Learn Spanish to enhance your Latin social dancing

Being a non-Spanish speakning social latin dancer is somehow a paradox. A Spanish speaking person will tell you that understanding the lyrics, singing along just a little, is a major part of the fun on the dance floor dancing Salsa and Bachata.

More importantly, knowing the lyrics makes it easier to understand what the music expresses, to read the music, to dance to the music, and ultimately to master the most valued social dance quality next to connection: playful music driven dancing.

All us non-Spanish speaking Latin dancers really should learn some Spanish, at least enough to make some sense of the lyrics of the music of our dance floor.

1. Learning Spanish

Luckily, learning any language in these modern Internet times is much easier and fun than it used to be: an El Dorado of YouTube videos, music, movies, television, books, Apps, online tutorials, radio stations, is only a click away,

A good way to start learning some Spanish is to translate the titles and lyrics of some of your favorite reggaeton, bachata and salsa music. Simply by comparing the original Spanish and the English translation.

Some of the more popular songs are often available at YouTube not just in their official versions but also with added lyrics in Spanish uploaded by enthusiasts. More of the lyrics can be found at websites specializing in lyrics, you simply search for the song with the word “lyrics” added. With some luck English translations can also be found and sometimes the same website will have several translations to choose from.

At some lyrics websites,  translation and the original lyrics can be shown side by side, but you most experiment to figure it out, and you will have adds and other distractions making it less useful.

Here is an example of “side by side” lyrics. If you search for “Es Tu Mirada lyrics”:


Note that it has transalations in “Alemán, Inglés, Italiano”. If you choose the English translation, then look to the right of the webpage. It is now possible to select the original Spanish text and “voilà!”, the English and Spanish versions are now shown side by side.

2. Dubious translations

Be aware that there is no warranty that the Spanish text or the translation is correct. Most often someone just donated the original text or the translation with out much quality control. Sometimes they just used Google Translate. Automated translations are surprisingly good but almost always get a couple of things flat wrong.

3. Subtitle feature

A few videos use the subtitle feature to show the lyrics. But in that case you need to make sure that the feature is turned on. On a PC look for “Settings” (toothed wheel) in the lover right corner of the YouTube video. On iPhone and iPad it is the vertical three dots in the top right corner. On other devises look for something similar.

Here is great song to test the subtitle feature, if you don’t know it already:

4. Learn Spanish with Music

The best ready to use resource is LearnSpanishWithMusic. They have surprisingly many Bachata and Reggaeton songs, but most of the rest it not relevant for Latin dancing.

My salsaselfie dance blog features a section with lyrics. There is no need for me to do what already exists on the Internet. My lyric section is only my own favorites, I am using at the moment to improve my Spanish. Normally I have compared and merged several English translations, and I have added a few improvements of my own.

I try to provide the following: 1) The official music video, 2) the music video with Spanish lyrics added, 3) the music video with both Spanish and English lyrics, 4) and at the top of the page: a robust table in two columns with the two languages side by side for easy comparison.

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