Leading - is it just me?

Well, my first Congress was impressive... unfortunately it's over, but many more are to come! I think I'm gonna talk about Congresses a lot! :lol:

Question: I danced with some leaders (very advanced, one of them even top instructor and dancer - I won't mention his name) who I found were very rough. Others (like Super Mario and not only him - but he's the first that came to my mind) are very soft, yet firm. I could follow the latter (inlcuding those mind and body-twisting patterns of Super Mario) without any problem... The leading was clear and I didn't need to know the move... also I didn't feel the height difference (he's extremely tall and well-built and I am short and slim).

So, my question is: how forceful is a leader supposed to be?

I am not a master dancer, maybe an intermediate to advanced, but I had no problem following very hard moves with some guys... with others, even easy moves seemed forced! And these guys even used a hold I am not used to: by the wrist!

Any experiences or ideas that might help me understand such differences better?


New Member
I am definetely not one of this class :roll: :wink:

... but even little me experienced that the firmness of my leading depends on a) the experience of the follower b) how good you know the follower c) the situation.

With other word I love to lead with minimalistic gestures, often not more than an impulse of one finger, as smooth as I can. But when I lead a more complicated movement and/or the follower is not my regular dance partner and/or I know that the situation is being watched so we both would be feeling uncomfortable if messing up then it is time for some more firmness (but not too much).


Well-Known Member
Leading is all about balance. You have to strong and firm, but not too strong, and smooth/soft but not too much. It's a combination of stability and precision and an all around lovely feeling that makes a great lead. Not easy, of course. Even teachers don't always get it. Even the masters of salsa aren't perfect.

Twilight Elena


Well-Known Member
Yeah, I remember a salsa class where we had to take he follower by the wrist to lead her making a super-quick turn around us; the idea was to reduce her reaction time.
it all perception/feel/human error/whats going on inside of people all shaked and baked together :) .sure some are better at leading(u really may be a great follower) but not everybody clicks, he might be ruff-or maybe he was off that night or drank too much :shock: some people are whirlwinds when the get there mojo going 8) ,i've seen that super mario dance on video he"s smooth and can make a lady do im sure what she did not know she could do.but im glad ya had a good time overall in spite of the course sandpaper guy :wink:
No Raluca, I don't think it's you at all. I think you're going to find quite a few instructors/advanced leads who are quite rough. There are couple famous dancers in particular I feel as I watch follows dance with them, it's obvious that the followers are holding on for dear life. So much that I have a feeling that after they dance with these famous leads, they head for ice packs, aspirin and mentholating heating rub. :lol: :lol:

I also notice that they are the same ones that are more famous for their shines than partner work. So, I think that maybe sometimes they forget they are dancing with another person and not just themselves. :)


New Member
I also prefer leading smooth and having smooth followers (not too smooth though)! :D

I have found that the leading and following also depends on who you have danced with before, and not only on who you are dancing with at the moment. For example if the lady you are dancing with, danced with a "rough" leader before, she will be very stiff. Often unconscious to that.
Exactly my feeling! The guys I'm thinking about are great when dancing solo! :) But I felt like I was in a grinder when dancing with them! I might not be the best follower around, but they were rough! And I managed to do the same complicated moves with others, who didn't pull as hard... Hmmm...


Well-Known Member
Hold by the wrist? I do that too sometimes. I vary my handhold a lot depending on whom I am dancing with, the music and what I want to do. Like pr the less strength I have to provide in my lead the happier I am.

Lastly, a good/famous salsero does not necessarily a good leader make. :wink: :)
Don't get me wrong, but I used to think I was an intermediate/advanced dancer and could therefore dance with everyone... until I started dancing with some of the top dancers (well known and not so well know ones). I realised my following was not that great when I missed a lot of the leads. Some dancers will try and compensate this by a stronger lead, other will do less complex patterns (for them) which are complex (because unknown/new) to you.

So please don't take this as me critisicing your dancing... it's just what I have learnt from my experience. Ofcourse there will always be dancers that lead hard/rough and I will NEVER get used to that.
A leader isn't supposed to be forceful at all...

Sadly there are a bunch of show offs who are considered top dancers by eyes that saw but didn't understand, hence, their big egos dance for themselves and the crowd completely neglecting the lady. Congressos are very popular for that kind of guys. I still wonder why they are considered top when they can't even lead.

I've taken classes with top instructors from NY City and they've mentioned "You have to force her there", which I chuckle and tell them if you have to force the girl anywhere on the floor then you can't lead. Which makes the class my very last...

The lead by the wrist is old-school, nonetheless if done properly there isn't a thing awkward or uncomfortable. The lead truly has to be gentle and precise with this lead otherwise it will seem like a tug and create a discomfort and unbalance like no other, it truly feels like the lady is being hand-cuffed and forced to move. The connection by the wrist is "enhanced" by the lady moving the hand in the direction where the lead's hand is...

But it wasn't you squirrel, some "top" dancers truly can't lead. I know about 20 who the girls constantly complain about, yet still dance with them because they are very popular.
Well as we all know a guy should never force a girl to do anything...that includes forcing her in the lead...

When I look at dancers, I always make a distinction between good dancers and good leaders/followers. The best would be to dance with someone who is a combination of these two, but most of the time one is better "developed" than the other.


New Member
CocoMmlle said:
I realised my following was not that great when I missed a lot of the leads.
It doesn't need to be you :!: I read an interesting story the other day by a follower who were (and still are) very good. She said that she got so frustated of not being able to follow moves from famous instructors. After she heard that other good followers also had the same problem, she realised that is wasn't her who were the problem but the leaders. She later told the leaders that she couldn't follow their patters and if she couldn't then no one else could (since she was a very good follower). As a side note: at least one of the leaders changed his leading I'm not shure about the others...
The article I read can be found here :arrow: w w w.dancefreak.com/interviews/super_mario.htm (Yes it is advertising for a perticular leader but I think it is interesting for everyone.) :)
Well... Boriken, this is what I've noticed too... and I am not a great follower, but I had no problem dancing with some advanced dancers - Super Mario is the best example. He put me through complicated moves (2 of which he had tried to teach in the workshops - needless to say I found them very hard to follow) yet he didn't force me one bit! And he is much taller and well-built than I am! Hmmm...

I am sure some great dancers are not so great leaders... they are a pleasure to watch when dancing solo though :). And I shall continue to dance with them... but prefer the softer ones! :lol:


New Member
squirrel said:
So this means about 150 euros per pass... hmmm... I'll think about it!
Yep around 150 Euros including all workshops, all parties and an exclusive congress dinner on Saturday, April 8th with the international performers / teachers.
I keep my fingers crossed! :D


Well-Known Member
borikensalsero said:
I've taken classes with top instructors from NY City and they've mentioned "You have to force her there", which I chuckle and tell them if you have to force the girl anywhere on the floor then you can't lead.
:D Once again, boriken :not worthy: That's exactly what it's all about. There's an entire philosophy behind leading and following about the man caring for and protecting the lady. :wink: :D Some people put too much weight into shines and solo/freestyle salsa that they forget what is, IMO, the essence of all things partner dance: connection.

Twilight Elena

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