Monday, May 7, 2007

Ignore Beginners At Your Peril

Your future as a dancer depends on beginners and improvers. Over time, the experienced salsa dancers move on to other things. They take up tango or sky diving, they move, they date someone who doesn't dance, or they get married and drop out for a while. There's a lot of churn in the social scene. Helping less experienced dancers have a good time while they're getting up to speed is a win for everybody.

Some of today’s beginners will become excellent dancers, and you improve when you learn to dance well with people at different levels. But if you ignore them now, some of them won't dance with you as they mature. Worse, some will get discouraged and drop out, telling others it's not worth the effort to get started. It’s a partner dance and everybody wins with a constant flow of new people joining the fun.

This is one of those balance issues. You may not want to spend your entire night dancing with beginners, but don't ignore them either. If you see someone regularly, and they are improving, ask them to dance occasionally and encourage them. Being a snob will cost you over time.
A Canadian psychologist is selling a video that teaches you how to test your dog's IQ. Here's how it works: If you spend $12.99 for the video, your dog is smarter than you. -Jay Leno


  1. Thank u so much for u input and honest opinion- I started dancing in August 2006- I was one of the clueless beginners- nobody wanted to dance with me- it was horrible- now almost 10 months later- if I dance with the same person I happened to dance at that time- I can see in his eyes that I did make a progress and now we both have a great time dancing. Practice, patience, and courage...
    I never forget "where I came from" and I like dancing with beginners because I still consider myself one of them- it is fun dancing with them because of their true passion for salsa and willingness to learn something new...
    P.S. It is sooo cute when u pull something funky during the dance just to spice up the pattern he just learned in the class and u can hear from u beginner partner "Wooooow- I didn't know I can do it"-I always encorage them- yes u can and u just did it- pleasure dancing with u.

  2. I will never forget asking a woman to dance after a couple months of classes. Her exact words were "I'd love to!" That floored me and I still remember her years later. I stole her line and if anybody asks me to dance I use those same words when saying "yes".

    If a beginner makes a mistake while we are dancing, I let them know I expect perfection after we have practiced together for 6 months (and I laugh). I work hard to take the stress out of the dance since so many women treated me well during the early, uncomfortable times.

  3. Hi Don, hope you remember us.. we are the german couple (silvia & ibo) which taught at salsamambofestival last July.

    I totally agree your opinion!!!!
    Some of the dancers are forget that they also have started once.
    I remember my first festival in Barcelona (years ago). There I saw only incredible good dancers frm all over the world. At the party the first man who asked I answered -> I would like to dance but I am not that good. He looked at me and left. I was really shocked and thaught this was rude. The second man came and I told him the same and he said, it does not matter, don't worry. Well, we danced and I lost my shyness.

    By the way Don if you want you can contact us

  4. You forgot to mention one thing: Men who are beginners but become SNOBs after they learn how to dance: They forget about all of us GREAT dancers who weren't snobs and patiently danced with these guys when they were beginners and didn't have a clue. These men, once they learn how to dance, won't even say "hi" to us anymore --much less dance with us. Instead, they dance only with girls young enough to be their daughters who are dressed like hookers and girls and CAN'T dance. Unfortunately, the salsa scene is riddled with men who are interested more in showing off their own prowess by dancing exclusively with ultra young almost naked girls, than in dancing with a woman over 30 who knows how to dance.

  5. Very well said! Ignoring the women who helped on the way up is really selfish.

    How do you handle this?
    How should we handle this?

  6. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about this problem which did not exist a few years ago. The sad truth is that the L.A. salsa scene is emerging into a scene of low lifes consisting of men of all ages stuck in adolescence and mostly under 30 females dressed like hookers. They all use their pathetically limited knowledge of salsa music and dance to further their own ego and sex-driven agendas. I am truly astonished to see people standing around watching this mediocrity-- admiring this so-called dancing when in fact all these couples are capable of is a few flashy patterns performed practically naked! These conceited losers have chased all the good, decent people out of the clubs, including me and my former dance partners. We'll go back when the riff raff has abandoned salsa for another interest du jour.


I love feedback. Your thoughts, feelings and comments are appreciated. Civil disagreements and other points of view are always welcomed!

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Don Baarns - Unlikely Salsero