Tag Archives: Girlfriend

STOP Dancing with your Girlfriend (and why!)

25 Nov

Your girlfriend is the reason your salsa is so mediocre!

There… I’ve said it. Let the hate mail roll on in.

Or, be reasonable and hear me out. I’ll explain exactly why your significant other is hampering your salsa evolution and what you can do about it without having to break up and go through that whole “uncomfortable” period of trying to avoid the dance socials they regularly attend (you all know what I’m talking about).

First things first, let me appease the ladies and say that I could just as easily have titled this article “Stop Dancing with your Boyfriend/Spouse/Life-Partner” or some other gender neutral BS. I didn’t because my regular readers are well aware that I like a nice controversial title every now and then. It should suffice to say that I’m talking about all significant others or regular dance partners in this article.

Now that I’ve alienated half my readers, let’s move on.

Reasons we get into salsa
A pretty major reason people get into salsa is to meet someone of the opposite sex which I highlighted in this very scientifically referenced chart some time ago. It is by no means the main reason but it certainly plays a role in peoples decisions to start dancing. What often happens when someone joins the world of dance (be it Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Break or whatever) is that they might meet and start dating a fellow dancer. Another similar occurence might be that the non-dancing partner in a relationship might be encouraged to get into dancing and take a shine to it (as has been known to happen).

Either way, the end result is that beginning couples in the dance community often end up dancing together frequently (if not exclusively… although this is much rarer). I say beginning couples because this isn’t common in more experienced dancers who are generally more confident, whereas beginning dancers are often shy and naturally feel more secure dancing with someone they know and trust.

Getting all Lovey Dovey with your partner is great and all but a little bit of distance could do great things for your dancing!

Getting all Lovey Dovey with your partner is great and all but a little bit of distance could do great things for your dancing!

Too much coddling
Let me make something clear: dancing with your significant other is wonderful. You share a trust and connection that you share with no one else on the dance floor (hopefully) and that will show in your dance. However, if you dance exclusively or mostly with your partner you will not be able to benefit from that essential phase in becoming a good dancer, that is, dancing with different people.

I’ll speak from my perspective as a man and a lead as that’s what I know best (not that I know anything about being a woman… but… let’s just leave it). Anyway, when I first started dancing salsa in Japan, I did so with my girlfriend at the time. I was particularly shy about dancing and worried about making mistakes so I probably danced 90% of dances with my then girlfriend. I actually remember going to my first social in a big city and danced all but one song (or should I say the final 60 seconds of one song) with a random woman at the club. It took me that long to work up the courage.

Anyway, when we broke up, I naturally started dancing with many more different women (keep inappropriate comments to yourselves please). And in very little time I experienced a huge improvement in my salsa ability. So sudden was the change that after a 10 day “salsa vacation” around the Philippines and Hong Kong, in which I went social dancing virtually every night, my friends back in Japan told me it was like dancing with a completely different person.

Variety is the spice of life
People are different. We have different body shapes and sizes, different limb-length proportions, we move at different speeds, we have joints that move differently. On top of that, everyone learns dance in a slightly different way and has their own style. It’s actually rather beautiful because it means no two people will ever dance the same way.

What it also means is that even if you have mastered a certain move with one person (your significant other or a regular dance partner) it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll immediately be able to pull it off with someone else.

I regular extoll the benefits of practicing regularly with someone you feel comfortable with as it helps you to lock combinations and moves into your mental and muscle memory. However, you’ll have locked it into memory using only one partner who has a fixed body shape and dance style. It may not work for others. When I practice a move with my dance partner and then feel comfortable enough to try it on the dance floor I often find that there is a steep learning curve involved in adjusting it to other follows. I regularly mess it up at the beginning even though I might nail it every time with my partner. This is why dancing with others is ESSENTIAL.

Cut the cord
If you want to improve your dancing so you can dance well with everyone… well… you have to dance with everyone. Only then will you learn how to adapt your own style and combinations to other people. You’ll learn to dance with other body types and might find certain moves are better suited to taller partners or partners with shorter arms or more flexible dancers… that’s the amazing thing about dance, the sheer variety of different dancers out there.

I’m not telling you to stop dancing with your significant other or your regular dance partner when you go social dancing… that would be ridiculous. What I’m saying is that you need to venture out there and dance with other people. In dance classes, partners are rotated for a reason, so you can experience dancing with someone else. (Side note: I’ve actually been to classes where one couple stood off to the side of the main group so they didn’t have to switch partners… maybe they were both shy but I honestly thought it was riduculous).

Anyway, if you really want to improve your dance level it’s time to give your significant other a break and start dancing with other people. You’ll get better and I’m sure that your partner will appreciate it.

Keep Dancing Folks.

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Fiona Uyema

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