BE AWARE OF PEOPLE AROUND YOU and actively avoid hitting them! This can prove very difficult in crowded nightclubs, and you have to keep your wits about you in order to "steer clear". Guys, avoid throwing your partner into people as a means of clearing space for yourself (don’t laugh - I’ve seen this happen myself!). If you're dancing in a crowded place, don't take large steps, keep your steps smaller (this will help with the faster music anyway). Advanced dancers: When it's really, really crowded, PLEASE remember not to show off too much with space-taking moves that mean the woman goes crashing out into the next couple! Men, it is YOUR job to stay in your area and prevent spikey heels from going into the next woman's foot (an extreeeeemly painful experience I can assure you)! Your shoes are closed so they protect your feet, so you don't know what it's like for women who are wearing open shoes to get stepped on and sliced open by a pointy heel! Ouch!
SECOND TOP COMPLAINT!
DON’T CORRECT ON THE DANCEFLOOR! NO dancer, no matter HOW advanced, should give instruction or "hints" to his/her partner unless the partner requests it. In lessons this can be helpful, if tactfully done, but unsolicited "help" on the dancefloor presumes (usually incorrectly) that the help-er is more advanced than the help-ee and can utterly destroy self-confidence and generally be horribly annoying and off-putting. Seriously, this can be a big problem, especially for men who generally take a little longer to learn moves than ladies as they have to learn how to lead as well as do the footwork. Ladies, its not easy for them to lead and dance at the same time! Be patient and try not to correct, criticise or lose your cool. In one extreme case, I’ve even heard that a girl (in Luxembourg) kicked her partner for not leading a certain move correctly! Outrageous!
OTHER GOLDEN RULES TO REMEMBER!
KNOW YOUR PARTNER! Let the first dance be a warm-up or introduction for you and your partner. Don't begin a dance with new partner with all your most complicated, difficult moves. Allow yourself time to communicate your style and rhythm to your partner. This applies to both ladies and men.
RESPECT YOUR PARTNER If your partner seems tired, tense, anxious or just having a bad night, adjust your dancing speed and style to make him/her relax and feel comfortable. If you are dying to try out triple turns or fancy patterns, wait until you're both up to the challenge. If not tonight, then there's always tomorrow. At the end of the dance, be gracious, express thanks and appreciation for your partner efforts.
BE UNDERSTANDING. Both beginner or experienced dancers have "off nights" Sometimes your rhythm, timing and control are just not there. Don't get upset, take a deep breath and go easy on your self and your partner. Don't berate yourself or your partner for mistakes. Just smile and keep going. This is not a competition and your life does not depend on how well you execute your moves. If you try to do a fancy move and your partner doesn't get it, it's probably ok to try it again, but if she doesn't get it that time, please DON'T keep trying it over and over again! (unless she asks you to) It's frustrating for both of you and embarrassing for her. Even if you're an excellent dancer, she won't enjoy dancing with you if you keep trying to force her to learn something that she probably needs lessons to learn!
DON'T TAKE REFUSALS PERSONALLY! There are SO many dancers in this world, and not everyone wants to dance with everyone else. Just move on to the next person, you can even add a "Thanks anyway". When a woman says no because she's going to the restroom, she doesn't like merengue, or she's getting a drink, it is NOT a personal rejection of you and your dancing abilities! Even if you've asked women who have made up excuses, that does not mean the rest of us aren't being honest.
GUYS - CHOOSE YOUR MOMENT! If the woman is coming off the dance floor, and looks like she's about to pass out from dehydration, you might want to wait for a more opportune moment, or go buy her a water, and then ask her to dance. If they are obviously with someone else, you may want to read the body language clearly before asking her to dance. You may ask women to dance that are "with" other people, however if you don't already know them, you may acknowledge the guy, usually with a nod, to let him now it's cool. Opinions vary on this, but there are plenty of women who go to clubs with guy's (boyfriends) and dance with other people. Likewise, there are plenty of people who will not take kindly to you asking THEIR date to dance. Pay attention to the body language, and read the situation before asking women to dance that are obviously with significant others.
LOOK AT THE EDGES OF THE DANCE FLOOR That's generally where people stand that are waiting to be asked to dance. Look for the woman madly tapping her foot, or swaying back and forth to the music. These are pretty telltale signs she's ready to dance, quite probably with the first guy that asks her, so GET MOVING!
TO GUYS WHO KNOW LOTS OF FOOTWORK / SHINES: if you can see that the woman doesn't know many steps to do without you, please don't leave her hanging there feeling awkward! It might not be fun for her to dance alone and to keep doing the basic by herself. Save your fancy shines for a woman who loves to do them too
LADIES, SAY NO NICELY! Ladies, if you don't want to dance with him, a "No" is NEVER the correct response to being asked to dance! While it is perfectly acceptable to turn down a dance with anybody you don't want to dance with, it is never acceptable to do it rudely. Generally, learn to add a thank you, and even an excuse or reason for your "No". (and a nice excuse too, like you are resting or don't like the song - not something like "come back in 6 months when you've learnt how to dance better" - which actually happened in London to someone from Lux!). And say no with a smile! It's generally considered polite to avoid the "distasteful" or "exasperated" look when a guy asks you to dance. Don't say "No thank you, Maybe later", unless you mean it!!! Just makes more trouble for you later if you didn't want to dance with him in the first place. Firm yet friendly . . .And ladies, remember that guys like being asked to dance too and it saves them the job (which a lot of men, lets face it, find extremely daunting!).
ADAPT YOURSELF! You've got a rhythmically challenged partner, what should you do? A follower's "job" is to follow, so I say try your darn-dest to figure out what beat your partner is on, and try to keep it. If there is no rhyme nor reasons to the rhythm of your partner, then use your judgement to see if you can guide your partner back to the rythmn. But BE CAREFUL. If the follower starts dictating the rhythm and speed of the dance, it's not salsa anymore!
SAY SORRY! If you knock into somebody, or step on someone, acknowledge your mistake. Say you're sorry! You don't have to get on your hands and knees and beg for forgiveness (although it might help), but you do have to actually look at the person and acknowledge the fact that you hit them, stepped on them, whatever. Even a friendly nod is better than nothing! If they are busy dancing, and they ignore you, go up afterwards and just say your sorry. Ladies with spiked heels that step on somebody DO have to get on hands and knees and beg for forgiveness.
LAY OFF THE FANCY DIPS AND DROPS! For example, let's say you just learned this great dip in class and you want to twirl the lady around five times, absurdly fast, catch her with one hand behind your back, and gracefully take her body to the floor, as the woman is astonished by your grace, and the crowd is awed by your speed. Unfortunately, this often turns out quite poorly when starting out! The five quick turns don't go as well as planned as the lady spins out of control crashing into the couple next to you. In a flailing attempt to grab her, you leap forward catching her and throwing her into a dip far to fast. As you are lowering her body, you notice the spiked heel of the lady dancing next to you flick up in the air towards your partners head. As her head and the lady's heel nearly collide you attempt to jerk her out of the way, throwing her into someone's backside, and then throwing both of you off balance, as you land (not so gracefully) on the floor, on top of the woman who is never going to dance with you again (nor will any of her beautiful friends). Not the most beautiful of pictures eh? Yet it happens all the time - just watch and see!
GUYS - PROTECT THE LADY! Adding on to all of our previous tips, the underlying theme is, your partner is gold. Her safety is in your hands, and only your hands. Whether she is a beginner, or a truly advanced dancer, you are the leader. You've learned that through the use of well placed turns, and cross body leads, you can deftly navigate the most crowded of dance floors. Your partner is not a weapon, to be flung out like a dangerous projectile, in order to clear more space for yourself. Likewise, if she is swinging out of control, you might try to reign her in a bit. Remember the simple truth, followers are following your lead. If an accident happens it's always the leader's fault (whether it IS or not). Leader's need to be vigilant in preventing dance accidents before they happen! Stay sharp . . .
LADIES -DON'T BE BLIND: Just because the man is leading it doesn't mean you can close your eyes, and go blithely wherever led! In many cases, you are at the leader's mercy, however, in some cases (cross body leads for example), you have many choices. For example, let's take the biggest problem. Huge steps! Keep it small, keep it tight. If you see your leader about to crash into someone else behind him (he can't see back there, trust me), it's polite to give him a little pat (with either your left or right hand), alerting hit to the impending crash.
FOR BEGINNERS: While it is ok to ask someone phenomenally better than yourself to dance, it's not usually the best idea to do it over and over throughout the night (unless invited). Be respectful of their right to dance at their level. They're out to have a good time just like you. If you are going to ask someone phenomenally better than yourself to dance, be understanding of the fact that they may wish to wait for a song or two. If they say no, try not to take it personally. You may just have asked at an inopportune time (i.e. their favourite super fast dance tune just came on)!
FOR ADVANCED: Wow, a beginner just came up to you and asked you to dance during your favorite fast song, so you said "not right now, maybe later, thanks for asking", and went to dance with someone else. Be aware, and sensitive, to the fact that it is NOT easy to ask people to dance. He/She may have walked all the way across the floor, with her friends watching, to ask you that question that you so easily brushed aside. If you really just didn't want to dance with a beginner for that particular song, FIND him/her later and say something to the effect of "how about that dance". If you don't want to dance with a beginner, be POLITE about it, and go out of your way to be both charming and respectful. Ladies in particular: its often great to dance with beginners because you have more time to study your style and technique on moves that you would otherwise not have time to do with a more advanced dancer leading you complicated turn patterns and figures all the time.