Satisfying your partner with being yourself, being good at what you DO know, and most importantly, mastering your basic techniques will keep her saying "Yes" every time. Here's how.

There are certain techniques required for a seasoned, fabulous lead. Following are a few secrets for making her feel like a million dollars out there. Here, I will put into words what I teach in my Techniques Cl***es around the world.

Cuban Motion

Cuban motion gives dancers the soft body rolling, swaying type of look typically found in most Latin dancers. It is a lazy type of relaxed look that comforts the viewer and give the dance a more authentic - flowing type of look. There is nothing better than dancing with someone with great Cuban Motion!

To achieve that look, sit in a chair, and string an imaginary rope around your ribs, holding each end of the rope with each hand to your sides, extended out from your ribcage. Now, gently tug on the rope to the right with your right hand. Still sitting in the chair, gently pull the rope to the left with your left hand. Now go back and forth. This movement of your ribcage is the basics of Cuban Motion. As you go from side to side, lift up your elbow only (not your shoulder) in the direction you are pulling. When you stand up and do this in a basic, as you step, your ribcage will stretch in that direction, along with your elbow (not shoulder) going up. For every step you take, your corresponding ribcage will stretch, and elbow go up. Your weight will be on the bent knee, every time you step. It is a lazy looking type of swaying motion, but once you get it, you'll look incredible out there.

Four Points of Connection - in Closed Position

There are four points of connection between dance partners in what we call Closed Position:

1. The shoulder blade. His right hand should be on her left shoulder blade

2. The elbow area. Her right arm should comfortably rest on his left elbow.

3. His shoulder with her left hand. Her left hand should rest comfortably on his left shoulder.

4. Her right hand should rest comfortably inside his left hand.

Two Points of Connection - Open Position

In Open Position, she gently rubs down his left arm with her right hand and rests both hands comfortably inside his hands, which are at or slightly below his belt-line. Like in computers, this would be an ergonomically correct position to be in. She should completely relax her arms at this point. His two middle fingers should be pressing ever so softly into her palms for a beautiful, comfortable connection.

Body Tension

A fabulous lead FEELS GOOD. It's the dreamy "I'm going to take care you, and do it effortlessly" lead I crave. Proper tension between the both of you is very important. The woman must play her own part in making sure she's connected with the proper tension - not too soft or not too strong. I explain this type of connection in our Beginner's Instructional video. The connection is based on a numbering system between One and Ten. You can find the proper tension by facing each other and constantly pressing both of the palms of you hands against each other, at about eye-level for about 20 seconds. On a scale from One to Ten, with Ten being the strongest, press against your partner an Eight. It should feel very uncomfortable for the both of you. Then press against each other a number Two. Your fingers should be barely touching. Now give each other a One. There should be some airflow between the fingers. Now, press against each other a number Five. Now, bounce both of your hands up and down, while still pressing against each other. You should be able to feed off of each other's energy at this point, and feel each other's energy flowing between your bouncing hands. The tension between the two of you should be very easy right now, feeling firm and very light.

This "Number Five" Connection should be applied at each of the Four Points of Connection described above, both in Closed Position, and during the rub-down of his left arm (on her part) to Open Position.

Her Footwork

A fabulous leader knows and understands how and when a woman steps. He understands how and when she turns, and accommodates HER during the entire process. Guys, when you're learning turn patterns, watch how the instructor teaches the female footwork. Observe carefully the women's steps, and you will be the best leader in the house. Remember to accommodate HER - SHE is the gem. SHE is the jewel. SHE is the most precious ornament during that entire song. She is the most important woman in the world to you during that small three-minute period. Make her feel special.

Be very careful not to prematurely turn or spin a woman without allowing her to prepare first. Understand where she places her feet before a turn. Spin her above her turning-foot axis. On a cross body lead with an inside turn , for example, you should spin her above her left foot on count five (if counting on the One), because this is the foot she plants before she makes her left turn. Always keep in mind that there is preparation before every turn. Allowing this slight pause keeps her entire body in balance and allows for a higher-speed, yet very relaxing turn - without prematurely yanking her arm toward you. No matter what beat you're on, the prep is usually before a turn. Allow her to prepare first, before turning her. I explain this in great detail in my World Famous Spins video.

Her Arm Positions

Fabulous leaders understand where her arms are most comfortable around her own body. They avoid pulling her arms in awkward positions, or yanking them out of socket. Keeping her own arms close to HER body and hands close to her own head is critical. Turning a girl with her arm and hand six inches to a foot above her head is extremely uncomfortable. The turn should be at or about an inch above her hairline. This way, she doesn't have to reach way up, or way to the side to follow your lead. Keep her hands and arms in front of her, comfortably - never completely outstretched, or pulled. During the turn, create a crown around the top of her head with your hand motion (remember, she's the princess here). Not a huge tire or tiny marble.

After each turn, gently place her arm down in front of her - never pull her arm back toward you or your face. If you must throw her arm behind her back for a certain lead, or place her into a Cumbia step with her arm behind her back, put HER hand on HER tailbone - not yanked way up high almost between her shoulder blades like you are placing her under arrest! Remember, it's all about her comfort. She is the picture, you are the frame. And when she applies Styling, her fingers are the brushes that paint that beautiful picture.

Speaking of Fingers...namely THE THUMBS!!!

Guys, don't press on the backs of her hands with your thumbs! If you MUST (because she is a beginner, and not holding on by applying the Number Five Connection downward), then press ever so GENTLY - but only in emergencies. I can't tell you how many mornings I've woken up to thumbprint bruises on the backs of my hands from the enormous amount of thumb pressure from dancers the night before. Believe it or not, she will actually follow you better and be much lighter if you don't press your thumbs down on the backs of her hands. Try it, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Posture

Excellent leads have great posture - they not only feel great, but look great! Keep your face away from hers! There is nothing worse than getting spit sprayed, or hitting noses, or bumping foreheads. This is dancing, not All Star Wrestling. A man that dances with nice posture looks like he has a good job, drives a nice car, and has a decent education. Even if you don't, stand up straight and FAKE IT.

Combining all the above is the type of techniques necessary for an amazing lead, even in the simplest of basics. Combine a "Number Five" Tension, with a little Cuban Motion, and you will satisfy your woman all night long.

- Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
www.SalsaFreak.com