My friend and I went to a bar/restaurant last night that has salsa and bachata dancing several nights a week. It had been about six months since the last time I went salsa dancing and boy, did I feel it! After one guy kept me on the dance floor for two songs in a row, I sat down and was ready to go to sleep about two minutes later. Granted, the songs were four or five minutes long! But still, I felt a little pathetic.
Club salsa dancing is very different from ballroom salsa dancing. Basics are the same, but there is no syllabus so moves are really only limited by the guy’s creativity and his ability to lead. You’ll also see people doing different things with their steps and the timing. Some add a little tap on the 4 and 8 counts where you normally hold; others barely move their feet.
In my experience, club salsa tends to be a lot more physical too. I don’t know if it’s a macho thing, like the guys are all trying to show how manly they are, but I definitely get thrown around a lot. Maintaining a strong connection is essential! It also becomes critical to keep your steps small and your elbows in since the floor can get pretty crowded.
When my friend and I first arrived, the group class was just ending. We grabbed a table near the dance floor, put on our dance shoes and ordered our usual mojitos (this place makes a mean mojito with real ingredients, not just a mix). It was a slow start; I think it was because guys just usually go for the girls they know or at least recognize as regulars. But a lot of them also hang around the edges of the dance floor when they’re not dancing. So once we were asked out once or twice and guys could see that we knew what we were doing, the invitations to dance came more frequently.
There were a lot of different characters we encountered through the night. Here are a few of the more memorable ones:
Show Pony – This guy knows how to dance, but he is all about showing off his “shine” moves, which are done separately from your partner. Most guys release the girl once or twice during a dance to do a shine and give the girl a chance to do her own. My friend and I were both to asked to dance by this guy, but we spent most of the time dancing on our own while he showed off for his friends. Ok, dude, I can see you have the moves, but are we ever going to actually dance together?
Ballroom Guy – My friend and I weren’t the only ballroom dancers enjoying a night out at the salsa club. Another guy that asked both of us to dance was clearly a ballroom student. The way he held his arms in frame and the textbook arm styling were dead giveaways. While we were dancing, he also didn’t try to muscle me through the dance. He danced his part and just invited me with his leads to do my part. I enjoyed the break; it was like a rest period during a high intensity workout!
Snake Hands – This guy is a lot of fun to dance with if you can keep up! He knows all of the moves that have you feeling like a pretzel being twisted and untwisted over and over. Dancing with this character is always a good test for me. I have to maintain that strong connection but leave my arms flexible enough so he can move them wherever he’s planning without hurting me.
The Spinner – He probably doesn’t need much of an explanation. He likes to spin the girl. A lot! Luckily, my lessons with Teacher’s friend have kept me conditioned for this character because Teacher’s friend is also a fan of spins!
Full Bronze – These guys provide nice breaks too. They have a solid handle on the more basic moves, but don’t do anything too crazy. They’re easy to follow and usually have a more gentle lead.
We lasted about 2.5 hours before we called it a night. It was a good night! But my legs are definitely feeling it today. Is it sad that my knees and hips are sore? Guess I need to hit the salsa club more often! It would definitely be a good way to build up stamina for future competitions.
Anyone else venture outside the ballroom socials to do some club partner dancing this weekend?