Becoming a Salsero

Learning to dance Salsa !

About me

I remember the first time I saw a salsa performance. The dance was mesmerizing and I decided that becoming a Salsero would be my new goal.

Just getting started took a lot longer than planned but I still haven't regretted a single moment of learning to dance salsa. Why don't you join me and become a salsero / salsera as well?.

About this site

This is where I share my experiences and thoughts on dancing salsa.

If you have any questions or remarks please leave a comment or send an email to becomingasalsero@gmail.com.

Additional ways to contact me can be found on my contact page.

Salsa Festival Slovenia (Sunday)

Sunday morning I was up at 8am and ready to go again at 8:30.

Don't ask me why, I don't know either. I didn't have to start until 10:30 so there really was no reason. At least it gave me some time to wake up properly and have some coffee (Anja, I still think any time before 11am is a bit too early for Red Bull).

By the time I got downstairs (around 9:30) the reception desk was already in place and we were good to go. All we needed were attendees.

As it was Sunday and most had partied the night before most of them didn't arrive until the last moment. Even at 11:00 it was still fairly quiet.

2 Of us (Nejc and I) had been scheduled at the entrance but as it was quiet I stayed there alone for the first two hours while Nejc went in to take some classes.

By 13:30 I was ready for my first class (cuban salsa, Ariel Roberts) which I enjoyed a lot. Right now when people ask me which I like better, cuban or LA, I can only say that I like both in different ways. I can't even explain properly why, they just feel different to me but are both a lot of fun. It was a great way to end the morning and I'm happy I went and learned the basics.

One class I was really looking forward to was Music Interpretation (Musicality) by Edie.

As both Nejc and I wanted to attend we encountered a slight problem. There would be nobody at the door. However, Marija saved me. Or rather, she saved me again.

Saturday I was walking around with my clothes completely messed up and she was kind enough to straighten me out before I ran into a workshop looking like an idiot. Thanks again for that Marija.

I have to admit, I misjudged the workshop a bit. It was marked as 'all levels' as well so I figured it would be relatively easy. Hah!. I had to work hard to keep up (I think I was the only beginner in the class so that makes sense) but it was an amazing workshop.

Edie accidentally ended up with 2 partners which was great for us as we got to see 2 completely different styles. We practiced what they demonstrated. Or rather, I tried to, got lost in what they had done and improvised. That worked! Great! I love musicality!

That said, I think it might be a while yet before I properly implement it in my dancing.
This was probably the most fun workshop for me all weekend and I hope that I'll have the chance to go to one of Edie's musicality bootcamps someday soon.

After that I took a break while Nejc took another workshop.

Then, at the end of the day, I took my final workshop "Rueda de Casino (part 2)" with Ariel Roberts. Somehow it appears I missed the "part 2" in there. We picked up right where Ariel had left off the day before. Had I not watched that class I would have been completely lost but as it turned out I could keep up and had a great time. Or at least, I could keep up for most of it. A couple of times I broke with left when I should have gone with right or the other way around but in the end I figured it out. This was once again a great workship by Ariel and it ended much too soon.

At that point the day ended for me and I was supposed to drive home.

I decided to take a shower before I would leave. The shower left me full of energy again and I decided to stay a bit longer. Before I knew it 'a bit longer' had turned into 'an entire night'. I even danced that night.

My first dance went ok. It was a fast song and I was so busy trying to keep up with the music that I didn't have time to worry about what I was going to do.

My second dance didn't go quite as well (sorry Marija). I fell back into my old behaviour again. I got nervous lost the beat and ended up having to stop entirely. I tried to find the beat again just like Silvia had explained. I just closed my eyes and stayed in place till I found the 1 again. Or, I think I did anyway but then, I was nervous so it could have been any beat I guess (which was it Marija?).

Unfortunately nerves soon got the better of me again and things went downhill from there.
Next time I think I'll just try basics and CBLs for a while before even considering turns.

All in all it was a great weekend though and I'm glad I went. Sleep was a bit lacking but I had a great time and met some great people.

Elder, next time try to relax a bit more. I know it's hard, I've been there. But, as you have seen this time it went ok ;-)
Anja, thanks again for letting me stay in the room.
Ariel, you're one of a kind. Hope to see you in Rovinj!
Edie, you're the best but then, that's no news to you ;-).
Nejc, it was great meeting you. Look me up if you're ever in Lux.
Janja, let me know when you'll be here this summer and I'll make sure I'm around.
Anna, you're still my favorite dance partner out of all the workshops. If you ever feel like diving for somebody's leg again just give me a call :-)
Alenka, I hope you enjoyed your birthday. We'll have to dance another time.
Marija, thanks for everything. Thanks for making sure I didn't look like a complete idiot (one day I'll learn to dress myself ;-), thanks for keeping me awake, thanks for helping me through the hardest part of the dance and thanks for everything else. I realize I set a bad example this weekend but as you told me a thousand times, go easy on the Red Bull !

Everybody else, I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to spend more time with you. Maybe next time. Thank you all though for making my weekend as much fun as it was.

If you are ever in or near Luxembourg please give me a call and I'll give you tips or show you around.

Hasta luego amigos!

Salsa Festival Slovenia (Saturday)

A couple of weeks ago I read about the 3rd Slovenian Salsa Festival, held in Ljubljana.

For a while I debated on whether I should go and as I once again checked out their program I saw a little banner saying that they were looking for volunteers.

As there were only a couple of workshops that I really wanted to take it seemed like volunteering would be a good idea. I would be able to help out the organizers and would at the same time, save some money which seemed like a win win situation to me. As I had just done the bootcamp and the Magic 7 workshop and bought the tickets for the Luxembourg Salsa Congress I had spent too much money already.

As I arrived early Saturday morning it became clear that they desperately needed all the volunteers they could get. My schedule for Saturday was pretty intense and had me working the afternoon and the evening/night.

Sunday I was scheduled for the entire day, that is, during the day. As I was supposed to leave around 5pm on Sunday I didn't have to work Sunday night :-)

At first I was somewhat disappointed that nobody asked me if there were any workshops that I was interested in attending. I realized that I arrived a day after the start of the festival but it could have easily been communicated via email. However, the schedule worked out for me. Aside from that allowed to stay in the room that they had kept for volunteers to freshen up. That more than made up for it.

As I was free for the workshops on Saturday morning I could take Edie's "10 deadly sins of leads and follows' as well as Anuar's 'Pachanga & Boogalo' workshop. Both of which I had been looking forward to.

Edie's workshop was a little bit disappointing to me. Not because of the quality of the workshop. That was great, just like the bootcamp was. However, everything she covered had also been covered in the bootcamp already. Not quite what I wanted as I was hoping for something new.

Anuar's workshop blew me away. I had such a great time that even after I twisted my ankle I stayed and kept dancing for the remainder of the workshop. He is a great guy with amazing energy and I would recommend you to take one of his workshops if you have the chance.

After that workshop I desperately needed a break though. I decided not to take a 3rd class that morning but to sit down instead.

I was pretty tired from the drive down. Any energy that I had left after the drive was used during the workshop. Sitting down and letting my ankle recover a bit seemed like the best idea.

Although I was scheduled to work all afternoon it wasn't as bad as it sounded. I was supposed to in the rooms where the workshops were held so I got to see what was going on and, time and space permitting, to join in.

The first workshop was Rueda de Casino by Ariel Rios Robert. I've always liked watching Rueda de Casino and was glad I had the opportunity to watch. As I worked at the door of the room I couldn't really participate but it was nice to get an idea as to what was danced an how it was danced.

Ariel is a really laid back guy with a great sense of humor and he did a great job explaining the basics and keeping things fun and interesting. Although I'm not sure how experienced dancers felt as I didn't have a chance to talk to them about it.

The only downside to this workshop was that it was for all levels.
This is something that always bothers me a little bit. Unless a class is theory only it's almost impossible to make it interesting for everybody there. After all, beginners will still need to learn the basics while everybody else wants to learn new things.

Because of this beginners feel rushed (if they can keep up at all) as the instructor has to get through the basics as soon as possible so the more advanced people don't get bored. At the same time the more advanced dancers are bored, waiting for the beginners to finally get it. A lose-lose situation.

After Rueda it was time for HipHop Salsa. You have no idea what that is and how it works? Neither did I!

Aytunc & Duygu did a great job of showing us. Because there were more girls than guys for this class I ended up dancing up with 3 different girls. I ran from one to the next, to the next and back again. It was an interesting experience though as I had to lead all of them differently and I learned a lot. Not only that but i had a great time. I can only hope they had fun as well.
It was a great, high energy workshop and I don't think that anybody there (or at the party at night) will forget 'Crank That' (Yoooouuuu!) for quite a while yet.

To wrap the afternoon up I was working in a room where Nelson Flores was teaching "Partner Work". An advanced level class, on 2.

By that time I was exhausted so I was happy that it was a class I would definitely not be participating in (on 2? Yes, I've heard about that. Advanced? Right, way beyond my level).
That is, until Elder Sanchez said:"Walter, that lovely lady doesn't have a partner. Go on, dance with her!".

Before I had a chance to explain that a) I have no idea how to even start on 2 and b) advanced is slightly to advanced for me (I'd say a couple of years too advanced) she had come over and was ready to dance. Suffice to say, it was a disaster and half an hour into it I had to apologize and give up.

That just left the night. I got to play doorman, just like in the good old days.

I assume none of the organizers has ever worked an entire night at the door but I think it's too much to ask from volunteers. In all fairness, I didn't mind doing it. I was exhausted and, even though I hadn't done it in a while, am used to it.

However, other people would probably have felt a lot worse knowing there was a great party 20 meters down the hall and they wouldn't be able to attend. I recommend splitting that shift into 2 different ones for the years to come.

It was also a shame that I didn't get to see any of the shows. I hope they'll show up on YouTube at one point or another. I'm sure I'll survive without them but it would have been nice nonetheless.

All in all Saturday was maybe not a perfect day but definitely a good day. I met some great people and, had a wonderful time and got to do some fun workshops. Life could be a lot worse than that.

SalsaFreak bootcamp day 2

Day 2 of the bootcamp started relaxed.

We woke up early enough to enjoy a calm breakfast.
The workshop wouldn't start until 9 and by 8:30 we had eaten, were all packed and ready to go.

Then it hit me. Daylight savings time !
Saturday night the clocks had gone forward an hour so instead of having enough time we were suddenly very late.

We rushed through check out, got the car, drove as fast as we could (the whole 3 blocks) and ran inside.
By the time we got through registration and had made it to the room it was clear that we'd missed a lot already and we needed to catch up desperately.

Luckily we spent quite a bit of time spinning during the SalsaLife workshop so catching up was relatively easy for me.
Spin left, spin right, spin left, spin right... so far so good.
Double spin left... ok. Double right... still ok
Triple sp... oops, balance gone! At least I managed not to trip over my own feet and fall down so I still consider it a small success.

It seemed I wasn't the only one that was having problems and it seemed like there were more beginners than the day before. Or maybe there were just more men and women that weren't too experienced at spinning yet.
As we kept on practicing everybody seemed to improve a bit more and after a while everybody could pull off at least semi decent double spins. Most people were even doing triples without too many problems.
That was when it was time for the ladies to practice spinning with a partner.
As there were 3 times as many women as there were men at this point the ladies made a big circle.
They alternated practicing their spins with a partner and alone.
Given the amount of spins they ended up doing I was happy not to be in their shoes.
I'm not sure I would have still been standing at the end of the morning.

During lunch some of the men complained that the women weren't making an effort and had to be pulled through the spin but at the same time I heard that some of the men didn't prep the spin or even waited for the girls to be ready before starting the spin.
I think this might have been partially because of a language problem.
Some of the men on Sunday spoke little or no English and they didn't ask for a translation.

After lunch the Ladies Styling session started.
First Edie tweaked the women's posture a bit. It's amazing how much difference that makes.
After they were done they looked like completely different.

As the afternoon progressed a some more men arrived but there were still a lot more women. The ratio was about 2:1
Luckily Edie had a solution for that.
While I was thinking that we would probably make a circle again she explained that the men would be dancing with 2 women at the same time. That would solve the problem.

WHAT?!?!? The night before I had enough trouble trying to lead just 1 girl and now she expects me to lead 2 at the same time ? ? ?

For a second I thought she was kidding but no such luck. She was serious.
I tried to figure out how to sneak out quietly sneaking so I could hide in the hallway for the rest of the day but it was too late, 2 women were already standing next to me.
There was nothing left for me to do but dance.

The first 30 seconds were awful.
It wasn't that I was doing that poorly.
Edie was counting slowly and the girls knew what to do so as long as I moved along in the right direction I didn't really have to lead. It's hard to do things poorly in a situation like that.
However, I was so nervous I could barely move.
As I realized I was doing ok I started to relax and things got better.
Even though I messed up plenty of times and our dancing was more circular than linear for a large part of the afternoon I did learn a lot about leading and as my leading improved it got easier.
Both for me and the girls.

I think I probably learned more about leading in a couple of hours on Sunday than I have in last 3 months together. It was a lot easier than it normally is.
I didn't have to worry about music (at least not in the beginning) or about learning new moves.
All I had to do , once we started dancing to music, to make sure that my lead was clear so the girls would know what to do without running into each other.
As that was all I had to focus on it was much easier to see what I was doing right and wrong.
Especially because leading slightly different with one hand than the other showed completely different results instantaneously.

So what did think of the bootcamp?
Edie is one of the best instructors I've seen so far.
She's clear when explaining and always willing to explain something 1-1 during the breaks.
Her energy throughout the bootcamp was amazing.

It was definitely a great experience and I wouldn't hesitate recommending it to beginners.
Maybe it's not for absolute beginners (people that have never danced before) if they are not willing to put in the extra work (that is definitely required if you haven't danced before) but if they are willing to put in that extra little bit I think it will be a great experience for them as well.
That said, they will be part of a large group so they'll definitely have to be willing to ask if they don't understand something or they will fall behind.

Do I feel it was it worth the money? Absolutely!
Even if Sunday hadn't been free (men didn't have to pay as they were needed to help the women) just learning as much as I did about my leading would have been well worth it.

If you're not sure whether you would like to take a bootcamp try to make it to a Ladies Styling Sunday to get a taste for it. Keep one thing in mind though, you may not have to pay an entrance fee but in return you will be expected to work hard.
After all, you get to go for free is because you're there to help the ladies!

Salsa Exclusiva Party

Saturday night Silvia and Ibo Salsa Exclusiva party in the Präsidentenschlößchen, a beautiful location in Dusseldorf.

Once again it was very well organized. The only thing that I found missing was still water but I survived without that :)

As I said, the location was gorgeous.
That by itself wouldn't have meant anything but the floor was great, the DJ, Henry Knowles, was amazing and the band, Rodrigo Tobar Band, was great as well.
All the ingredients for a perfect night were present.

I was pretty excited, started dancing and... I shut down completely.
Here I was having trouble doing even a basic step and I couldn't remember anything else.
Even a simple CBL was proving hard for some reason.

It couldn't have been my partner. Even though she was new to LA-style salsa she has been dancing Cuban for years and picked up the changes easily enough.

It was also not the first time it happened to me.
Usually, as in this case, it seems to happen when I'm dancing with somebody who is a lot more experienced than I am. I start thinking that they won't have a good time dancing with me and shut down completely.
Then a cycle starts, I get more worried which makes me more nervous, that makes me more nervous, etc.
In the end it basically guarantees that my worries become justified and they won't have a good time.

By the time I started my 3rd dance Saturday it had actually gotten to the point where I couldn't find any beat anymore. Not the 1, not the 5, nothing. Luckily I had some help there but that didn't turn things around.
For me that was the end of it as I felt completely useless after that dance.

I can't even begin to describe how frustrating it is to me that a night full of promise ends this badly because of something inside of me holding me back.
This is definitely stopping my progress. I'm now starting to get scared of dancing with anybody at all.
It is definitely something I'll have to work on and suggestions on how to get past this are more than welcome.

SalsaFreak bootcamp day 1

We arrived just before 9am on Saturday.
I got us lost on the way there (this street is probably a good idea... not ) and, as the bootcamp was supposed to start at 9, we ended up cutting it very close.

Registration went really smooth thanks to Silvia from Salsa-Emocion.
In a previous life I have been involved with event organisation and I have to say, Silvia and Ibo did an amazing job organizing this weekend.
Rarely have I seen an event go this well. I'm sure there were some things that came up and had them running around but as participants we never noticed it.

The bootcamp started with Edie introducing herself.
She told us how she started dancing Salsa (by accident, who would have thought) and then explained how the music is build up, using stories to make it more clear.
Aside from the fact that I though her stories were hilarious I did indeed learn more about the music which I'm sure will help me in the future.

Edie also spend some time explaining something that I think is very important for a lot of beginners, finding the 1 (no, not the beautiful girl with long legs, the beat).
In my experience not enough attention is paid to this. Just take a look at social dancing videos on YouTube and you'll see how many people are dancing off beat.
As I still have some trouble myself from time to time (ok, regularly) I found this very helpful.

Finding the 1 didn't seem to present any problems for most of other the people there which would have completely blown me away normally.
60 Beginners instantly getting it. Wow!

As it turned out though, most of the people there weren't beginners.
Out of 60 people there were 4 absolute beginners (they had never danced salsa before) and another 4-6 people that had been dancing less than a year.
All the other attendees had been dancing longer which made me wonder what they were doing at a beginner bootcamp.
I guess they wanted/needed to improve their basics or maybe they just wanted to take Edie's bootcamp to see what it is like.

After the introduction we did the basic step for a while.
I liked the way Edie taught it a lot. The people that hadn't done any salsa dancing before were doing a basic step before they even realized they were doing. I'm sure this helped bringing their anxiety level down.
When everybody had the basic down it was time for an inside turn followed by 'he goes she goes'.

Everything that we learned was first practiced without a partner.
And when I say practiced I really mean practiced!
It seemed like we would go on forever doing the same things.
In the 5 to 10 minutes that we spent on it I've practiced the lead for an inside turn more than I have in all my time dancing so far,

This was probably also the most valuable lesson that I learned that weekend.
Dancing, like martial arts, is about repetition.
If you keep practicing a move after you've become fed up with it,
if you keep practicing after your arms and shoulders have become tired,
If you keep practicing after your arms and shoulders started hurting,
if you keep practicing after you've started wondering why you wanted to learn at all,
if after all of that you still practice some more then you will probably never have trouble doing the move again.

Ok, so we didn't go that far but my shoulder did start to get tired by the time we were done and it worked. If I think of an inside turn now my arm will automatically start leading the move.

While I was doing martial arts I'd never expected anything else but I guess I thought things would be different when it came to dancing.
Lesson learned, repetition pays off.

We then practiced Cross Body Leads (thousands of them?) .
This was just more prove that repetition pays off as nobody, including the new people, had any trouble dancing them to music.

With these basic elements under out belt we started combining things.
Everything went fine for a while but eventually 2 of the beginners started falling behind.
I'm not sure whether that was because of the amount of information they had gotten in such a short period of time or because they didn't pay enough attention in the beginning.
I do hope they had a good time regardless.

Edie, Silvia and Ibo definitely made it a fun filled day that helped correct a couple of mistakes I was making consistently.
Would I recommend the bootcamp to beginners? Definitely!
Although maybe not to people that have never danced at all unless I know they are willing to put in the effort.