Kind of afraid to take a salsa class

#1
I decided I wanted to learn salsa dancing, because it looks sooo graceful. However, one of my problems is, I am the gangliest, most awkward person ever. It's just a fact. So I am worried that I will go into a beginner class and everyone will pick it up really quickly or know other dancing and be graceful and I'll just look stupid. Got any advice or suggestions?
 
#2
Don't be worried and don't compare yourself to other students. Others may or may not advance as quickly, but to me that's not something that should be concentrated on while learning or you will become frustrated. Just have fun with it and go at your own pace!

By the way... welcome to the forum! ;)
 
#3
please don't be. very few people are 'natural'. they all start awkward because they are new, and feel nervous. i'm sure you feel you are 'the gangliest' but i bet you look a lot better than you think. everyone feels the same - its human. ;

remember the first time doing anything is toughest - so take the most difficult step of showing up to the first class. it will be the smartest and best thing you will ever do
 

Sagitta

Well-Known Member
#4
WElcome to df. :)

I never was a quick learner at dance, but I never let that worry me and here I am able to pick a lady and go with her out on the dance floor and dance. Was I anxious before my first class. Yes! But I knew that was part of the process and no matter what happened I would get to where you say you wnat to be, and I'm pretty sure that I am there now. ;-)

People look at me and say oh that guy is so great. What they don't know is that many times I have difficulty in starting to the music. FRom the time that I was a beginner in "dance" that has been an issue. But, I've worked my way around it. Now I know that if I'm having issues at a particular moment I should just move my body and then I just flow into the steps and movement the way it should be.

YOu shouldn't worry about how the lesson will go, that others will learn faster etc. THe question you should ask is do I want to get to be like those graceful dancers? If the answer is yes than everything else is part of the journey. YOu may take it a little slower, but you may end up in a better place than those who just "get it". To nit pick before you have even started really is a waste of time. Continue nit picking on how the journey may be harder for you than others and you'll be stuck there.


It's all in the attitude. Just do it and stick to it until you achieve your objective.
 
#5
Dude. Everyone looks stupid. You should have seen me after a year. I went to a private lesson, and my teacher asked to see my basic, and when i performed it, in retrospect, I looked like a badly thrown-together sack of bones moving in a rather ridiculous way.

I actually met someone very recently who HOPED there would be a lot of awkward beginners there that he could make a fool of himself in front of, because then a better time is had by all! We all start somewhere. And as soon as you start, you'll find that the reward is so worth the agony of beginning.
 
#6
I decided I wanted to learn salsa dancing, because it looks sooo graceful. However, one of my problems is, I am the gangliest, most awkward person ever. It's just a fact. So I am worried that I will go into a beginner class and everyone will pick it up really quickly or know other dancing and be graceful and I'll just look stupid. Got any advice or suggestions?
This type of attitude doesn't get anyone anywhere. Just stop being afraid man, don't you totally hate this feeling?
 
#7
Never had that kind of a problem. I was a prodigy from day one. When my instructor saw me dance, she said she wanted to marry me. :p

Don't worry. Just go to the lesson. And if you like it, it will all work out :)
 

sweavo

New Member
#8
I decided I wanted to learn salsa dancing, because it looks sooo graceful. However, one of my problems is, I am the gangliest, most awkward person ever. It's just a fact. So I am worried that I will go into a beginner class and everyone will pick it up really quickly or know other dancing and be graceful and I'll just look stupid. Got any advice or suggestions?
99% of people feel like they look stupid at their first class. Bear in mind, in a beginner class, the people in the class are not looking around, they are busy figuring out their own feet!

Do it! you will never look back!
 

MacMoto

Active Member
#9
I decided I wanted to learn salsa dancing, because it looks sooo graceful. However, one of my problems is, I am the gangliest, most awkward person ever. It's just a fact. So I am worried that I will go into a beginner class and everyone will pick it up really quickly or know other dancing and be graceful and I'll just look stupid. Got any advice or suggestions?
Stop worrying and just jump in -- you will find a whole bunch of other people in the beginner class thinking exactly the same as you. Some people may pick it up quickly, but many find it awkward at first -- including a lot of graceful dancers you see on the dancefloor now (you just didn't get to see what they were like when they started out because they started earlier than you). Go for it -- have fun.
 
#10
better try and fail than never to have tried at all..
why?.. cause if for nothing else u gain much long term personal value aspects from experience to outdo any of the short term negatives
 
#13
James, they don't call it Beginner Hell for nothing...

Embarrassing yourself in the beginner lesson is the least of your worries. You also have to walk up to a woman at the salsa club and ask her to dance when you know you're going to be the worst dance she'll have that evening. And she probably knows it too. But you're asking her to take pity on her and be your practice dummy so you can eventually get better. So then she decides to be nice and give you a dance. And you step on her toe (your heel on her toe is the worst), and she leaves you on the floor. And then you have to go ask ANOTHER woman in the same club to dance with you after you've already had this little disaster.

So you see, the beginner lesson is really no big deal compared to that.

Eventually you run into a woman (or two or three of them) who turns you down or who's rude to you about your dancing. You can use them as motivation. Say to yourself, "Oh yeah? Well I'm going to to take group lessons five nights a week and take notes and practice and then take private lessons and when I'm a hot dancing stud in six months you're going to be sorry you dissed me like that!" Then you go and work hard and you aren't afraid any more, just eager to work hard and get better. If you pay close attention to the teachers, take notes, practice, and have patience, you will start to see an improvement, and moves that were once frustrating are now easy. You'll feel a great sense of accomplishment. If you stick with it, you really will be able to come back to the club and impress the women who turned you down long ago. They won't really care, but that doesn't matter, since you got better anyway and you now have lots of women who are more than happy to dance with you.

Hope this helps!
 

samina

Well-Known Member
#14
man, who said it has to be embarrassing & scary??? i mean, EVERYONE in a beginning class is a beginner, so who cares?

and you don't have got to a club until you've got the basics down, and even then it doesn't have to be intimidating... go with one of your new dance friends, who you'll inevitably meet in your beginner & intermediate classes...

just get the ball rolling and have FUN!
:D
 
#15
everything you mention is a possiblity - that you'd be the only ugly duckling among many beautiful swans could happen. but they all started somewhere, and endured their own time in a beginners hell when they were the ugly duckling... so they may not share your awkwardness, but the ones who know some dancing already will certainly empathize with you and be kind to you,knowing that like themselves, you will some day be advanced... so take a chance and go to the class :)


this happened in my beginning swing class yesterday...

her : hey, so you dance salsa ?
me : err... so you can tell? :confused:
her : yeah, you feel like a really good salsa lead... if i go salsa dancing again, i'll be sure to find you and ask you for a dance...
instructor : ladies, rotate please.
her: well, see ya!
me: what?????


yeah, knowing some other dance already came it mighty handy. yeah right! :|
 
#16
People quit learning/taking classes/making an effort once they're comfortable with their level.. which for most is *way* too early to get as good as the people they admire.

If you keep going with dedication and progress a little every week, you can in time surpass 90% of the dancers you will see at your first club who you think of as professionals!
 

DWise1

Well-Known Member
#17
Go for it, James. In addition to all the good advice you've gotten so far, here are a few things to remember so you can keep proper perspective:

If this is your first dance, then these first dance lessons will be the most difficult ones for you. That is because much of what you learn in one dance, you are able to use in other dances. So for the first dance, you have so much more to learn because you have to learn everything. After having learned the basics of the first dance, starting to learn the second dance will be much easier. But everyone still needs to learn that first dance.

Not everybody in the beginning class will be a beginner. A lot of intermediate and even advanced students will continue taking the beginning class; often the instructor will allow them to come in for free (if they're paying for their other classes) to help out. Also, the more advanced students know that in order to progress they need to perfect their basics and the beginners class is where they can concentrate on that. Also, many beginners will repeat the beginning class to get the things they couldn't quite get the first or second time through, as well as to improve their basics. Fully expect that you will do likewise.

Some of your fellow students will advance more quickly than you and some more slowly, so don't compare yourself to others (see Dizzy's Desiderata below). Also, the women will progress a lot faster than the men, in part because there are so many things that the man needs to learn. In Edie's article on "Beginner's Hell" at http://www.salsastories.com/stories_a-b/beginners_hell.html, she lists about 22 things that the guy needs to learn to do compare to 5 things for the girl; she also presents a chart of a man's progress over time compared to a woman's. So don't worry about other students who may progress faster than you in the beginning; just keep working on yourself.

There's a lot to think about. Moving the feet, moving the body and hips, what to do with the hands, where to place the hands (and where not to!), how to do the lead, keeping the count, staying with the music, even finding what in the music to follow, styling, and lots more. You can't learning it all at once the first time around; nobody can. Get one or two things down at first. The teacher is going to give you the count in class, so use that to keep the count while keeping your ear open to correlate the count with the music (it took me about 18 months, but then I'm a slow learner and there were other things slowing me down). Get the basic steps and don't worry about the hips yet. Get the basic moves and start to get the feel of what's happening. You'll start off with 10,000 things you need to think of, but as you learn and are able to do a few things without thinking about it, then you'll only have about 9,950 things. So get a few more things down pat and you'll have only 9,800 things to think about. And so on. You've got to get the feet and basic moves before you can think about styling. And by the time you get around to worrying about the hips, you'll find that they're practically taking care of themselves.

When I started out 6 years ago, I had been brainwashed for 25 years by my then-wife (now ex) that I had absolutely no sense of rhythm and could never learn to dance. We started out with salsa lessons (which turned out to be intermediate level, though I didn't realize it until much later). I decided going in that since I would not be able to learn how to dance (I had been brainwashed, remember?) and since I would make a fool of myself with all the stupid mistakes I'd make, that I shouldn't take myself too seriously and I would just laugh at myself when I'd make a mistake. For years and even to this day, in my classes I have the reputation of being the guy who's always smiling and laughing and having a good time. Attitude. You know you're going to screw up, so just have fun with it.

BTW, in that very first salsa lesson, I drew upon my Aikido training from 30 years before in order to handle the turning and balancing and the leading. That very first lesson all the women kept complimenting me on my strong and smooth lead.

And I also get a lot of compliments about my sense of rhythm. So you see, it will come to you if you keep with it. Hey, if I can learn to dance, just about anybody should be able to.


These are a few sayings for swing, attributed to the famous jazz trumpet musician, Dizzy Gillespie (on The Muppet Show, his cheeks bulging out made Kermit green with envy), but they should also apply to all forms of social dancing; patterned after the poem (later turned into a 70's pop song), Desiderata:
6. If you compare yourself with others, you may become frustrated or overconfident, for always there will be greater and lesser dancers than yourself.
8. Keep interested in the basics, they are the fount of all innovation.
13. Especially remember that you can't fake skill; great skill is often manifested in a simple and elegant style.
14. Neither be easily discouraged for skill only comes with diligence.
18. Do not distress yourself over the accuracy of your feelings of inadequacy; you are that bad -- just work on it.
20. You are a child of the rhythm no less than the planets and the stars; stay within the pocket.
21. And whether or not the rhythm is in your soul, the music does have a beat. Therefore be on time with the music and your partner, even if you have to count.
22. And whatever your natural talent and intentions, in the noisy confusion of the dance, keep your eye on your partner.
23. With all the hamstring pulls, shin splints and occasional bruises, the dance is still beautiful.
24. Smile.
25. Strive to hear the one.
And my personal favorite:
17. Nurture skill in several dances so you can go dancing and still avoid your ex.
("Dizzy's Desiderata", http://members.aol.com/dwise1/dance/dizzys.html)
 
#19
Well, this does make me feel better about it, but I am still scared. I GUARANTEE you I will be the most awkward person with the least dancing experience there. I haven't even danced in clubs or anything. In fact, I've been pretty much a social recluse up until last year. And I don't have any aikido training or whatever to help. So I am coming from ground zero. Yeah I guess I will do it. I am not a confident person, but what is there to lose.

Hey I had an idea, is there any type of practice I can do at home before the class?
 

MacMoto

Active Member
#20
Hey I had an idea, is there any type of practice I can do at home before the class?
1. Listen to some salsa music. If you don't have any salsa CDs/MP3s, it's a good idea to get some -- or listen to salsa radio stations, streaming websites or podcast to start with. When you dance salsa, it's important to be able to tell where "the 1" (the first beat of a measure) is, and some people find it hard at first because of the complicated rhythm structure of salsa music (check out http://sweavo.34sp.com/apps/salsamerlizer/salsamerlizer.swf for demonstration of this). The sooner you get used to the sound of salsa music, the easier it will be for you to learn to dance.

2. If you want, you can try practising the basic step. This is what it looks like:
http://www.bustamove.com/cgi-bin/scripts/free.pl?d=salsa&m=1
The website has a whole lot of other salsa steps/moves, but don't worry about those for now -- the basic step is the foundation of salsa dancing, and that's what you need to master before everything else. And don't worry if you can do it by just looking at the movie -- this is (should be) what you will be taught in the first beginner class.
 

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