and skill levels vary so much in the clubs it took a good while to figure out how to lead in the clubs. And then dancing a reasonably good club style was not immediate. Much less learning club dynamics.
  20. latindia

    latindia New Member

    Er...does that mean that the ballroom vs street/club controversy is localized to NY? It does seem to imply that from your post, Alemana. However, my 'research' indicates that it is a broader/deeper issue than on1 vs on2 and NY vs LA vs others. I am slightly confused now. :?

    So far, I haven't had a problem dancing anywhere in Houston. Of course, I've learnt slotted on1 style in a studio, but I've started to pick up variations from friends and watching fellow dancers (like the more circular latin american style basic) and I'm trying to mix and match as appropriate to the music.

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