Salsa > beginner-follower

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by vey, Dec 5, 2003.

  1. vey

    vey New Member

    Hi everybody! I've been reading dance-forums' discussions for a while and found them very useful. Finally, I've built up enough courage for my first post
    Here goes my question: :?:
    Being a beginner I'm never quite sure what to do when I don't understand leader's signal , is it better to continue whatever I was doing before (ignoring the signal) or try to interpret the signal to the best of my understanding ? It seems that whichever of these options I pick, some leaders get annoyed :( Any advice?

  2. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    Hi vey,
    I just wanted to say "hi" and welcome to the Dance-Forums.

    What you should strive to do as a beginner IS NOT to anticipate any move. So, if you do something that you think the leader is wanting, you are anticipating. Go where the leader is putting you . . . be it right or wrong. It will come to you, we've all been there.

    As a leader, I can follow, and I had the same problems until someone told me not to anticpate any move. Just go!

    You may want to check this out as well:

    See ya'
  3. SwinginBoo

    SwinginBoo New Member

    I think you should always try to follow. Even if you aren't sure. If you don't get it, ask the leader to try it again and maybe explain what you should do. Most leaders shouldn't mind if you don't follow something but want to try to learn it. I think it would be a rare instance for a leader to be annoyed.
  4. jenibelle

    jenibelle New Member

    Glad you've worked up the courage to post :wink:
    I think it's just experience that you need, the more you practise the more accustomed you will be and the easier you can "read the guy's mind." Besides, a really good leader will make it very clear what he wants you to do and if you screw up, who cares? Just try it again!
    By the way, that's not cool if a guy gets annoyed at you...

    Happy dancing!
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Welcome to DFs Vey!! :)

    As everyone else has said always follow, and don't anticipate. If that's what you're doing...If you have no idea what is required of you it could be because it is a complicated move that's hard to lead if the follow has not much experience with the dance. There are some moves like that, not many, but there are out there. In that case the leader should not try them out with a beginner. Another possibility is the leader has not lead the move(s) as he/she should. In either case the leader should not get annoyed with the follower. That reflects really poorly on him/her and not you.
  6. vey

    vey New Member

    Thanks for your welcome and advice guys!

    Intellectually, I know about the importance of not anticipating but in reality it gets sometimes overwhelming for me-beginner to put everything together during the dance (to keep the beat, to follow, to listen to the music), so I panic and, I guess, start anticipating... :(

    Vince, thank you for an interesting thought: "So, if you do something that you think the leader is wanting, you are anticipating. " I've never realized that!!!

    Thanks for your support Sagitta and jenibelle!!!

    Anyway, sorry if my questions are too naive..., I 'm just overwhelmed and trying to figure things out. The "beginners' corner" is put together nicely and is very useful, thanks!!! I've already read through most of it!!!

  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi vey! Welcome to the forums. :D First, I don't think your questions are naive at all. You'd be surprised how many "experienced" followers don't understand the concept as well as you do, and go around unconsciously anticipating leads all the time. I was guilty of this for over a year, until I switched teachers and he wouldn't put up with it. :oops: :?

    That said, I agree with the consensus here. Try your best to interpret the leads being given, then follow them. You'll improve rapidly as a follower, and you'll be giving feedback to the lead in terms of how the leads are being interpreted. Don't forget, leads are fallible too. Just because you're new doesn't mean they're always right. And part of your job as the follower is to give the leads that feedback.

    One suggestion that might help is to attend some group classes where a specific sequence of moves is dictated by the teacher, and make sure you consciously follow what's being led. That way, you have a better idea of what to expect, at least at first. Going out to a club or party at first is good, but it's like getting thrown in at the deep end. Scary! And difficult. So I would suggest that you mix some of that with some group instruction -- where you get to dance with other students at various levels of ability, and with different leading styles.

    Best of luck. :D
  8. Spitfire

    Spitfire Well-Known Member

    It's certainly better to get whatever you're being lead into wrong then to ignore it; as Vince says go where the leader is putting you and not try to guess. Most of us leaders are aware that as a new dancer you may not get things right at first. It's certainly been my experience that if I repeat it a few times the follower will get the right idea and if not she can ask and I'll gladly show her. :D
  9. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    It does, doesn't it!! I danced with two beginners on Tuesday night, who hadn't danced before, even dances other then salsa!! They were overwhelmed at the beginning of the dance, but I kept to the basics with a few moves thrown in, getting them comfortable. When I lead them through move after move I could see the panic setting in so I slowed down. (A beginner sometimes needs more times between moves.) It is the leader's responsibility to make sure that they dance together in a partnership.

    A couple months ago I was just like you. I would often get overwhelmed, but it passes like all things. As Pygmalion said, a combination of group class and club dancing can help. Also listening to the music. As a newbie I find that if I listen to salsa music more I dance salsa better. My body has an easier time of synching with the beat of the music without as much concentration.

    No question is too naive :) One can always learn more. Your questions push the more experienced dancers to think about their experiences, what they do without thinking as much. If the experienced dancers can help you well they become that much better dancers from the experience. Or that's what I find out is true for myself anyway, even as a rank newbie dancer.

    Anyway, I better stop pontificating and get ready for the monthly Ithaca social dance.
  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Hi vey! Sorry to be late to the thread, but still wanted to say hello and welcome you to the DF! :D

    I think your question is a great one and that if more people would ask sooner they wouldn’t develop which take a looooooooong time to break (if they even ever do). Vince’s point, as you’ve noted, is key. Just try to be as responsive to what is being communicated as you can be – it is not your responsibility to try and decipher what you think that communication was meant to be, only to respond to what is actually communicated to you. If anything goes wrong beyond this then it is on the leader to fix it.

    Glad to have you with us as a posting member!
  11. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Welcome to the board Vey! :D What you should do is put yourself on autopilot. See the autopilot doesn't just does. I've found when I dance with a beginning salsera if I distract her from the dance (a joke, chit chat) she just does because she's not thinking about it. Go to where he is leading and never analyze it. He may be leading a pattern incorrectly, but as long as you follow what he's doing you are right :wink:
  12. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Very well put youngsta! :D
  13. vey

    vey New Member

    Million thanks to everybody. Now I have to digest and process all this valuable information.
    Oh , absolutely, I'm taking group lessons for the past 4 months, and that's exactly what happens in class - I do know what the sequence of patterns to expect - which helps me to learn new moves/steps but I do not learn how to follow as much. That's why I'm "forcing" myself going to social dances, although, as pigmalion wrote, it is rather scary for me at this point.

  14. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hmm. Are you going by yourself, or do you have some dance friends, maybe from class, who can go with you? Sometimes that can help.

    Man. I'll never forget the time, when I'd been dancing salsa maybe a month or two, that I got crazy enough to go to a salsa music/dance festival at Sea World, which is a few miles from my house. :oops: :lol: I was actually trying to dance with some serious salseros. And I have to say they were pretty darn nice. It was terrifying, but fun.
  15. vey

    vey New Member

    Yep, going with some dance friends is the best thing, I've realized that, so sometimes I manage "to build a team" of people form the class and go out but sometimes people are not available and I go out by myself (it really builds my charachter :wink: ) I do see advanced dancers from my dance studio sometimes but I don't feel like asking them to dance since I'm significantly lower then their level and I know that it'll definitely will stress me out psychologically to dance with them.

    The funny thing I've realized that it's more useful to socialize with guys from the class than with fellow followers :eek: because, although, girls' chit-chat is fun and you can exchange info about clubs, moves, dancing frustrations but ultimately it's guys/leaders you will have to dance and practice with in order to become a good dancer. So I have to break my social habits here- it's always easier for us girls to socialize with each other :wink:
  16. salsarhythms

    salsarhythms New Member

    Welcome Vey!!!!

    Let me tell you, your question is awesome...

    Not only is it NOT naive, but it's such a great question
    because most people don't ask it until they've gotten to
    the point where they feel as "experts" and at that point
    it's kind of hard to break the bad habits...

    Everyone has included some great points for you to

    This is a tough one and it comes with a lot of practice
    and dancing with different people. But definately I know
    someone mentioned about anticipating...the thing is you
    only want to commit once you know, not assume, what it
    is that your lead wants to do...
  17. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Welcome to the DF family! (I'm late as usual) much salsa to dance, so little time :wink: !

    Definitely! I do it all the time :p ! It could be nerve-wrecking at first, but pretty soon you'd become part of the scene like a fish in water....! Now I prefer to turn up by myself & meet ppl there.

    It's actually a good idea to dance with them (once you feel comfortable to do so of course), as you will get a proper feel of some good leads, thus pick up new patterns via autopilot mode!

    Precisely why I end up having more guy friends than gal friends! (and in the world where good leads are hard to come by, girls can get awfully competitive 'fighting over' those good ones...! :roll: )

    Have fun out there! I am a firm believer that the social scene is the best learning ground :wink: !
  18. MNswing

    MNswing New Member

    Although I'm not a salsa dancer (plz don't shoot me :wink: ), I've found that when I get overhwhelmed and find myself THINKING about what the lead wants me to do, I simply close my eyes and concentrate solely on what I'm FEELING my partner guiding me to do. (The lead doesn't have to know you're panicking and need to de-stress... they'll think you're just really into the music and lovin' it!) This method takes a lot of the distraction out of the dance and helps you get more intuned with your body and your partner's body as well. It also helps you forget about all the people you feel are watching you... when you close your eyes, it's just you and your partner... and it's great!
  19. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Good stuff MN! :wink:
  20. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    . . . even if you aren't a salsa dancer! :wink: :lol:

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