Hands-Free Salsa (a way to switch from On1 to On2)

30 Nov
Switching from On1 to On2 can be tough. Try this  hands-free follow method to automate your new timing.

Switching from On1 to On2 can be tough. Try this hands-free follow method to automate your new timing.

Don’t worry folks, I’m still alive.

Due to some unexpected circumstances I’ve been unable to update the blog this month (hence this quick post I’m writing just to make sure I at least publish something for the month of November).

The same unfortunate circumstances have meant that I have done virtually no dancing since I arrived in New York. For those of you following what I’m up to you’ll realize that I’m not very happy about this. Anyway,starting a few days ago, I finally have some time to take some dance classes; a total of two, with the lovely Maria Torres. I’ve also been out dancing on 3 occasions; Jimmy Anton’s Social, Santo Rico’s social in Queens and Candela Fridays where I danced last night.

My Confession
Now, I have a pretty major sin to confess. Every time I have danced here in New York, I have danced On1. But wait, wait, before you turn up your noses and decide to never read this blog again, hear me out.

My first two nights out, my jaw was literally hanging around my ankles watching the level of the dancers I saw. If I had attempted to dance On2 (without any practice whatsoever) it would have been the salsa equivalent of watching two white Americans hugging; Awkward!

I didn’t want to put anyone through that and also… I just wanted to dance (I really needed to dance off some pent up stress). So I just asked around, found out who could dance On1 and had a great time dancing with them (one girl actually told she hadn’t realized it could be so much fun to dance On1!)

Last night at Candela Friday on 34th street I had one dance with a girl who I had noticed was not completely comfortable dancing On2; she was an excellent dancer but I could see from the expression on her face as she was being turned that she wasn’t completely comfortable with the timing. It turns out she was German and much more used to On1. So I started my night off with LA style and figured that it was going to stay that way for the rest of the night 😦

However, I noticed this one girl who was dancing beautifully but she wasn’t holding hands with any of her partners. She was pretty much just dancing shines the whole night (and dancing them with an awesome Hip-Hop style that I would definitely be happy to see more of).

Anyway, my Irish accent has giving me a lot more confidence when approaching people here so I had no problem in moseying up alongside her and asking, point blank, “So, do you just really like dancing shines or what?”. I got an instant laugh and an explanation. Turns out she was nursing a rotator cuff injury and wasn’t comfortable using her arms but she also couldn’t resist the urge to go out dancing (with such an awesome scene as in New York, I can’t blame her).

She asked me if I wanted to dance (specifically, she asked “would you like to dance across from me?” 😀 ) and I (with my usual awkward laugh indicating I’m not comfortable with the answer) told her that I couldn’t dance On2. I gave the explanation you guys just read up top.

Ms. Motivator
She gave me pretty much the exact same advice I would give someone in the same situation. You’ve got to practice to get comfortable with the timing and to make everything automatic. Absolutely spot on! However, I was intimidated by the level of everyone else and didn’t want to look completely uncoordinated (I know, I’m such a hypocrite).

Then she did what it appears most girls have to do with me these days and took the bull by the horns. She walked out on the floor and told me we were dancing (and I had no say in the matter).

And we danced, with no hands, starting back and forth and then doing cross body and lots of shines… On2. Fair enough, I slipped back into On1 on occasion but I caught myself and got right back On2. And you know what? I had a blast.

And that my dear friends, is the story of my first ever dance On2.

No major disasters, no uncomfortable fumbling with combinations… just a really enjoyable dance with a really cool follower (or should I say lead in this case?).

Lesson learned
So yeah, I just learned a great way to switch over from On1 to On2. Dancing hands free with a partner who knows New York style well to “lead” the timing helps you maintain your footwork On2, and not having to worry about your hands frees up your mind to improve the muscle memory in your feet. Also it’s great for working on your shines.

If you’re considering switching over to On2, give it a shot.

Ciao from New York and keep dancing folks!

Note: This whole post was typed up, edited and published on my iPhone in about an hour and a half. It was a total pain in the backside and I’m going to blame it for any errors or irregularities in the text. My apologies, I’ll be using my laptop next time.

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6 Responses to “Hands-Free Salsa (a way to switch from On1 to On2)”

  1. stepehn November 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    Its on my to do list.

  2. Salsera in the City December 2, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Hey there, nice post! I can imagine it’s very much more difficult to make that move for men.I completely relate to the idea of your muscle memory and how especially frustrating it can be to make that change when surrounded by awesome dancers! As a follower starting On1 I decided to make the switch over in Paris where both are danced. I just had to deal with the fact for a while a lot of guys would think I just couldn’t keep time/follow very well..but I didn’t let it get to me too much as I was SO determined to pick it up.

    One interesting point…at first I found it easier to make the transition by dancing with men who danced both On1 and On2, rather than On2 ‘purists’…dancing with a guy from NY for the first time was a new experience again. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is possible to dance On2 with an ‘On1 mentality’….haha crazy I know…but whilst as a follower I can pick this up these differences from following lots of different partners, it’s maybe a longer process for leads and I have huge respect for those that begin to learn both..!

    It’s my dream to get to New York soon for some social dancing! (jealous) 😉

    • The Dancing Irishman December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Hey Salsera
      It’s a pleasure to have you commenting on my humble blog.
      I do agree that it’s tougher for guys to make the switch as I’ve met a lot of girls who say that they were just “lead” into their first dance On2 i.e. without any prior practice.
      I think it’s an interesting point you make about it being easier to pick it up with guys who dance both On1 and On2, maybe they’re a little more patient as they’ve had to learn it all too.
      I’ll keep trucking away here trying to master the steps, hopefully I’ll be able to translate all my On1 moves quickly.
      I hope you make it over to NY soon, it’s an amazing city. My one piece of advice… bring money hahaha!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What to do when you’re S#!T at Dancing (or anything else for that matter) | The Dancing Irishman - January 7, 2014

    […] city and about 2 weeks ago I started learning to dance On2. My first ever dance On2 was actually a three minute long shine as I didn’t even hold hands with my  partner. It wasn’t completely On2 but it was a […]

  2. The Salsa Community: All Warm and Fuzzy | The Dancing Irishman - March 5, 2014

    […] When I was in New York, I was lucky enough to have friends who I knew through salsa who gave me a place to stay and even helped me with some of my first steps into dancing On 2. […]

  3. To New York | The Dancing Irishman - October 14, 2014

    […] Anyone following the blog from last year will know that I didn’t write much about the salsa scene in New York while I was there. I simply didn’t have much free time to enjoy it. The couple I did publish while in New York you can find here and here! […]

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