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.

Are you dancing salsa the right way?

One of the posts that I read on SalsaForums.com today got me thinking.

The poster states that he feels something is being lost in Salsa now that it is mainly taught in the dance studios. To quote him:

"But there is something that is being lost, and I have mentioned it before. True Salsa de pareja, not just hand guided turn patterns and close body proximity for a dip or some other trick."

He then challenges the instructors to teach their students to dance more than just flashy combinations. He challenges them to teach their students to dance in close proximity as well.

When I read that statement part of me immediately agreed with him. The first time I saw a couple dance salsa they did a lot of flashy routines but they also danced closed for another part of the song. That made me feel that he has got a point.

It seems like we have indeed lost a lot of our closeness while dancing. But it is not just with dancing. It seems that, as societies, we have also become more distant. At least physically. We had much more physical contact 50 years ago, or even 30 years ago, then we have today. And much like we grew physically apart as individuals, the same seems to have happened to our dancing.

As most of the posters on SalsaForums.com seem to dance in the US and Europe we are more often exposed to LA an NYC salsa than other styles of salsa. So we see a lot more salsa being danced apart than in a close position.

This is probably the main reason that we feel salsa is being danced further apart nowadays.

So how did this happen? Of course I can only speculate but here is my opinion.

To me salsa is like a family. The different styles are different children born to the same parents. Like children they are all individuals but there is one very big difference between these kids. They all grew up in different places.

Some spent their childhood in Latin cultures while others grew up in the US. While they were growing up they were obviously influenced by their experiences and that is how they got to be where they are today. Different individuals even though they share the same basic principles that were handed down to them by their parents.

In my experience Cuban salsa is danced closer than LA. It is more relaxed and it is danced in closer proximity. Perhaps because the Cuban dancers seem to put more value on the connection with their partner.

LA on the other hand is high energy. It is more about excitement and it is danced further apart. The dancers often seem to be more like team members than like partners trying to create a connection. And if we look at the differences in culture that would make sense.

Cuba is more laid back than LA. LA's flashiness and the American goal oriented mindset obviously influenced the style. At the same time the Cuban style was influenced by the more laid back Cuban attitude. That definitely explains how they look so different.

But what does that have to do with dancing close or far apart?

Right before I read this thread on SalsaForums.com I was reading an entry in Jan's blog. As you probably have no idea who Jan is, she is an American who is currently in Europe for a couple of months.

In blog entry that I read she talks about 'that damn kissing business' in Europe and explains how it's completely foreign to her as she is from a "standoffish country".

I think she hits the heart of this discussion with that statement.

A dance is nothing more than the combination of it's the dancers. If you are used to a bit more physical distance then that will show in your dance. There will be more space between you and your partner. If fyou are used to a lot of physical contact then you will dance more close.

As Americans are more protective of their personal space than people from (some) other cultures it only makes sense that they grew to dance a bit further apart.

Does that mean that their version of salsa is not as good as a closer style? I do not think so. There are just different ways you can dance Salsa. And even though they share the same origin, they are not the same.

Maybe, rather than trying to change what the different styles have become we should treat them as different dances.

If you have danced both then you will probably agree with me when I say, they don't just look different. They feel completely different as well.

It could be that I have not been dancing long enough yet but unfortunately I can not explain how the difference in feeling. Then again, I have spoken to people that have danced both styles much longer and they too seem unable to explain. I'm not even sure whether that is relevant in regards to the original question.

So should we start enjoying the dances for what they are? Dance LA for instance for it's high energy and the buzz we get from that while dancing Cuban for it's intimacy and the connection with our partner?

Or should we try, like the original poster suggested, to bring closeness back.

I can see how both make sense and I do not have the answer. But I am very curious to know what you think so please feel free to comment or send me an email.

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