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Dancing in My Sleep

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  • Dancing in My Sleep

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    "Dear Edie,
    I'm enjoy and thank you for all your words of encouragement and advice. Most of it is invaluable to beginners like me who don't need any help committing minor, and often times major, screw-ups in club etiquette and acceptable dancefloor moves.

    My goal is to become an excellent follower and get through a song without causing a major stop and restart. I'd like to be able to follow well enough to dance an entire song through smoothly and joyfully. How important is it for the female to know all the routines/moves a male could lead you into in order to accomplish my goal. Or is it just knowing many but always be able to let go and "be lead?"

    At this point, I think my weakest skill is understanding what the male wants in terms of turns and arm movements. For instance, sometimes the man will lift my arm in what seems to me to be a request to turn left or right, whatever, but really its meant to place my arm, or hand, around his neck. I hesitate to blame the male dancers, but sometimes I think this may be where a little firmness helps, or at least be quicker about where the lifted arm/hand is going. I'm planning on taking several privates lessons with a male instructor just to work on this aspect. Would that be a reasonable expectation?"
    - Dancing in My Sleep



    Dear Dancing in My Sleep,
    Congratulations on deciding to take your privates. You’ve accomplished 50% of what it takes. The other 50% is making sure you keep the rhythm, keep your basic, and MASTER YOUR RIGHT AND LEFT TURNS. Why? Because 90% of the time, the woman turns much more than the man does. I sometimes feel like I do over 100 turns and spins in a single song. I’d really be curious to see if anyone has actually counted how many times, on the average, a guy will turn a woman during a single song….

    You don’t need to worry about memorizing moves. The guy’s job is to lead you through everything. As a woman, all you need to do (in the beginning) is just keep the rhythm and the basic. With practice, and going out often enough, being a good follower will eventually become second nature. I always tell people "I’m a professional follower".

    The most important thing you should expect from your first couple privates is developing a solid basic step and right and left turn. Keep in mind that the dance is simply a walk - no bouncing, or hops on one foot or the other. It’s a simple "walk, walk, walk….. walk, walk, walk". 1,2,3…. 5.6.7…. or, if you were dancing on "2", it would be 2,3,4, …. 6,7,8. Don’t bob up and down or swing your arms around. Don’t leave your arms hanging down straight at your side. Just walk to the rhythm, and keep your arms bent in front of you in a jogger’s position. Don’t make this dance any more difficult than it already is. In fact, the less you try, the better you look. Relax, have fun, feel the rhythm enter your body, and enjoy it.

    Warning. Because you are taking lessons from a male instructor, do not, I repeat, DO NOT expect every guy out there to be as good as your instructor.
    • Do not expect your instructor to dance with you at clubs either.
    • Do not get spoiled by your instructor and develop an "attitude" of only dancing with the best dancers.
    • Do not openly compare your instructor(s) with other instructors at a club.
    • Do not just stick with one instructor.


    Take privates from many different instructors,
    both male and female.

    Lastly, dance with EVERYONE - not just "the best" dancers. This is the only way you’ll learn to develop your style, and still have a blast, even if none of the great Salseros show up one evening.
    Good luck to you.
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