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The Trap That Keeps Follows as Beginner Bachata or Salsa Dancers (and How to Avoid It)

Updated: 9 hours ago

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This audio was recorded by Danny Kalman, the Director of Movers and Shakers Salsa and Bachata Dance Academy. The following text is an unedited transcript of his audio.

Transcript of Audio:

When learning to dance bachata or salsa, there is a trap that I see follows sometimes get stuck in that keeps them at a beginning or low intermediate level for sometimes their whole life. So I'm going to talk about specifically what that is and how to avoid it.  

The pattern that I've seen at times is somebody will start taking classes and then they get some experience and they go out social dancing. When a follow goes out social dancing, the experience, can be humbling.  

You know, they might feel like, “Oh, I got a lot to work on.” If you are humble and you have that personality, honestly, that's the best thing, and that will take you the farthest. Humble dancers always go farther.  

The experience can also be very empowering. They'll go out and dance with maybe leaders, guys who have been dancing for five, 10, 15, 20 years. Great leaders who will help them get through everything on the floor, for the follow, so you might feel like, “Oh, this is amazing. I'm having such a great time, I'm doing so well” and it's good, everybody should be having a good time. 

What can happen is, they have enough of those dances and they start to build up this perception that, “Oh, I'm such a great dancer now, I'm good you know what? I don't need classes anymore because I'm good enough to go out here and have fun and all I got to do is social dance, I'm just going to get better and better and I'm going to become a great dancer.”  

That's the trap and it is totally wrong. That's what people have to be careful about. What happens is the leader with all the experience, yes, he does lift up the other dancer, but he is limited by what the follow is capable of. 

So for example, if a follow can do single turns, then maybe I have 300 patterns that require double turns, but I'm not even gonna try those with that person because single turns are kind of the limit of their capabilities, or maybe they're falling when they're turning, so I'm gonna keep things more basic, or maybe the timing's off, so I'm gonna keep things more basic, or the hang connections are off, so I'm gonna keep things more basic.  

Whatever it is, right? So I can dance with a beginning dancer and show them an amazing time and they're gonna have so much fun. They're gonna feel empowered and I'm gonna have fun too, right? But the best thing for that person is to also recognize that we don't know what we don't know.  

So even though they're having a good time, it's not a substitute for class. They gotta keep going to class and working on those skills. What happens is as you develop your skills, like magic, it opens up the ability for the leader to lead you through all sorts of stuff that they couldn't do before. 


You're actually gonna have more and more new experiences on the dance floor because now you're ready to be led through more fancy, sophisticated, exciting, complicated things. The point of the story is that for follows the best thing for anybody is you got to stay humble when you're learning to dance, keep going to classes, and keep working on your core fundamental skills.  


It's absolutely mandatory and it's not because anybody's a bad person but as humans, there's no way that we can know how to do something magically without being shown at some point. Skills have to be passed to you and they have to be taught and some things you can pick up intuitively but a lot of things it's just impossible. Human needs to be shown. 


Remember, we don't know what we don't know, and when you're going out there and you're having a great time and dancing with really experienced leaders that's fantastic. Everybody should have a good time and just make sure that you stay humble and keep going to class. On that note, I'll emphasize that I can't say it enough times, the beginning level classes, the fundamental classes are absolutely the most important thing.  


If you're learning really fancy patterns in class that's great too but it all comes down to fundamentals. When the fundamentals are great you're gonna be able to do those fancy patterns really easily. You learn them in five minutes but if the fundamentals are not there yet, you can work on a fancy pattern for a month and it will still be really messy. So do your best to look for fundamentals in class and enjoy your dancing journey.  


Salsa and Bachata Classes in Los Angeles 

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If you're searching for bachata and salsa classes in Los Angeles, your search ends here.

Join us at Movers and Shakers, where our programs are meticulously designed to be progressive, structured, and comprehensive, ensuring you build a solid foundation from the ground up.

Under the expert guidance of Danny Kalman, our Academy Director, and our dedicated team, you'll learn not only the steps but also the soul of these captivating dances.

Embrace this opportunity to grow, refine your skills, and join a fun, inclusive community passionate about dance



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