Salsa life - men vs women

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by Offbeat, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    i don’t want to make this controversial. My empirical observations and experience suggests that the men tend to stay active in salsa dancing far longer than women. I know many followers in my local scene that have completely disappear. I know far fewer men that have. None of my fave followers from 2011 is active today. I still see plenty of leaders from back then still active. If I look at the big name instructors in 2008/9 and compare them to today, more men instructors are still active on the circuit compared to lady instructors. Yes there are life changing events – marriage, kids, etc. But that is true for both men and women.

    What is your experience?
    Al Israel likes this.
  2. azana

    azana Super Moderator Staff Member

    To be honest, I have been quietly working out for a while for how much longer I can keep turning up to salsa socials and get any attention at all. I'm super fit and a good dancer, but these features hold very little currency in the scenes I've been active in (compared to age and looks), and I currently live in a fairly sexist country. My thinking is I maybe have five more years, maybe a few more. It's depressing, but there's not much I can do about it. I sometimes envision myself in a decade, desperately wanting to dance salsa but knowing I'd be ignored if I went out.

    I don't think it's a controversial topic at all; it's just stating the way the situation is. However, it's controversial here - SF posters tend to be educated, enlightened and welcoming and behave in the opposite way to what I'm describing. All of the SFers I've met (and I would add read) are wonderful people. While stating plainly what the situation is for me, as an older follow, I'd hate to think I was offending any of the posters here. Also, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has had a positive experience as an older woman (or perhaps simply has more courage than me :) ) and would be happy to be proven wrong :) .
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  3. Chris_Yannick

    Chris_Yannick Shine Officer

    My observation is that a similar of proportion of men and women leave the salsa scene, especially in the beginner stages.

    However, I would conclude that ultimately, more men would be dancing in the end. This can be attributed to societal factors. Women who get pregnant and leave for an extended period of time. Or women who are sick of being preyed upon. Men can also have a change of priority, but I find that the long-term male dancers are more likely to stay in the scene.

    Also, if we are including people who come back to the scene after an extended absence, then it's a no-brainer that more men return than women. Usually after a failed relatiosnship, the guys will be back to find a new mate or to resume dancing seriously. Women on the other hand, may not be as willing to return to the same salsa places knowing who is left from the same sad gene pool (dancing or otherwise).

    Also, generally it takes longer for leaders to get to a high level, so when you see the same guys year after year, chances are they stuck with it because they became highly valued partners and that kind of ego stroking is hard to ignore. The circumstances in which they would leave the scene would decrease to almost nil.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
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  4. Jag75

    Jag75 Shine Officer

    My experience is that an even number of men and women have stayed in the scene. In fact I think more men have left from when I started than women.
  5. Aurel

    Aurel Sonero

    In Bratislava, I have a friend who is a follow and just recently celebrated 50. She spent a number of years working and dancing in London and just for the last year came back to Bratislava. She goes to our local salsa parties and socials and dances. She went the last weekend with us to Berlin Salsa Congress, where she danced quite enough and was happy to meet and dance with all her friends from London.

    So, is it possible for an "older" woman to get enough dances? Yes. Is it easy? Well, I haven't really asked her about it but she also didn't really complain about it yet.

    But there is a very important thing - she does not stand there waiting and hoping for somebody to ask her. She goes and actively asks the guys to dance and she creates and maintains dance friendships. So in Berlin she would not sit/stand there among 1000 of other women waiting for somebody who does not know her to ask her, because in the sea of younger prettier woman, she would not be the first pick. After all for leads who don't know her only the looks and age are the differentiator, and the same way that women hope to be asked by that handsome/superstar/great lead everybody wants to dance with, so do the leads want to pick the young/pretty/more fit/"probably better" dancer.

    With age and looks, once you are older than most or not pretty enough, the social dynamics will surely change. And it will require much more active work on your part. But it seems to work. Of course, it might become a problem if you happen to be in a culture where men refuse to be asked to dance.

    If you want, I can ask my friend about more details of how she perceives her social dancing and the social dynamics.
    Smejmoon and MAMBO_CEC like this.
  6. azana

    azana Super Moderator Staff Member

    More active work on my part!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More active work on my part!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I already do at least 80% of the asking; at some parties 100%. I do so much asking that I don't notice it anymore, it's just the natural state. I am, as I have to be, aggressive in that way. I do the asking.

    More active work on my part! I honestly can't believe I just read that. I do an ENORMOUS amount of "active work"!!!!!! That's the only reason I get the amount of dances I do (which is still low by most standards). It is not as possible as you claim for older women to get enough dances. Not at all. I would never usually use so many exclamation marks (it actually annoys me senseless :)) but I cannot believe someone just suggested I do not do "active work" or do not ask. Wow.
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  7. wol

    wol Sonero

    It is true and my simplistic explanation is because leads are asking (not the only reason, of course). Leads are better shielded from the truth, because they have to be active and most followers are polite. If followers were asking situation would be reversed :( Skills do play a role, but for much smaller percentage of dancers, than I would like to think.
    Khm ... True, but after few parties, where only followers would be allowed to ask and I am pretty sure most of us would reevaluate this "higly valued partner" status with younger ladies ... :D
    Salsaurus Mex, Smejmoon and Offbeat like this.
  8. MrR

    MrR Son Montuno

    I observed, that the flux of mid level dancers is much higher with women than with men. In the result the really advanced dancers tend to be lead heavy.
    Another thing I observed is that women who despite lacking beneficial looks became "good mid level" stay longer.

    In my perception it's mostly a cost-reward thing combined with social selection:

    Men need to invest a lot more to reach that level while many women - as long as they are looking good enough - have an easy time at the start. Specially if you are doing a pure puppet-mode following.
    So it is about protecting your investment. Men have to throw away all they accomplished through bloody sweat. Ex-girls have to throw away gifts they got tired of.

    On the other hand, getting better - being advanced - is VERY rewarding for men.
    In scenes where I am seen as one of the alphas I am swarmed by pretty women. Despite lacking in looks, it's not me initiating the full body contact!
    And most women still - despite being educated and relatively emancipated persons in other parts of the life, are conservative when it comes to whom they are attracted to - they want a "stronger" man. So for most women only men at least at their (perceived) level are really acceptable on the long run.
    Combine this with the experience, that most female beginners tend to outrun their male counterparts at the start leads - from the perspective of many women - to a dire situation as suddenly they live in an extremely follow heavy subjective situation. So while at the start it was extremely rewarding. Men were coming to invite them from everywhere and the only problem were the occasional creeps. Now more and more men are thrown on the creep side, sometimes only because they are beginners, and the few really wanted leads either hang around with the really experienced follows or can pick up whomever they want - the fresh beginners for example.

    This beginning experience for women is specially attractive for persons, who want the world made ready for them. They have to take care for nothing, everyone is coming to them and once they learn the little word "No!" all power is in their hands - as they see it. On the other hand the ones who don't feel well being the puppet, who don't like being the object just for their looks, are the ones leaving in this early phase, because they realize that this is, what is happening to them.
    So a very large portion of the mid level follows actually are persons, who came there for the attraction of the easy life. Now it becomes harder. To be really interesting dancing wise you have to be really good and then you still have to compete with beginners, just because they are 10-20 years younger than you.
    Also you probably might have to care for your dance friendships yourself, as there isn't a long tail of guys waiting anymore. Or you are in a really committed relationship and realize, that most of them actually don't want to dance with you primarily.
    Life gets harsher, but the ones who stayed often times came for the easy life.
    So instead of solving the problem they simply stop showing up anymore.

    Many of my favorite follows are 10-30 years older than me. Some dance longer than I live.
    Aside from a few who despite being over the age of 40 still are really hot, they all report getting few invites and often are rejected when they are inviting. Specially by random men who by dance level should be glad about that attention!
    And they all have one thing in common: They are very self present and inviting in their dance. They are persons who stand their ground, who find their own way without getting bitter.
    The ones who didn't stand their ground left.
    The ones who got bitter sit at the side and wait for their favorite lead to finish that pretty new skirt off.

    I don't think that dance life get's really bad for a woman around here, as long as you are a decent dancer and not trying your luck around students when you are 50+.
    It's simply that the easy life of the pretty girl ends and the reality of a self sustaining person begins.
    I lack compassion for the ones who don't make it. It's not that they did a lot to earn all the reward they got loaded with at the start.

    P.S.: "more active work"
    I often ask this question to women who complain, that they aren't getting asked enough. "How many guys did you invite tonight?"
    The answer usually is 0.
    Other options include those asking their friends and regular dance partners and the perceived alphas.
    Maybe you are in an area, where the men really fear for their manliness - emancipation of the woman is primarily a danger for the weak man - but around here it's mostly vice versa. It's the women who see it as un-female to ask men to dance! (Tonight I will drive for 2 hours to a venue, where emancipated women are everywhere :dancingbanana:)
    (And I have met several female teachers not only living this but hearing them saying it to their students!)
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  9. Aurel

    Aurel Sonero

    I'm sorry. I had no idea about your current ask/being asked ratio, so I assumed the basic ratio I see around me - girls sitting down and waiting all night long, guys doing all the asking, with the exception of male salsa superstars who have queues of follows standing around them.

    So, when you do the asking, do you get that many NOs? And if so, do you see it as getting worse with age?
  10. azana

    azana Super Moderator Staff Member

    I became immune to rejections long ago! Yes, they happen, often with offensive mansplaining, but I wouldn’t have survived this long if I let them get to me. Charity dances are almost worse to one’s pride :)

    Try dancing in Japan. It’s so follower heavy that you don’t meet the stereotypical shy Japanese women on the scene there. You meet amazing, strong women, the ones who have survived. Women do a lot of the asking. Imagine being the foreigner follow in the scene - you have to be even stronger again. Then move to arch-clique, pretty sexist Australia (depends on the scene; Sydney is a lot better than elsewhere), not knowing anyone on the scene. It’s tough! You fight, you don’t let it get to you, and you keep identifying the elements in your dancing to both improve and adapt.

    What is getting worse is beginners coming up and giving charity dances! It takes patience and lots of smiling. It’s almost worse than rejections as you feel bad for resenting them.
    Marcos likes this.
  11. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    There was one place where my favorite Follow was...probably older than @terence. :p

    She had the patience that the other follows around lacked, she liked the music, and she kept smiling - because she had fun dancing...
  12. Marisha

    Marisha Descarga

    I live in Canada. And usually, I dance in three places. In the first place I dance Cuban salsa we have a variety of ages and also ladies after 60+, they dance all the time. Guys ask them to dance first at least 2 times. In another place, I dance LA and we have followers who after 65+ and more...I think we have 4 or 3...I do not remember exactly. These ladies 50% ask leaders to dance and 50% they are asked. These ladies are pretty good dancers I like watching how they dance. All have a ballroom background. In my third place, where I dance NY, almost all ladies are young in their 20t I think I am already considered as an old follower:D, but guys ask me for dance. I am 34. I ask only beginners because they are too shy or older leaders because they do not want to bother young generation.:)
    I think Cuban salsa is more age-friendly for both leaders and follows.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  13. granrey

    granrey Sonero

    I have not seen much of a difference. I do notice most people don't last long in Salsa
  14. UchimaSalsa

    UchimaSalsa Son Montuno

    I agree that more follower quit dancing salsa but they don't necessarily quit dancing. Many just move to other scenes: kizomba and bachata.
    Regarding the age, it's obvious that the older women get the less the get attention from men. Is it because men think younger women would be better dance or just want younger women in a hope of having them as life/sex partner?
    On top of that there is a social pressure on women when they have kids even if they are grown enough to stay home and stop what is seen as just "partying" that people associate with drinking a lot and hooking up. It's like "you are a bad mum/wife if you go out having fun" while for a men it's seen as "he's having his own time". It's funny because i know few women older than me and with kids and each time they go out they are trying to justify why they are out even though no one ask them anything:D
  15. Chris_Yannick

    Chris_Yannick Shine Officer

    How did you get that information? There were at least 20 of us at her party trying to figure it out but were too scared to ask :rofl:
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  16. Aurel

    Aurel Sonero

    I think she mentioned it to me. There is also her picture in a post from 2nd october in the birthday party event with the text: "VINTAGE, made in 1967, Limited edition, Aged to Perfection, Genuine original parts" :D
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  17. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    At least speaking for my scene, the number is almost equal among men and ladies for those leaving or taking a break due to new children or relationships. I know some couples that are exceptions.

    Most ladies who quit have done so long before they are 40. The same for men. But more ladies have quit. Plus ours is a very leader heavy scene. Almost everyone gets asked and followers don’t have a great incentive to up their skills once they reach mid–level.

    On age related...

    – we have a lady, who was already 50+ when I started dancing. She always use to hang out in the corner where the best and cool cats were dancing. She was popular. She was fairly good dancer. She never disappeared. I think for a couple of years she wasn’t as frequent. Now she is a regular again. We are on to 3rd or 4th generation of dancers since I started. She still gets asked a lot by good dancers.

    – I ask a lot of older ladies both locally and at the festivals. By older I mean 50+ or 55+. In dancing everyone looks younger before that. Among both genders the pre–40 crowd seems to out number the post–40 crowd by 3x or 4x. In my experience most older crowd I ask has not been dancing that long to be called experienced. The inexperience older followers make same mistakes as younger inexperience followers. When I observe men, I think it applies over there too. If the older lady is experienced and a good dancer, you can immediately feel it in first few bars. Oldest follower I have danced with was 82. My personal experience is that good dancers who age retain their skills. They may not be as agile as when they were younger, but they don’t lose the awesome body movement and smoothness they have. Irrespective of the age, in first few bars, you (or I) know you are going to have an awesome dance.

    – that brings me to the part of where people start dancing after 40. My observation is that relatively speaking they tend to not improve a lot. That has nothing to do with the age. I know many ladies in 20s and 30s, who after 3–4 years of dancing still can’t do a decent CBL or wobble when turning or can’t hold their balance on simple outside turn. As a percentage though I find that people who started late continue to suck more and don’t get significantly better after 2+ years of dancing. That is true for both men and women. I always wonder why. That seems to be true in other dances too. Do they invest less in learning (possible). Most classes have younger crowd. They might consciously or subconsciously feel odd ones out without peers. May be there needs to be separate class for older crowd, but not sure the market exists. Do people learn slowly with age? When it comes to dancing I don’t think that is true. I am not talking about athletism. I am talking about executing basic steps elegantly and with grace. Yes, that comes with experience, but you can always tell who is getting there and who isn’t.

    – People who stared dancing in 20s or 30s and became good, retain that advantage later in life irrespective of age and gender. But as I said more ladies seem to give up active dancing in salsa than men! If you were a smooth or musical dancer at 30, you will remain the same at 60.

    – Dancing helps a lot with everything age related in terms of offsetting age based physical and mental health issues. I was at the body musuem in Berlin. It showed repeatedly how the bones and cartridges get affected by age for everyone. Only way to retain and slow down age–related healthy bones and body is to stay active. What better way than salsa dancing!! It helps with both cardiovascular as well as aerobics activity that body needs. The advantages of partner dancing for delaying dementia are by now well documented. More reason to continue dancing if you already are. And to take it up if you aren’t :). Healthy mind and healthy body. There is only upside to it - social, challenging, fun and healthy!! Plus will lower your doctors bill in the olde age on an average!

    – I think older people should invest more in private instructions to improve, if they have stated late. They do have more financial resources due to the stage of life they are at. For that and for traveling too. Those who are empty nesters, can also find more meaning dancing and meeting people like themselves or younger crowd.
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  18. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    I can feel this author. As rewarding as Tango is, salsa festivals are a bliss when it comes to getting dances and friendliness of the people. Something strange happens to people when they step into milonga (which is what Tango social/party is called). That experience is true for both men and ladies, but far more for the ladies! It is such a good thing to be able to dance different dances! You appreciate each one more.
  19. Aurel

    Aurel Sonero

    Maybe it's a problem with changing and training your body to perform a new movement. I would imagine that it gets harder with age in the same way it gets harder to unlearn old bad habits and learn new. Do you happen to know what is the statistics on exercise/sport/body movement history of these late starters? Would the slow progress be the same for someone who never did sports and someone who regularly exercised, or even danced a different dance before starting with salsa?
  20. Nika

    Nika Son Montuno

    Surprising that still so many women drop out... Because I think around here - where it is exactly the opposite - the leader/follower ratio is one of the main reasons why women stop dancing. Usually there are about 3 times more women than guys. And -like the followers in your scene - that means that the leaders don´t have much incentive to get better, because once they are slightly above improver level, they will find plenty of followers that are happy to dance with them anyways.

    As a consequence quite a few of the good dancers (or those who think they are..:p) develop a lot of "attitude" , e.g. rather sit out half of the night than dance with anyone but teachers/performers (or their friends who are at least part of the "in" crowd) or hot young girls, even if there are enough followers around who would be at their level (or even better).

    The handfull of decent leaders that don´t act like divas are so popular that it´s difficult to catch them, even if they are friends and/or we mutually like dancing with each other.

    If I didn´t go to other places regulary (which takes a lot of driving, costs, etc.) I might get frustrated like some other followers I know..

    And about age:
    I´m in my 40s and so far I don´t have problems to get dances.
    In my own (generally low-level) scene or other (smaller) local scenes I might visit when I travel, I usually get asked a lot, unless the place is very cliquish.

    At congresses, where I´m average at best, I do a lot of the asking. I don´t mind it and leaders are mostly friendly and I don´t get a lot of refusals.
    However, two friends of mine, who are in their 50s both still dance in the local scene where they have friends, but stopped going to other places/congresses, because they got tired of the many -often quite rude - refusals.
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