What’s WRONG with salsa?

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Staff member
What’s WRONG with salsa?
(. . . AKA dancers aren't the dance)

I hate making this post, but it’s the culmination of several factors. Don’t get me wrong, I *love* salsa! I don’t think I became me until I discovered salsa and had made it part of my life. And I know my life is infinitely richer for it. When I’ve been traveling or life has piled up on me and I haven’t had a chance to dance in a while I get antsy, I know something is missing from my life. It is only when I again dance salsa that my soul can say “Aaaaahhh . . . now I am again complete.”

So what’s WRONG with salsa? In one word, EGOS! I love salsa more than any other dance, but I’m continually amazed at how arrogant and egotistical salsa dancers can be. Far worse, in fact, than in any other dance style I have ever seen.

I understand, of course, that dancing takes skill and that we all appreciate appreciation of our skills, especially those that we have worked hard to achieve. But why does this have to be at the expense of others? Why do so many salsa dancers totally ignore the ramifications of their conduct, both on and off the floor? What of the instructor who says that they’ll dance with anyone but blows off everyone in the club who isn’t (A) an advanced dancer, or (B) one of their own paying students. What of the dancer who says that it’s all about their partner but then spends all of their time on the floor showing themselves off and looking to everyone in the vicinity for ongoing appreciation? What of the advanced dancer who refuses to adjust to the level of their partner and, rather than leaving the newer dancer with a treasured experience ends up running roughshod on their burgeoning love of dance? What of the dancer who talk about how much they encourage new blood in the salsa clubs but turns around to make snide remarks to their friends about the newer but less accomplished dancers on the floor? Why take up more than your share of floor space just so you can show off with your “latest and greatest” tricks?

I guess what I'm really asking though, is why are so many salsa dancers so insecure? Arrogance, after all, only screams one thing to me . . . “if I was comfortable and confident with myself I wouldn’t have to ram it down your throat; I wouldn't need to make others little in order to make myself big.”

So what is it about the salsa I love so much that seems to attract such a disproportionate proportion of egotisticism/arrogance/insecurity? I wish I could understand this, because this is the part of salsa that makes me so very, very sad . . . :cry:
Great post SD...I'm going through a real trial by fire with my Salsa dancing these days...some days I'm in heaven...other days its pure hell. But overall I do enjoy and love the dance...so for now I think I'm going to stay with it. I've seen most of the other beginner Salseros in my area give up...and people that I've brought to check the scene out found it to be "too fast and really intimidating." :shock:

I do love the music and the dance...but some of the folks I meet out there are certainly not my cup of tea. I always approach a dance feeling very positive, and sometimes the energy just doesn't jive with me...and when that happens I know its time to go. Usually this is when there's too many people showing off and looking for something other than dance...but thankfully there are those times when there is so much positive energy...and everyone's up on the floor having fun together. I just need to have this happen a bit more often in my case. :? :oops:

On our own, as individuals we can steer clear of having oversized egos and always be welcoming and kind towards new folks to the Salsa scene. This is what I do, and hopefully others will in return.

For now, I'm going to keep doing Salsa, but also work on my Merengue and Bachata. Sitting down is not an option in my case. ;)


You can bitch and moan all you want, but it makes perfect business sense for instructors to dance with their students only. If you think about it, a dance instructor spends a big chunck of time on their feet, teaching students all day, privates, etc. When they hit the clubs, it is their own free time. I say let them dance with whoever they enjoy dancing with. They only have a limited amount of time in the clubs, who the hell are you to dictate who they should dance with and who they shouldn't? Why would an instructor want to spend time helping an absolute beginner who may not know what they are doing instead of helping paying students develop the skill and confidence they need to advance in their own dancing?

Not to rip on beginners, we were all there and know how awkward it feels. But if you are a little more advanced, many of them are downright intimidated by you. It is simply not enjoyable to go through many dances where the other person is constantly saying 'sorry' instead of connecting and trying to dance with you. I remember perfectly all those times that I was rejected on the dance floor starting up, and all those times when the girls had that bored look over their eyes. It is a great motivator, it makes you want to work hard, it makes you want to get to that level if only to prove them wrong.

You'll always have egos whenever there are more than two people in one room. It is human nature. Jelousy, insecurities, misunderstandings, etc. Deal with it. You try to create this perfect place where everyone caters to the beginners, making them comfortable and fun and all lovey dovey ( studio socials, private parties, etc ), but once they get out of that safety bubble and hit the clubs, they'll choke and sophocate and lose all the love for the dance.

If you feel belittled by the way other people dance, it is your own problem. Most of the 'elite' dancers I know are awesome people, but you wouldn't know it by making assumptions on the way they dance. Some people choose to express their enjoyment of the music through tricks and dips, others enjoy expressing it through connection and subtleness. It is their own personal choice, and they live with the consequences. If you let the way other people dance affect you, or let them dictate how you dance, you will be absolutely miserable.


Well-Known Member
Yup. Plenty of people with egos on the salsa dance floor and more so then other dances. Not sure why this is the case too! :? Anyway, as SG said I do my best not to let that rub off on me, and as I get to know some of those others try to let my attitude rub off on them. :)
Honestly Brujo, I don't think "catering to beginners" is what was meant by SD's post. My experience has been with anyone in any situation where they feel the need to give the "sink or swim" mentality to a beginner, that person isn't so advanced as they would like to think. More often than not, they're envious of that person becoming as good (or better) than they are...and will do whatever they can do to discourage this person from doing so. Fear and insecurity, tried and true.

Things change when people change...and the excuse of "that's the way it is, deal with it," may apply in some scenarios..but its quite a cop out if you ask me. If everyone followed that mentality...our ancestors would have never left their countries and set out for new soil...thereby coming together to create a new culture. As I see it, Salsa is the spirit of the freedom that many people came together to create.

For instance, I had a boss once who had a fit and yelled at me because I spoke up to him. He later apologized and said "as you may have noticed, I have a temper."

Sorry charlie, but that BS won't fly with me! Said better "I don't know how to control my temper, especially in a professional manner."

We all have tempers, we all have egos. How do we find the balance between what is socially acceptable? Or do we make up our own rules because its easier for us? Its quite easy to be an a**h*le in our modern society, and you can get very far by imposing your will on others. Learning a little compassion and humility is quite challenging...and most people never bother to do so.

A lady of Native American heritage once told me that when visiting another nation, she commonly would be tested to see how tough she was. This may not mean a lot to some folks, but in the eyes of this other tribe, she was representing her entire nation. So, if she showed weakness, then the other tribe would look at all of her people as being weak.

So, if we love and live Salsa and choose to act brash and arrogant, what kind of a message are we sending to the rest of the Salsa community and the world at large?

This post strikes a cord......I need to think about it some more before writing a proper reply.

For now, I would share with you guys a recent quote from my wise salsero friend from Sydney, after receiving an e-mail from me (during one of my moments):

>I just wish people can be themselves. There is way
> too much ego involved........would'nt it be great if
> people could be secured/matured enough to relate to
> others without playing games....? *said salsachinita*

C'est la vie.
Everybody wants something. For some people salsa is
their big chance to be A Player - valued, respected,
desired etc - so it's no surprise that there's some
bad behaviour. It's actually surprising that there's
so much good behaviour...
Soon after I read this I had discovered that some of those accused of having ego/attitudes were just as (if not more) insecured/intimidated as the rest of us........

I guess egos/attitudes are great hiding places/comfort zone :roll: ...........

*so salsa is a great medium for these behaviours to materialised/manifestered....?*
It does not make "perfect business sense" for an instructor
to just dance with his/her students. In fact, it is an idiotic,
stupid, and insecure thing to do.

As a business person, you welcome new faces, you treat
everyone with respect so that you can flourish both personally
and professionally...you don't go out of your way to discourage...

But I have a theory as to why many do this:

It's one thing to chose who you dance with, but I think what
SD is talking about is more of the cliques that get formed.

In my opinion, anyone who promotes these "cliques" is as
insecure as anything else.

How safer can that get? I mean get real here...

No dancer will question you, you'll always look great because
every student is taught by you so therefore they will know what
you are going to do next...yeah real "safe little world".

That's the problem with salsa now. People think that by doing
this you can elevate yourself to another level...a "player", or
perhaps "better than the next".

Well guess what...all a person does by doing this is proving
just how insecure they really are.

In one of the posts someone made a reference to a "nice little box
or world"...to me these people are the ones creating this nice little
box by playing it safe.

Not taking a risk.

Guess what...

If you're a male instructor and you look bad dancing with someone

If you're a female instructor and you look bad dancing with someone

Not the "beginner's" fault...YOURS...

As the male instructor, you must lead to the person's ability.

As the female instructor, you must follow to the person's ability.

There wouldn't be a chance to look bad.

But noooooooo

That's too risky!!

God forbid someone sees this "glorified" instructor and possibly think
that they are not as good as they thing they are...no we can't have

I've seen it too many times and it is sickening.

The guys look like total losers...complete idiots.

You know what...

Lighten up. Dance with people. Avoid cliques. Socialize.

I mean you don't HAVE TO do that, but don't go in there with an air
of superiority when in fact you're just a scared little kid...

Is that harsh?

Well, yes. But that's what children do when they feel threatened...they
look to what's familiar...it doesn't get any more familiar than your own

But if you just step back and enjoy the simple things, it makes it
much better for everyone...

In fact, in my latest newsletter I had an article about enjoying the
small things...I think we all need to do that. Read it here:

Fernando, I love your article......it means so much to me in many levels, and I would like everyone to read it.

Would you consider posting it on 'Funstuff & Inspirations' or 'articles' forums.....?
You know, I have to add this...

I'm away on business so I've just been taking a cursory look at the
posts and I must also add that I agree with some of the things that
Brujo mentions...

I mean, you're right, who you choose to dance with should be of
no one's concern but yours.

And I can relate to Brujo's experience as a beginner and having
to learn the ropes, like Brujo did.

The thing is that we are not the same.

The way one person deals with adversity is different from how the
person next to you would deal with it.

Me personally, I'm the type of person to grab the bull by its horns
and roll with the punches...

Others aren't like that.

The point is that we must be tolerant of one another and respect
the way we deal with our situations.

And as an instructor, or a person who others look to for guidance
it's a responsibility to help.

If you're just in it for the money, or the popularity, then you're
doing it for the wrong reasons and eventually you will fail.

It's just a fact of life.

However, by taking other people into consideration and respecting
how each person deals with their own dilemas is crucial.

So yes, there are people with egos the size of mansions, but we
have to take the good with the bad.

My point is that if you are in a position of responsibility, you owe
it to those under your care.


Staff member
Just to be clear on this point, what I actually wrote was:

SDsalsaguy said:
What of the instructor who says that they’ll dance with anyone but blows off everyone in the club who isn’t (A) an advanced dancer, or (B) one of their own paying students.
My point wasn't that instructors shouldn't be free (just like anyone else) to dance with whom they choose, just that they -- like all the other "characters" I mentioned -- shouldn't be such hypocrites.


Well-Known Member
could at least part of it be due to the fact that salsa is culturally latin-centric vs. ballroom doing euro-centric if not anglo-centric, and that plays an influence, at least where it comes to dance etiquette? i guess that i'm also suggesting that the culture associated with salsa might attract the types of personalities/behaviors observed. certainly you're not going to expect a lot of flamboyant exhibitionist types flocking to waltz or foxtrot!
interesting topic.. yet very difficult to reply..

i can see the points behind SD's words and see part of the truth BUT i also see what is between the lines in Brujo's post and another side of the truth

my simplest explanation would be due to perception on one hand and of how people are like inside.. the answer is not absolute, but really relative and subjective.. were one sees confidence and carefree another might see vanity and belittlement .. or the opposite.. this does not mean either are right or either are wrong.. but its more like how one values things according to their own image of themselves.. and how they deal in life

i think that in salsa.. as in life, a person will give impressions according to how they act that flows from how they are as people.. salsa would just intensify that projection given its nature and make it more obvious to onlookers.. YET as in daily life, your impression to that is subjective and differs from others .. as is normal.. and very possibly too one often gets the wrong impression untill they get to know the person a little more.. but u see .. salsa environment does not allow for that much interaction .. actually it magnifies impressions just based on what is observed cause simply its dance thus art thus exhibition is a big component..

Ok i'm like ranting on here and loosing track of what i'm trying to say.. sorry.. what i'm saying is.. nothing will harm u .. if u dont let it.. just do it like u enjoy doing it and leave the rest to karma.. salsa is a means not an end of itself and people will use it differently and subjectively.. altho we all love heaven and perfection .. earth is where we live .. and so its always gona be good and bad together .. and even that is relative.. it cannot be explained.. so just do it your way.. and if that makes u feel good end of the day.. thats good enough.. and if it doesn't .. its time to change something about yourself .. because changing others is very improbable if not impossible.. they gotta do that on their own and according to their own self rating system.. in my opinion.

Vince A

Active Member
Good thing some of you salseros and salseras are learning to WCS . . . then you'll be lucky enough to dance with people who don't have egos/attitudes :roll:


New Member
SD, interesting points. One thing I have noticed with salsa that goes inline with what you are saying. What is it about salsa that leads to not accepting beginnners?
By that I mean the attitude of "you should learn with someone else before you dance with me" ?
It seems alot more prevalent in salsa than other dance communities.
By that I mean the attitude of "you should learn with someone else before you dance with me" ?
SD would probably give this better depth of answer.. or may be even disagree with my interpretation.. but since i saw this i just will quickly say that there is a wide scale of difference between an advanced and beginner salsa dancer.. that however, does not excuse rudeness.. since one can always choose being polite and encouraging.. if the person is rude that is his/her issue .. not salsa's

because there are various salsa styles and levels.. it could get complicated in technical and creative terms.. if u are advanced .. and u are looking to get your 'dance fix'.. the only one that can deliver is another advanced dancer.. nothing less will do unless u are in a carefree mood and wouldn't mind messing around.. but as u get higher and higher in salsa scale u tend to get more and more picky.. the harder and harder it gets for u to go back to where u left.. ok, maybe a few dances here and there but the majority is with those who challenge your abilities..
My idea of salsa isn't as simple as how I fit into things, but more of something that is represented in my persona. Whereever I go and I dance, I’m not only dancing for myself nor representing myself. I am representing salseros and the salsa community, I am representing that which I love and has become my lifestyle. Hence, I chose to portray the good qualities about myself, and those that I want to root in salsa. I am showing those around me the culture that I choose to live. I want to display the positive in it, I want to keep alive all the positive that attracted me to SALSA and abolish the pettiness of the ME ME ME personalities, those who don’t know the difference between a humble display of skill and an egotistical display of the same. I sit here and hope to represent salsa not as its ghetto meaning, but as something that can have a positive impact not only on me but those around me and society as a whole.

I am always welcoming new faces. I do my best to show them the good side of salsa, for I know that the good fellow next to me will only give them a face and speak behind their back as soon as they are done dancing.

Salsa is more than I. It is the whole that people don’t see, for some people really think that I is the whole.

Salsa will never be about me nor what I can do, nor how much time I’ve spent busting my butt, therefore I have the right to display what I can do in the dance-floor, regardless of what anyone thinks. I am going to do things how I see fit! NO, there is no I in salsa. I could careless about anyone’s perspective of dancing salsa is if it’s damaging to that which I love. Believe me, if someone walked into my house and treated my family as they treat those around them in the salsa-world, I’d toss their behinds out and never allow them back in my house. For my world isn’t about how you see things, but how you can benefit the world and make us a better. All that really matters at the end is how good of a society salsa creates within its members. Not the divisions nor social castes it creates.

I can’t just sit there and see the arrogant face so popular in NY City. The arrogance of I can do this and you can’t! The, I’m not dancing with you because I am here to enjoy myself! As if enjoyment was relevant to what we do not what we think of that which we do. Fools in my mind! He who blames others for a lack of that which he has, and he who seeks an egotistical supremacy to truly state enjoyment of the self!

The salsa world should worry more about the good of the community instead of individual EGOS. It is ridiculous that people think the best for the group is the best for ME. What am I saying! Salseros aren’t even worried about the group they are worried about themselves, and how they look in the eyes of others.

We have all as beginners gone trough the lack luster attitudes that salserso dish out. Yet, when we get there what do we do? We think of I and return the same behavior we at one time hated to receive. However, do it to the wrong people, the beginners who are only looking to enjoy themselves and be part of something with so much to offer. With an excuse justified by stupidity, as if your actions really didn’t affect others, directly or indirectly, we should care about everyone not just who I AM. The attitude of, it happened to me... let them go trough it too, has to change. But many instead of changing the harmful behaviors that salsa is so darn popular for, feed it even more.

Of course the Salsero only sees I in the picture. Perspective usually is what is best for me, not us but ME. The good old imperialists view that I have every right to do as I please, screw others, let them leave, let them not dance with me. NEGATIVITY at its best! Yet, backed by the excuse that I’m here for ME. Hehe as if being in a social group really allows me to not have an impact on the group.

I’m not saying not to dance like you want to dance. All I am saying is that you can choose to be a good person while you dance. Don’t blame being unable to gratify yourself from a simple basic dance on the other person. It has to do with you, not others but YOU. The perspective you chose to live by has yet to progress to the next level, the next level isn’t about I but everyone, the good of I as long as it is beneficial for us. The enjoyment of giving to others all you can give, the pleasure that it is to see a beginners face when they dance with one of the best dancers in town, the pleasure that you might just have had a huge impact on this person’s life or even a little one. The simple pleasure that what you are giving someone something they couldn’t have done alone, or may be with others. The simple pleasure that they are giving you their time, therefore, you owe that person the gratitude of showing them that their time gifted to you will indeed be well received and admired.

The true character of a person shows with their treatment towards those who mean nothing to him. Leave that big fat EGO that thinks that it needs to belittle others to be satisfied. There is huge difference in going all out and not being egotistical about it, and doing the same and coming across as a nasty individual. If you don’t know the difference there is nothing I can do. If you come across as a not a nice person to those who around you, then my friend you need to re-evaluate your perspective for that very thing is what you are displaying in the dance, your negative attitude of superiority. Some of these dancers are the same people who could careless about their impact in salsa’s life, for instead of building a place in Salsa they want to be SALSA.

Everyone sees that you are a stuck up dancer, yet you say this is me, take it or leave it. Hehe. Yeap, that is you, an idiot. This one person chooses to display a negative quality in their dancing, not a good one but a negative one. For some reason negativity is the best they can do to display their persona in a dance. You go Salsero! Keep displaying the worst in you because you have spent so much time and effort getting to this point that you might as well be arrogant to say the least, to others. Remember that being an A** isn’t a new thing…

Worse yet, is those dancers who actually carry that attitude when they aren’t dancing. The good ole this is ME, yet it is the you that says nothing but I am being negative and I chose to be a bad person to you and others because this is me. The community means nothing because all I care is about ME, take or leave it. God, it isn’t a question of take it or leave it, the question is for you to live by it. That Karma, which I don’t believe in, but you do, is leading you down a shabby path. Yet, you chose to act the same dance in and dance out because this is the “you” that you chose to tell people you are. The you who paid its dues, therefore, should be allowed to run over everyone because after all, this is YOU! Take me or leave me for I don’t care how my actions affect the whole, for my perspective says I am the whole.

God, this topic drives me NUTS!
SD, SalsaRhythms & Boriken, you guys rock! Well said. The only other thing I would like to add is sometimes this attitude is breeded within schools and unfortunately, the students are not always aware of it. Thinking maybe it's just part of the program. The hierarchy attitude or "petty" competitiveness starts there and carries over into the clubs and/or socials. Almost as if you're in highschool. Freshmen don't talk to sophmores and so on. :roll: Just a thought and I'm really curious if the NEGATIVENESS flows into the Salsa market? For example: A school hasn't had new students in a while, same old crowd with same old NEGATIVE attitudes towards others. So people who would LOVE to learn, don't because they are made to feel that they are less of person because they are not in the advance class. :? A salsa club stays open only two months because it's dominated by the same old crowd from the same old school with the same old NEGATIVE attitudes. Surely, there are a whole lotta contributions to failed/stunted growth of the Salsa community, I just wonder if this is one of them. Hmmmm.....
borikensalsero said:
All that really matters at the end is how good of a society salsa creates within its members. Not the divisions nor social castes it creates.
:notworth: :notworth: :notworth: This just about sums it up, Boriken! :notworth: :notworth: :notworth:

Looking at the big picture, this is indeed how it has to be.....

....but sometimes I lie awake at night, wondering if I had been guilty doing things that I've been advocating against.........

A few years ago I used to only dance with people familiar (ie. 'old school') to me. Reasons.....?
1. I was a lot less secured & got intimidated by the different styles.
2. I was less skilled as a follower.
3. I was afraid to give beginners a chance because I believed as a follower, I had NOTHING to offer.
4. I didn't want to seem like a 'show-off', as I was conditioned by my ex/mentor & heavily influenced by HIS views (instead of my own :roll: ).
5. I didn't think my action would make ANY difference to anyone.

Two main factors changed me forever:
1. Discovery of Edie Salsafreak's writing
2. My familiar group started to disappeared from the scene, as 'evolution' started to take effect. All of a sudden there were NO ONE to dance with :shock: !

Then I realised that if I always do what I've always done, I would always get what I've always got :shock: .

No one benefit from this. Least of all, myself. So I started to change.

There is still a long way to go, but I am doing my little bits. Sure, we are ALL looking to get that fix when we hit the clubs, but surely there is room in all of us for nuturing.......

AND we can all make a difference....small miracles can & do happen :wink: !


Well-Known Member
Vin said:
SD, interesting points. One thing I have noticed with salsa that goes inline with what you are saying. What is it about salsa that leads to not accepting beginnners?
By that I mean the attitude of "you should learn with someone else before you dance with me" ?
It seems alot more prevalent in salsa than other dance communities.
more than WCS?

Vince A said:
Good thing some of you salseros and salseras are learning to WCS . . . then you'll be lucky enough to dance with people who don't have egos/attitudes :roll:
oh please.... i've been turned down because i don't compete regularly in jack & jill's.

i note that there is a commonality in that both dances are club dances & with salsa particularly there is a greater percentage of 'street' dancers...
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