How do I understand why do women dance?


Well-Known Member
You did. You were right. I still don't understand why it is what it is. I would like to identify the very specific emotions that such a simple dance produces, that way I can tailor my dance to produce more of that result.
I give up. Go read your other threads and some others on the board. Try to let go of your preconceived notions.


Active Member
You did. You were right. I still don't understand why it is what it is. I would like to identify the very specific emotions that such a simple dance produces, that way I can tailor my dance to produce more of that result.
Follow. It's a totally different experience than leading. If you try very hard to do all the technique right, and not anticipate - not even anticipate weight changes, but wait to change your weight until your leader does. Patterns that you know by heart and lead all the time suddenly feel completely different.

Or, as an analogy : as a leader, you are driving a car. You decide where you are going, when, how fast, etc. You may only know how go straight, turn left and turn right, and it may feel repetitive. As a follower, you're the car. You have no view of the road, and can only feel your leader and the road. You try to provide the speed, direction, etc as responsively as possible, but you have no idea what the leader is doing. Until you have a bunch of experience, you can't tell the difference between a left turn, a left circle, our anything else that goes left. Everything is a surprise and you are trying to keep up.

Or, another analogy. The leader designs a roller coaster. He knows every turn, every climb, and every plunge. The follower gets on this roller coaster exactly once. And she sits facing backwards. She has absolutely no idea what's coming next. Multiple followers may take the ride, but it's new for each of them. It's repetitive for you, as a leader, because you've led it before.

You need to understand that leading and following are completely different experiences. Like speaking French vs sign language. You cannot compare the experience of a beginning leader to that if a follower, since the demands of their roles are totals different.


Active Member
I've been dancing over 11 years, taught for about 9 of those years, and know a LOT of different patterns.

I prefer dancing with fewer patterns - to be honest, I only dance to the music and because I have the repertoire, I can express more freely.

Having said that, during one dance, I won't attempt to dance all the patterns I know, only maybe 4 or 5 that suit the music.

It's about the *feeling* - how well and cleanly you lead the simple things like cbl inline turn etc. Women aren't the only ones who prefer smooth leads to fewer patterns, men do as well, after they've gone through the "learn as many patterns as possible" stage.


Active Member
Ok, I tried counting them, so here are the names (in some cases I improvised a bit regarding names)

- CBL with follower's inside turn
- CBL 360
- back break
- follower's break or whatever it's called
- CBL with some follower's outside turns
- copa variation
- CBL variation with some extra turns
- enchufla variation
- reverse CBL or whateve the name
- backspot turn with follower's ronde
- titanic variation
- underarm turn with some extra turns
- CBL 360 with some extra turns and hand change
- another CBL variation with hand flick and different exit
- another CBL variation with extra turn at beginning
- enchufla variation with leader's turn and some additional armwork
- CBL 360 overturned another half turn
- another titanic variation
- J prep with several spins or whatever the name
- reverse CBL with hand change behind follower's back
- another copa variation
- basic step
- hammerlock
- maybe a few more and some of above are repeated a few times, sometimes with some variations ...

Of course, everything can be classified as variations of a few basic moves like basic step, cross body, enchufla, underarm turn, copa, backspot turn etc with various alternative holds and various additional spins, but on the classes, they would be presented as different patterns I think. It depends on naming ...


Well-Known Member
yeah... 5 moves... On that scale, I usually stick to 0.4 moves per dance.
Well, he says he's been dancing for 11 years, so you are right on target.

Give yourself another 10 years and see where you are. Dancing is a journey, enjoy the part of the path you are on now.


Active Member
yeah... 5 moves... On that scale, I usually stick to 0.4 moves per dance.
But at least we have a scale now :p

Don't worry, most followers (depending on the venue of course) are happy with 1-2 moves (according to Jag's scale), so if you really use 0.4, you are not that far. On average song, I would probably be using around 2 moves. However I have no video of myself to prove that, but there would definitively be less spinning. Preferences differ from venue to venue, from person to person and along timeline though

This goal is possible to achieve within a year or two, but problem is, it's very hard to find a teacher that will teach you that. Problem with salsa classes I attended was generally that "instructors" teach hundreds patterns, but many of them are actually not usable in social dancing environment, unless you are dancing with regular partner (which was also the case in this video). So in reality most people need much more time to see what is usable and what isn't. But moves in this video are ok in that regard, everything (or almost) is leadable providing you have a partner at something like intermediate level (meaning dancing 1-2 years on average - however different people progress at very different speed). So if you take about 50 extra spins from the video, you will end up with quite usable set of 2 moves (on the same scale again).

After you are at some reasonable level (moves-wise), it's important to start working harder on the quality instead of quantity (I mean it's important from the beginning, but you need some basic "vocabulary" to operate with). Your quality of movement directly affects feeling that follower has dancing with you. However, people are different again. Some like smaller set of moves and uninterrupted harmony in the couple (which is hard to achieve if using many moves), some like 1000 spins, some like 1000 moves as complicated as it can be regardless many faults, some like that you physically shift them around, some like that you don't shift them around ... generally people like to do what they do the best, so even after 10 years, you won't be able to please everyone ... and even if you are, you don't want to do that ... psychology of social dancing is as complicated as ordinary life and similar in many things ...


Active Member
You mean it takes 11 years to learn to lie about number of patterns? ;)
Ok - in my defense I do tend to "show off" more patterns if I know I'm being filmed and dancing with my regular partner...

But honestly - I can happily dance just doing the basic stuff. We both enjoy it if it's smooth. I'll happily also dance Cuban if the moves consist of nothing more than dile que nos and echuflas.

I dance a lot with less experienced dancers and beginners. Of course with them I won't execute complex patterns, and if I did I can guarantee you they wouldn't enjoy it.
Women don't all dance for the same reason. I think the mystery to you is that most partners will cares about how the dance feels, not how it looks. Just go with it, even if at the moment you don't understand it. And believe us when we all tell you the same thing repeatedly. ;)
I agree. To women, it's more about how it feels rather than how it looks. Exceptions are for show off high maintenance types and they are few far between. They don't stick around anyway.
Note to leads: it's all about the connection and how it feels ie the experience. Focus on that more so than how it looks to the crowd. Unless it's show salsa/performance with judges.
I think it's more that after 11 years, you know longer think about things in terms of patterns :)
That's right.
Most really good dancers don't really think about patterns, specific moves etc. It becomes more improvisational and playful.
Consider other arts like English literature - once there is a strong competency with the foundational stuff, you start to play with words on the fly ( knowing the confidence in your abilities etc) often not thinking in terms of ' this is what the follower /audience etc wants..." rather what feels right to both you and your follower, making adjustments along the way. This requires a fair amount if awareness - internal and external.
Takes a sh*tload of practice to get there though.

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