Social dancing: the more moves you know the better

Many Leads in Cuban Salsa, X-Body Salsa, West Coast Swing, etc, get along well using the same handful of moves over and over again. If that is good enough for you, if you are that type of person, no offense, just do it your way.

But some of us would like to get better, especially we would like to become so good that we can just improvise to the music without thinking about it and forget about specific moves.

Setting the bar high

One of the many ways to become better is to always have at least one new advanced move in the pipeline, a move above your level, a move you can not do because you don’t have the necessary skills. That is, you must really practice and train that move to be able to use it and do it well. You must take yourself to the limits of your ability again and again to get to a higher level.

Many tools in the box

Another method is to learn, practice and use in your social dancing, as many different moves as possible. Intermediate moves will do for a start but if you really want to take charge of your own dancing to be able to transform your dance to exactly what you want at any moment, nothing prepares you better than knowing by heart and instinct a lot of Complicado moves.

We want as many dance variations as possible to become muscle memory. That gives us the option, at any moment in a dance, no matter what happens, to recover, to shift gear, to change direction to transform what we are doing into something completely different.

Ideally at any moment in a dance, whenever you step – considering the music, your partner, the dance floor, your mood, you should be able to proceed, to continue dancing the best way possible, optimized for the situation.

Recovering with grace

Let us say your are halfway through a Complicado and pick up the first signs that the Follow is not up to the task and will fail the move. Then it is nice that you can change the move on the spot to something more suitable for the Follow without her even noticing.

The more moves and variations you have firmly rooted in your body memory, the easier it is to turn something into something very different as the most natural thing. As if it was always meant that way.

Change of music

You have just started your favorite Complicado and realize that the music is going to change dramatically soon. You might be nearing the end of a slow section and a fast section is rapidly approaching or the opposite.

Again. The more moves you know as a matter of instinct, the easier it is to prepare for a change of gear in a natural manner instead of suddenly have to do the last part of your Complicado in slow motion or with double speed.

Grand finale

We all want to end a dance in an impressive and elegant way. Not necessarily with a dip, requiring that you know in advance that it will not hurt the Follow’s back. There are many other nice ways to end a dance face to face instead of back to back or in the middle of some move.

The easy, fail proof, way to end a dance, almost like cheating, is simply to get into closed position in good time and fade it out to the music. From closed position a dip and many other types of endings are easy to time.

But, depending on the music, it is often much more elegant and impressive to build it up to the end in a dynamic, dramatic manner, where the exact last sound of the music becomes the climax with a freeze. It is extremely difficult to time unless you know the music well.

The more moves you have as body memory, the easier it is almost to thread water in a natural way still dancing full speed, until you are precisely timed and positioned for the final move ending with a climax like a dip or some other intimate closeness.