What kills salsa

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by Burritos, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. salsamarty

    salsamarty Rhythm Deputy

    I'm part of a group that started a 1x per month non-profit salsa social in early 2014. We started with 11 dancers (now 9) who rented a studio, hired a DJ, and we take 30 min shifts collecting the cover charge. Another group copied this model for a second 1x per month social. It's been very successful so far.
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  2. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    These two have now became the best socials in the bay area!

    BTW I don't know if the Beat on Friday and the now extinct Hot Salsa Friday in Campbell can also be characterized similarly. Beat has been around for 10 years and everyone used to show up for Hot Salsa Fridays with the city and east bay people driving for more than an hour to get there. I hardly ever went to Hot Salsa Friday, but it use to attract the regular dancers from around the bay.
  3. azana

    azana Super Moderator Staff Member

    That's great to hear - go Marty!
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  4. Desafinado

    Desafinado Tumbao

    The Beat seems to losing popularity, unfortunately, and they now have split the space into a separate bachata room, which to me is kind of baffling for what is (or was?) supposed to be a hardcore mambo social. As for the South Bay, the only event that still attracts people from all over the Bay Area is the quarterly Mambonova social.
  5. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    Beat use to be the best social around till I think IheartMamabo came about early this year.

    I went to the Beat last Friday after six months. The band was good and Felipe played some great mambo music. There was no separate Bachata room. Beat is such a hardcore mambo social, it is hard to imagine them having a Bachata room. They only ever play may be two or three Bachatas in a night. They play far more cha cha than Bachata.

    I was never regular at Beat, but it was my favourite place to go. Last year it become hit or miss. There weren't too many people last Friday. I asked few of other regulars why people weren't showing up. No one had any answers. I don't think there was any other event happening. The crowd that goes to 550 is not the same as that would go to Beat. I had a nice time. Some of my favourite dancers were there.

    I been to Mambonova social three times last year to support them but am disappointed that the crowd was much thinner than I expected, not enough regulars and a lot of beginners (at least followers).

    Bay area social scene use to be a lot different. All regular, good dancers along with upcoming beginners use to show up regularly on Tuesdays at Glas Kat and Thursdays at Cocomo, on Fridays in San Jose and at monthly socials like Canvas party (where everyone use to show up). I think when you have more than 3 dance teams, it probably sucks the air out of social scene. I don't see mambo rumeros folks dancing anywhere else. Many non-regulars complain about Weds being cliquish. All the instructors were always out social dancing. Other than Mambonova, I don't see any other instructor actively on social dancing (only see Gabriel at his own Wed gig).
  6. As someone who recently decided to dip a toe back in the waters of Salsa after about 11 years away I can relate to a lot of what people have shared in this thread. For me Salsa was not just a hobby but a lifestyle...however during my years of serious dancing I was also going through many personal and family tragedies so on one hand Salsa was one of the things that helped keep me sane, but on the other it at times became an escape. It gave my life joy, fun and balance...but towards the end I think I expected too much from it.

    As to why I left - the simple answer is that for me the bad times out dancing started to outweigh the good. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Going a little deeper - I was living in an area that was extremely lead heavy. You had to be aggressive and persistent to get dances...and I personally hated this competitiveness. So mix together a bunch of mostly cocky young men and precious few ladies in extremely high demand and the result was not a pleasant one. Another trend I recall was the rise of performance dance teams in our area by the same instructors hosting many of our local venues. I become friends with many of them, even supported what they were doing...but inside I felt absolutely nothing for the performance aspect of dancing. But that's just me as a person...I've never been into sports and dislike that type of human competitiveness, however I am well aware that I am a minority in this regard. Salsa, like anything needs to be promoted...so perhaps it's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    I remember the performers and their fancy shines...the cliques...the ladies that started with me who in a matter of weeks were in the "advanced" social circles and wouldn't give you the time of day (let alone a dance) after their quick ascensions. This was not merely a Salsa phenomenon, however...I saw it in the Ballroom community I was a part of as well. Another negative factor with this was the male teachers dating their students...the drama, the breakups...the herding mentality I saw disgusted me...and these tended to be the same ones leading the dance teams. A little too much ego...a little too much hubris...and not quite enough focus on building the Salsa community in a healthy and positive way.

    My last hold out was a little local club that had weekly Salsa nights with a live Latin Jazz band. Most of my best nights out...including my one life altering experience of "the dance" happened there. The dance floor was small...the people were always friendly and the band was amazing. They played new tunes, old tunes and some of the members grew up in the culture of Salsa and had a true understanding of sabor...this place was my one last vestige that kept me dancing. But when the Salsa night changed hands and my kindly Cuban style teacher left (along with the band)...that was the final straw for me. It was time to hang up my dancing shoes and focus on other things in life...and in later years the few times I went out to some of my old haunts...just to watch...I saw the same people...the same moves...and I felt nothing whatsoever calling me to the dance floor like I had in the past.

    I don't think any of us can fix all the problems that exist in dance communities...but we can on an individual level change ourselves. In my case it took moving to another state and finding what looks to be a small but very friendly Salsa community to rekindle my interest in Salsa. I don't know if this will merely be a brief flirtation with a past lost love or a true reawakening of my former life as a Salsero...but time will indeed tell.

    This time around I'm older and hopefully wiser...and will remain optimistic and positive. :)
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  7. Ron Snijders

    Ron Snijders Tumbao

    Right now, for me the main thing putting a little pressure on my (still great) salsa enjoyment is that feeling that I'm about to plateau soon. In the year and a half since I started, I managed to skyrocket my way into the 'advanced dancer' group of my local scene. And at the two festivals where I've been, I've noticed that I'm not doing too bad when I just look at leading. But, of course, leading well doesn't mean you're dancing well. Musicality wise, I'm alright too, I guess. But I feel I'm really lacking in everything else. I'm not sharp, I don't feel 100% in control, I don't feel like I have that elusive 'sabor'. Other people tell me I do, I even got mock-slapped by someone when I told her I don't feel like a good dancer yesterday.
    The classes I (and my teacher) consider important all got canceled due to lack of interest. Rumba, Orishas/body movement, Bachata Dominicana (that has aided my grounding massively!). There are virtually no technique-oriented classes, and even in the advanced level classes, I just get 'okay, looks good' as comments, because I manage to pull the pattern off with relative ease.
    So I really feel that I've all but exhausted my options in our scene, and then what? Next week I'll be attending the Berlin Salsa Congress and I'm planning to go to the Frankfurst Salsa Congress in March. But I can hardly go to a congress every week, so that has limited use. And still, Johnny Vazquez can do a single cross body lead and make it look cooler than my entire dance :p
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  8. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    It's called Frankwurst.

    I feel your pain brother, but there is much to grow. How far do you live from international airport? See you in Berlin.
  9. Salsa Student

    Salsa Student Pattern Police

    Is that like Currywurst (which is on my to do list if I ever make it to Germany)?
  10. I would say particularly unsuitable mood an atmosphere can have big negative effects on Salsa.
  11. WessexSalsero

    WessexSalsero Rhythm Deputy

    The desire and demand for partner dancing is clearly still there.
    Salsa continues to be the king of satisfying this demand - but only because no other scene has emerged that ticks as many boxes as the Salsa scene. My gut feel is that once a true alternative to Salsa comes along, it would be curtains very quickly for our old passion which has done pretty well for something that's subject to harsh fashion trends and is in many ways at the end of its life cycle.

    Luckily for us, nothing else - neither Kizomba nor Bachata nor Swing/Lindy Hop - has hit upon the winning formula as yet.
    I have not spotted anything outside the Afro-Latin music sphere that could become a serious threat.

    Bachata might one day kill off Salsa but only if faster tracks are incorporated properly into the socials. At the moment, it's gone heavily into smoochy mode with the rise of Sensual Bachata which I personally love but it means a reduced appeal compared to the more up-tempo Salsa.
  12. WessexSalsero

    WessexSalsero Rhythm Deputy

    So have you written this article yet? (Sorry if you've already posted, I didn't see anything).

    Incidentally, none of those 3 reasons are particularly valid and two of them actually help bring people in.

    It's become fashionable to parrot what our dance teacher elders tell us and be highly critical of 'bad' teachers but I can tell you, we used to have some comically awful teachers around, the kind of people who quickly watched a DVD before the class and then tried to improvise their way through it. We knew they were rubbish dance teachers but that was exactly the reason why so many people came to the classes and stayed for the social afterwards - these 'bad' teachers took the intimidation factor out of dancing and many of them were highly entertaining to boot.
    So in some ways, you can add 'technically highly proficient teachers who create an intimidating dance school atmosphere' to your list of What kills Salsa.

    And, my oh my, people who are looking for friendships/relationships kill Salsa? If that were the case Salsa would have been utterly massacred a long time ago.
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  13. I was on my last class of a 6 week tango introductory class and feeling pretty good about what I had accomplished. The teacher was excellent, and I felt like I really "got" the dance (which is 'not salsa" to be sure). There was a woman, also at my beginner level, and in the course of conversation I asked her how long had she been dancing tango. "I started ten years ago". I was shocked, but her story was even more shocking.

    She and her husband took a series of lessons ten years ago for about nine months. They were so enthused they booked a trip to Buenos Aires, staying at a sort of AirBnB for tango dancers. Everyone in the house was there to dance, and there was a patio specifically designed for lessons, milongas, etc.

    All was well, until they took a lesson from a hot shot Argentine tango celebrity/teacher. Although it was supposed to be a group lesson they were the only ones there so it became instead a private lesson. So far so good right? Wrong. The instructor basically tore them apart, told them they couldn't dance and the guy moved like Frankenstein.

    Ten years it took to gather up the courage to try again. She actually was fine, as good as any others in the class at that level. The group has many more experienced dancers who are all very helpful, so I hope they have a better time of it this time around.

    This is not the only thing that kills tango, to be sure, but a horrible case of elitist thinking. Perhaps they were too overawed by the guy to believe the lie that they couldn't dance, and not the obvious truth that the guy was a jerk.

    What kills it for too many people is the belief they are not good enough, and never will be.
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  14. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura El Sabroso de Conguero

    If you are telling someone that they can't dance in a class, then you are a shitty teacher.

    That said, I remember my first private lesson, taken a few months after I started salsa. It was an unintentional private as just like the couple in your story, I showed up and no one else was there. I was feeling pretty good about my dancing at that point and felt I was making good progress (plus I had all my ballroom training under my belt, not just the salsa classes).

    The guy basically destroyed me in that lesson, told me my basic was essentially completely wrong. DESTROYED any idea I had that I had made progress. It was really hard to keep myself from crying during that class.

    But one thing he did not do was tell me that I "couldn't dance" -- what he did do was highlight all the things I was doing wrong, even though I couldn't possibliy fix them in one hour of class. So while he wasn't as bad as the teacher in your example, I still think he was a bad teacher, though not "mean". He killed whatever dance confidence I had developed.

    But if anything, it made me even more determined to improve, rather than give up altogether. And looking back, I am actually really grateful that I took that class with that instructor and that he was so brutally honest. That class probably shaved a good number of months off the time it took for my basic step to get somewhat decent. (Even though I never went back to that instructor, of course -- no way was I going to put myself through that amount of stress again :p )

    The problem is finding that balance between being honest about what someone needs to improve and sugar-coating the class. I actually think that a lot more teachers go the opposite route and feed students' egos instead of being true "teachers"--they tell their students, "You are great--you should join a performance team". This doesn't do a lot of good for someone who has been dancing a year or less...Sure they will feel good about themselves, but their dancing is very likely to improve at a much slower pace than it would if the teacher was more honest in his feedback.

    Learning is not easy, on both a physical and emotional level. I firmly believe that if you are comfortable, than you are not challenging yourself and not learning much. If all I am hearing in a class is "you are great", I probably won't learn much from that teacher. Does the teacher need to be a **** to get you to challenge yourself though? Certainly not.

    I'd take this further and say that this is what a lot of people tend to think about themselves in general, that they are not good enough, and even if they try to ignore this nagging thought it makes life miserable and makes them suffer deeply inside, even if they try to ignore and supress that feeling (which only makes it worse). And I think this is getting worse in the modern world, at least in the US, due to the increasing social isolation ("I don't have any real friends / no romantic partner so something must be wrong with me.") It can also make people lash out and make others' life miserable (if they aren't good enough, why should others be). Something like the Buddhist philosophy of self-acceptance and that wherever you are, it is ok as no one ever reaches "perfection" so we are all in a sense "beginners" all our lives and it is the learnign process that counts, not the destination, so as long as you are focused on learning, it does not matter from where you start, can do a lot of good in this regard.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
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  15. El Minotauro

    El Minotauro Sonero

    Salsa promoters accepted and even courted the burgeoning bachata popularity and allowed it to piggy-back on the popularity and success of salsa. Bachata to salsa is like having a house guest who wants to take ownership of your home! Bachata should have been restricted to just periodic change of pace breaks for Salseros. As someone else mentioned in this thread, bachata is easier to dance (there is even an organization that franchises choreographies that beginners can perform on day one) and it is a sexually charged dance; which attracts very young dancers who are already predisposed to rejecting the dance that their parents do; in search of their own generational identity.

    Add to the above the fact that salsa "djs," with little to no experience, began coming out of the woodworks. Many, if not most, have no idea how to finesse a crowd of dancers so that they stay and dance all night without quickly burning out. Instead, they play a lot of fast tempo, performance type songs, making the dancers yearn that other, slower paced, dance. It is not surprising that many who called themselves "salsa djs" are now "bachata djs." While they failed as salsa djs, they excel as bachata djs! This is not at all surprising and is very revealing in terms of which requires more skill/finesse.
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  16. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Those are a "be damned if I do, damned if I don't " statements, and may be , sadly, to a greater degree , true .
  17. MrNiceGuy

    MrNiceGuy Son

    Split Bachata from Salsa (cool with that)
    Then mix the dedicated Bachata area with Kizomba (about same, right?)
    Then find a DJ who loves Kizomba (cool with that)
    Then let the DJ play 5 slow Kizomba followed by 3 fast Bachata (should've just hooked up spotify)
    Prior manage to invite 1.000 people to a location with room enough for 50
    Call your salsa party "Sensual" and play fast cuban (got to call it something)

    Finally manage to invite some egocentric and condescending *****, who enters the salsa room screaming on the top of his loungs for "RUEDAAAA!", and all his minions, forcing 3 inner circles of Rueda with a hopelessly crowded room to dance his rueda.
    Oh right, and somehow manage to invite a couple of bodybuilder boys (I refuse to call them men) who bump into everyone who crosses their way on the dancefloor. Apologies are for p*ssies, right?
    (I wish I could wrap my head around why girls find this antisocial behavior attractive! Is this a sign of manliness? Should I do the same? More? I'm pretty good at kickboxing, should I knock them straight out?)

    Dancing cuban in a hopelessly crowded place, is a minor sin at least. I know there are people who just can't dance linear and I'm cool with that. But I also know you can dance cuban on tight spots. You don't need to push your lady far away for your next move into mine, driver her stiletto hooker shoes into the ankles of my lady.
    Ok, this can happen. But not an apology, not even an apologetic nod, nothing, that's just sad.
  18. John S2

    John S2 Sonero

    What are you saying exactly? How can dancing cuban in a crowded room be a minor sin if you acknowledge that it can be danced in a tight spot?
    Good floorcraft is a skill independent of whether a leader chooses linear or cuban.
  19. MrNiceGuy

    MrNiceGuy Son

    That's what I'm trying to say, mate ;)

    MAMBO_CEC Sabor Ambassador

    Did anyone watch the "World Latin Dance Championships" over the weekend? Another step in the BALLROOM-ISATION of salsa. Is it any wonder with events like these growing in stature, we are left wondering why there is such a proliferation of performance teams at the expense of dancing for purely social reasons. Look things evolve, and in my opinion we need to strike a balance between people who want to be good/great social dancers and those who have bitten the performance bug. Right now we (Salsa scene worldwide) seem to be heading in the direction of performances with it's potential for monetary gain and ego stroking for both instructors and students.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015

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