SALSA EVENINGS with SALSA-ASI!
WHAT HAPPENS AND WHAT WE TEACH
We run regular weekly Classes and these are on a ‘drop-in’ basis, so you can come along to see if it is for you, without committing to a set course. You can come alone, with a partner, or with friends.
Salsa is a social dance. Therefore, in class, we rotate so that our students do not dance with just one person, they move on to the next after a short while with one partner. This way, you can practice with a different partner, which aids the learning process, and also introduces you to new people. This also has the added advantage that you will feel more comfortable dancing freestyle after the class, as you will already know each other.
Our philosophy is very much to teach good basic technique at the different levels, and also to provide as much social interaction and enjoyment in the evening as we can.
Doors open, and music is playing for practice or background, until we start the 'show'. Normally, we start our evening with a warm-up, which is just to get you in the mood, to loosen up muscles, and also to practice basic steps, with variations. If you are a newcomer, please join in; you may not follow everything, but it really doesn't matter, as even the experienced dancers go wrong sometimes.
We then divide into the different levels. Your teacher for the evening will ask for your ticket, which will have been given to you on entry.
The class will last about an hour, split into 3 sessions. Between teaching, there will be two tracks of slow music, where you will practice what you have learned so far, and we finish the class with another track, when the whole routine you have learned will be practiced.
After that, we usually have a warm-down (like the warm-up but often a bit faster), then we play salsa music (plus perhaps the occasional Chachacha, Bachata or Merengue) until closing time. This is where you really learn how to dance, so don’t be shy, just have a go. You will be surprised how quickly you will get into the salsa mode.
Style of Dance
There are many different styles of salsa, the most common in the UK being Crossbody style On 1; Crossbody style On 2; and Cuban. We teach Crossbody on 1 (which means we ‘Break’ on the first beat, and the fifth).
The Different Levels
We generally teach at least 3 levels, 4 every Thursday, and below is a very brief description of what this involves. You will find yourself 'in the groove' very soon, and the time will fly by!
There is no set timetable for you to move up to the next class; the times suggested at each level are just a guide, and much will depend on how quickly you grasp the basics of the level you are at.
Much will depend on your own confidence and ability. Some students have other forms of dance experience – they may well advance more quickly. But remember, it is not a race, it a journey to be enjoyed. Do not feel pressured to move on before you are ready; but please always ask your teacher whether he or she feels you are ready to move on before actually doing so. This is very important for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.
We also strongly urge you to stay and dance freestyle, and to practice after the class. We can show you what to do and how to do it in class, but you only really learn on the dance floor. There is no set or choreographed way to dance Salsa, it is very fluid, although there are basic rules of footwork and timing. We teach you the basics, different moves and turn patterns, and how to lead/follow them, but it is for you to decide what to do on the dance floor, depending on the rhythm of the music, your partner, your own mood and how you feel.
LEVEL 1 – ABSOLUTE BEGINNER
This is a very basic class, aimed at the complete beginner, and those who have yet to master the basic techniques.
We teach at this level the Salsa Steps required for Crossbody Style, including:-
basic (or Mambo) Step;
side basic step;
back basic step;
single (spot) turns;
simple cross-body lead (if the group is ready);
Also, we explain Salsa Timing; Correct Posture, Resistance, Framework and Hand Holds. (ROUGH GUIDE: Usually this takes 2-4 weeks)
LEVEL 2 – BEGINNERS PLUS
This level takes you a stage further, and will also be useful for those who may have learned Cuban Style Salsa before, but not Crossbody style (there are technical differences). It will involve emphasizing the technique of Leading and Following simple moves. These moves, which will be broken down and explained carefully, will include:-
Crossbody leads (Basic and Walk through) and with inside and outside (pivot*) turns for the lady;
More emphasis on Spot turns for Ladies and Gentlemen;
Simple Shines (eg Susi Q);
and other simple moves, joined up into a very simple routine.
Also, we emphasise again Salsa Timing; Correct Posture, Resistance, Framework and Hand Holds. (ROUGH GUIDE: Very roughly this usually this takes about 6-12 weeks. You do really need to be able to be very comfortable with this level before moving up to the next level).
Note: * 'Pivot' turns are travelling turns; ‘Spot’ turns are, as the name implies, turns on the spot)
LEVEL 3 – IMPROVER
At this level, your instructor will start to make some basic assumptions about your ability to perform all of the steps taught at level 1 or 2, so you do need to feel very comfortable with those steps. At this level, you are really starting to dance – a bit like ‘joined-up writing’, only ‘joined-up dance’, if you like.
The individual moves will be linked together to form a routine, which hopefully you will enjoy and be able to repeat. You will gradually develop a range of moves that you can ‘cut and paste’ to suit what you remember and find comfortable for your style – we are all different.
Although we teach moves and turn patterns, however, the essence of the dance is to listen to and try to interpret the music, to dance on time, to look at and dance with your partner, to have fun and to make the experience a good one for your dance partner.
If you go wrong, don’t worry. Just keep trying – don’t be afraid to ask if you do not understand something. If your partner goes wrong, don’t criticize or ‘tut’, just encourage him/her. Indeed, the move may well have gone wrong because YOU did something wrong! So just smile and enjoy the moment. It is meant to be fun, not stressful. The moves taught at this level will vary but may include:-
More intricate Pivot turns for the lady;
In-Out (Copa) moves;
Break, into ‘Round the World’ (360 degree turn);
Double spins for the Lady;
Touch and go;
Double turns for the man;
Movement and Styling tips;
More detailed Lead/Follow explanations.
(ROUGH GUIDE: this is much more difficult to predict time-wise, as much will depend how often you dance and how readily you pick up the necessary techniques; this time estimate should not be used as a basis for moving up – always ask your instructor first! However, it will probably be somewhere between 4 to 12 months, if you dance regularly, but not if you are an occasional dancer)
LEVEL 4 – INTERMEDIATE
At this level, you will have been dancing for quite a while and should be able to lead or follow most moves effortlessly. Therefore, be sure that you are totally comfortable with Improver level. Do not be afraid to advance, but do ask your instructor at the Improver level first.
Your instructor now will be teaching faster, and will assume that you are competent to dance at this level. He will not spend time on basic explanation of technique that should have become ingrained by this stage, as that would be unfair on the more experienced students (if you find you cannot cope, you have moved up a little too soon). He will, however, explain the way in which more complex/faster moves are performed, led, followed, and generally executed. There is no summary of moves as this will be a gradual development of technique and dancing at a higher level. All routines taught will be 'leadable'; that is to say not choreographed. We only teach moves that are 'danceable'.
Dancing salsa is not about how many moves you can do. It is about dancing with your partner, on time, to the rhythm of the music. So do not worry if you feel you have only a small selection of moves - if you do those moves well you will be a joy to watch and dance with. That is always more appreciated than lots of moves/styling which are badly done and inappropriate to the music. Remember, always look at and connect to your partner, smile and enjoy yourself.
The above are only basic outlines, to give you some idea of what the evening will hold in store. The main point however is to ENJOY!
Please bear in mind the following:
- Be sure you are fit enough to dance. It is not high impact, but it can be quite energetic. Check with your doctor if you are unsure - particularly if you have health or fitness problems. We cannot advise on health issues.
- You are always responsible for your own balance, not your partner.
- You can only truly dance with a partner, if you have the basic ability to dance on your own; master the basics!
- Wear sensible clothes/footwear.
- Please avoid wearing jewellery or other items that could hurt your partner or yourself (i.e. remove sharp rings, dangling ear rings etc).
- Dance considerately, towards your partner and other dancers. Be aware always of your ‘space’ on the dance floor.
- Listen carefully to all instruction, particularly with regard to technique, but only from the instructor (not other dancers!)
- If in doubt about something, do not be shy, just ask. We are there for this and always keen to help.
- If you want to dance freestyle, go ahead and ask someone, ladies as well as gents. It is quite acceptable. And PLEASE come and ask the instructors – don’t be afraid, we are nice people really! And we love dancing with everyone, whether beginner or advanced.
- Finally, at all our venues we put out various Notes and literature to help you remember/understand, and which is available to take away. Please feel free.