Music and its Dancing style - what if the music doesn't click with me?

YogoYogo Registered User regular
So I've always been an avid dancer while attending parties. First one to the dance floor and always going 110% of the allowed speed limit, impressing a lot of people with my energy and enthusiasm. Usually corny and cheesy 80's, 90's boy-band pop songs (Put on Backstreet Boys and I'm ready to blast off).

2 years ago I thought about doing something about it. I've always been good at the "free-style" aspect of dancing, but never the traditional one (with a partner). Having a preference for a specific type of music (deep base, electronic), I thought the House-style dance would be a perfect fit for me. Unfortunately, I never got the hang of it. Very hip-hop inspired and the music played felt flat and didn't motivate me (as I have usually been when dancing).

Fast forward to this year, I decided to try out Salsa and specifically Cuban Salsa. As a guy, I've many times been complimented on my 'swinging hips' and I thought, why not try it out for more than 1 session?

Progress has been good and I've demonstrated that I am a fast learner. But I've hit a snag, and I think it is largely a mental one, so I need some advice:

Some days ago I asked my friend to accompany me to a Salsa party hosted by my teachers. I didn't know anyone besides them and it was the first time I've attended a party where the sole purpose was to dance. Either you dance or stand at the side waiting to dance: no chit-chatting unless you go outside (to smoke). At the party, there were a lot of very experienced dancers and I was very overwhelmed by how good they were. I really enjoyed watching them perform and seeing the enjoyment from both the Lead and the Follow.

But when my friend asked me if we were going to dance or not, I felt timid, and I have never felt that way before when it comes to dancing.

We did dance, and I also danced with one of my teachers, but that nagging feeling never quite left me. It was as if something didn't click right with me, and I have been unable to figure out what it is. I feel I'm missing the energy and enjoyment I usually associate with dancing. It feels somewhat dead to me, like I'm doing the motions but not feeling happy about it.

I've thought about it being because the music is unfamiliar to me. I enjoy some salsa music, but I've never had a preference for it. My Spanish is also bad, so I can't actually understand what they are singing like with English. I've also wondered if it is my perfectionist tendencies causing me to feel "dismayed" that I am not the best on the dance floor. However, I feel I have no trouble dancing the steps and my only current limit is my imagination or lack of moves. These feelings were replicated yesterday when I attended an open air salsa event with aforementioned friend.

A third possibility is that the negativity coming from my current longterm unemployment is overshadowing my ability to focus on enjoying myself (because I'm worried for the future).

Lastly, it might just be that I am not motivated by salsa music? My friend dances swing, and I can clearly see how a dancing fire is ignited within her when she listens to 50's, 60's 'pop' songs.

As you can read, this is an 'issue' which is bothering me because I really enjoy the fact that I can dance in unison together with a person and achieve a greater dancing cohesion, but annoyed that I feel no enjoyment from the music.

So H/A, what would you suggest?


  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    I do ballroom dance recreationally, including foxtrot, waltz, swing, rumba, cha-cha, tango, samba, and salsa.

    There are a lot of different types of partner dances, each with different characteristics, and it's 100% normal for you to feel an affinity for one and not another. I really like "smooth" dances like foxtrot and waltz, for example, both for aesthetic reasons (I like the "cool" feel and elegance of foxtrot and waltz, respectively, and the music too) and for practical reasons (my feet don't have natural turnout and I have good control of the rise and fall in my knees, which is helpful for these types of dances). I also like, strangely enough, samba. But samba is one of my fiancée's least favorite dances. That's just the way it goes -- people's tastes will differ.

    Salsa is far and away my least favorite dance. (Well, that and merengue. Seriously, fuck merengue.) There are a few reasons:

    - Salsa music becomes very monotonous to me after a while. Not a lot of variation, and like you, I don't understand the lyrics.
    - It's a heavily improvisational dance. Like anything that's improvisational, you have to learn a lot of "standard" steps before you can start adding personal touches--which requires creativity.
    - Salsa is frankly boring to learn early on. There are like 4 different types of salsa basic steps, which are necessary but boring to practice, and it took me a year before I even started learning how to do anything remotely fun.

    Anyway, I've been keeping at it because people assure me that salsa will become really fun for me... eventually. But I still sigh every time a salsa song comes on.

    So my advice to you:

    (1) Definitely try other partner dances and other styles of music. You might find you have a greater affinity for swing, or Argentine tango, or other latin dances like cha-cha, bachata, and samba. You might even consider mambo -- it has essentially the same steps as salsa, so you'll be able to easily transfer over what you've learned, but has different timing and is danced to a very different style of music.

    (2) Even as you try other dances, keep at salsa. It's a good one to know, as a lot of women love it for some reason and salsa clubs are fairly easy to come by. And as you learn other dances, you can transfer over some of the skills and steps you know into salsa, as like I said, it's a heavily improvisational dance. If it begins to feel like a chore, know that you're in good company--I've been working at it for years and I'm still waiting for it to cross that threshold and become fun for me.

    ChopperDave on
    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
  • YogoYogo Registered User regular
    Thanks for the advice. Glad to hear it isn't something wrong with me :-)

  • CowSharkCowShark Registered User regular
    edited June 2015
    Would you listen to much salsa music if you weren't specifically there to dance to it?

    I mainly dance swing, and I think it fits me well because I'd be pleased as punch to listen to old-time jazz basically any time.

    Although where I go, while everybody's pretty much there to dance, there's also plenty of chit-chat.

    CowShark on
  • YogoYogo Registered User regular
    I actually don't listen to salsa music when I relax. It is usually a mix of 90's songs with a few club songs mixed in between (ex. George Michael while cooking). That type of music connects better with me than salsa.

    In any case, I'm thinking of trying Swing to get the basics down, and then applying it to the music I like. Ex. Electroswing if I want a more base oriented beat.

  • YogoYogo Registered User regular
    I've tried some Swing lessons now, and I can see a huge difference in the styles, @ChopperDave .

    Compared to Swing, Salsa feels "dry" and too serious in its movements whereas Swing feels much more alive and goofy... and I really like that! I don't know most of the music, but I didn't even notice it. I just felt the beat and rhythm and worked the steps in, enjoying the experimenting part of it.

    Definitively going to practice more Swing in the future :)

  • FantasmaFantasma Registered User regular
    If you don't speak or understand Spanish, you won't actually enjoy Salsa. Salsa is a very romantic, melodic and poem oriented music, and yes, it is difficult to master at first, but with patience and dedication anyone can learn.

    Dancing Salsa is also the easiest way to fall in love, or at least to socialize. I normally drink Vodka or Whisky (just a tiny amount) when visiting the places I used to go dancing in order to relax and enjoy the moment. This is not an advice though.

    I am a little confused when you say Salsa feels dry.

    Hear my warnings, unbelievers. We have raised altars in this land so that we may sacrifice you to our gods. There is no hope in opposing the inevitable. Put down your arms, unbelievers, and bow before the forces of Chaos!
  • ChopperDaveChopperDave Registered User regular
    Saying that salsa feels "dry" is a little odd, but I'm glad you found a dance that clicks with you. There are actually a lot of similarities between swing and salsa, believe it or not--they're both very improvisational and social. You might find that as you learn things in swing, elements of salsa will click more for you.

    I think Fantasma is probably right that it helps to speak Spanish. That may be one of the reasons I don't like salsa very much. There are also a lot of different styles of salsa--there are definitely people who dance salsa Super Serious, and others who dance it loose and fun. So maybe you just need to find a different group next time you try salsa.

    At any rate, I hope you have fun with swing! It's a good one.

    3DS code: 3007-8077-4055
  • Space PickleSpace Pickle Registered User regular
    just freestyle if you aren't sure

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