Salsa > Will leading only beginners roughen my lead?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Tony_Salvi, May 14, 2006.

  1. Tony_Salvi

    Tony_Salvi New Member

    I started dancing salsa about 2-3 months ago. I usually stick dancing with beginners because I hear that is a good way to make sure a good follower is not compensating for your bad lead.

    But what I am worried about is that since they are beginners I might be making my lead stronger than it should be. I am only a beginner myself so I'm not 100% sure of what an ideal lead should feel like.

    I've tried dancing with more advanced followers, but I still feel uncomfortable because I feel they won't enjoy dancing with me. Any thoughts on this? I was thinking maybe private lessons would clear this up
  2. Pootz

    Pootz New Member

    My experience is

    o The best way is to mix beginners and advanced, although the feeling of not beeing "up to the task", when dancing with more advanced dancers will always be there - get used to it (and learn to ignore it)

    o One comment on what advanced followers likes. I've heard many times when advanced followers have commented other guys dancing (I wonder why they never comment mine in my presence :)), and they appreciate a guy beeing "smooth" and paying attention to the lady, that is more important than executing 36 routines during a dance.

    o My opinion is that rough lead never helps. Etiher the follower does not understand the lead you are trying to apply (maybe she is relatively new in the game) - breaking her arm won't make her understand. Or, she understands, but is unexperienced and doesn't have the speed to follow, pushing and yanking her around the floor won't help her, and it doesn't look very nice.

    o You have been dancing for 2-3 months. That is not very long (actually, it is very short). Go dancing a lot, take courses, go to congresses, dance with all categories of dancers - you will make a lot of progress the coming years, and will have a heck of a good time.
  3. Tony_Salvi

    Tony_Salvi New Member

    Thanks for the advice Pootz. I usually try to make my lead smooth, but it usually comes out as "lazy and too ambiguous". It's not that I'm conciously making my lead rough to dance with beginners. It's that I'm worried that I overcompensate by dancing with them. I just moved to another state, so they don't know all the moves already, as opposed if we were in the same classess.

    But I guess you're right about trying to dance with all levels of dancers. I guess it's just frustrating because I'm trying to find that "sweet spot" with my lead. And dancing with a beginner one song and an advanced salsera the next song makes it that much harder to find.
  4. africana

    africana New Member

    I'm surprised not alot of leads are answering this one...great advice Pootz :)

    Tony I agree 3 months is not enough time to firmly characterize your leading capability
  5. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I don't like leading firmly. I only do that with beginners. If there are more advanced dancers who want that they get disappointed as I don't want to dance with them. I really feel that I'm being forcely. I've danced with enough people to know that my lead is okay...though it is a very quiet one. If you as a follower don't listen you'll lose it. If you ain't connected you aren't.

    So, yes you do need to lead followers more firmly. Now that's a generalization and theer are some followers whom you can lead with a feather touch. And the same applies to more advanced followers, though there seem to be fewer that require as loud lead signals.
  6. devane

    devane New Member

    Keeping doing what you're doing. I never concentrated on leading in isolation. I read articles and had people trying to show me but I was just too confusing. I went back into to beginners to "help out" but that's where I learnt to lead. Dont think about leading, just by following what was going on in the class with the experience of already knowing the steps you will automatically help the girl place the girls arm up or down or wherever for certain moves. That's basically it. You're just placeing her in position. You will develop a feel for the lead in time.
    When I went back into my own class people noticed a difference.
    If you're allowed to stay in the beginners class stay there cos' you will become better technically too as you're looking at new things you missed when you were a beginner looking at your feet. Those 7-8 week courses fly by a bit too quick, especially for the guys.

    be prepared for some crap from the odd girl in the higher ranks but you'll get there
  7. Big10

    Big10 Member

    What do you mean by "more advanced followers"? If you are talking about the followers who are near the "top of the totem pole" for dance skills in your city, then you are probably correct in most instances. However, if we are talking about women who are only slightly more advanced beginners than you are, or women who might be considered intermediate, then you probably stand a better chance that they will "tolerate" you. ;)

    One thing that I think most people agree is that followers tend to develop more quickly (at least at the beginning) than leaders -- until the leaders reach a stage much later where they have a rapid growth spurt. So, the point I am making is that even followers who might have started with you at the same time would soon be able to provide you with the benefits of dancing with a "more advanced follower." Furthermore, if you remain on friendly personal terms with those followers, they would also be more likely to show patience in a club setting with a guy that they know (even when their skill level has become higher than yours), rather than if you dance with a stranger.

    Another benefit of having at least a couple of followers as "friends" is that they are more likely to give you honest feedback and/or constructive criticism. Depending upon how much money you choose to invest, a private lesson with your instructor every once in awhile would be helpful, too.
  8. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    I agree with everything Pootz says -- great advice :).

    Then you should definitely make a concious effort to dance with non-beginner followers. You don't need to be rough to make your lead clear. If your attempt at being smooth/soft doesn't work with experienced followers, then it's either you are creating too much noise (unnecessary arm movements) to drown your lead signals or, more likely, your lead isn't timed right (too late -- very common with beginner leads).
    Remember: You need to indicate which way you want the follower to go before she has to start moving in that direction.

    The follower doesn't need to "know" the moves in order to do them. You just need to give her a clear lead so she understands what you want her to do (and I say clear -- not forceful). It's actually very good practice to dance with people who don't take the same classes as you -- that way you know how well you are leading your moves (as opposed to girls leading themselves).
  9. sweavo

    sweavo New Member

    Probably cos we "did" this subject about 5 threads ago :)

    Or maybe cos the issue of a rough lead is closer to the heart of a follower than a leader...

    But yes, it will very likely mean you have a rougher lead. But at your stage of dancing you will likely have a half dozen "revelation" moments yet to come as you realize how your lead is perceived, and refine it... It's great that you think about it from this angle though, too many leaders don't seem to even consider the follower's experience...
  10. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    When someone's lead seems "lazy," it's often a result of his frame being weak. Specifically if you're in closed position, remember that your right hand should be around the lady's shoulderblade, not down on her waist, your shoulder stays nice and low, and your elbow will be up so that your arm is basically parallel with the ground. This gives the lady nice support. Anyway, it won't happen overnight, so don't sweat it... just keep dancing.
  11. Tony_Salvi

    Tony_Salvi New Member

    Thanks for everyone's advice and tips. This forum definately has a wealth of information and people willing to help beginners like me.
  12. genEus

    genEus New Member

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