Salsa > Question to the men here.

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Inabj2, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. Inabj2

    Inabj2 New Member

    How in the hell did you get good at this?

    The reason I ask, is this I have been trying to learn Salsa, Borchata, Merengue in earnestly for well over a year. And I am still a beginner. I can hear you say already well you must practice and dance off course! But how do I even do that when no women at my city wants to dance with a beginner?

    Did you know the people that you came with? Did you and a group of friends decide that you were going to learn Salsa together?

    This was my night tonight. I go to the lesson where they will go over the basics again, and right from the get go there is a shortage of women partners available. Finally there are enough partners available and we finally get on with the lesson. After the lesson was over, I stayed at the event for 3 hours and I danced a total of 2 songs the whole night. Why you ask? Because the ratios are extremely skewed, for every female partner that is willing to go to the dance floor, there is anywhere from two to three men patiently waiting for the turn. This is by its own right something that I am intimidated, I don't feel that I am good enough to do this, but I have to get up there and practice, by the time I go and ask the nearest woman for a dance, two or three leads will come and snatch her away. Then there are the cliques, the well established snob dancers that will only dance if you are a top dancer, or if you are part of the in crowd. This is extremely frustrating to say the least because I am trying to become proficient at this, it is something I can tell its something I would enjoy deeply if I were given the chance. But I am very close to quitting, after a year of doing this, latin dancing seems scary instead of fun, it is nothing but disappointment and rejection and this is just outright unfair. I am not asking them to marry, I just want a dance or two. I live in one of the most anti Latino states you can imagine politically speaking wise, and I am Latino. But when I go to a country or swing club, I get treated very well, the ratios aren't as skewed, and a complete stranger there are more then willing to show me the steps. This is sad considering that this is just a country bar vs a venue where they specifically hired an instructor to have lessons, followed by a Latin dance social.

    In every other venue that I have been too, they seem to be much MUCH infinitely much more newbie friendly then the Latin scene. Hell when I went to my first Swing class, people there knew I was very new and asked ME to dance to get me to pick up. I just don't know how to deal with the snobbish behavior anymore. When I do get the dance I hate the feeling of "oh god I have to have a pity dance with this new idiot now sigh"

    FYI not that it matters, but I am a fit individual in my late 20s, well dressed and groomed and Id dance with anyone, I am not and older man looking to take advantage of the younger women there. Or anyone with hygiene problems. The only time women approach me is at the bar there, but once I get to the dance floor it all goes to hell.

    At this point I was considering of going to my local university and enrolling in a salsa and latin dance class, but If I am going to have to deal with uneven ratios, hyper competitive settings, and snobbish behavior, I am starting to think that money could be better spent in western style dancing. I am just tired of seeing the women dancers all in the dance floor, being hoarded by the expert dancers, then you see a sea of men dancers just waiting patiently for their turn. And when one frees up you see them attack the girl like piranhas for their next dance. Honestly, maybe the club should charge a 15.00 to 30.00 cover for the men just to enter and ladies enter free, just to even out things a bit. Id gladly pay it.

    I hate to say it, but Dancing is supposed to bring my confidence up, it does the exact opposite. I go home feeling depressed instead of having a good time. How do you stop the negative reinforcement and actually get good at this? I am not one to quit, but how do you make this fun again?
  2. manteca

    manteca Member

    If you're only taking free lessons at events, it's gonna take a long time to learn how to dance well.

    You are better off taking the group classes at your university. There is a lot of technique involved, and you need the time in group class to learn those techniques properly. Good teachers usually rotate partners every few minutes, so that everybody gets a good chance to practice. I'd also suggest making the effort to make friends during class so you can go out and dance together as a group.

    If you want to get even better after your group classes, you might consider private lessons or workshopping at a festival or congress.

    As for your scene, there's not much you can do about it, it's out of your control. It's normally the other way around, with more women than men, so consider traveling to a nearby city with a better scene or plan a trip to a good festival or congress.
  3. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    You are not practicing. Period. That's the problem. You think that you need a partner to practice? You don't. You need to learn the dance vocabulary first, along with listening to the music. If you don't listen, you won't get far with a partner, at least the better ones.

    I started learning salsa at a local CC. The instructor was very good with form and was able to correct deficiencies. From that, I practiced everyday so that I wouldn't have to think about the "basic step". I was the most practiced student in class... and apparently, this showed on the dance floor because people would notice just how good I was and assumed I had been doing it many years.

    If it's easy, you aren't doing it right.
  4. Don Silver

    Don Silver Member

    FWIW - Dancing doesn't bring confidence up by itself.

    Growing and succeeding where something seemed out of reach grows your confidence. That means we all have to find our own path, but some of us can provide suggestions.

    Partner dancing is a conversation, and if you don't know the language at a certain level, it's much less fun. Partners don't owe us a dance. Some will dance with beginners, but that's a bonus.

    We have to work on our self first, and the rewards are huge later. Most of us took some classes (not just at the clubs,) practiced the basics, learned about the music and grew from there.

    I'm that older guy you mentioned, I'm white (look at my photo) and not someone the young ladies were dying to dance with either. I had to earn some respect by being a regular, improving on my own, being social (saying hi, making friends, etc.)

    In Los Angeles (where I learned) it's a lead heavy environment. I remember wondering how to break in, when if you didn't grab a partner within 5 seconds of the song starting, you had to sit out.

    Taking classes at the CC is an excellent idea, or other studios, NOT just the clubs.

    I watched mostly for a few months, but I considered it my educational period. I would dance with a few who I meet and they realized I wasn't the creepy guy you mentioned.

    If you're 20, then it's just a matter of time IF you do some homework. Nobody is going to babysit you or care if you quit. IF you stick around, play some dues, do a little homework you'll see it all turns around quickly.

    Once you get a few follows that like you (either because you're a decent dancer, or a decent person, but hopefully both) it will build.

    It's primarily a mindset in the beginning, but it does pay off sooner than you think.

    • Where are you taking classes?
    • How often?
    • What do you practice?
  5. Wolfgang

    Wolfgang Member

    Latinas snubbing a Latino? Curious. Certainly not the case here.
    Try being White in a 50% Latino state.
    Anyway, here's what you do: Continue taking classes (LOTS of classes!!!) at something like Continuing Ed, Community College, cheap/free dance clubs (as in: organization), etc. Practice like mad. Maybe get some DVDs.
    Develop the skin of a rhino and the memory of a fruit fly, because rejection flies fast,low and furious if you are not the tallest/hottest/youngest/richest/highest status Alpha Dog. Dancing skills irrelevant (this is KEY!).
    Investigate if perhaps the Swing/Country places have Salsa nights. Unlikely, but possible.
    And if after all that it turns out that your Salsa clique is as snobbish, stuck-up and artificially exclusive as my local Tango clique - the heck with 'em. Become a Country boy. Yee-haw.
  6. Janson

    Janson Active Member

    You've got some great advice here from everyone, and I'm not sure I have an awful lot to add.
    If you enjoy the Salsa and want to continue with it then keep going. The class I know rotates partners - so you're dancing with someone at least 50% of the time, and the other time you can be practicing at least the steps by yourself. Perhaps this particular class isn't as great as it could be, and I would certainly recommend looking in to the College lessons.
    I also agree that making friends with people - at the bar will work fine - makes it so much easier to ask them to dance, and they can introduce you to their friends who will also dance with you. And I agree with going to workshops, extra lessons, congresses etc outside of the area if you want to get that extra bit of dancing done.
    Of course if it just isn't working for you; it's not worth travelling far for, there are still tonnes of guys to girls, the lesson/night isn't brilliant - then maybe do give the Swing/Country a serious try. It's always nice to have an extra string to your bow too.
  7. Generalist

    Generalist Active Member

    Most group lessons of every style are heavy with men. Sometimes more women come in after the lesson.

    I have been in your situation often. What I do is to patiently wait for the ladies to arrive. Watch where they go to sit and ask them to dance when they are putting their shoes on. They are most likely to say yes at that time because they want a warm up dance. Give them what they want by only dancing basics -- DON'T TRY TO IMPRESS THEM!

    Also look for ladies that have done lots of chair time. There are always some around but you have to patiently look for them. If you can't find these women you aren't looking hard enough! Those are the ladies that will dance with you, but be ready for some of them to reject you because they don't think you are good enough. Yes, the snobby ladies are always there because most guys have learned not to ask them, but you will get a thick skin by being rejected and you will find out who to not ask in the future.

    Don't ask ladies that are getting off the floor because they are probably tired so they are unlikely to dance with guys that aren't their top choices. Don't limit your asking to the best looking or youngest ladies, because your goal should be to get floor time with anyone that will dance with you.

    If you dance 4 or 5 songs consider that progress. After awhile there will be more and more ladies that will say yes -- but only if you really know the basics. You should consider taking some private lessons during this process because you will never learn to properly lead in group lessons.

    I have found that dancing scenes are meritocracies. They guys that are good dancers get the most dancing. Get good and you will have ladies standing in line for you -- but be ready to suffer from loneliness and humility until you get there.

    Good luck. If you are a young Latino the ladies will flock to you once you become a good dancer.

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