Salsa leaders - your golden rules

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by MacMoto, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    Having read HF's "Salsa followers - your golden rules" thread, I thought we could have a sister thread for secrets and tips to becoming a dream leader. ;)

    I'll start with a few:

    - Get your timing rock solid.

    - Use the minimum force required to lead your partner. The amount of force needed/prefered is different from one follower to another, so learn to adjust. I've noticed that guys who dance with lots of beginners often become quite a rough lead :(. This may help you get beginners to follow your moves and they probably love you for it, but it can be very uncomfortable for followers who do not need a strong lead.

    - Don't lead turns too early. In on1 cross-body style, the 5 is the beat where the follower steps forward. She starts turning on the 6. Don't force her to turn on the 5 as it makes her lose balance.
    * In the case of multiple (double or more) turns, turning does start earlier, but your lead must make it clear that it's going to be a multiple so she has time to prep.

    Any more tips? Comments? :)
  2. DeeplyDippy

    DeeplyDippy Pattern Police

    When leading a spin ensure your hand circles the lady's head, no wider.

    When leading a double spin, ensure you hand is up at head height at 4 - 4.5.

    For a triple, ensure your lead is ready on 3.
  3. HF

    HF Son Montuno

    Some random thoughts:

    - Practise your basics by yourself in front of a mirror.

    - Lead multiple spins by leading a preparation step. A prep is no must with single turns but a nice option.

    - Never (!) use your thumbs to press the ladies hands.

    - Don't blame the follow if something does not work - it is your job to lead better.

    - If something is messed up then smile and try again ... but don't do a false smile like "in case anybody watched this I am acting as being on stage and the show must go on" ... there is a difference people will notice.

    - Never straighten your leading arm fully when dancing socially ... too dangerous for the follower.

    - Also practise patterns alone with an imaginary follow. If you can imagine a move in detail your body can dance it (almost).
  4. (Before I post this I would like to point out that I lead as well as follow, so this is not coming from someone who does not understand the plight of the leader - I've been on both sides!)

    - Adjust your lead to the height of your follower - your arm will need to be at different heights for different women.

    - Always take the lead for the level of dancing from the follower - don't try and 'force' her to dance your level

    - When you are dancing you should always be thinking at least 4 counts ahead - so that you have a smooth transition from one move to the next - you need to be ready so the signal comes BEFORE you actually expect her to do it you can expect her to turn on the 5 if you haven't prepared her for it (ie if you hand only starts to raise on the 5, for example).

    - Smile at your partner (this goes for girls too!) - it's supposed to be fun!! :D


    - Force a lead - if she's not doing what you expect her to, do not try and force her into place - you'll hurt you, her or both of you.
    - Wrench a follower to make up timing - if it takes an extra 4 or 8 beats so be it
    - Hold her hand when spinning - you should keep contact with whatever hand position you're spinning with and it will find it's natural position again - you will not lose her, hanging on to her is likely to break her fingers! (To go super girly for a mo, one guy ripped my nail half off by doing this - very girly, but very painful)
    - Look disapprovingly if she did it wrong - chances are you led either at too high a level or the lead was not clear enough.

    So many that I could list - none of which I can remember now - but probably will contribute more when they come to me!!
  5. borikenSalsero

    borikenSalsero Rhythm Deputy

    I can really never add anything technical to this sort of question... I'm wondering if it is because I can't dance. :D

    Anyways... Here are things I keep in mind when I'm dancing in attempts to make the dance as smooth and pleseant for the lady as I can.

    - Relax the body and mind then embrace with your soul.
    - Mold palms to the contour of the lady's body part you are about to touch.
    - Before touching her for a lead, think of touching a sleeping baby and at the same time attempting not to wake him/her up.
    - The energy to create that lead starts at the core, think of a rush of energy coming from the core and then gently transfering at the point of the lead into her, causing her to react to the subtlest of touch.
    - Look into her eyes just before that lead creating a sense that all your intentions of making her yours will come together when the lead gets there.
    - breath profoundly when there is a deep eye connection.
    - If not looking into her eyes at time of lead, then make sure you look into her eyes when she is finished and embrace her with your eyes and most caring touch you can.
    - Elongate the touch of hands.
    - Breath using the stomach.

    and on and on and on...
  6. peachexploration

    peachexploration Maestro 'Timbalero' Puente

    :shock: :? :nope: Don't believe Boriken fellow Salser@s. Boriken is a very nice dancer. :)

    What I see alot in leads is little or no upper body movement. Don't be afraid to use your whole body to dance. Not just your legs and arms just to execute moves. Styling and "sensual" movement is not just for follows.
  7. HF

    HF Son Montuno

    Hmm ... up to now I touch her at the hand, the shoulder and the hip. Anything I have missed?

    Some more

    - If she is looking very seriously and busy because of dancing very concentrated make her laugh by fooling around.
    - Don't overuse it but throw in a double or triple spin now and then - some ladies are waiting for it.
    - If you shine then remember that shining does not mean that everybody is dancing for himself. You are still dancing for your partner, maybe even more than before.
  8. Just so you know HF (so as not to cause offence) I've restarted threads of this nature over at DF because I personally think that this is a great idea and that you were right in trying to share your knowledge and gain the knowledge of others. If you would like to go and post your tips there I'm sure they would be appreciated - if not I totally understand :)
  9. JazzHands

    JazzHands Sonero

    Lots of Tic-Tacs, good deodorant and short clean finger-nails.

    Poor personal hygiene can be the ruin of even the most proficient of leaders.
  10. peachexploration

    peachexploration Maestro 'Timbalero' Puente

    Good stuff here, Salser@s. Anyone else?
  11. Nickie p

    Nickie p Changui

    as a fairly new salsera - from personal experience

    if you lead me please don't step on my feet or yank me accross the floor on a cross body to keep up with you. Remember my steps may be smaller than yours.

    if you don't want me to predict a turn when your hand is raised and intend to stop me and say "I didn't lead you there yet" I thought your raised hand was the cue - if it wasn't you need to cue a tad earlier or not let go of my other hand! Be clearer, if it was the move you wanted don't just stop me to say i didn't go on your cue - share it as a little "aside" with me afterwards please

    don't be too rough but don't expect me to be psychic. If you are throwing in multiple turns be careful where you're going - you can easily pull me off balance

    don't put endless (and I mean endless) lists of spins together - I am not a spinning top it makes me ill

    if we land out of time don't automatically blame me it is possible your timing is out too

    Just realised how moany that sounds but these are the few things that have bugged me dancing after class with various leads.
  12. LOL Nicki - I hear you girl - I've been there myself.

    What you have to remember (and the leads do too) is that 90% of the time if something goes wrong it is the lead's fault, they've not been clear enough in some if they blame you for it - just remember this! :D
  13. DeeplyDippy

    DeeplyDippy Pattern Police

    I think you're being way harsh by suggesting we're responsible for 90% of any errors :D

    I like SuperMario's version - if it goes wrong below the waist, then it's the followers fault - above the waist, it's the leaders.

    Strangely, it always goes wrong below the waist for me .... :lol:
  14. Actually in my experience I'm actually being kind - most teachers that I've met / come across say that if it goes wrong at all then it's the lead's fault, whereas I don't agree - I'd say it's about 90%, the reason for this is that if it goes wrong because he's leading to far above the level of the follower, that's still his mistake, if he's not clear enough in his lead for the level of the follower, again that's his mistake. If she's ignored / not been paying attention to the lead then that's hers...but often the reason for missing a lead is because the lead hasn't given enough warning or been obvious enough.

    Thing about Mario's version is that it depends what he means by 'below the waist' if he means footwork then it could easily be because the lead hasn't been clear enough on the move to ensure that she has time / space / warning to get the footwork right... :D

    So I was actually cutting you some slack compared to most of the teachers that have commented on this ;) :lol:
  15. HF

    HF Son Montuno

    Me too (leading). Working on it. ;)
  16. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    ... or because the timing of his lead is wrong and the follower is forced to take an extra step, step early, etc., to stay on her feet.

    I agree that the leader is not *always* at fault -- that's why we have the other thread for followers! -- but after all it is the leader who gets to decide what move to do when, where and with which partner, and the power comes with certain responsibility -- like making sure (as sure as can be) it can be pulled off with the partner you are dancing with.
  17. Pierre

    Pierre Son Montuno

    Sorry, to go against the grain here, but as a leader I believe that it is the leader's fault if anything goes wrong. Here are my reasons why:-

    When dancing with a new partner, you need to assess their level, style connection, tension and 'flavour' - this should be done early on in the song. As the song progresses, you can increase the level until you find a point where the follow is challenged, but comfortable.

    If you are dancing with an exceptionally 'bad' follow then drop the level right down to basics and increase the complexity of your own dancing or body movement.

    This responsibility on the part of the leader applies not only to their partner, but to the use of the available floor space and to the people dancing around them.

    The follow's responsibility is to 'prove' to their partner that they are ready, willing and able to be taken to the next level - this is demonstrated by their following skills. This also means, however, that the follower is responisble for the complexity of the dance - if they are bored, then it's because they are not following properly therefore the leader is not leading more complex moves.
  18. AndrewD

    AndrewD Shine Officer

    I agree up to a point, but recently I've encountered a few ladies taking level 3 classes when they simply aren't ready.

    They're fine in class, when the teacher is counting steps and calling the moves of a routine, but get them on the dance-floor and it all goes wrong.

    If a lady 'bolts' on the 4 of a CBL or can't recover her footwork after a CW turn, but thinks she's good enough to take intermediate classes, well then I let her do her own thing and hope the song is a short one. I don't want a battle and won't impose a lead on such people.
    I like leading light - it works fine with most beginners and I'm willing to strengthen it if need be, but false intermediates aren't worth the trouble.
  19. peachexploration

    peachexploration Maestro 'Timbalero' Puente

    I see what you're saying AndrewD. But I also thinks it's partly the instructor's fault. Especially when they're doing as what you're saying: 'Counting steps and calling moves of a routine...'

    I really wish instructors would use the cause and effect method rather than just teaching the moves. More like 'when you feel pressure here, it indicates direction or pressure to go there', etc....

    I think that would help other problems such as backleading. ;)

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