Why “Social” dancers are killing Salsa

The Dancing Irishman

Purely social dancers have started pissing me off.

Let’s get something straight: Salsa IS a social activity. Most people who take it up do so to get out more and to meet new people. That’s one of the reasons I dance myself and I consider myself a social dancer (just not in the sense that I’m writing about here). Long story short, salsa needs to be enjoyed. Today, however, I’m gonna talk about a very different type of “Social” dancer!

There seems to be a natural progression amongst great salseros that goes a little something like this:

  • They begin salsa without many expectations
  • They enjoy the new activity and the new social outlet
  • They improve and their improvement leads to greater enjoyment
  • Greater enjoyment leads to greater desire to improve…

    Great dancers continue to get better over time (in an ideal world of course) Great dancers continue to get better over time (in an ideal world of course, so in reality this never…

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What should I wear to class?

The basic rule is, if you can’t stand in it, sit in it, or walk in it for more than an hour then chances are you can’t dance in it either.

Wear something comfortable.  There is no dress code in my classes.  Some people show up in workout clothes and some show up in cocktail wear.   Keep in mind that we do turn a lot and move quite a bit.  Short skirts that rise up, flare, or are too long or tight that limit movement may not be the best choice.  If you have to constantly be holding, pulling, adjusting or holding your tops or bottoms then you will not have both hands available for some moves.

Wear comfortable shoes.  If you have something with leather soles or suede bottoms then wear those.  Wear shoes that offer both heel and ankle support.  No sandals.  If you can dance in 5 inch heels great but if not, bring shoes with low heels.

Tennis Shoes / Sneakers could be ok for the beginner level classes.

Still unsure?  It’s always safe to bring a couple pairs of shoes and an extra change of clothes.  Once you try it the first time, you will have a better idea for the second time.

Ready for some dance shoes?  Here’s some cool sites you can check out

More to come!

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Look Before You Leap (And How To Salsa Dance)

Here is great perspective for all my students. Let me know your thoughts

Thought Catalog

“Look Before You Leap.” For skiers and snowboarders, it’s common knowledge. It’s a warning that should we should probably heed. It’s safe.

Sometimes, though, inspection can turn into obsession, and we can spend our whole life studying as an excuse for avoiding action. In which case, I think we should just jump.

I think we should do insane, irrational things. I think we should look ridiculous. I think we should feel ridiculous. I think, sometimes, we should leap before we look.

After all, life inside a comfort zone is hardly life at all.

Here’s a story: when I shyly stepped into salsa dancing class wearing my mismatched socks, I was pretty nervous. I had never done something like that before. My dancing prowess goes about as far as that awkward flailing thing that white boys do. And dancing sober? Not a chance. In addition, salsa dancing is a…

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Female or Male Instructor? How do I choose?

Learning to dance is an investment and I’m not talking about financially.  It’s an investment that you hope to get a good return on.  Becoming a great dancer for some of us will require to learn from others.  How do you know you’re picking the right instructor?  Can a female instructor teach you just as well as a male instructor?

The answers are quite easy!  If you are taking group classes then both female and male instructors should be fine.  Every professional instructor should know how to lead and how to follow therefore should be able to carry a GROUP class.  However, if you are ready to take your dancing to the next level and are thinking about taking private lessons, then this is what I recommend.

Beginner Ladies: It is recommended that you start out by taking lessons form a MALE instructor. Learning to develop a good foundation starts out with having a good lead guiding you.  A Female instructor can help you learn all your basics and help find the right MALE instructor just for you.

Intermediate Ladies: Both Male and female instructor can help out, depending on what it is you need to work on. Technique can be taught by both instructors. If you need help with your follow, go to a male instructor, they will have more moves for you to follow. However a female instructor will be able to provide more tendencies from experience. If you’re ready to start developing your style, a female instructor would be best.

Advanced Ladies: At this point you should have a good follow, all we need to do is add some flavor to all the moves that you know. It is recommended that at this level you take lessons from a FEMALE instructor that will help you develop your style. Also learn more technique. Male instructors, will help you with your follow on harder moves once you’ve applied your style.

Beginner Men: It is recommended that you start out with a FEMALE instructor. It is a good idea to have a good follow help you develop a good foundation.

Intermediate Men: If you have a solid foundation, you may want one of two things (or maybe both) 1) Learn more moves or 2) Become a good lead. Male instructors will have more moves for you to chose from. To work on your lead, you can have a female instructor help you out with this. Male instructors have tried their moves with most girls and they will tell you what works best.  Female instructors, will help out with female tendencies and how to adjust from one lady to another.

Advanced Men: At this point you’re probably wanting to add more style. It is recommended that you invest your time and money with a male instructor that will help you develop your style. Female instructors will help you with your lead once you’ve applied your style and when you’re ready for harder moves.

AS I mention in all my posts.  Unfortunately there is no standard in salsa.  There is no governing board that says…”yes, you CAN teach” so much of what I am writing about will probably not ever apply to your instructor.  Hopefully these tips can help you better understand what YOU can do to get a good return on your investment.

Aren’t sure what LEVEL you are right now?  Read my blog   http://wp.me/p4ut1P-2

Coming soon…. The qualities of a good instructor

Espie Private Lesson



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What Level Am I? I’ve been dancing for 5 years?

In my 14 years as a professional dancer and instructor I have been asked this very question more times than I can count.  How do I know if I’m a beginner still or am I already considered intermediate?

I wish the answer were simple.

Unfortunately, there is no real standard in salsa.  There is no universal syllabus for “Social” Salsa and if there were I am certain that most instructors don’t use one.

So I cannot answer the question for every instructor out there but I can give you my own personal guidelines for each level.  This is how I structure my classes, syllabus and teach accordingly.


As a Beginner you are LEARNing all the rules of the dance.  You are building a solid foundation. You are still learning all your basic steps, rhythms, proper lead and follow and learning all your elemental steps.  


An intermediate dancer is working on MASTERing the rules.  You are mastering your technique and you are learning and incorporating various combinations, footwork, shines and even some styling.  You are learning how to make each moves work with various dancers and are learning how to adjust to them.  You are now learning more and more combinations and footwork patterns but possibly feel like you’ve hit a plateau.  


At this point you are now BREAKing all the rules.  You can lead anyone at any level.  Have a good strong lead / follow.  You are now taking each move, shine or styling and incorporating it to the music and enhancing your dance.  Musicality and technique take over your dance and when you dance not only is it magical but everyone thinks it’s all choreographed because each move works precisely with what they are hearing.   

Can you be an advanced dancer without ever taking lessons?  Can you be a beginner even if you’ve been dancing for 10 years?  In my opinion, YES!!!!  We all learn at a different pace, we all retain and process information differently and we all put different amounts of time to practice what we are learning.

As I previously mentioned, there is no real standard in Salsa.  Unfortunately there are MANY instructors out there teaching that all they know…IS MORE THAN YOU.  So typically they teach you moves they’re learned or that they themselves have mastered.  That doesn’t mean that 1.  you’re ready to learn that move or 2. that they even know how to teach you it.

So I’m gonna give you some helpful tips.  I always recommend everyone to take an instructors Beginning class.  There are several reasons for this.  It will allow you to get to know the instructor and their terminology.  Since there is no standard in Salsa there are many instructors that are not formally trained to teach.  Often times they make up their own names for each pattern, moves and even basic foundations.  Understanding their terminology will help you get by in all of their other classes.  It’s always easier to move up than down, for our egos sake 😉 Take an introductory private lesson from the instructor.  Some of them offer this so take advantage of it.  I offer a $20 introductory private lesson.  It’s only 30 minutes long but it’s plenty of time to determine what your goals are, your level and develop a lesson plan just for you so that you can achieve your goals faster.

I guess this question can get very complicated and honestly there is no real way to answer it.  Especially if you’re an intermediate dancer when you take lessons from this instructor but a beginner with that instructor and an advanced with another. Take a look at my blog  “Which teacher is the best for me”, for a better guide and understanding how to select the best teacher for you and your goals.  Just like everyone learns differently, everyone teaches differently.

So, what level are you?  Still don’t know, schedule your $20 Introductory Private lesson with me today!  http://www.espiehernandez.com/private-lessons.html

Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”  ― George Carlin

Yours in dance,

Espie Hernandez

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