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.

Bachata **

Don Baarns at The Unlikely Salsero, wrote a post about bachata earlier this week in which he says:

"I'll go on record as saying bachata will share equal time with cha-cha-cha, and probably take the number two spot in many scenes over the next year."

That line took me by surprise. In Europe, or at least here in Germany, bachata is played a lot more than cha-cha-cha. There are definitely more people that can dance bachata than there are people that can dance cha-cha-cha.

Bachata is so popular that it has actually become a pet peeve of mine that workshops always seems to be in the smallest room at congresses. So far it has been one of the most popular classes, if not the most popular one, at the congresses that I have attended. The room was always too small for the number of dancers but everybody tried to squeeze in anyway.

I would expect that congress organizers would pick up on that and use a bigger room instead but that has not happened yet. Then again, they are organizing salsa congresses and not bachata congresses so maybe I should be more forgiving.

Don also mentions that "Many salsa dancers look down on bachata" in the US. This was something else that surprised me. I have yet to meet anybody here that does not like bachata. I am sure there must be some people that feel that way but our paths have not crossed yet. If there is a dance that is looked down upon than it would be merengue, not bachata.

Another thing that I found interesting is that Don mentions "and the hip/leg-kick stuff can look downright feminine if a lead is not careful. Not a look most guys want."
Maybe that is true, it is not something I have ever paid attention to.
However, when I read it the first thing that popped into my mind was 'who cares?!'.

Ok, looking feminine on the dance floor is definitely not one of my goals. And perhaps I will not be able to get the hip stuff down properly. And maybe that will even make me look feminine while dancing but, why would I worry about that?*

I am secure enough in my own masculinity not to worry about what other men think. If they have a problem with the way I look on the dance floor then I would feel bad for them but, it would be their problem. Not mine. And I specifically said 'other men' because whenever I am in the US I get the impression that only the men spend time worrying about things like this.

It is not just with dancing but in other areas of life as well. Let's take fashion for instance.

The last time I was in the US I apparently broke all the 'rules'. I went to a club wearing white jeans and a fitted shirt. While I received a lot of compliments about my outfit from girls that night all the guys had a go at me. Comments ranged from 'did you turn gay?' to 'a real men would never wear anything like that'. The last comment especially made me laugh as to me a 'real man' is a man that is confident enough not to have to worry about the opinion of other men.

But back to dancing.
When I am dancing with somebody there is only one thing that I worry about. I want to make sure that my partner is enjoying herself. Aside from that I won't worry about anything on the dance floor. Sure, if I were to dance a show then I would pay more attention to the way I look but social dancing is not a show, and it is not a competition. The only price to be won is the smile on your partner's face and she'll be too close to notice the hip movement.

In spite of the tricky hip movement though it seems that bachata is rapidly gaining in popularity in the US. Going by what Don wrote it has taken the dance floor by storm over the last 6 months and it looks like it will continue to do so. I hope he is right. I would much rather dance or watch bachata than merengue. Don for one is definitely not letting himself be held back and he is diving head first into learning bachata with some DVD's** made by Edie and Jorge**

And as always Don offers good advice.
Bachata is a sensual dance and can be danced very close. However, comfort levels differ and not all women will like to dance close. Paying attention to your parter is important. If she is uncomfortable then it is time to put some more distance between the 2 of you. Switching to an open position might the best idea.

In case you don't know any bachata yet but and want to start learning, here is a video explaining the basics ***





Today's disclaimers:

* I don't think Don is one of the people that is worried about this either.
** This is a sponsored link. However, I have seen the DVDs from 'the world's best leads' series and thought the quality was very good compared to other DVDs that I have seen.
*** There may be better videos on YouTube but this was the first one I found.

4 comments:

  1. Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero said...
     

    Walter,

    Thanks for the feedback on my article. All comments are welcomed including those which disagree with my thinking.

    There is a clear difference in the LA scene, where bachata is just coming into it's own. Salsa rules here, but bachata is growing.

    I'll write an article to clarify my "looking feminine" statement. I think men should care, because MORE women are attracted to men that appear more masculine. One size never fits all.

    In the states, you may get the feeling that only men care about fashion or looking feminine, but the reality is only a subset of men are direct enough to tell you what many are thinking.

    There is a balance concerning worrying about what others are thinking. Being your own guy is fine, but first impressions matter in the social scene.

    Getting too far outside the norm for men limits YOUR choices.

    Relying on females direct feedback isn't always the best strategy, since few want to tell me my weaknesses in public.

    I wrote an article on that topic over a year ago called "Better Dancer, More Partner Lying". You might find it an interesting perspective.

    Again, I appreciate your views, and I'm confident enough I enjoy when someone disagrees with me. It forces to me rethink and/or clarify my positions, and I always learn something.

    Best to you!

    Don

  2. Walter de Rooij said...
     

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for your comment.
    I too appreciate the feedback.

    Looking back on my post I think there are some things I could have been more clear about.

    For one, I did not even consider that the scene in LA would be completely different than here (aside from level and size).
    That just shows that even though I consider myself to be open minded, sometimes I'm stuck in my own small world. I just assumed things would be the same which was the main reason it took me by surprise.

    I could have also been more clear on the topic of masculinity. I considered editing my post but that would make your comment look completely out of place so instead I'll try clarifying it here.

    I'm not advocating that men don't try to be masculine. On the contrary.
    I think that men (and women as well) of my generation are very confused about their gender role, what is expected of them and what is not. In short, my point of view is that feminism, something I agree with entirely, got misinterpreted. Somewhere along the way it stopped being about equality and turned into 'sameness'.
    It changed both men and women yet failed to do what it originally intended, to create equality.
    That however, is another discussion entirely.

    I have to disagree with you though when you say women are more attracted to men that appear more masculine.
    I would say they are more attracted to men that *are* more masculine. Appearing more masculine is the same as putting a new coat of paint on an old car with a broken engine. It may look nicer but as soon as you need to drive it somewhere you realize it is not at all what you are looking for.
    A bad analogy perhaps but right now I can't think of another one.

    The main point that I was trying to make was this; if you are masculine then looking a bit more feminine while you are trying to learn a new dance is not something that women will hold against you.

    I'm sure that if take a poll among female dancers and you ask them:
    "who is more attractive to you, a man who stands at the sidelines refusing to dance bachata because he doesn't want to look feminine or a man that asks you to dance, stating he is still learning and trying to get 'that darn hip thing down'?" the majority will go for the second option.

    And I agree, there is always a balance. When using the fashion example I made it seem a bit black/white. Also, first impressions matter. There is no argument there. That said, a man that accepts he is not perfect yet is confident is more attractive to women that a man pretending to be confident when he is really worrying about his insecurities.

    Also, you're absolutely right when you say that getting to far outside the norm limits your options. I also realize that by being European I get more leeway. But then, so do good dancers. And I find it hard to believe that going through a period where you're learning bachata qualifies as going to far outside of the norm.
    After all, women love bachata so they will appreciate that a man makes the effort to learn.

    As far as relying on feedback from women goes, it's the same as relying on feedback from men.
    Unless you have good friends that are honest with you it's hard to know what people really think.
    In my example some of the guys who critisized me in the club later told me 'I wish I had the guts to wear a shirt like that', going completely against their earlier remarks. However, in the club there were other men around and peer pressure is very effective. Like you already said, not conforming to the norm can have serious social consequences so a lot of people will keep their opinion to themself if it doesn't align with the group.

    I hope this clarifies my point of view a bit more.

    From your reply I have gotten the the impression that our points of view are not that far apart. I think the main difference lies in the way we interpreted each other's post.

    Maybe I will write an article regarding my point of view on masculinity. If I do I'll send you the link as I will be very interested to hear your point of view. I'm definitely looking forward to your article on looking feminine.

    Take care,
    Walter.

  3. Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero said...
     

    Walter,

    Cool... I have already started a early draft on an article about masculinity and our discussion.

    I totally agree... we are close and sometimes writing can make our opinions appear black and white.

    Later I realized that some of the "impressions" issues are related to the local scene. If you're well established, and dance above average, almost anything will work.

    If you are in a smaller scene, and women have fewer options, then the same applies.

    I agree that being masculine is as important as appearing that way... but unless I already know you, all I can do is judge the appearance.

    So in a local scene, where you're already known, you can do as you please, since your actions will have already spoken for you.

    In a new scene, or a very competitive scene, it helps to decide where you want to be different and where you want to make your mark.

    I agree with your overall and we only have very minor disagreements on details.

    I'll finish my article too and we can compare notes. I have a large set of articles in the pipeline, so mine could be later this week or eight weeks from now.

    Best to you.

  4. Christopher said...
     

    Walter,
    thanks for linking c-salsa.com. I also placed your link on my page.
    Concerning your post... Interesting Bachata view.
    I think you are more or less right. Bachata is famous in Germany. Here you can find the Bachata Charts with Top70 songs: http://www.c-salsa.com/bachata-charts.

    In the Salsa Clubs they play it more often than Merengue. ChaCha is very seldom.

    In Germany ChaCha is differentiated in Ballroom ChaCha and Latin ChaCha. The Latin version is very seldom because most of the people know it from Ballroom dancing and that's not cool.

    I actually had a workshop with Adolfo Indacochea and Melissa Rosado at a congress in Frankfurt.
    Here is a link to the workshop: http://www.c-salsa.com/adolfo-indacochea-melissa-rosado-chachacha-workshop2-frankfurt-goes-salsa-2008/

    If you like to see more ChaCha workshops watch this page:
    http://www.c-salsa.com/?s=chacha

    I think it would be great to have more different dance styles in Salsa bars but I also think if it is too differentiated the great Salsa trend in Germany could be diluted.
    So it's better for the scene to differentiate the Salsa in Salsa styles like Cuban, Cali, New York, LA, etc.

    Would be cool if you answer on my page.

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