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How to Survive Your First Salsa Social(s)!

Going to your first Salsa social/party event can be daunting and even a little overwhelming for the uninitiated.

So, here are a few tips on how to survive and get the most out of your first social, along with a few Dos and Don’ts.

Check with your dance school.

Most dance schools will run their own social events, so check with the dance school or club you attend for your classes/lessons. Many of the people you already know from these classes will be attending (or will also want to), so you will see familiar faces and have already danced with them.

You can also ask the teachers or other students for other recommendations, and even arrange to attend an event with others in a similar situation. Often, there are more experienced students who are willing to take newbies along to an event, and they, in turn, will introduce you to other people they know.

Don’t be afraid to ask – most experienced dancers are eager to welcome new people into the scene.

Attend the warm-up class(es)

It’s commonplace for there to be a “warm-up” class for beginners and one for more experienced dancers before the freestyle dancing starts. These classes also allow you to meet and “break the ice” with people you don’t know. It makes it a lot easier to approach them later for a dance.

It also helps you loosen or “warm up” (as its name suggests) before dancing socially.

If you want to be asked to dance

I won’t lie – it is far more common for men to ask the ladies to dance, but it’s perfectly acceptable for ladies to also ask for a dance.

So, if you want to be asked:

DON’T hide behind a table or in the corner of the room.

DO make yourself available – it’s common to see dancers standing by the edge of the dancefloor, as this is a sign that they are ready and open for the opportunity of a dance.

DO smile. Turn that frown upside down. Sounds a little obvious, but having an “open” face and a smile makes you much more approachable and easier to ask.

DO make eye contact with people you’d like to dance with.

Accepting and not refusing a dance is good etiquette; getting rejected can still knock someone’s confidence.

Don’t be afraid to ask someone for a dance!

I know this is easier said than done, but a Salsa social event is not like a nightclub – people go to these events to, well, you know, dance, so expect to ask and, in return, be asked.

Refusals do happen. If someone should decline your request for a dance, don’t take it personally, as there may be valid reasons why that person doesn’t want to, or can’t, dance with you at that moment. Smile, say OK, and move on.

Again, try not to take it to heart if you don’t have many dances. It happens to the best of us.

Avoid asking or dancing with the same person too often.

Most of us who have gone to a social with a partner or friend may dance with them several times throughout the evening.

However, you don’t want to monopolise someone’s time or “pester” them to the point that they miss out on dancing with as many other people as they want to, especially when it’s with someone you don’t know as well. And dancing with fewer different people can slow your own development as a dancer.

With this in mind, if you go with a friend or partner, do go and dance with other people!


It seems obvious, but being aware of your hygiene is super important. Salsa dance venues can and will get hot (some much more than others), even if the venue has air conditioning. As a result, you will sweat – even the fitter and more experienced dancers.

With Salsa and Bachata (and other dances, of course), you will be dancing close to other people, and if you are a bit “whiffy”, it can be an incredibly unpleasant experience for the other person. I will always try and shower before I go to a social, even if I’ve already had one that morning.

DO use a deodorant (please note that if you are already starting to get a little “ripe”, putting on a deodorant can make things worse, so if you can’t shower before you go, take some wipes with you, and have a quick clean first)

DO take a towel or similar with you. Many dancers (men in particular) will take a flannel or small sports towel with them and keep it in their back pocket to use throughout the event to mop sweat from their face and neck, etc.

DO take at least one extra top to change into throughout the night.

DON’T go mad with perfumes or aftershaves – this can sometimes be as bad as poor hygiene.

DON’T forget your mouth – breath mints, Tic Tacs, and chewing gum can help keep your breath smelling sweet. Stay away from strong-smelling foods such as onion and especially garlic on the same day you attend a social.

Alcohol and staying hydrated.

Staying hydrated is essential; many dancers drink alcohol at a social, whether it’s lager, beer, wine, or something a little stronger. However, drink it in moderation and alongside water or soft drinks.

Not only is it poor etiquette, but it is unpleasant to dance with someone who is drunk, not to mention the health and safety risks from not being in complete control of your movements, where you could hurt yourself, your dance partner, or someone else around you.

You also risk being asked to leave the event and even getting a bad reputation within the community.

As a side note, please try and “support” the bar! Although it’s commonplace for dancers to take their own bottles of water to drink (although there are a few events that will not allow you to take them in!), many social events only survive due to the venue’s takings at the bar, keeping costs down for the organisers. So, please try to buy drinks at the bar where you can.

You don’t need to show off.

This one’s aimed more towards leaders – don’t worry about not having an arsenal of awesome moves. Nearly all followers prefer a leader who can direct them clearly and has good timing over someone who tries too hard and is a “sloppy” leader.

You won’t score extra points by attempting a move that is too complicated for your experience, and you make a mess of it (although we all make mistakes).

Remember KISS; Keep It Simple, Stu Silly.

And finally, enjoy yourself.

Everyone is there for the same reason – to dance and to enjoy themselves. The Salsa dance scene has one of the friendliest and most inclusive communities, so you will make new friends!

If anyone else has any tips, then please comment below!

Salsa Bristol currently runs a Social Party night every two months. Please keep an eye on the website, social media or our newsletter for more details.

At the time of writing, our next social is on the 4th of August 2023.

Written by : Salsa Bristol

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