Starting anything takes effort and motivation. What does it take to get over the stumbling block of trying something like dancing? Just look at all of the professional dance shows and glamour couples out on the floor and ask – How did they get there?
For me, the spark started when I was in Miami, Florida working as a co-op in college. On a balmy night, I found myself at a salsa club and was mesmerized by the beauty and connection of the dance. Everyone on the dance floor looked beautiful and happy. I told myself it was the ticket to meeting people and expressing myself as a dancer…
That moment is still engrained in my mind. I go back to it when I need motivation to learn more and appreciate the journey salsa has given me. Now, over sixteen years later I’m still learning. Here are some tips to get your started:
- Start with a game plan: What is your inspiration and reason to dance? Do you want to get fit? Meet people? Set a goal of the level you want to reach. What level do you want to reach? Is it a competitive dancer? A teacher or a social dancer?
- Jump on-line and do your research: Be as inquisitive as you can. Find the best websites with teachers, events and meet up groups that fit your goals and mind-set.
- Go out to a club: Find a salsa club or event and watch the dancers. Are they having fun? Start asking people of all levels where they are taking classes and how long they have danced. You want the teachers who come recommended by your future salsa tribe. Also, check out the free beginner salsa class that is usually available.
- It’s time for class: Yes, class. Salsa is a language with a foundation. Every strong dancer starts with a basic class to become an expert with salsa footwork, timing, rhythm and connection. The class should clearly state the goals, what type of salsa is being taught and how to get out on the dance floor. A private lesson will get you there faster with individual attention but a group class offers the social aspect so you can dance with students at your level and go out after class. Try both.
- Wear the right shoes: This is shopping without guilt!! Salsa shoes add fashion and function. From hot and sexy to basic, a salsa shoe makes all the difference on the floor. The leather or suede sole is constructed to form to the foot allowing for flexibility and better mobility on the floor. They are also easier on the joints and lower back. Check out these sites: www.danceshoesonline.com; www.burjushoes.com, www.gabellinishoes.com (for men). You’ll feel the difference. Just wait ’til you take your first spin. And, don’t forget the wire brush to keep the nap of your soles fresh.
- Practice: That’s the magic ticket. Practice, practice and practice. You don’t want to be on the floor with salsa brain freeze. The more you practice, the easier the move and the better timing. I offer a salsa practice every Saturday from 1p-3p at Delta 1018 in Mt. Lookout. It’s a “must do” for students of all levels. Again, check out www.kamasalsa.com.
- Listen to the music: The music rules!! Find out about the clave and the percussion that holds the beat whether you dance On1 or On2. Play your salsa list loud! Entertain everyone with salsa-It will make them happier and you a better dancer. I always check out Itunes or www.salsapower.com for great music reviews to keep the list fresh.
- Keep track of your new moves: Bring your camera or phone everywhere you go to keep track of moves for video. Some students like to keep a journal but do what it takes. Another tip to remember is to keep it simple on the floor and work on connection. It will make it easier to remember and the dance memorable.
- Find a dance partner. A dance partner will keep your momentum going. Look for someone who is available, wants to improve and has the ability to give feedback so you work as a team. It’s also helpful that your partner has a bit more experience. Ask some in class, practice or at a club. You can also find information at www.dancepartner.com.
- Get out and dance: This is the best!! Get out and dance. I alternate between clubs with live music and a DJ. That way I can meet different kinds of people and experience different environments. Enjoy your reward and it will keep you wanting more.
To find out how to get started dancing salsa check out my website at www.kamasalsa.com. I have a new session starting on Tuesday, July 17. You can also find me at Mad Frog on Mondays and Salsa on the Square during the summer months.