Salsa > how do I stop being bitter an enjoy salsa dancing again?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Austin, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Austin

    Austin New Member

    I know I'm not the only one who has face this situation, so I'm looking for advice on how to get past it.

    I have stayed away from salsa dancing for several years, doing other hobbies so now I want to return to salsa, but I can't forget how the attitudes changed towards me the better of a dancer I became.

    I feel really resentful over being treated sub human in salsa venues because I wasn't a great dancer. Zig zagging across floors for years, at many congresses, and lessons to learn how to dance. I became an ok dancer who could hold his own on multi styles and songs and then suddenly... I'm ok to hang out with? And suddenly I'm getting comments on how they like dancing with me and I dance better than <insert name of newbie>!?

    I put myself out there, like every other guy, because it was the only way I was going to learn how to dance. I did it because, like every other guy, I love salsa music. I am a musician born and raise, and my family are islanders. And so I did, but it opened my eyes up to a reality, and its hard to explain why it bothers me. Namely, the better at dancing salsa you get, the more women are going to want to dance with you.

    I don't really blame the ladies for only wanting to dance with the advance guys and giving a charitable "sure, I will dance with you" to the beginners. An ole acquaintance specifically told me that beginners frustrate her and she doesn't learn anything from them. Ladies want to be led by the best opions they have. Fair enough. I got that. I assumed that's why they always congregatated around the intructor-level guys, or the really advanced guys. I never would observe those guys walk accross the dance floor to ask for a dance. Why should he?

    To contrast my point...

    When I stopped salsa dancing, I spent a lot of time in S. America learning other styles. (Brazilian, Argentinian). Here is the catch. Everyone treated me great, friendly, with respect. Not a single rude experience. And I was a pretty sucky beginner. Does my point make a little more sense? In South America, Whether I was a beginner or advanced dancer, people treated me great... like a person who enjoyed the music regardless of my dance level. But the way I remember salsa... not anywhere close. I could love the music and culture all I wanted, all that seemed to matter is if I was good enough.

    So what am I doing wrong? It has been 4+ years now and I would like some sound advice on how to get over this.

  2. mjnemeth

    mjnemeth Member

    First Welcome. How to get over this? First realize you did nothing wrong. Next you provided the evidence for, it just
    the dance culture of you're area. You did go back to the same
    area right? Not that where you did go could have the same
    type of environment.
    Ive experienced something similar myself when I retired,
    I went from a very open friendly dance environment, to
    a somewhat hostile, elitist environment .
    My solution probably not for you, I establish my own social dance.
    You should remember it not you, make a effort not to do what was done to you and even better reach out to newbies help, them dance with them and treat them as you wished you were treated.
  3. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    hmmm...if I understand it you used to have a bad experience personally but no longer do so. In terms of dancing interactions two sorts of people get dances: those with dance skills and those with people skills. You experienced the dance skill scenario. What I have observed is that people who are friendly and connect with people, but are still relative newbies get quite a few dances as well. So, for those of you who don't have the dance experience this is something to consider.
  4. Steven123

    Steven123 Member

    Some places for dancing salsa where I am located have really skilled dancers. I really like the way they dance, but I am not a part of their culture. Some of the girls look at me funny when I ask them to dance. I think it is because my personality is quiet and nerdy, so they make a lot of assumptions about me before I dance with them. Sometimes, though, girls at those places actually want to dance with me. Weirdos. They didn't get the memo all the other girls seem to have read that they weren't supposed to dance with me . Then they start speaking to me in Spanish because they assumed I was just a really anglo looking Latino. I don't know what they were saying.

    I don't think it always has to do with skill though. I mean I have known girls who suck at dancing refuse dances with people who are not excellent leads but also higher than the girl's level. Those girls are mean. In real life, some of those mean girls are actually nice though. I think it is hard for some girls to gauge their skill level because the level of their dancing is limited by the quality of / familiarity with their partner. A good male leader can make any girl dance at her highest level, which may or may not be very high in the grand scheme of things but it matters in her head. A lot of those girls don't realize the amount of practice a man has to put into it to improve.

    With all that being said, the salsa community where I am living is very clicky. It kind of sucks. If you relate to individuals more strongly than groups, it kind of isn't good. I am trying to learn other dances. I am learning Argentine Tango, some Ballroom Smooth, and some Swing dances now. The environment in those communities is a little bit different. I am still practicing salsa but not as much. Just at this one place where I feel comfortable. I am just trying to keep salsa in my head. I am trying to improve some skills and practice the dance less socially and more musically. If that makes any sense. Trying to track the music by myself in my room. I kind of like mixing it up with different dances, so I don't get too depressed when one girl does not want to dance with me or when somebody says something that is absurd.

    I just try to ask as many girls to dance as I can if the situation is right.
  5. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Just be a gracious leader and decide to put it behind you, Steven. There is never any greater secret than that.
  6. dude

    dude New Member

    I know exactly what your're saying, Austin. In my experience there are more advanced female dancers and some of them are real dance snobs. They will not talk to you, they'll give a vibe of them being frustrated or even worse - leave you in the middle of the song. And then there are beginner dancers who are really happy you dancing with them, think and tell you "wow, you're so good" etc. And then there are girls who come to salsa clubs and just stand there turning down all guys asking them to dance.

    One advice I'd like to give you - don't depend on other people (especially females) for your happiness. Draw your happy state from within, listen to the music, enjoy the dance, put lots of energy into your dance. It's you, you like the music and you're having tons of fun! When I'm in that state I don't care what other people think of me. I'm having a great time. I ask a girl to dance, she says "but I'm not a good dancer!". I tell her, "well, there's a fine for that - you have to buy me a drink afterwards". Or if I get a "no", then I say "What? You didn't come here to sit all night, lets go!". Now she says "OK" and goes :). So bring a party, be a party. You'll have tons of fun. People will love you.

    Another tip - do the things that scare you. Be bold. Be adventurous. I was at a regular night club all by myself. It's beginning of the night and I see groups of girls dancing in circles and guys standing on the sidelines. I think to myself I have to be adventurous, so I talk to one of girls who are part of the circle and tell her "you guys all stand in circle, I feel like I should be in the middle of it". So she pushes me into the middle and all of a sudden I'm the center of attention and I go crazy! I dance, lift my arms in the air, spin, they scream and cheer me on. I see one of them is wearing a crown, she's a bachelorette, so I grab her hand and proceed to do salsa spins and turns with her, spin her, do a dip. Now they all scream. (They brought her to a club so she can have fun) Then I congratulate her, look at another tall girl and tell her "you're next" and so on. Needless to say my night was awesome after that. I got such a confidence boost.
    juwest333 likes this.
  7. juwest333

    juwest333 Active Member

    I left salsa for this very reason. I have received more rejections on the dance floor in one or two nights of salsa dancing than I have in my entire six months of dancing in a different style combined. Of the few three of four dances total that I was lucky enough to get, one yelled at me because one of my techniques was wrong (after I told her I was an absolute beginner) and another simply let go of me and started dancing alone for the remainder of the song.

    That is just the nature of the beast. They're just not that friendly to beginners. I will practice and take a lot of classes before I ever dare to go back to that dance venue again (if I decide to go back again).

    Life is way too short to be bitter about it though (especially while dancing!). I would suggest focusing only on those people who do not have such an elitist attitude, and/or, if that is not possible, finding a new area where the people are friendlier.
  8. Chris_Yannick

    Chris_Yannick New Member

    I can sort of relate to this since I take frequent breaks from salsa of varying lengths: weeks, months, a year.

    I think it's extremely difficult to get back into Salsa after you've been away for any length of time. For people who are in the scene, they tend to stick to who they know and their regular partners. If you haven't been out in a long time, some people may treat you differently.

    My salsa scene, despite having the same core group of people, is very fickle. Attitudes change day-to-day it seems. Someone who may not like dancing with you one day may love you next week at a different venue in a different crowd. I try not to take this personally. It's just the cyclical nature of Salsa.

    One way I deal with this is I dance only with people I know very well with a zero rejection chance or with people I don't know at all. What I mean is, I dance only with people whose personality clicks with mine, or else with complete strangers. This gives me some familiarity along with a pinch of the unknown.

    I don't try to dance with everyone. I also will not dance with anyone who I don't personally get along with off the dance floor, even though we may have great dance chemistry. Although that rarely happens.

    I find there is a strong desire to 'belong' in the salsa scene. After coming back from a long hiatus, we immediately want to continue where we left off with the same people. However, I know things can't be exactly the way they were.

    With regards to feeling bitter, in the end, we are all here to have a good time. Even though your scene may be rife with bad apples, there will also be good people to connect with. Seek them out. Keep asking people you don't know, to dance. Approach it with beginner's eyes, as if you are new to the scene. In time, that bitterness may just transform into enjoyment :).

  9. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I love to dance Salsa, but I don't particularly care to watch Salsa, and I don't generally like the people at Salsa night clubs. Weird, huh? You've got to decide your priorities. If you've got to dance Salsa, you just don't take the behavior of immature followers personally, and you focus on the dancing.

    I did most of my Salsa dancing at a ballroom studio that had a Salsa night. It was always a much friendlier environment. But, of course, the dancers were not at the same level as at a Salsa club. If dancing is the main thing, not necessarily Salsa, you may find other dance cultures to be more inclusive, as has been my experience with ballroom and swing.

    Also, my apologies if I offend with this: pretty, young girls at Salsa clubs are used to being asked to dance by the alpha males of the club, the experienced, skillful leaders that want to show off to the pretty girl and do more than dance with her. What have you got to offer her compared to that sort of attention?

    My approach: I pay attention. If I see a lady, young or old, who I don't know, who looks like she wants to dance, and hasn't been asked in a couple of dances, I will ask her. If a lady does not observe proper etiquette in rejecting me for a dance, she will not get asked again. I try to be equitable in dancing with the friendly ladies I do know. I'm married, so I'm certainly not going to give any lady besides DW any extra attention.

    There are girls that will see me do this, and decide I do this because I can't do any better. These are not people I want to associate with, anyway. There are girls that will see me do this and notice how often my partner has a smile on her face, and see that I'm not there to be a creepy old guy trying to pick up chicks, but that I'm just there to have fun and dance, and decide they want in. I have no lack for ladies asking me to dance.
    Terpsichorean Clod likes this.
  10. dude

    dude New Member

    I think you can offer a good conversation, fun guy attitude, a fun time dancing with you. Dancing is a social activity, not a competition. It's not just how good or bad you dance. Most of these alpha dancers are not very social. So don't take yourself or others too seriously :)
  11. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member


    I do exactly the same and with the exact same results. I rarely sit out a dance and the mrs. kindley shares me!
  12. GoldenSalsa

    GoldenSalsa New Member

    I like your reply and I am following this again. I wasn't for a long while as I strayed off path into an eternal abyss, however, I have found some things and inspiration in my life again :).

    Most importantly is to make sure you have loads of fun because you do not lose out. However, I do "want" (which can be bad, but can also be good.) this ecuadorian since she's special and unique (i know sounds cliche, but many would call her normal at first glance, but until u get to know her, will u learn to appreciate her, which is the same for everyone). Anyway, as stated, I can ask her to dance salsa with me and learn, however, I do agree with the original poster how many want to learn from the better dancer, - Including myself since I want to be a better dancer. However, I also think it is more fun to dance with a partner who wants to learn as well. I think if you are going to make mistakes, it only builds character if you let it motivate you in the positive way, there I MUST try even harder then >:)
  13. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Hmm. I would say there are two kinds of good leaders. The first one is the flashy one that does all the flash figures. "Look at me!!!" Then there is the kind that I aspire to, the kind that can lead ANY follower, make her look good, make her feel good, make her have a good time, regardless of how it looks. The first kind does do best with very experienced, very skilled dancers as followers. The second kind, it is dancing with beginners that he learns how to do his thing. And the second guy will sometimes annoy followers who are skilled dancers, but not skilled followers, because he is giving an entirely different level of communication in his lead.

    Which one do you think gets more repeat dances?
  14. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Not sure if I follow you toothlesstiger. A leader who can make any follower look good etc, but does best with very experienced dancers as followers...? The second kind who annoys skilled followers because he is giving an entirely different level of communication in his lead due to learning from dancing with beginners? Who gets more repeat dances? First we would need to look at what a scene is like. And there are leaders who learn from beginners but still have a great time with everyone. It totally depends on your emotional dance maturity. To me you have illustrated two emotionally immature dance leader types, and asked who people would choose to repeat dances with. From your examples experienced followers will go with the first and beginners the second, and who gets more repeat dances depends on the follower make-up of the dance scene. And this is assuming the majority are emotionally immature in terms of dance.
  15. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Austin, welcome to DF!

    I donĀ“t want to follow your experiences. Somehow I feel you are the reason why. There are so many salsa locations and venues where laughing and talking is as important than dancing, where the women appreciate an approving glimpse and a tender hold. I fear you placed yourself in that said environment: the place to be, youngest girls, fastest music, highest concentration of instructors.... You simply have been fascinated of that habit. Actually there are so many other possibilities for dancing salsa in a different way! And if not, start your own series of fiestas. Find out were latin/hispanic people go. Over here there is a big non-profit salsa sceene (cultural corner shops, kitchen fiestas, flash mobs..)

    Lucky one. I also know of so many cliquy, conceited or narcisstict tango or zouk communities...
  16. Austin

    Austin New Member

    Sagitta: Thanks for the response. I agree having people skills is mostvlikely just as important as the dance skills. But people skills is probably a lot more difficult to hone. I think Yannick hit it on the head saying that cliques people make force you to have to break those walls down if you wish to dance outside of your group. Assuming you have one.

    Steve123: i have learned to let go of focusing on "skill". I used to heavily focus on such things because I ended up spending a lot of time learning the moves only to find most of the women on the dance floor cant follow it. So I revert to the fundamentals and thats where it stays. But dancing is, by design, like many other sports where you are never done...

    Samina: gracious as in how? If you mean not demanding or not entitled then I agree. I didnt know if you meant gracious as in that or thank god someone finally danced with me.

    Dude: boy oh boy. Dance snobs. Dont even get me started. I had to write my post several times over intil i decided to delete my "personal " experiencea. The point is putting it behind me and not making a pity party. But they do treat it like a competition. I dont know how I treat it. I could say but you never know how you come across to another person.

    Yannick: thanks for the words. Bringing your own crew or having you own personal salsa parties sounds like a good idea. Perhaps it sheds light on why I faced what i did. Some big shot brings his own stable of women to dance with and I didnt. Silly me. I forgot salsa is like pimping. Jk.

    I really would like a females view of this matter. Another perspective woyld be helpful. What is going through your mind when you go dancing as part of some guys 'stable' (perhaps a totally inappropriate way to describe it... but im hoping someone understands the meaning) and another random guy approaches you for a dance? From a guys point of view, if i go out with a group and some lady ask me to dance she has my undivided attention. Lets boogie. Im not exactly thinking "how can i quickly ditch her and get bwck to my group"

    Opendoor: indeed. Perhaps the open dialogue will prevent you from being anything like me. It is true. I could very well be a victim of my own choices. Honestly all the salsa venues I go too are hot, all the women are pretty, and the bands live. So i dunno how to not avoid that.

    All in all. Having the discussion has already helped. But realizing others feel this way i really hope something comes out of this to help us all.

    One thing i wonder based on Dudes response is "how do dance snobs even exist?"I i mean isnt there a basic reasoning ability people possess that says "you are being rude!" Or "hey he got off beat, its ok. He didnt shoot and eat your puppy!" Lol

    I am trying to look at it from the womans perspective. What could I work on or be doing to envoke such a respinse?
  17. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    So, some of my statement was tongue in cheek, so let me break it down.

    You got some guys that appear to be very skilled, they do all the pretzelly, complicated figures. They can only dance with skilled followers, because they don't adjust to the follow.

    You've got many fewer guys who are less concerned about flashy patterns, and more focused on making the dance a musical conversation between lead and follow, and adjust what they do, both in terms of complexity and how they lead, according to the follow.

    The "annoyance" on the part of "skilled followers": that was the tongue in cheek part. They don't know how to follow, other than guys they are used to dancing with.

    The best leaders do both. They are able to do flashy moves, but they can and do adjust to their follower. Some pretty girls that are used to being asked by these guys don't know how much of their dancing is their own skill (not much) and how much is the skill of the leader.

    The best leaders don't get to be the best by only dancing with actually skilled followers. They get there by learning to lead all skill levels, and practicing with all skill levels.

    This is distinct from best dancers. Someone can be an excellent dancer, and a mediocre lead. Someone can be a great leader, but a so-so dancer.
  18. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Yes and no. We share the same goals. But f.i. NY-Torres communities got their own lives: flashy, shiny, hot, young, cliquy, in-breeding. Over here anyway.
  19. I think I fall into the second category of leaders. I used to know quite a few fancy moves of complicated turn patterns and tricks, but they required a skilled follower to follow them. Unfortunately, relatively skilled followers are few in clubs. So I adapted and focused on trying to be as musical as I can. Consequently, I fell out of practice on these moves and can't lead them as smoothly. Now, when I dance with one of those advance intermediate girls who can only have fun when they are put through a roller coaster ride dances, they simply look bored. They think they're Ferrari's and expect you drive a Ferrari. The problem is when you put them in second or third gear, you can't feel the gears shifting. I found that only the truly skilled followers can dance musically and have fun regardless of how complicated the moves are within certain bounderies.
    Steve Pastor likes this.
  20. Steven123

    Steven123 Member

    I looked the word "cliquy" up in the dictionary because it seems like it is spelled funny. That is the actual way to spell it though. I thought it would be something like "clicky" because "cliquy" seems like it is in a different language to me.

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