Did you know that there’s power in salsa dancing? What kind of power you might ask? Power to uplift, entertain, communicate, relieve, teach, learn, unify, love and accept; unfortunately there is also a flipside to this extraordinary power. Salsa can also be used to discourage, avoid, separate, upstage, aggravate, mislead, scrutinize, hate and REJECT. Is there ever an appropriate time to use the flipside of this extraordinary power to reject someone’s dance request? Most people would immediately say “No, you should dance with as many people as possible. Salsa should be about having fun and accepting people regardless of level.” Others would say, “Sometimes its ok to say no. Sometimes you go to a club, social, or congress to dance with people on your level” The rest just say the most popular response…..”It just depends. Sometimes you maybe in the mood to dance with anyone, sometimes you want to dance with specific individuals…it just depends.” If you are truly into salsa dancing you have faced the dilemma of salsa rejection at some point in your salsa journey whether receiving or initiating it. Unfortunately women tend to have the power when it comes to rejection; why, because 99% of the time a guy is asking a lady to dance. Although I believe in equal rights for all genders, I guess since guys get to lead the dance (most of the time), we should have to suffer a little extra at some point of the process. Nevertheless, despite this unavoidable pressure that comes with being a lead, I still see a lot of ladies not dancing, complaining and pouting in the corners of the clubs. Ladies…do you feel a sense of rejection because no one is asking you to dance? You do. Well, I have absolute no pity for you. (I know that sound harsh doesn’t it) But truthfully, if you really wanted to dance, all you have to do is “appear to want to dance.” This can be accomplished by standing near the dance floor, smiling, nodding your head to the music, doing a halfway basic step, and even singing the lyrics if you know them, faking it if you don’t. I guarantee some guy will ask you to dance (I know I would), if not, there is probably a bigger issue at hand. If this doesn’t work, you can always simply ask a guy to dance. Asking a GUY, I know, how degrading!! That’s almost like being desperate or something; however, most guys don’t see it that way, and if they do there’s definitely something wrong with them. If anything, guys are usually shocked, but delighted to see a women step out of the normal process and ask us to dance. Ladies if you find yourself complaining or pouting in the salsa corner because no one is asking you to dance you may want to ask yourself this question; “Is it better to remain upset but not appear to be desperate or should you step away from the norm to have a great time?” So with that said let examine this whole rejection thing… Sizing up a Salsero: This is an all too common act misused by beginners, intermediate and advanced dancers, namely ladies. That’s right I said it, LADIES… This is the process of looking at a guy for the first time (having never seen him dance before) and determining if he fits the profile of a qualified salsa dancer, by merely one glimpse. Now that’s a lot of power. You might be in the wrong profession if you can do this effectively. The problem is most people don’t. I take this one personally because I fall victim to it so often. I know I’m not a skinny Latin guy with wide leg dress pants, a shimmery dress shirt, and shiny shoes. However, that does not mean I can’t break out a mean basic salsa step. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s one scenario: I walk up to a young lady in the club and say “Excuse me miss, what’s your name, Can you come, hang with me…” Oh my bad wrong genre! Take two….I’m in the “salsa club,” I walk up to a young lady and say, “Excuse me, would you like to dance,” she visually sizes me up and with a confused gesture responds with the following: “Do you know how to dance?” The normal more sarcastic Johnny thinks to himself, “hmmm, would I be hanging out in a salsa club, nodding my head to salsa music, and asking you to dance if I had no clue how to dance….” But since I am trying to use my powers for good, (you know love, uplifting, communicating, and that other stuff I mentioned earlier), I politely smile and say, “yeah I can dance a little…” Now there are generally two types of responses: The Good and The Evil. The Good….”Ok, let’s dance,” she responds. We proceed to the floor, I initiate the basic step on time (to her surprise), give here a nice prep, a few turns, a couple cross body lead turn patterns and she’s all smiles for the remainder of the dance. Guys, you may have to do a little more depending on her level, but if she smiling you may never have to experience the “decision-making” from her again. She will also tell her friends about you, so there will be even fewer decisions to be made that night. Salsa is such a beautiful thing! Ok, what if you’re not good? Glad you asked: If you don’t know the basics…. you’ll probably proceed to the floor initiate a step (possibly on top of her foot), mimic a couple of moves you saw someone else doing, move to your rhythm and hopefully finish out the song. Chances are, if she’s nice, she will still smile and even say thank you for the dance; however, she’ll probably avoid you for the remainder of the night and warn her friends about you. You may want to work the other side of the club after this dance. Ok guys, what if you think you’re really good, but you’re really not good? Review the above scenario. Finally, what if both of you’ll have no clue what’s going and you think you’re doing salsa when it’s really a merengue song? You’ll probably have the time of you life. Heck this might end up being some sort of love connection, so work it out bro! Now for The Evil….your initial response to her question, “Can you dance?” just wasn’t good enough. Chances are you are secretly trying to holla at (flirt) her and you’re merely using this salsa stuff as a method to get closer; after all guys are way too shallow to simply enjoy a dance with no strings attached, right? So she gives the abrupt rejection... but wait a second buddy… you don’t get off that easy, there are several types of abrupt rejections: • You may get the “I can’t believe this fool has the audacity to ask me to dance, does he know who heck I am, he better recognize!!!” –Look of Disgust- before the actual rejection follows! Ladies this is the absolute worst way for a guy to get rejected. He will always remember you, but for the wrong reason! You are officially on the DND list (see below). DND list: Do not dance with her even if she is the last person walking the face of the earth and begs me to dance with her; and if she is the last person on earth, my freestyle and shines will be really really good. • You may get the salsa water break rejection. Generally she’ll give you a slight frown followed by a pleading explanation, “I am really really tired right now, I want to finish my water (or drink), my feet hurt really really bad, maybe another time.” Not so bad right, WRONG…This doesn’t become evil until she is on the floor breaking it down with another guy before can you get two feet away from her; And she strategically makes sure “another time” never arrives. This is also a very popular way to get rejected. Ladies, we will remember you and we are bitter for the time being, but we’ll recover much quicker than the previous discussed scenario. Chances are you won’t even make the DND list but you are definitely on the DNA list (see below). DNA list: Do not ask this girl to dance ever again. The only way we will dance is if she asks me. Afterwards, I may consider removing her from the DNA list. • Finally you may get the simple, yet cold “thanks for sweating me (smile), but no thanks on the dance (response).” Generally you get this response because in her mind there’s no way in the world you could really be solid enough to hang with her on the floor; or… she’s just not feeling it right now; or… she’s not feeling you right now. Luckily guys brush this off pretty easily (what can I say, smiling is a powerful thing), plus we’ve already spotted someone else to dance with or we really just don’t care (we’ve probably had a few drinks anyway; tomorrow we won’t even remember this experience). So is there ever a time when it’s okay for ladies to reject someone. YES! (I know, I’m such a sellout!) But sometimes a lady has a legitimate reason for saying no and here are some acceptable terms for “politely” (remember the power behind that smile ladies) telling a guy no. • Ok guys, you’ve danced with her for 20 straight songs, she’s about to fall out and die from exhaustion and dehydration but that’s not stopping you at all; and worst of all the DJ is blending the music, so she definitely can’t escape this salsa hell. Guys stop being stalkers and go see if those turn patterns will work on someone else, it’s practically choreography for her at this point. Besides, there’s a lot guys, like me, waiting for an opening that you just won’t allow. Ladies it’s ok to avoid this guy. • This guy really suffers from the David Copperfield syndrome. No matter how much she hates it or how many people you’ve injured, you just gotta try the back flip, neck drop, twisting thing you saw Francisco do. The only problem is that he was on stage and you’re in the middle of a crowed dance floor. Save the dangerous tricks for ample space and stop endangering her well being for the sake of showing off. Remember ladies your safety comes before showing off some guys salsa moves. • Finally there’s LA Style, NY Style and there’s “Ike and Tina-Turner Style.” He’s never heard of it, but dances it very well. It looks like some sort of domestic dispute when he’s dancing. Was she cheating on you? Did she disrespect you in front of your homeboys? There’s has to be a better way to work this situation out. Somebody call the bouncers…. If he’s known in the ladies rest room (of the salsa club) for all the arms he’s nearly torn out of socket, it's ok to avoid this guy as well. Ladies if you ever come across any of these described scenarios, the salsa gods give you permission to give him that nice pretty smile and gently decline (wow I can believe I just encouraged this type of behavior). Ok, maybe there are times when it’s ok for ladies to use the power of rejection for evil, I mean, their protection. However, ladies whether you’re mambo diva or a confused beginner; NO still feel the same even to the most advanced dancer. So try your best to smile and be gentle if you’re going to decline someone. I promise we won’t hate you as much. As for the guys, we need to discover something called a quick recovery! Don’t let the power salsa rejection ruin your night, suck it up and move on to the next dance bro. Just keep your DND and DNA lists handy. Besides you don’t want to miss one of best dances of your life, which could be that very next dance. Johnny R. Johnson -www.lavozdelmambo.com – Editor **Disclaimer: The Stuck-up Mambo Diva, Confused Beginner, Salsa Stalker, David Coopperfield, and Ike Tuner On2 are completely fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental."