Another "The Truth Hurts" Story by Edie, The Salsa FREAK.

I was at a nightclub the other day, and this woman came up to greet me. I recognized her as one of my students. We were talking about scheduling a lesson, when suddenly she said,

"You know Edie, you're one of the only instructors who's never tried to hit on me during a private."

I looked at her and responded in shock. "You're kidding." "Nope. You know, this has really gotten out of hand. I can name about five instructors in this room right now who have tried to make a pass at me during a private lesson."

The Scenario
You're taking a dance lesson with a highly recommended instructor in your city. Everyone raves about him. It was tough to get on his schedule, so you want to make every minute worth it. You're a bit intimidated, but then again, you remind yourself that you're paying him good money for this hour, and he'd better make it worth it.

The moves are challenging and fun. Your instructor smiles, and encourages you. He's intense. In fact, he's pushing you quite a bit to do better and better. You embarrassingly fall into his arms a few times, and he instinctively catches you with his masculine strength. He's a fantastic lead, great looking, and a wonderful dancer. You dream some day you'll get to his level so you can dance with him over and over again at a nightclub. He takes you to fantasyland during the lesson, and you love every minute of it. He promises that if you're good enough, you can be on his dance team, and maybe even do shows together. Your hopes shoot through the roof at this point, as you look forward to more lessons with him.

He accidentally touches your rear. You brush it off as an accident.

It happens again.

The third time you almost fall, he looks into your eyes, and steals a kiss. You can't believe what just happened. You are totally taken by surprise, and try to laugh it off. "What are you doing?" You ask him. He then apologizes, and softly grabs your shoulders. He looks into your eyes, and starts kissing your neck. You call out his name, pushing him away with your arms. It does no good. He continues to hold you. He looks into your eyes, apologizes again, and says he can't help himself, and tells you how beautiful you are. He tells you he really likes you, and that you're special, different from anyone else he's ever met. He continues telling you how beautiful you are, and all the "right things" women love to hear. He brushes your breast with his hand.

All at once, you're pissed off, confused, upset, and really quite don't know what to think of all this. He then plasters a wet kiss on you with his tongue, and that did it. Wake up time. You realize you barely know this guy and he's already sticking his tongue down your throat. This has gone too far. Totally grossed out, you push him away with all the strength you can muster, and he's still not stopping. You scream, "Stop it! Get away from me! What are you doing?"

Some instructors stop at the groping. Others stop at the kiss. Others don't stop at all. The issue here is that this could have happened to anyone, anywhere, any time, and in any situation - the office, the after-hours party, or with the mailman. However unfortunately it has happened to many innocent students in the dance scene for as long as anyone can remember.

Some male dance instructors have a problem. Their problem is women. Some women fall head-over-heels over them because of their great dancing abilities and leads. A great dancer can make a women feel like a Princesses out on that dance floor. He leads them into beautiful turn patterns that make her look fantastic and feel phenomenal. In her mind, he becomes her Knight in Shining Armor, she, his Princess. In her mind, she's having 3-minute fantasy affair on the dance floor during that private lesson - and he knows it. If the man has no self-control, he'll take advantage of the perfect situation - her.

Keep in mind, that he doesn't "love" her at all at this point. He wouldn't even consider friendship. But his sexual instincts to be close and compassionate with a beautiful woman take over, almost to the point of uncontrollable desire. It's his animal instincts, and desire to conquer such a gorgeous creature, gone amuck.

The victims no longer feel comfortable taking lessons with that particular instructor, and in a sense, feel cheated from great instruction, or a chance to be on their dance team or shows with them. They feel uncomfortable at clubs or events when the instructor shows up, to the point of not even wanting to go out dancing anymore. Some women quit dancing for months, or do some sort of other form of dance or exercise. With nowhere to turn for help or consultation, it is sad that ninety percent of the time, the person who loses in this case is the victim, the woman.

Most women don't know what to do about it. Ninety percent of the time, it's kept a dark, hidden secret, away from friends and families. Something never told, or admitted for sometimes up to several years. Why? Embarrassment, shock, and guilt. They don't say anything to anyone because they think it's their fault. They must have done something to cause all this, and can't figure out what. Their conscience is tormented. They would rather bury the memory under the carpet and not face reality for fear the instructor's girlfriend or wife may hate them for life, or not believe them, or assume the woman did something to provoke the situation. It's not only until other women start to talk about it, do they get up enough nerve to profess what happened to them as well.

Until now, there were formerly no "group therapies" in the dance scene for this type of behavior. You just had to learn to deal with it, swallow it as a bad experience, and move on. Situations like this take the fun out of dancing, and force you to think twice about taking private instruction from the male race in general.

Many people have asked me to write about this, not only to get this dark secret out in the open, but to give advise on what to do. I decided it was an excellent topic, never before touched upon, and desperately needed.

Here, I'll advise students on what they should do if a situation like this arises during a private lesson. I'll also give you information on where you can go for help.

1) Always videotape your private lessons. You're paying good money for the lesson, so the instructor should of course allow it. If he doesn't, take privates from someone else. Videotaping the entire lesson will more than likely take his or her mind off anything romantic during the private. Just the thought of being videotaped makes people a bit nervous and uneasy, no matter how experienced of a dancer they are. We're our worst critics, and if we're thinking about ourselves, and how we're looking on film, there' s a higher chance we're not thinking about gut animal instincts.

2) Take your private lessons at a dance studio or venue where there's a lot of people around, or in the presence of his significant other. This will cramp anyone's sexual urges. Take your privates during other's group classes. Check the studio's schedule, and fit in your privates around group classes.

3) Don't book lessons late into the evening. You don't want to be the last two to leave the studio.

4) Take privates with your significant other, or a very close friend.

6) If the instructor only does house calls, bring a friend, and your trusted video camera as well. Tell the instructor your significant other is taking a nap in the other room, and wakes up easily.

7) If you must go to the instructor's house for private lessons, bring a friend and/or your video camera. Make sure you take your privates during daylight hours. Ask him to show you his schedule book, and schedule your lessons with him directly between his other privates.

8) Don't appear to be too helpless or weak during the private. Bump up the confidence level a bit, put on a stronger, more balanced and secure look about you, and stop giggling so much. Don't appear to be some dumb ditz where all you can do is smile, giggle, and apologize for your ineptness. There is something about being fragile, weak, and helpless, struggling to be taken care of that turns a man's instincts on to no end. Most (not all) men are intimidated by stronger confident women, and will be less likely to make a pass at them than the weaker - acting, ditsy women.

9) Wear clothes that don't flatter your body that much. Any low-cut, or spaghetti-strap top, with tight-fitting pants showing your belly button is a sure sign of turn-on for a guy. Believe it or not, clothing that you think is "cute" is "sexy" to him, and he may take it the wrong way. Your outfits should be comfortable, but not the least bit sexy. Wearing a T-shirt and sweats to a private is ideal. But sometimes even that doesn't work.

10) If it's too late, and the instructor is in the middle of making a pass at you, knee him in the balls, and tell him you're not at all interested in him. Immediately leave the premises, or, if you're in your own home, show him the door. Don't pay him for the private, and if he complains you didn't pay him, tell him that he will owe you about $10,000 in court if you file sexual harassment, assault or attempted rape charges.

If an incident does occur, there is help, and hope. There is a group of people who are taking action against instructors who have harassed, sexually assaulted, or raped their students. Together, all of the people in this support group are forming a coalition to prosecute these types of instructors to the fullest extent of the law. For more information, contact [email protected]. Remember, there is help, and you're not alone.

Author: Edie, The Salsa FREAK!! is one of the most recognized and respected Salsa Writers/Instructor/Performers in the world. In the past twenty years, she has traveled to 63 countries teaching the world to dance, and has been the first American to teach in 18 of those countries.

She now lives in the high mountains of beautiful Colorado with her wonderful husband, Nick. You may contact her at


Reader comments...
Edie, Found your website by accident. It is very informative. I couldn't stop reading about instructors making passes at students. That girl who wrote you re; this subject .....I felt like it was me writing you.....she took the words right out of my mouth. I really appreciate your advice about private lessons, etc. A light bulb went on for me as soon as I finished reading all the advice you gave and this advice has given me confidence! A big thank you!

Hi Edie:
I just wanted to tell you that I love your website.

My question deals with male Salsa instructors: I have recently become a salsa addict. I started off taking lessons at one studio for about 7 months, and recently have tried other classes in other cities with different instructors. Although I have only been dancing salsa for about 8 months, I am a quick study and am usually one of the better dancers in class. However, I still have a lot to learn when I compare myself to the great dancers I see in the clubs.

In trying new classes, I have noticed that the male salsa instructors (particularly ones that are not married) are extremely flirtatious with me compared to other women in the class.

I am pretty conservative and do not wear obscene clothing or outfits that show my midriff. however, they make comments to me like I love your shirt (it was a tank top with a deep v line- I was going to a club after class), you have a beautiful smile, I love your eyes. They make these comments when we are dancing in the middle of the class. Another called me 4 times the next day to go to a salsa club together.

In my first studio I took classes at, the male instructor never did flirt with girls in class. So I have never encountered this situation. I am not sure if they are hitting on me, or if they are just like this with select female students. I don't see that happening with other girls in these classes, and I am just not sure how to respond.

A part of me likes the attention, but at the same time, another part of me is very uncomfortable with it. I am a confident woman and can get the same type of attention elsewhere. However, I do feel strong chemistry with one of them, but my gut tells me that they are all players.

I am not sure where all this flirtatiousness comes from. Is it a "single male Salsa instructor" culture thing or is it me?

Thanks for your insight Edie