Serious About Having Fun

I recently attended a meeting of the Salsa teachers, promoters and dancers in Leeds.  And it got me thinking about why people dance – and two questions in particular:

Everyone who dances Salsa does it to have fun, but what does ‘having fun’ mean to different dancers?

Are the reasons people dance so different that we cannot cater for everyone in a single club or class?

The Reasons People Dance Salsa

There are many reasons why people dance Salsa – I’m sure I’ve not covered them all but here goes:

  • many people dance socially – to catch up with friends and meet new people
  • some people dance to keep fit
  • others to connect with the music they love
  • many to improve their technique and strive for the perfect dance
  • others to become professionals – be that performers or teachers
  • for a lot of people it’s simply about trying something new and challenging themselves
  • for many it’s about representing Latin culture and ensuring that we’re aware of the roots of our dancing, in order to connect with the music and heritage of Latin communities

Whatever the reason, there’s no right or wrong answer!  That’s the beauty of Salsa, the very word means mixture – a mixture of styles, music, passion and motivations.

Catering For Everyone

Our nights at Distrikt on a Tuesday primarily cater for the social side of dancing – throwing a bloody good party!  We care that our dancers feel part of our community, and that new people are welcomed with open arms.  For us, the strive for perfection and Latin culture takes a back seat.  It’s all about letting your hair down and expressing yourself however you see fit.  We’re also keen to reach out to other dance communities – such as Street, Swing and Ballroom – to see what we can learn from each other and fuse together to make new and interesting styles.

But I’m becoming increasingly aware of the needs of those Salsa dancers to who fun means a different thing.  Dancers who may be striving to perfect their technique, connecting with the music, embracing Latin culture, or even all of the above!  I’d call these people serious about having fun.  To many, these people may seem somewhat serious and aloof because they may not ask you for a dance.  But let’s take a step back for a moment, these people may be working on a tricky pattern with dancers they have years of friendship and experience with, or they may have partners they prefer because they share a similar connection with the music.  Importantly, these dancers are still having fun!

I would however, encourage those that are serious about having fun to make time for dancers who are having fun in a different way – you just might surprise yourself and learn something new!  As a lead, I think it’s important to dance with people of all levels to make sure that we welcome new dancers with open arms and give them the opportunity to develop.  And also, it’s my personal philosophy that I cannot truly lead a move until I can lead a beginner to do it as well as a more experienced follow – so my motivation is a tiny bit selfish as well!  But first and foremost, I believe every dancer and every single dance, has something to teach me.

Inspired

So I think we’ve pretty much discussed what having fun means to different dancers, so I wanted to bring your attention back to my second question:

Are the reasons people dance so different that we cannot cater for everyone in a single club or class?

I’d truly love to say no, and for club-nights – where the focus is on freestyle dancing and not learning – I think the answer should be no.  Even if the music is not quite to your taste, get involved and try adapting your dancing to the music – get out of your comfort zone and just express the music as you hear it.  That way, once we put formal learning aside we can all come together under one roof have a massive party!

But where classes are concerned, I fear we do need to embrace the differences.  A class that strives for perfection or connection with the music, is likely to be off putting to students who are there to socialise, try something new or keep fit.

At our Tuesday classes we really try and keep a party vibe going, and to keep things lighthearted.  We never teach long routines but prefer to get people freestyle dancing from their very first class – while this is great for getting people on the dance floor as quickly as possible – it doesn’t lend itself to the finer points of technique too well!

That said, we’re increasingly aware of dancers who are serious about having fun; be that perfecting technique, musicality or connection with Latin culture.  That’s why we’re planning to launch a new night soon, in partnership with a teacher in Leeds who is serious about having fun, to make sure that no matter what fun means to you – you can find it here in Leeds!

Just promise me that whichever class nights you prefer to get involved with, you come down to Distrikt on Tuesdays from 9:30pm for our freestyle sessions, so we can all come together and have that massive party I was talking about!

And Finally, A Question

This is just my take on what having fun means to different dancers, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you dance Salsa to have fun (who doesn’t?), what does having fun mean to you?  Do you feel catered for in Leeds?  Answers in the comments below please, and let’s keep it positive!

PS. If you want a picture next to your comments on WordPress website like ours, then check out Gravatar, it’s a free service that does just that.

Much love.

Jake

About Jake

Jake is the founder of StreetSalsa, he regularly contributes to several blogs on the subject of salsa and teaches in and around Leeds.

2 comments on “Serious About Having Fun

  1. My idea of fun when it comes to salsa, is to be able to dance with many different people at many different levels and not having to care or feel bad if me or my partner go wrong! If I can leave at the end of the night knowing I’ve learnt something new or improved a technique, or tried my damn hardest to improve, then you can guarantee I’ve had fun, and it’s usually visible by the huge smile on my face x

  2. I think you are right – there are so many different reasons that it is foolish to think that a single event can please everyone. We already know this as we separate classes and clubs/social dancing. Here we have borrowed the idea of a practica from tango – a session for practicing, sometimes following a class, sometimes guided but always with someone there you can ask. Its also good for beginners as a stepping stone to social dancing. (I’m not from Leeds but am happy to share the idea.)

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