Yes! Finding offers in the salsa dance floor.

Dance-Mentor asked for it, so here it is. My little blurb about applying the idea of offers in improv comedy to salsa. Do I get Extra credit for turning this in early?

I’ve finished my third eight-week improv workshop at the Second City in Toronto recently. Interestingly, Improv is not focused on making you funny, but rather teaches skills that are used to construct a story on the fly, using nothing more than the actors’ body as a tool. Naturally, these same skills can be used to build a dynamic story in the salsa dance floor as well. An important skill that I’ve learned in improv is the ability to identify and say yes to an offer.

In improv, an offer is a physical, emotional or verbal gift from one improviser to another. The offer can be used to advance the storyline of the current scene, and is the key to dynamic interaction between the actors in the scene. By saying yes to an offer, you accept the reality that the other improviser builds and add kindling to the fire of your imagination. If you reject the offer, you eliminate all the momentum that has been build up to that point, and you have to start over again.

If you look around on the dance floor, you will find offers all around you. The most obvious one is the music. Sudden breaks, solos on the congas and changing instruments all provide excellent opportunities to do something different and unique. If I hear a conga solo coming up, I can freeze my move half way, and just use my partner as a drum, playfully tapping with my palms on her shoulders, arms, head and, um, other regions.

An offer can come from anywhere, and anything can be made into an offer. I was dancing with a girl this weekend, and she had on a little horse-tail like whip attached to her belt. Whenever she would turn, the belt would make this little arc around her body. I took this to be an offer. For half the dance, I tried leading moves that would allow her tail to be near me and try to grab it while she playfully twirled away. It was not the most technical of dances I’ve ever had, but it was certainly one of my most memorable ones.

Alternately, you can throw offers at your partner’s way and see how she reacts to them. You will be surprised at how many offers your body can generate. The most powerful offers are emotional ones, which you can communicate easily with eye contact and facial expressions. If you look at the women with fiery passionate eyes during a salsa romantica, this attitude alone will add an intensity previously missing in the dance. My favorite part of dancing is when you throw something at your partner, she modifies it, throws it back, and you keep pingponging the offer back and forth.

Mistakes can easily be turned into offers as well. One evening my partner missed my hand during a hand-switch, resulting in me just being able to grab her right hand. This was a perfect offer. For the rest of the night, I danced with her holding her right hand only. We would keep dancing and I would switch hands, but always just keep holding on to her right hand. She caught on after about six moves, and tried giving me her left hand, but I finished the dance with her right hand only, with big stupid grins on both our faces.

A key idea in improv is finding the sense of play in the mundane. Often, we are too obsessed with turn patterns and technique that we neglect all the fun we could be having on the dance floor. As adults, we are taught that certain things must be taken seriously. We worry about what the people around us might think. But how much harm could a little silliness do? So the next time you’re on the dance floor, watch for all the offers that are around you. Who knows, maybe you might even like it!

Happy hunting!

That was awsome Brujo...

BTW... Is your new pick by any chance a shaman picture?

Thought I add this since it kind of follows with your statement. I am taking lessons from an Afro Cuban Dance instructor, she doesn't just know of but can dance down to the art form over 30 dances from cuban, brazil, columbia, puerto rico. She is an amazing dancer no matter what she is dancing. Well, last night she decided that she wanted to see what I could bust out to a song. She puts a song on and we busted out, then as the song is playing she tells me, "follow me", the salsa song had sections from reggea, son, son montuno, rumbas, etc... As the song is playing she starts yelling out what music style the section of the song belongs to, Rumba, Son Montuno, Salsa, Jazz, pachanga, ect, along with it she did the dances belonging to each music genre. After a while I was at such an awe at how her knowledge allowed her to change styles on the fly without loosing a beat, that I had to stop and applaud her improvs to the song using authentic dance styles. Even more amazing was that she knew exactly what music genre the section of the song belong to, more over, she took the time to explain where it came from, how a particular movement evolved and how it became what it is today in US Mambo, and why a true dancer never dances outside what the music gives you. It truly was the most amazing dance I've seen a person do to a salsa song. There was no pattern combos, there was just me and her playing with the music for a minute until I stopped and she took over. I must say that it was a sight of beauty to see her truly dance to what the music has just preseted. Wow, I'm still in shock.


Staff member
Great contribution brujo!

I think that some of Salsarhythms and my older threads are really about these same dynamics. You’ll obviously miss the various opportunities available if you get caught up, for instance, in doing move “A-3. Similarly, your post really got me thinking about one of my pet peeves in followers… those who, for lack of a better term, “over-stylize.” The back and forth interaction, and accumulating inertia of your improv description is, of course, exactly the dynamic that good partnering is built from. So, in the same way, someone who gets overly caught up in what they’re doing does so at the expense of playing off what I am providing… and, as such, “you eliminate all the momentum that has been build up to that point, and you have to start over again.” This is, of course, a two way street – your description just jumped out at me as a perfect description of why I get so irked.
SDsalsaguy said:
Wow boriken... sounds like a sight to have seen! :shock:
SD... I only wish I could have taped it to share it with you guys. I get chills down my body when I think of it. I hate it when I'm alone and something so beautiful happens. I feel so selfish, I'm like, God where is everyone so they can too feel its emotions. Best part, we are making plans to go out dancing now in November. I haven't been nervous in about 3 years to go out dancing. Now, the butterflies and anticipation of sharing the dancefloor with her got me all bent out of shape.... :oops:

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