Salsa > How on earth do leaders confuse the 1 and the 5?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by nycsalsero, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. nycsalsero

    nycsalsero Member

    The title says it all. Some people, even relatively advanced dancers, will dance 123-567- as 567-123-!!! If this happens to me even for a second, I HAVE to fix it before continuing, I almost physically can't dance if it's wrong. I don't understand how anyone can confuse these things, after progressing beyond a basic level. And I pity the women that must dance with them....

    On a related note, my pet peeve in salsa songs is when the music goes 123-123-567, that is, there is a little hiccup in the usual 4-4 time. Why on earth do bands play songs that do this?? You would have to MEMORIZE the song to avoid screwing up those parts. These bands must think they are so clever, making everyone screw up by doing that....
  2. You must be talking of me - I have no musical background at all and am very happy to hear the 1 and the 5. And as long as I stay on the first beat most followers dont care. These who do really care start by themselfes. The steps remain the same.

    And let me tell you - dancing on 5 also is fun for me :). Please do not discriminate the ON5 Dancers and dont be a "Countracist" ;-).
  3. sac76

    sac76 New Member

    agree but isnt it nicer if we all Leaders dance on 123 instead of 567? guys any suggestions how to differentiate 123 and 567? Sometimes both are exactly same and its so bloody difficult to differentiate unless we watch the more advanced dancers dancing. Guys how to rectify this? any suggestions?

    For 123 123-567 just step in place othe first 123 and break again.....this is time for u to do body groove...
  4. sweavo

    sweavo New Member

    Heheh. The reasons they confuse the 1 and the 5 are many:

    1) "music" per se goes on 4 beat bars rather than 8 beat phrases
    2) Though the clave is 2 bars long, it does not indicate which is the 1 and which is the 5
    3) Salsa is highly syncopated so accents (therefore the beats) are much harder to find than in pop or rock music
    4) the basic conga pattern is 4 beats long
    5) clever musicians sometimes arrange the music so that it's hard to tell 1 and 5
    6) lazy bongoceros often go to the bongo bell a bar late, making the 5 sound like a 1.

    As to the extra bar... with experience you can pick up when these are going to happen. If your intro is on a 3-2 clave you can usually bet that it will switch to 2-3 before the REAL dancing starts. Particularly jazzy arrangements will monkey about with the structure until you can't tell what side of the clave you should be on.

    A couple of ways to deal with a reversal:

    Two slow walks (which reverses your footwork and confuses your folower) followed by a mambo jazz (which shows her where the 1 (or the 6 if on 2) is).

    Start a X body lead and hold her back for 4 counts in the middle of it.

    If the music is changing clave a lot, I just dance through it and wait for it to settle.

    @sac76: "stuff starts" near the one. If you sing the singers melody, the beat nearest where you started singing is probably the 1. Also a change of gear usually happens around the 1 rather than the 5.
  5. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    They have drugs for that problem, you know. Ritalin, or something?
  6. ash88

    ash88 New Member

    Unbelievable that they can possibly be mistaken! Those damn leaders!

    And can you imagine, some of them even start on the TWO! The TWO!?

    They should quit now and save the followers the embarrasment...

  7. noobster

    noobster Member

    Oh, man. I hate that. It reallys screws up my dancing, too, because I get distracted and can't think about anything other than hoping he switches back to the 123. I also get this really crabby look on my face and the poor guy can't have any idea why. :(
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Here we go again steve !!-- how many more times do we need to explain that music is written in bars,. First 4 beats ascending --2nd four descending ." Pick up " bars do occur from time to time,as do syncop., but thats the whole point of writing music . you have to pay attention and start to interpret what the band is saying musically. The directional start for dance has for ever been controversial. Most chain schools back in the fifties , taught mambo, side left on one-- break back on 2,-- yet-- many of the more " advanced " street dancers, broke forward on 2-- and yet again, many latinos step side right on 4 and break forward on one. You can even see dominicans start mer. with their r. foot ., when traditionally, starting l. on 1.Having taught both salsa and mambo with all possible combos,it becomes a matter of personal choice . The purists ( tend to lean that way ) are more dogmatic about the approach. For all you beginners, just try and stay on the same beat you start with , as you progress, try different ideas.Lastly, just enjoy the music and the experience
  9. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    I'm in the other side of this thing, adhering to rules as if a must displays slavery. There isn't such a thing as right or wrong in dancing. The higher the skill the more it should be realized how the subtleties of "right and wrong" don't really mean a thing. They can be left behind to express even further of the self. To the music it makes absolutely no difference whether we step forward on the 1 or 5. If we judge that which we do by phantom ideas well learn nothing but follow and trap ourselves in a world of he said, she said, therefore I do.

    I actually find it absolutely great when I see advance dancers recognize that they can step in any direction. It shows the have the ability and maturity to play with a song and still go through the exact same sequence of moves without ever loosing a beat. That’s mastery of craft. Ability to only see ahead is but bliding to that which is at the sides, back, top and bottom.

    Saying that dancing forward on the 1 for a leader is wrong, equates to stating that Van Gogh couldn’t paint because his strokes didn't follow the same pattern as his contemporaries.

    Rules aren’t given as chains for our thoughts, simply to catapult/kick start that which we do. Once we learn them, it should be expected that they will help free the mind. If we can’t free ourselves from the chains, we’ve but followed.

    To me; I can't stand it when a dancer can only dance in one direction. That simply statess a beginner who’s been fed a couple of patterns, hence fooled to think they posses some skill. The greatest of skills is the use of the mind, obstacle free. Physical skill is but a social status that feeds a façade that doesn’t realize it’s yet to build a foundation.
  10. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    If the leader is coming from a swing background (to name one thing), most swing is done in 6-count patterns. Since the dance is constantly rotating through the front side and the back side, it doesn't matter which side you start on. So most swing dancers will start as soon as they hear a beat.
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    r or wrong

    B/s is so correct on this. That is why when I dance with "latinos " , it,s always fun to see which way they approach the dance. To me, thats half the enjoyment . The challenges that confront one , as you commence, particularly with new salseras, creates a certain excitement and anticipation about what is to come .Pretty much most of the better dancers dont seem to care what your choice of beat is, more how you interpret the moment .
  12. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    LOL Nice as usual Joe...
  13. amo_dile_que_no

    amo_dile_que_no New Member

    I was going to respond with something along this line (certainly not with Boriken's eloquence), but I've been salsa dancing for not quite 2 years now and didn't feel I had the expertise to back up my opinion. So, it is with great delight that I say I am in complete agreement with Boriken.

    In almost anything in life, certainly creative activities, strict adherence to "rules" is often a hallmark of someone who is not comfortable in the craft. I don't claim to be a master by any means, but when I'm on the dance floor, I'm enjoying te music, my partner, our interaction. So if I end up not catching a break in the music and find myself breaking forward on the 5 it doesn't bother me, or any of my partners for that matter. People just need to enjoy the experience and not focus so much on what is right or wrong, authentic or not authentic, better or worse. Just dance. :)

    Thanks, Boriken!
  14. Salcero

    Salcero Member

    Maybe musicians have other motives when constructing a song, other than making that song palatable with people that dance ET On2? When I watch the musicians dance they seem to dance well to the music whether its the Cuban, V step or whatever they are doing. Then again, I don't usually see them dancing ET On2 to their own music so their frame of reference may be different.

    When I'm in a zone, I can feel the shift and thus make the adjustment accordingly. If nothing else, it tends to make me more intune and spontaneous to the music as opposed to being robotic.
  15. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's such a simple thing to hear the 1 v the 5. I come from a pretty strong musical background--I can count and conduct beats 'til the cows come home. But when I started dancing it was definitely something very different to think of it in terms of 2 measures (8 beats), or a 6-count or 3-count pattern against 4 beat measures. And, likewise, it was interesting to think about there being a definitely 1 and a definite 5 in a 2-measure group.

    It was not something I'd ever listened for, and the thought was new. I had no idea of how to distinguish a 1 from a 5, and I've got a pretty good ear. I could tell, when I was practicing (aka dancing in the kitchen) to music if something didn't feel right, but it took about a month before I connected the counting to 8 in classes with things feeling off.

    I was lucky in that I figured it out quickly. I put a salsa cd in my car stereo, and made it a point to figure out what everyone was talking about. About a mile or so down the road--I drive fast--it was clear to me. I still can't tell you how I can tell the difference...or how I can count music...or how I can tell a 1 from a 3 from a 7...or how I can tell a bastard phrase...or how I can tell when the composer switches time signature to throw in an extra beat or two. I can't explain it...but I can hear it and i can feel it.

    Maybe some guys just haven't figured it out yet, or are having a harder time feeling it.
  16. blueguitar322

    blueguitar322 New Member

    Yeah I come from a musical background (been playing for 18 years) and it's usually pretty clear to me where the 1 and 5 are...and which is which.

    However, that 1-2-3 1-2-3 5-6-7 thing always gets me! I'm still learning how to anticipate in salsa music... There's a place in rock/pop (what I play on guitar/piano) where I can almost know exactly what's going to come before it happens, but I'm not anywhere near that in salsa yet.

    All that said...I've had four different instructors teach me the basic step over the last month and a half. Each of them, at some point, have counted "5 6 7 8" on the I don't think I'll ever hold it against anyone else. It's not wrong - just a slightly different styling. Not as dramatic a difference as on1-vs-on2...subtle, but still there.
  17. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    try q.q. s.-- thats the speed to which you dance--1 beat for each q-2 for the slow ergo-- 1 bar .I always teach my groups on a qqs basis ,and never have a problem getting immediate results .Give it a try and see how you do .
  18. Kali Ma

    Kali Ma New Member

    Noooooo, say it isn't so!
    Ahahahahahahahaha! :D
  19. devane

    devane New Member

    Yeah, this is sometimes called dancing on the wrong side. The reason it happens is the person who leads isn't listening properly. It feels horrible because even though you can dance, at certain times vocals and instrument changes will tell you are out of sync. Also your subconscious (unless you're still counting) will tell you that you are on the wrong foot which is as good as being off the beat.

    I feel that my feet are a instrument in the music, I'm not just dancing to a beat, I'm dancing with all of the musical intsruments so it is important to me to sync in at the right time.
    The musicians in the band follow these rules so I'm going with them.

    Where my feet are isn't important, you can do a basic or other steps in various ways but when they move is.

    There are exceptions when you bend the rules like when you do a shine or a styling element which requires you to stay on the same foot etc.......but in the end you sync back on the 1 at the right time.

    And yes, all songs are not made with dancers in mind. There are songs I hear which are too fast for mere humans to dance to or songs which break all musical structure and confuse the dancers.
  20. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    That "thing" :wink: is called a clave change... changes from a forward to reverse clave, or vice versa, and is done by the melodic portion of the band. Sometimes you can hear them coming, sometimes they are very unpredictible. Just depends on the song.

    As for counting "123" on a "567" or vice versa, it can happen in class when in the middle of a demo or pattern, and instead of stopping the instructor just keeps going. Again, it's not wrong to dance on the 5, but technically the 1 is the 1, the 5 is the 5, and so on... so to count 5 for a 1 is incorrect. But, to dance on it.... eh, whatever. I can't do it because it's like listening to pig latin for me. 1-8 is a phrase, and if I'm dancing on the 5 I feel like I'm hearing a sentence being spoken backwards. Just doesn't jive with my body.

    For some more info:

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