What's your biggest fear or concern while learning to dance salsa?

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by Happy Soul Moves, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. I see a lot of men in "Beginner's Hell" on the social dance floor, and really sympathize. I dance with ones I see to give them a positive experience, but there's only so much I can do as one person on the dance floor. So I've been thinking of creating something (I have a few ideas) to make the beginner phase easier, more productive, and more fun. In order to know what things would make the most impact for you, I'd love to know: What's your biggest fear or concern?

    I sincerely appreciate anything you share. Thanks so much!
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2017
    #1
  2. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    In my case - my fears revolved around the concern of being a drag on my partner's enjoyment: I was afraid the she wouldn't be pleased with me.

    -"She would've preferred dancing with someone else"...

    ---

    On the contrary: When I tried learning additional dances, my discomfort was more about not being pleased with myself:

    -"I'm afraid to do things wrong".
    -"I feel limited: I don't have the tools to express myself like I would've done in my main dance".
     
    UchimaSalsa likes this.
  3. Thanks, Dissonant Harmony!

    It sounds like your fear of being a drag ultimately didn't prevent you from learning salsa (super awesome). What helped you beat it?

    And that's interesting that your fear changed when you started learning more dance styles - would you say that you had gained a new kind of confidence, and your fear become more about disappointing yourself?
     
  4. UchimaSalsa

    UchimaSalsa Son Montuno

    As D.H said the fear to do things wrong and be goofy.

    Another thing is this idea most of beginners guys have (if not all) that you need to know 867 different moves in order to dance well. So the starter goes to parties and see all these women having fun with those advanced guys. They start thinking that it's because they know a lot of moves. Of course as advanced they know a lot but that's not the reason why they are good dancers, the beginner just don't know this yet.

    Also some the first things that are taught to beginners are:
    "It's always the guys fault"
    "Your job is to make your partner look good"
    "You need to put a smile on her face"
    "The leader does all the work"...
    All of this is completely wrong in my opinion and put a unnecessary pressure on men.

    To finish I would say the biggest source of insecurity and fear and that explain a high number of drop off is the REJECTION. People have this idea of big friendly atmosphere where everybody dance with everybody ("Salsa is so much fun, everybody is happy and so open, you can even get yourself a girfriend/boyfriend there Shakira/ Enrique Iglesias look-a-like"). Even if the general atmosphere is friendly, rejection is important especially for beginners and people are not prepared to that.
    Let's be honest some women are very mean when it come to reject guys, making little comment or leaving in the middle of the dance and use the dance scene as a way to stroke their ego.
    You need a certain amount of self confidence and the ability to not take things too personally in order to pass the beginner stage. I can't count the number of guys who told me they quit salsa for this reason, sometime leaving with a very low self esteem. Some where opening to me at parties for example and I can tell they were holding tears when they were talking. I always try my best to comfort them and explain that it's just a phase but when guys are not very confident to start with...
    I'm sure this behavior is not specific too women and some guys are certainly mean as well. Actually the first post seems to indicate that we are focusing on men here but i'd like too hear the women opinion on this in this thread or another one.
    I know we are not responsible for people feeling but I think it's important to look at ourselves dancers when we are dealing with beginners. Say no is fine, not enjoying the dance is fine, not liking a style is fine, not finding someone physically attractive is fine but we have to remember why we are dancing and that we were all beginners at some point and even if we are not anymore we are always the "bad dancer" for someone. (Play some violin music on this speech:D)

    One thing I do for example is to try to spot some beginner girls on the dance floor when a guy is complaining to me and tell them they should invite them. I know what your are going to say "everyone should dance with everyone regardless of the level and level up in order to progress" but at least they are dancing and increase their confidence.
     
  5. Chris_Yannick

    Chris_Yannick Rhythm Deputy

    I try to talk to the guys as much as possible (at least the ones who will listen to me). I learn about what fears guys have and I tell them my story, which is the same as theirs.

    The thing is, the guys who are extremely motivated to learn and get better will become good dancers.

    The ones who quit didn't have the same intrinsic motivation. No matter how much I try to console them, they simple won't believe in their ability.

    Then there is the 3rd breed of dancer. The "I'm only here to find a partner then I'm out" kind of dancer. I don't bother talking to them :).

    You really need to have the passion for dancing, as well as learning and improving. Without it, it is very difficult to get through the beginning phases.

    If you want to help beginners. Talk to them as people.
     
    1 Improbable Salsero likes this.
  6. Chris_Yannick

    Chris_Yannick Rhythm Deputy

    Just one more thing to add to my previous comment. When people outright refuse to dance with you because they feel you aren't at their level, I have to wonder if it's akin to you going up to someone and introducing yourself and being looked at from top-to-bottom and being told "go away".

    I once created a thread titled "Are better dancers more well liked?" or something like that.

    If you judge someone based purely on their dancing ability, that is just wrong. Talk to people as people, not as dance objects.
    This would dramatically improve the scene if more people did this.

    One of my good friends quit salsa because he was labelled as a "bad dancer" by some arrogant class helper and was publicly chastized in front of the class. It scarred him for life. I believe the helper was disciplined, but the damage had already been done.

    Salsa is a hierarchical scene, and the top dancers are seen not only as better dance partners, but also as more desirable human beings that people wish to get to know. This kind of thing must stop.

    I think this would curb beginner's hell and make it more manageable.
     
  7. granrey

    granrey Son

    I fear I cannot lead other people correctly since Im used to my partner a lot.
     
  8. Thanks so much for your thoughts, UchimaSalsa! I can't figure out how to include snippets of your quotes, so I"ll just do this...

    You said: "As D.H said the fear to do things wrong and be goofy.

    Another thing is this idea most of beginners guys have (if not all) that you need to know 867 different moves in order to dance well. So the starter goes to parties and see all these women having fun with those advanced guys. They start thinking that it's because they know a lot of moves. Of course as advanced they know a lot but that's not the reason why they are good dancers, the beginner just don't know this yet."


    It sounds like you successfully got past the painful beginner phase - congrats on that! When you were first starting out, did you also think that you had to know a lot of moves to be good? If so, what did you discover you ACTUALLY had to know, and when/how did you learn that? I do hear a lot of guys saying exactly what you are saying, and it seems hard for them to believe otherwise.

    Also, you said: "I can't count the number of guys who told me they quit salsa for this reason, sometime leaving with a very low self esteem. Some where opening to me at parties for example and I can tell they were holding tears when they were talking."

    Wow. That is really sad and powerful. Were all these guys physically rejected by a woman they asked for a dance (and she said "No" to a dance or left in the middle of the dance), or did they get so intimidated watching other people dance that they left because they didn't feel good enough to join?

    That's great that you try to help by encouraging other beginner guys to ask other beginner girls that you see. Have you seen other things that help beginner guys keep trying and learning?

    Thanks again!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  9. Thanks for sharing, granrey. I definitely understand about getting used to one partner! Have you tried leading other people besides her, and how did it turn out? If not, what would you need to know in order to ask other people to dance?
     
  10. Thanks, Chris!

    You said: "I learn about what fears guys have and I tell them my story, which is the same as theirs."

    What are/were these fears that you both share?

    You said: The thing is, the guys who are extremely motivated to learn and get better will become good dancers.

    The ones who quit didn't have the same intrinsic motivation. No matter how much I try to console them, they simple won't believe in their ability.

    What, specifically, do you think motivates the guys who stick it out? You mentioned extreme & intrinsic motivation - do you think they have an inner confidence that they can get good?

    And that's interesting that you tried to console some guys and it didn't help - did they share why they thought they'd never get better?

    You said: You really need to have the passion for dancing, as well as learning and improving. Without it, it is very difficult to get through the beginning phases.

    Do you think it's possible to have the passion for dancing/learning but still not be able to get through the beginning phases? Do you think you've met guys in this situation?
     
  11. You said: "If you judge someone based purely on their dancing ability, that is just wrong. Talk to people as people, not as dance objects.
    This would dramatically improve the scene if more people did this."


    I totally agree. I don't know how to create this kind of change in other people, though - everyone I know who treats people as people remembers what it felt like to be a beginner and are empathetic and caring as a result.

    You said: "One of my good friends quit salsa because he was labelled as a "bad dancer" by some arrogant class helper and was publicly chastized in front of the class. It scarred him for life. I believe the helper was disciplined, but the damage had already been done.

    That is so terrible that that happened...I really hope your friend is able to give it another chance, maybe try again elsewhere and have a positive experience that affirms that he can totally learn and get better!

    You said: Salsa is a hierarchical scene, and the top dancers are seen not only as better dance partners, but also as more desirable human beings that people wish to get to know. This kind of thing must stop.

    I think this would curb beginner's hell and make it more manageable.

    I hear you - depending on the place, the dance floor can certainly feel like a competitive space where being nice to everyone is not encouraged or rewarded. What do you think causes this? I don't know if it's possible to address those causes, but by identifying them we at least have a chance. Is it snobbishness/status-maintaining among many top men dancers, or top female dancers? Is it a false assumption by beginner dancers who automatically equate their self-worth to their dance ability? Is it the lack of talking that happens in socials (ie. maybe if there was a chance to meet people beforehand and get to know them as people, people would be less judgmental because they would see them as people vs. dance objects)? It's probably several things, to various degrees, I'm thinking.
     
  12. Biggest fear: Looking like an idiot
    Solution: Developed the ability to laugh at myself. Yes, I looked like an idiot. It was actually pretty
    funny; I still laugh at myself all the time. I made a promise to myself not to video myself for the first two years, which I faithfully kept. My philosophy was "Crash and Burn". Then do it again. And again.
    Dust yourself off, run headlong into the next wall full speed. Any time there was a challenge, I would
    throw myself at it. After a while it was exhilarating, whatever the outcome.

    As far as beginner's hell, I enjoyed it. Had a lot of good laughs.
     
    Happy Soul Moves likes this.
  13. Sorry for the delay in responding, Improbable Salsero!

    Thanks so much for sharing - great tip to not videotape yourself at the beginning. And that's awesome that you developed that ability to laugh at yourself! That is seriously a superman skill. I'm going to assume you didn't have that skill when you first started, though - how did you develop it? I feel like so much of the learning process at the beginning is mental/emotional.
     
  14. simbaaa

    simbaaa Changui

    The fear is when you become consciously incompetent. At the beginning it's all about the moves, but when you stick long enough you realise that moves don't actually matter, furthermore you realise that you don't actually have anything other than moves, so you enter the purgatory of seeking the emotion or the path to escape this void with your partner. You start listening to a ton of salsa at any chance you get to learn the songs, instruments, breaks and start taking it easy on partnerwork and doing more shines and being playful to show your "fake musicality" aka choreo to the songs that you've learned, and despite that it might look good and grant you occasional compliments, it still feels crap inside, and the void gets bigger. You stuff this inner hole with more moves, dance shoes, alcohol, musicality or body movement courses only to discover that whatever you stuffed it with falls out right out the next morning and the hole is empty again. You hear the trumpets in the song and want to dance to them, yet you feel your partner hears the rhythm and wants to dance to that, so you question yourself how can you be musical with your partner when you both see different paths out of this maze. So you continue seeking this elusive way to forge a path that both of you can see to escape this purgatory, yet the longer it goes on the more you fear you will never find one.
     
    G809 and Tomm like this.
  15. Hello Simbaaa, thanks for sharing. That sounds pretty intense. So if it's not about the moves, and it's not about the musicality, what is it that you are consciously incompetent in? And is this something that you experience with a regular partner, or generally with everyone you dance with? It sounds like you're not sure how to address it, either, which makes me want to figure it out!
     
  16. sunsoul

    sunsoul Shine Officer

    I think one big issue is the teaching side of things. Some of the problems are difficult to overcome from a standard salsa perspective. In my background as a high school teacher there is a term often used in education circles - 'differentiation'. This basically means allowing everyone to go at their own pace in achieving certain goals. In many salsa classes everything seems so rushed and a lot of guys just don't pick things up. Unfortunately, the class needs to keep moving and I have often got lost or seen others get lost when the fundamentals haven't been properly learnt.

    In many countries there are no improver classes just beginner to intermediate before the party. No chance to really move forward in a consistent and comprehensive way.

    In London, there are a few teachers that have a proper 'curriculum' which is clearly laid out, has lesson objectives, and is well paced. It could be an eight week course before going on to the next stage. There are a number of stages that build on your skills and knowledge. This is something that should be used more.

    I think more people should also do private lessons to compensate and reinforce prior knowledge. Salsa teachers should be far more proactive about offering these kind of lessons especially in conjunction with the mini courses they are running. They should offer discounts or teach two couples at a time or something. This will naturally allow for much better pacing.
     
    Happy Soul Moves and Smejmoon like this.
  17. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Spiders.
     
  18. Hello sunsoul,

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. So it sounds like your experience/knowledge of classes are that they generally move too fast for everyone to learn what's being taught during a given class.

    I'm really intrigued by your perspective as a teacher and want to understand better. Can you tell me:

    - What do you mean by "improver" classes? Do these exist somewhere, and what is taught/what happens in these kinds of classes?

    - Do you think that the differentiation approach is possible in a group salsa class, or that the best way to learn (given current options) is to: 1. Teach at the pace of the slowest common denominator, or 2. Take group classes + supplement with privates if you fall behind in the group classes

    - What approach have you tried that has worked (or not worked)?

    Thanks so much!
     
  19. : )
     
  20. sunsoul

    sunsoul Shine Officer

    Improver level is usually the next level up from beginner. Some places would use another term. In the UK, we almost always say improver. In Japan, it was essentially beginner to intermediate with nothing in-between.

    Most of the time guys will just struggle through and try to keep up with the teacher. It also depends how the teacher is teaching - is he/she clear, supportive and approachable? It is not easy because the teacher has the lesson structure to follow and yet he/she should allow for the students' pace of learning. Some of this will be instinctive and part of regular class management - slowing down a bit if necessary and repeating sequences more as required.

    I have seen situations where someone is not keeping up and an assistant will go over to help. However, by this point the lesson has moved beyond the student and sitting out may be best because the assistant needs to help everyone. This is where extra reinforcement through privates or small group teaching would help a lot.
     
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