We’ve all heard the saying “the follower is at the mercy of the leader”, and to a great extent it’s true. We’re supposed to follow his choice of moves, how and when he wants to do it. And when feels good, it’s oh sooo good – it flows effortlessly, it’s musical, it’s playful and she can’t wait for the next dance.
As followers, we seek those leaders who we connect with, who adapt to our skill level but can challenge us, those who share a similar groove, taste for musical style and enjoys interacting with us, not just dancing AT us. Every follower has her own special mix of traits that has her craving for more. It’s not necessarily about being the fanciest, it’s about creating an experience. Hopefully it’s a good experience, but sometimes it’s not ?. Fellas, there’s some really basic things that will turn off a woman, so pay attention and steer clear of the “Top 8 Reasons She Hopes You Won’t Ask Her for a Second Dance”.
HE DOESN’T MAKE HER FEEL SAFE
When you dance with a woman, she expects you to take care of her and not lead her into dangerous territory or oncoming traffic. While she’s not simply passenger on this ride, as the leader, you’re in charge of the “moves” as well as her safe navigation through the jungle of dancers. When you lead her into other people, you’re not protecting her. So instead of enjoying the dance, she’s in defence mode protecting herself since you aren’t. This is one easy way to lose her trust. You can even make bystanders nervous when they stand or dance near you. If you’re that guy who constantly (and unapologetically) bumps into other people or sling shots your partner into everyone in her path, that’s just scary. The moral of the story here… pay attention, protect her and manage your space!
Just don’t do it guys. You’ll always be remembered as THAT guy who was so hammered, couldn’t stand up straight, slobbered all over his partner and maybe even puked on her. Gross. We all know that heavy drinking doesn’t mix well with salsa dancing. Maintaining good balance is tough even when you’re 100% sober. But for many, it’s part of the dance experience. It’s social, takes the edge off, gives you some liquid courage to ask women to dance or helps you to let go instead of being a tight a$$ on the dance floor. If you find that you reek of alcohol and are out of control (maybe you aren’t a good judge at that point – so hopefully your friends will help you before you make a fool of yourself), it may be time to just dance shines for the rest of the night if you insist on staying. Remember, friends don’t let friends dance drunk.
IT HURTS TO DANCE WITH HIM
It’s the 21st century and as women we may be independent, but most of us still like to be treated like a lady. Let’s be explicit here…man-handling is a BIG NO-NO. If you have to force a move, then something isn’t right – might be her, you or your connection together. Forcing a move is great way to show a LACK of awareness. Great leaders “listen” to her level of responsiveness and then adapt to it on the fly. If you feel a lot of resistance, take that as a sign. Don’t force it or pile on more moves if she’s wobbly and hasn’t recovered from the last move. Calmate! To their defence, many leaders may not realize how “rough” their lead can be. If you’re not sure, get feedback from an experienced follower whose opinions and honesty you trust. Shoulder injuries are extremely common for salsa dancers. It does’t help that most of us hit the dance floor without stretching, so it’s partly our own fault. Outside of that, many leaders do not know their own strength, or haven’t yet learned how timing, elasticity and frame can eliminate the painful technique of suddenly yanking a girl’s shoulder out of her socket (let’s assume that the we’re talking about responsive followers here). If you focus on connecting with her by using groove, timing and frame you’ll be able to add musical dynamic, quick stops, direction changes all without breaking her arm. Leading smoothly (even during a high energy salsa) is a skill that takes time to develop and it starts with self-awareness. LISTEN TO HER RESPONSIVENESS when you dance, and you’ll stand out among the sea of schmucks who don’t.
Just like women, men can be divas…sometimes even worse than women. Let’s do a self-check. Here’s some typical male diva behaviours:Wearing sunglasses at night: Unless you forgot your prescription glasses, or lost a contact lens and all you have are your prescription shades, there’s probably no reason for you to dance with sunglasses on in a dark club. It puts up a wall up between you and your partner and can give the impression that you’re just too cool to show any expression. You might actually be cool, but really cool guys know how to do this with their dancing and their awesome attitude.
Not smiling/looking bored out of your mind: No one wants to feel like you’re doing them a favour by dancing with you. If you’re having a fun dance, why not crack a smile every now and then?
Not making eye contact: Making playful eye contact is a great way to create connection and show interest in a dance. Looking away the whole time can project a sense of arrogance, that you’d rather be dancing on your own, or that you can’t wait for this dance to be over. If you’re not a diva, know that this is one of the most common complaints, so check yourself and correct yourself so people don’t get the wrong impression about you.
Solo dancing: Generally speaking, salsa is a partner dance. We’ve all been there before – you’re in love with a song and you just want to get down. If your partner can’t groove with you, you decide to just disengage so you can enjoy the dance for yourself. Don’t leave her stranded. Partner dancing is a conversation, remember?
Unsolicited corrections on the dance floor: Unless someone is asking for feedback during a social dance (which really isn’t the time or place unless you’re okay with it), don’t teach on the dance floor. She may not be looking for an assessment and may actually be more experienced than you. And that move that you keep trying to correct her on? It might just be you unclear lead. So think twice before giving her some unsolicited advice about her following or giving her dirty looks when your move doesn’t work.
Never apologizing for your errors: We all make mistakes on dance floor. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s her, and sometimes it’s external factors like the drunk guy that keeps bumping into you. If it’s your mistake, it’s nice to hear an “oops, my bad!” to help the other person know that you can recognize when you make a mistake and aren’t infallible. Then you can laugh about it and say “no worries”! It keeps the dance light and shows a level of humility.
I know it seems like we complain about no eye contact, and now we’re here talking about staring ?. It’s all a fine balance. Dancing is interactive and there’s so much energy, character and feeling in one’s eyes (yet another reason not to wear sunglasses in a club). Good eye contact can be sexy, flirty, playful and fun ? BUT every now and then fellas, you need to look away. And don’t forget to blink. Staring and not blinking is creepy, and is one sure way for her to avoid looking at you. When she’s forced to disengage because your staring is making her feel weird, you’ve just lost connection. Put your eyes back in your socket, remember to blink. Be playful, not creepy.
This is a frustration that applies to followers who have good timing, and use that skill to connect with her partner. In the absence of words, music is our common language. Not only does it inspire movement, it provides the very basic elements of the dance like the pace, which in turn dictates the rhythm and speed at which we move. Needless to say, music is crucial when you’re trying to coordinate steps and turn patterns with another person. At the very least, a predictable rhythm is needed to coordinate 2 people. When your steps and rhythm are random, it’s like she’s on a wild goose chase. She has no tools to help her understand what you’re doing. This is mentally painful. Avoid complicated moves until you have mastered your basic timing and rhythm.
Some of biggest complaints about male leaders are BO (body odour), bad breath or over-the-top sweatiness (this applies to women too!) We know the drill.. shower, use deodorant, bring extra t-shirts, use mints instead of chewing gum like a cow, maybe use some cologne but don’t overdo it. Don’t place her hand on that pool of sweat collecting on your neck, or spin like the Tasmanian Devil, spraying sweat on her like high powered sprinkler. The easy fix? Bring extra t-shirts and a towel, and take some breaks to dry yourself off and freshen up
OCTAPUS ARMS (UNSOLICITED GROPING)
We know that most guys started to learn salsa (or bachata or kizomba) to meet girls. #nojudgements #justsaying. There aren’t many environments that make it acceptable to dance so close with a ton of girls in one night and not think anything of it. Having said that it’s not a free-for-all to grope her under the “guise” of “dancing”. While some women are brave enough to be vocal about their discomfort, many women are not. Instead of saying something, they may just avoid you with the hopes that you’ll get the hint. No one wants to have that uncomfortable conversation which might hurt someone’s feelings. Respect her space and pay attention to her comfort level. Be a gentleman. If she gives you a clear green light to get closer, then proceed at your own risk.
Guys, we hope that this list gives you some useful insight! Great leaders are awesome not just because of their technical and artistic ability, but also their spacial awareness and their talent for communicating with their partners without being forceful. And that extra special something….they project an attitude that is confident yet warm, gracious and humble. This is a winning combo that women cannot resist. Let’s keep making great experiences on the dance floor!A huge thank you to all the ladies who contributed to this list Did we miss any? Comment below!
Caryl Cuizon, iFreeStyle.ca Co-founder