Salsa and the Art of the Three P’s

Theodore Roosevelt once said that “Nothing worth having comes easy” – I’ll expand on that slightly by saying “nothing worthwhile comes easy”.

This is true of learning how to dance.

There are a few, lucky, people out there who pick up the art of dance naturally and breeze through to greatness without blinking an eye (or so it seems). However, for the rest of us mere mortals, we have to work at it.

For me, learning to dance (starting with salsa) has potentially been the best decision I made – I have made many good friends and have a decent social life, I even have my current job through the connections I have made from learning to dance.

The people you meet are wide-ranging, are friendly, open and welcoming.

But to get to the point where you can start getting the most out of dancing through going to socials/parties as well as classes, you will first have to learn to be able to dance to a level where you can hold your own on a social dance floor, and this will take the Three Ps:

Perseverance

Learning to dance can be a bit like learning to walk again. You will (apart from the lucky few) be ungainly, will stumble, will look (and feel) awkward, you will be self-conscious and will worry about what others will think.

It will take tenacity, and there will be times when you will feel like giving up. We’ve all been there (I know I certainly have and still do on occasion). There will be times when you think you have hit a plateau. And while sometimes it can help to ease back a little, you should never allow the doubts to creep in and force you to give up.

We’ve seen it too often – people do a few classes (or even just one or two) and give up as they think it’s impossible. They see the teachers and more advanced students making it look easy, they hear the music and think it’s too fast to keep up with when in reality it’s a slower track and can easily get overwhelmed.

Just remember that we have all been there (especially those of us who started later in life), we have all had to start from the beginning. We’ve all had to put in hours of practice to get where we are.

Stick with it, persevere, the learning process can be fun, but most of all, give yourself a chance.

Practice

Dance, rinse, repeat. Dance, rinse, repeat and so on (maybe without the “rinses”).

Whether it’s on your own, in classes or dancing socially, becoming a great dancer means practising – the more you practice and the more often you practice, the better you become, and the quicker you become better.

Practice helps cement moves into your muscle memory, so you devote less “brain time” to thinking about what various parts of your body are doing, allowing you to concentrate on refining technique, improving style, as well as learning new moves.

As with any new skill you learn, with practice, it becomes easier as you improve.

If you drive – remember those first few lessons where you’d be a nervous wreck, you’d perhaps stall, end up “hopping” down the road and be scared to go over 10mph. After a while and practice, it becomes second nature, and you don’t even think about how to change gear, etc. Chances are you have arrived at a destination and remembered little about the journey.

Patience

All of this will take patience. It takes time to become a great dancer – so many people want to run before they can walk and because they want to go up through the levels too soon, their “core” technique or foundation is weak. They can be acceptable or even good to dance with but not truly one of the great dancers with a queue of partners keeping them on the dancefloor!

So, we ask people to be patient and to listen to their teacher’s advice – please do not be offended if we advise you not to go up a level, especially if we give you a definite “no”, not yet. We understand; it can be frustrating, but It’s our “job” as teachers to guide you as best we can to help you on your journey to being the best dancer you can be, otherwise, we’d be doing you a disservice, and you’d not be getting your money’s worth.

In conclusion

The benefits of dancing are many; better physical and mental health, better and more fulfilling social life with more great friends, new connections that can lead to new adventures, jobs and more. Who knows, if you’re single you may even meet the love of your life!

Just persevere, practice and be patient! It will come in time.