Salsa > Floorcraft, crowded floor: what skills are required?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by ticolora, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. ticolora

    ticolora Member

    I attend two different venues - one is a dance studio with a huge open floor, the other is a local salsa club, same amount of people, 1/5th the space.

    I would like to go to the club more, but I find it difficult to dance in a crowded space.


    1. I understand that one (perhaps the fastest) way to get better at dancing in the crowd (DITC) is to dance in the crowd. However, I hope there are skills that can be practiced in a more comfortable setting. Am I right? Any advice on how/what to practice?

    2. Is crowded space like driving on the road - no matter how good you are, there are always people you have no control over? Is there a point at which DITC becomes effortless?
  2. davedove

    davedove Well-Known Member

    I can answer #2. No, it does not become effortless, mainly because you truly do not know what the other couples are going to do. What does become easier is that you can react better. I've been dancing for several years now and I believe I'm pretty good at floorcraft, but sometimes another couple just does something completely unexpected. This is just one of the things a leader has to constantly monitor. I can proudly say, however, that I have never hit a stationary object.:p
    RiseNFall and raindance like this.
  3. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    Practice with chairs around to mimic the crowd
  4. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    1. One way to improve floorcraft is to improve accurate choreographed figure execution. The control required to hit certain lines with certain timing is a pre-requisite skill to zip thru a slalom course of crowded couples. If you can lead a partner thru a planned movement with precision that will give more confidence leading on the fly. Only one of several required skills, but one I believe as important as practicing extemporaneous movement.

    2. Never effortless, but with practice the effort becomes more effective.

    My partner and I danced socially on crowded floors in addition to our practice time. I believe the social dancing did help our floorcraft. It is a thrill to Quickstep thru a ballroom filled wall-to-wall with Lindy Hoppers kicking big!
  5. Mia

    Mia Member

    You have asked a very good question! From the leads I have talked to, navigating crowded dance floors is most definitely an acquired skill and it almost seems as if different shaped halls / dance floors tend to get people to move in different patterns. Leads I have talked to say that round dance floors tend to be easier to predict crowd movement while rectangular dance floors tend to be harder to predict but I have never heard of anyone saying that a crowded dance floor becomes easy after a certain amount of experience.

    I have been to crowded dance floors where one lead told me half jokingly that the level of tackling on that dance floor was more then what he faces when he plays football (soccer for our American friends). LOL
  6. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    You do realise that, his Q was about SALSA ?
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    It depends upon the style of dance/music that ,a DJ plays for his clientele. Cuban styles are more compact , where as LA ,NY, tend to take a bit more space.

    The best advice... self awareness, as You have no control over what others do.. Learn to dance in a square, 3x3 feet . And, Close and closed hold .
    ticolora likes this.
  8. davedove

    davedove Well-Known Member

    And learn to be small in your styling - for instance, no big arm movements, keep any kicking movements under you, etc. Learn to keep it tiny. You can always do bigger movements on less crowded floors.
    ticolora likes this.
  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    No, by no means. But take care when standing in the crowd near the dancefloor, that area is more dangerous then :nurse: By the way (only my 2 cents) africanos always got the best 360° vision, also latinos. The higher the degree of gringos the more difficult the job will be.
    upps :) I would give right the opposite advice: proper execution would mean much to much stress. Lower the standards and simply muddle through with Guapea and Cucaracha, and spontaneous stuff. On really crowded floors you could change to close hold like in Kizomba or Tango.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    On the contrary. I danced in clubs, that were 98% latino, and they are/were, or can be, guilty as anyone, in special awareness . You need to take into account that, the vast majority, have never taken any formal instruction .
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    depends somehow on the estrogen concentration in the air....
  12. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    Sorry I was not clear. Practice of precise figures would not be on the social or crowded floor! That would be practice elsewhere, to prepare a skill base later useful socially. I totally agree with opendoor that when social dancing in a crowd we need to allow for all kinds of crazy alignments and not feel the need to stick to exact figures. When I am following in a crowded social dance I do not expect the leader to hit alignments or even to stick to known figures. In that sense I "lower standards" as opendoor says. But I do not lower my standard of following. If anything, it requires even more keen sensitivity as a follow.
    opendoor and raindance like this.
  13. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    Oops. My bad. No, I did not read carefully. I have no clue about salsa. Sorry for the off-topic ramblings.
  14. SoAndSo

    SoAndSo New Member

    While floorcraft is a necessary skill for crowded floors, you do not automatically become a better dancer by dancing in dense crowds. Actually the "difficulty level" for most unskilled dancers is so high, that they do not advance at all or only advance their floorcraft, making clubs often an atmosphere of mediocrity.
    BUT the environment of the salsa club might be better for your dancing than the protected space of the dance school.

    But some things you need to know on dense floors:

    - move small
    This is about all the ways you yourself and your partner move. Keep your arms to yourself, make small steps, keep the feet close to the ground. Oh, and lead your follow in that way too. Closed hold is your friend!
    In the crowded club, all the fancy shines you learned are wasted more often than not.
    Instead learn to dance a lot with your body and use the connection of your hand to your partners body to "dance" too. The movements do not need to be fancy or big again, but harmonic.

    - be tough
    Even when experienced you will get physical contact with other couples very often. If both sides move well, this is of no concern, it's just a touch with the back or the shoulder most of the times. Don't cry out, whenever something touches you, this spreads an atmosphere of perceived violence and helps nobody.
    Keep a good frame (close hold again!) so your arms can protect the follow (who likely is the physically weaker of you).
    On the other hand, learn to claim your room. There are many people invading your space. By pure need, by lack of experience or by blatant arrogance - this i.e. I very often see with solo/circle dancing girls. And within these, the ones who are proud to be "Latino" are often times the most aggressive. Show your presence, claim your space. By your pure presence make clear, that THIS is YOUR space, not theirs to spill their drinks and stand around.

    - be friendly
    Don't be a slimy apologizer, but respect the ones around you. Say you are sorry, when you rammed your partner into others (or lead something that made her do that), don't push yourself into too dense areas etc.

    - manage your space
    Often times your space is no clean slot. The slot frenzy is an artificial thing anyway, bend it, bow it, break it - do whatever is necessary to happily move your partner and you in the space you have.
    Good leads manage to exchange spots with their partners very often, allowing them to use the space they themselves are standing in right now, to be "available" for moving in. This can allow you to move like you had nearly twice the space.
    When you enter the floor, first claim your space. I usually do that by making myself BIG and doing some solo body movement dancing (which can look quite fancy) while slowly moving the space i have preselected. This gives the people around you the chance to adjust themselves. Then i take my partner into a rather big closed hold and lead some small room moves, to bring ourself into the rhythm. Even with the best and most trusted partners, only after the space is secured, i can turn it up.
    When around other good dancers that i trust, we actually often share our space. This is true with everyone who moves a lot while dancing and makes actually people just standing around being more space demanding than many a dancer. Of course this needs good space management skills to do.

    - learn to identify the notorious troublemakers
    People who run their moves, no matter what, can look great from the outside but are dangerous for everyone else. Worse so, if they are unexperienced and kicking around.
    Drunkards who dance wild or people that are more standing around than dancing and slowly wobble into other people's space.
    And of course people who willingly break into the space, more of an exercise of destructive dominance than for dancing while having no clue about partner dancing - the "Latinas" mentioned above are a typical example.

    - be creative but dance simple
    The fancy moves you learned often times are hard to modify. Break them down and understand them and remember: the line is no excuse, to suck.
    Often times direction changes and creative usage of well known stuff can make your partner feel like flying - unless she belongs to the ones forcing herself into the line of course.

    - select your partners
    The level in clubs is often VERY low. There are some fancy dancers around, but you will not have access to most of those follows and actually, many of them are fancy, not good dancers. Others only can dance that fancy, because they are claiming too much space - the ones highest in the local food chain, often time defended by their peers against "intruders".
    If you dance with partners, who are willing to dance small, who you actually can do body-movement dancing with and that do not get into shock, when you break the line, you actually can train your skills. If you need most of the time for compensating the weaknesses of the pretty girl you are trying to impress, you will not get better.
    When you are much safer in the crowded floor, then you can really start to impress - as said, the level often is very low.

    to be continued ....

    To master the majority of these it might take you thousands of hours.
    But if you work on yourself, you can get a first decent improvement in every of the points within the matter of a few evenings.
    It is important, to use this in reality relatively often and to reflect it in between. If you go to the club once per month, most you have learned is forgotten and you will never get the stuff to the automatisms.
  15. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    I will throw in this observation, from some time spent in clubs of various ethnicities: in general, the level of floor awareness is inversely proportional to the level of drunkenness. If you see a lot of the dancers, particularly leads, weaving around when they're off the floor, there are going to be problems in the floor.
  16. Newdancer81

    Newdancer81 Active Member

    Actually, this is a good question. I'm not the best at navigating the floor, but I usually stay within a small space, but newer leads bump into me and throw me off beat because I'm trying to stop the girl from hitting them, so how I do stay on beat and embrace the musicality while keeping her safe?
  17. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

  18. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    That's pretty much it. One thing I've observed over the years: If the venue has all of the seating along one side or end of the floor, during a spot dance a lot of the couples will tend to dance near the seating. If you go to the opposite side of the floor, you may find a bit more room.

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