Salsa > If follow doesn't stay on beat.

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by ticolora, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. ticolora

    ticolora Member

    (This is a spin-off question off of

    Have to mention that I've been only dancing for couple of months, so I stay within my league.

    I just started dancing socially (i.e. outside of the group class setting where instructor counts, and outside of private classes where the instructor knows how to dance) and I found that women I dance with a ignorant-incompetent about beat and phrase.

    I've been having hard time figuring out the beat on the floor while I have no problems doing it off the floor, until I realized that I was assuming that my partners know what they are doing and was trying to find the beat they were dancing to.

    Once I realized that - things got a little better on one hand - now I can dance on beat. Which puts me off sync with my partner.

    Hence this question. Am I doing it wrong? Should I try to force the follow on beat? or dance to different rhythms? or succumb to her rhythm?
  2. With around 3 years of dance experience I find that as long as I can find/keep the beat and lead it, my partner will too, since I'm leading and most partners trust me to lead well or well-enough. They can sense if you are leading, or not really leading.

    On songs that present me a challenge to find the beat, I sometimes fess up right away and ask them aloud to help me find it, then I lead from there. But, either way, if I express confidence (and not nonsense cockiness), it will go well.

    The few who present me with a challenge with this are usually brand new to dancing with no dance background at all as a child or teen (guest party night first-timers, for example). Or, the women who can dance their own freestyle moves, but not as a couple. At a wedding reception, a sober but enthusiastic woman saw DW and I dancing and she later grabbed me to dance, since she knew I could, and she just "took off" at a crazy speed on a moderate speed Swing song. She was trying to dance at a million miles/hour. I was too polite to do anything but just keep dancing with her my own way until the song ended. I mean, I'm not going to stop her and tell her she's out of control. She just seemed thrilled to get to dance, as her husband had no interest in doing so. So, back to your original question -

    If you can find the beat, and then go ahead and lead it well, you will be fine nearly all the time as your partner will follow what you are leading. Most followers can sense if the lead is good or weak, and if it's good, or even just good enough, they are going to accept your lead even if you are not quite on the beat. When they get no lead, then they understandably try to take over, and may or may not be on the beat themselves.
  3. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Leading always is just an offer, ticolora. But try to give a more courageous impuls.
    vit likes this.
  4. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    Late to the Dance said it well. If the lead leads on beat then it is hard for the follow to be off beat.

    That said, things happen that cause a couple to fall off beat. If you lead a weight change but the follow doesn't "hear it" then the next measure (or three) is going to be a off beat correction or total re-set.

    In my experience only a lead can dance off beat continuously, while follows are only off beat due to a mistake in execution.
  5. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    You're the leader, so you decide what the timing is and whether to dance on the beat. If you lead clearly and confidently, most followers will get back on beat with you. Some are out of control and you just have to do your best.
    atk likes this.
  6. vit

    vit Active Member

    This pretty much depends where you dance

    In many salsa venues, relatively light connection is preferred (much lighter than in BR latin for instance), so followers don't actually follow rhythm of the leader but just direction into various moves, and they have quite a freedom in their rhythm interpretation. And various people have different rhythm interpretation even if they are "on the right beat" (some place the foot on the beat, some do weight transfer on the beat placing the foot earlier etc). In addition to that, "correct side" of clave is also preferred, so if dancing on1, leader starts with forward break on beat 1, while of on2, leader starts with back break on 2. It's not that is really important, but people just think it's more correct way to connect with the music that other ways, or that on2 is better than on1 etc ...

    So in reality it's not that simple - one can be a "perfect leader" and one can be a "perfect follower", but their dancing together just doesn't work well
  7. atk

    atk Active Member

    If you, as a partnership, are off beat, then you can either
    • try to get back on beat,
    • Dance off beat, or
    • Stop dancing
    Getting back on beat is often easiest if you so and restart.

    You can also slow down your dancing to catch the next measure (out the one after that), then get back up to speed, but newer dancers often can't slow down then speed up smoothly, so the "problem" gets exacerbated.

    Speeding up to catch the next measure doesn't usually work, especially for newer dancers, as they are often struggling enough with the speed and everything they have to do, and making it faster just makes it harder.

    Pausing mid step until the right point in the next measure can work, too. But, again, it can be tough for newer dancers to start in the middle.

    You can dance off beat. You're not violating any law, and the dance police will not arrest you. Sometimes, you just cant get on beat, it you (as a partnership) get off again with every measure. Trying to correct many times in a single dance can get frustrating, for each of you. Dancing to your own drum is totally acceptable when this happens.

    Stop dancing if you really can't stand being off beat. Nobody is forcing you to dance except you. But be aware that newer dancers need experienced dancers to help them grow as part of the social scene. If you don't do your part, then your scene may not grow as quickly, you might wind up on many people's "do not dance" list, and you may find yourself dancing less. Only you can decide if they work is with the results, to you.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    If one dances/leads, on "1", then it's more than likely the follows, will be more consistent in their timing. Dancing on "2", is another matter.

    The larger problem is this ; the majority of students, do not invest enough time ( no pun ) in developing their dance skills .
    And, the ladies are always at the mercy of "leads", who have timing problems .

    I have actually judged comps ( Prof ) where timing was a problem !.

    The major problem with the latin genres is ; there are many styles, with little or no consistency, in the foundational aspect of teaching.

    Latin clubs(With good DJs ) will often provide a wide variety of music , where accomplished dancers will use different timings .

    This is where confusion for the beginner may perceive that , the timing is "off". So.. don't be fooled into thinking someone has a timing issue , when what they are dancing, could be perfectly correct..

    Leads and follows, need to be taught HOW to adapt to the various "common " timings", as in 1,2 or 3 ,used in the social scene .
    The " Music" in Salsa, varies from country to country, and unless the Social dance nite is specifically advertised ( Cuban for ex ) then one can expect a variety in styles of music, and , as a leader, one should dance accordingly .
    vit likes this.
  9. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    Isn't that what starter steps are for? So you can always start a follow on the 1.
  10. ticolora

    ticolora Member

    What are "starter steps"? Is it valuable?
  11. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    For dances that break on two, you begin with a starter step on the one, typically a side step. Cha Cha being the most common example.
    For the leader: Side Left, Back Break Right, Front Break Left, Cha Cha Cha chasse....
  12. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Side, is not typical for commencing salsa. Old school mambo ( as taught by chain schools, did ) . Fwd and or back is used.

    My references are NOT BR style.
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    That alone, does not guarantee consistency, and of course, 1 is common . But I can tell you this, there are those ( leads ) who cannot even distinguish that ! .
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Yes... but, it's not just how to commence in Salsa, it's also knowing WHERE to begin . The music is defined in 2 bar sequences ( as many genres do ) and "following " the bar sequence, as in the first bar ( Fwd ), is important .
    There are technical, and other reasons, why the "flow " should go in the prescribed manner.
    For you, as of now, concentrate on timing, hold and frame .
  15. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    Salsa starts on one, So starter steps are not needed. I was speaking to ways to make it easier for the follow to stay on time by always commencing to dance on one even when the dance is typically danced on the twos.
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    1... IS the starter for want of a better term .

    Typically, in todays scene, 1 is dominant .In matter of fact, in all the latin clubs I danced in for more years than you need to know ( states side ), 1 dominated the scene in most ,if not all, clubs.

    NYC does have clubs, where only 2 is de riguer but that, is not the norm elsewhere .
  17. PaulBunyon

    PaulBunyon Active Member

    Sorry, my fault for the confusion. I only recently noticed this is posted in the Salsa forum as I have been reading it from the recent updated list. I have been speaking in general about strategies to help keep a follow on time across all dances and was not trying to narrow in on Salsa since I didn't note the forum. My experience has been on dances that break on two (ChaCha & Mambo) it helps if you start out on the one with a starter step.

    We have one group in town that has a series called Salsa on Two. Question for Salsa affectionados, is there a difference between Salsa on Two and Mambo?
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    salsa is mambo on steroids . There are numerous variations that are used in salsa ex Mambo

    The 2 main differences from salsa and old school mambo.
    Style and Music .
  19. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    How did that work? Was it like the "prep step" that you see some in International waltz?
  20. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    As far as follow dancing off time: It happens occasionally. There may be times when your lead is telling her one thing, but the music is telling her something else. I don't want my follows to get into the habit of disregarding the music, so when that happens, I try to work with it. Then, there may be follows who just don't have either a good sense of timing or good following abilities. What the heck, it's only three minutes. (If she's really bad, and not a beginner, and she doesn't recognize that she's bad, that may impact how often I ask her for a dance.)

    If most/all of your follows seem to have timing problems, you maybe need to work on your leading. I say this even knowing how "loose" leads are in the salsa clubs vs. the typical ballroom. You should be able (in most cases) to express the timing yourself such that she can perceive your timing even if the connection is light.

    I was doing a WCS a few weeks ago and the song was really slooooooow. :eek: I had to remind my partner a couple of times that the tempo was on the outer edge, and she needed to slow herself down. (Normally I would not do that to a partner on the dance floor... but she is an instructor in training.) However, I was having difficultly myself, because it was so slow that I was not able to maintain the compress-expand feel that I like to get in WCS. We talked about that while we danced it.

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