What to do when you stop enjoying the dance?

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by simbaaa, May 8, 2017.

  1. simbaaa

    simbaaa Changui

    I hope to get some insight as I am still relatively new to the scene, but I feel like I am heading in the wrong direction.
    Perhaps I hit a crash and burn stage by dancing almost every day, or maybe I reached my limits (which I don't wish to accept), but in the last few months (more like last six months), I noticed that it is rarer and rarer I get the feeling that I have enjoyed that dance at the end of the song.

    It is like the better I get, the more I realise how bad I still actually am, and the only thing that keeps me going is my stubbornness, competitive spirit and unwillingness to give up (which I had done before with other things, and refuse to do it again). This makes me see that I don't actually dance for fun, to relax or to enjoy myself and the connection with the follower, but rather I dance for a challenge and progression. My goal is to become excellent and be able to deliver the best possible dance for the follower, and I know from the past that only when I achieve that goal I start enjoying it. Unfortunately, while pursuing my targets, I often find myself lost in my head trying to interpret the dance, so I stop "seeing" the follower, stop smiling and drop the connection level to a bare minimum, which I never had done before.

    I am looking to get out of this narrow mindset, but I don't know how, as lately every minor imperfection or a screw up leaves a bitter taste after the dance. I never show that, and it keeps getting buried deeper and deeper, so I need an advice.

    I would also like to say that for the majority of my salsa road I have been focusing on technicality and clarity, and musicality, the way it is perceived in my scene, is something completely alien to me. I often watch people dance, especially the "after 2am pros", and every time I see the same thing in almost every couple's dance - people disconnect for at least a half of the song and dance on their own, trying to hit the notes and accents with their footwork. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they don't, and while they are probably enjoying themselves - this just don't feel musical to me, so it is not something I want to learn. But then, choice of music towards the late nights at every party tends to be salsa with long piano solos, so partnerwork during those doesn't make much sense either.

    Apologies for the daunting post at the start of the week :)
  2. Chris_Yannick

    Chris_Yannick Shine Officer

    Sounds like you answered your own question. Maybe start focusing on musical interpretation? I know once I started to do that, it opened up a whole new world for me in terms of having fun. You don't have to disconnect to feel musical. A greater challenge would be to remain connected and be musical. For me, that's the holy grail of musicality.

    Or, if you feel up to it, work on your basic. You wouldn't believe how many people neglect this area of their dancing, especially leaders. Ask someone to record you on video and watch yourself. Then work on the things that you don't like about your own dancing.
    Last edited: May 8, 2017
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  3. MrR

    MrR Son Montuno

    I think your core lies within here and you need to step a bit back and listen to yourself, what you actually want.

    All those shines, the always improving technique and the external display of musicality, that is only show. These people more often than not are dancing in front of their partner, not actually with their partner.
    I belong to the people that say, that if necessary, the partner and the connection is what counts. The steps can change, the music can be interpreted "creatively", as long as you and your partner have fun dancing and hurting nobody.
    Well, the smile in the faces of the girls I am dancing with - since I emancipated against this show thinking - say I am right. While being shunned by the local show dancers, the girls that reach out for me when I travel are constantly climbing up the ladder with having reached the top in most smaller scenes I visited. Well, only after I danced with them - that is the down side of being a bad looking social dancer. The people hear the applause of the spectators but nobody listens to the smile of the girl, that just denied you to leave the floor at the end of the song.

    Step back and listen to yourself, what "best dances" you want to give the follows:
    Is it defined by the smile on her face and her denying to let you go when the song ends?
    Or by the applause of the people watching you/her?

    For starters you can have only one. You can reach the second one later on, but only very few dancers actually manage to do that. (Set aside the Rock Star factor that makes groupies smile, no matter how crappy they actually lead.)
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  4. Marcos

    Marcos Son Montuno

    Just curious:
    1. Which locality are you dancing in?
    2. Which style is dominant in that scene?
    3. What type of music do they play (aside from long solo pianos at 2 am)? Is it predominantly of a particular nationality, or varied? Are you enjoying the DJ's selections?
    3. Do you understand Spanish at all so that you know what the songs are about?

    All of those matter. It's one thing to connect with the partner, but it's another to connect with the music. I'm rather curious based on the framing of your post as to whether there's any issue with your enjoyment of the music itself, would you listen to it if you broke your leg and couldn't dance for three months?

    The style matters too. Different styles tend to promote different levels and types of connection with your partner, you might consider learning a different style, which aside from increasing your repertoire significantly it will also open up great dancing with all those people who dance that style (of course this might not be feasible depending on where you live).
  5. simbaaa

    simbaaa Changui

    Thank you for replies and suggestions guys, it is good to read your thoughts

    Hi Chris, I try to interpret the music to the way I hear it, please note it is not like I do triples during slow romantic interludes. The problem is I am not satisfied with the way I interpret it. I don't mind it being imperfect, but I always feel like it could be done in a better way. You mention partnerwork musicality - and that is exactly what I always try to achieve, but it proves to be very difficult. On a rare occasion I know a song that I dance to and I try to hit certain breaks or fills, but the way it happens is very subpar due to the current position in a dance (i.e. the way I see an upcoming break is a sharp stop after a 360, but she is currently in a hammerlock position, so it becomes not possible, and I wing something mediocre) or any other circumstances. Then if I try to prepare for it in advance, it becomes something like a chess game and I lose the connection. I thought this would come with experience, but it doesn't, and I am getting discouraged a little :)
    Good point about filming myself, I have actually been doing that and have quite a lot of material now, when I compare videos now to say 6-9 months ago, I can see improvements, but when I saw problems I was mostly just acknowledging them rather than trying to actively work on fixing them, so I will try to do that. I sometimes try to get external opinions from friends, but they are always very nice and encouraging, which makes me feel they are not being entirely objective.

    I like the way you write MrR, and it is very close to how I feel when I watch the dance floor. A certain section hits, and it is like a code for the whole dancefloor to disconnect and start doing footwork they learned in their footwork/body movement masterclasses or elements from other dances. Sometimes to me it looks very impressive, but at the same time out of place.

    Step back and listen to yourself, what "best dances" you want to give the follows:
    Is it defined by the smile on her face and her denying to let you go when the song ends?
    Or by the applause of the people watching you/her?

    I feel a bit guilty after reflecting upon myself, because I think the second one has taken over. Lately, I have been caring more about how we look to others, rather than how she feels; and that sounds a little wrong. I would very much like to achieve both, but perhaps I should forget the second one for a while and pay more attention.

    Hi Marcos,

    I dance in London, on1 is dominant overall, but several parties are on2 dominant. I prefer dancing on1, but I like on2 as well, though I don't feel that on2 is "more musical" which appears to be a general consensus.
    Type of music really varies from DJ to DJ and party to party because I go quite often. You would hear classic 1960s guaguancos and 1970s salsa dura getting mixed up with MJ remixes and instrumental mambo/latin jazz. Bachata and chacha are played a lot (which I don't dance), cuban timba is no stranger as well.

    If I am honest, I rarely enjoy DJ selections. I really like salsa music and I listen to it whenever I get the chance (when commuting or cooking etc), but the songs I like are almost never played :( I definitely enjoy dancing more to the songs that I like and I know.

    I don't speak Spanish, but I would like to note the music has never been about words for me, even in the language that I speak. It is like my brain doesn't process the lyrics and treats the voice purely as an instrument, so it has always been about how it sounds rather than what it is about.

    About changing styles, I started salsa with Cuban, and I tried a bit of Cali, but I definitely much prefer crossbody, I really enjoy the technical aspects of it, the spins, the flicks, hand swaps, and supposedly more connected partnerwork. Maybe I should try to learn a different dance, for example bachata - perhaps elements of it would improve body movements, musicality and groove, but it is so hard to devote to another dance when I just really want to dance salsa :)
    Last edited: May 9, 2017
  6. Marcos

    Marcos Son Montuno


    Crappy DJs appears to be a universal problem, we have the same issue here in Japan. I recommend you ask the DJ to play one song that you like, preferably not the most obscure track you like and between 4-6 min so they're likely to have it and play it, and on that vein to encourage others to also ask the DJ to play tracks of a similar vein to influence the DJ's choices in the future (Note they're more likely to listen later in the evening).

    There's a certain point in learning when there's a shift in which further progress requires time practicing away from a party and/or socials. Whether this be done via lessons or having an interested partner/group with whom you practice at regularly defined time and place, or even just practicing by yourself (which also removes the gawkers). You also will generally have more influence into what you will learn (particularly in London where there's a good number of schools and dancers to choose from).

    Other dances can indeed help you, but you have to make a conscious decision that you will alter/modify your salsa style to add elements of that other dance. So you're better off learning another dance that you enjoy and will therefore motivate you to add the elements from it, rather than take a dance just for the sake of attempting to add elements of it in salsa.

    Follower's reaction is what's made the Casino turn "Ahorcala" (note different groups have termed different moves Ahorcala that don't have the same effect), which translates to "choke her" my favorite turn. When done correctly to a good follower who's never seen it the look on her face is priceless.
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  7. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    -Knowing what comes next and planning your moves accordingly is one thing.
    -Feeling things as a response to the music, and then dancing to your feelings - is what you are looking for; Don't be in control of the music - lose yourself to it.
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
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  8. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    Unless you learn it from the last guy I had seen teaching it - and then she'd just hate you and this move forever. :rolleyes:
  9. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Could you please give a few examples of tunes that you like but are almost never played.
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  10. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    Best tip: Befriend the DJ!!!
    (actually, the best one is: Be the DJ, but then you don't get to dance as much. :()
    Marcos likes this.
  11. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Best tip: manage your expectations.

    For long term satisfaction you need to understand that you'll never be perfect, that music won't be perfect, that others won't be perfect. And as you get better you'll need to learn how to enjoy dance with unskilled dancers as well. I've beaten my head against the wall in so many ways in salsa. There is plenty bitching and moaning on salsa forums from me. :D Don't expect scene to be perfect.

    London is very good though. There are plenty of very musical dancers, Chip, Jared, Martina, Ozy, Oseymen, Dani and many others.. I just don't know names, but I've seen them and I've danced with them.

    Forget about on1/on2 in London. Dance what you can get.

    And well if that does not work.. London salary+cheap direct flights to everywhere, go dance somewhere else over weekends. I know I do. And in such fests I will dance with people from London this weekend and next.
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  12. simbaaa

    simbaaa Changui

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  13. Sina

    Sina Changui

    Hi Simbaaa,

    The easiest answer: if you do not enjoy it, stop it and look for someting you enjoy more. But because it seems that you would like to find a key that makes you enjoy dancing again, i was thinking about your situation.

    I am not a leader, so i am not sure, if the answer of a follower can help.
    I enjoy danceing. But sometimes i am not happy about my performance, too. Especially, if i feel honored, that a really good dancer who i do not know, askes me for a dance and i think, i could have done better. It never happens with really good dancers who i know and who know me and who train with me and who have already experience with my deficits....
    Why is it like that? I think because i open myself more and can allow a deeper connection with them. There is no concern about mistakes. There is only the leader and me. I trust him... and i know, that they do not dance with me because of impressing the audience. They dance with me, because of me.
    So maybe you should try to dance more with people you have a deeper/better connection, to enjoy again. I am not sure, if it helped, but i hope you can find what you are looking for.
    Smejmoon likes this.
  14. MrR

    MrR Son Montuno

    When I got a good day and a good partner and the floor starts burning, our dance becomes a show and the compliments of the people and the girls wanting to dance with me afterwards are fantastic. It is no wonder that people can be addicted to this.
    But this fire burns out too quickly. You can get more and more straw to keep it lit, or you can look for more substance and just once in a while get the flames rising.

    One important mindset I see often with people burning out is, that everything has to be "perfect". The music has to be the "right kind", the dance has to be done "correctly" and the partners have to be "the best".

    Well, I know this sounds old, but it is true more often than not: step back on trying and just do. Simply enjoy yourself and have fun dancing with your partner.
    When I am in the mood my technical level suddenly increases largely - everything is easier, if you just have fun.
    And when dancing with a follow who trusts you, who connects to you (something that usually is not achieved by constant spinning, arm flipping and shining) you have more time to dance yourself AND to lead her, because you do not need to constantly feed the lousy connection.

    Actually the followers perspective is for a leader sometimes more valuable - specially as relatively few followers present theirs.

    For me it is a dreaded situation: I ask a woman to dance and she simply does not connect. She tries to impress me with technical stuff, while not allowing me to lead simple stuff. Or on the other hand she tries to please me with doing everything as quickly as she can and not communicate with me. You know these people that say "Yes, OK" to everything you ask them? They are stressful and dancing with some people is like that.
    Then I often prefer some beginner, who does nothing more than basic steps and turns but actually wants to connect with me, to her teacher, who makes a fool of herself by trying to impress me.
    I know of this blocking mindset but there are several women around who told me they love to dance with me who at the start gave me that feeling, that they did not "want" to dance with me. And I am not the person to just assume everybody is into me ...
    Sometimes I just would like to beat up those show dancers who set in these girls minds, that they have to be super slim spinning fairies, while I actually am happy, if they do a good basic set of moves and allow us dance together.
    Once that is set, once the trust is created, I can start leading stuff that normally would be over their heads and then I can make them feel and look, like they were these spinning fairies - something I cannot do with show dancers, who never allow me to connect and actually lead instead of throwing commands.
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  15. LarsM

    LarsM Nuevo Ritmo

    Well, listening to some of the songs you listed it seems you prefer timba/son over classic salsa dura, mambo and so forth which is typically played at events that cater towards linear dancers. I would suggest that you either expand your horizons or go back to cuban/casino! I'm not suggesting that it's impossible to dance linear to timba, but that's a combo which is fairly unusual (note to other SF-ers: imagine I put every disclaimer on the face of the Earth <here> :D).
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  16. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Track 1: timba
    2: salsa mixed with electronica?
    3: salsa romántica of the most commercial, contemporary variety
    4: timba / salsa cubana
    5: electronica (not salsa or Latin)
    6. as 3

    I would have serious doubts about any DJ playing such tunes at a night for slot style salsa dancers (although as it happens no. 5 has been played to death at many salsa events). Really you need a Latin night or a Cuban night, but it's unlikely you'd find many women at either who know how to follow slot style salsa. Or learn to like classic salsa, in which case you still might not like most of the music at the events you go to, but at least you will like some plus you can ask the DJs for something relevant.
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  17. Chris_Yannick

    Chris_Yannick Shine Officer

    Sometimes the best interpretation is to do nothing at all. Seriously, some times, just stopping dead in your tracks when you hear a pause or break can create a lot of nice musical tension. If you are still connected in closed position when this happens, this is REALLY nice for the follower. They can do their own thing and you can still feel like you've done something right. Being musical in partnerwork doesn't necessarily require a huge amount of flair or awesome musical interpretation.

    The period of feeling discouraged comes in waves. With the amount of dancing that you're doing, it's normal to feel burnt out and bored of your own dancing, but when you get past it, it's an awesome feeling! It feels like you can do anything.

    I'm now trying something similar with my own dancing. I am looking to connect more with my partner, by doing something less complicated to follow.

    Most of all, have fun! At the end of the day, it's all part the process which everyone goes through.

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  18. MrR

    MrR Son Montuno

    *gets out his horns and trident and pushes the missionary of the good music aside*
    Aside prophet of the music of right, this soul is lost to the dark side.
    *pops Yuca's bubble of being right*

    Or to phrase Yuca's text in words for people of this century:

    You need to go to events with DJs, that care more for the dancers than for their personal/their peer groups liking of the music and events with people, who are more about dancing and having fun than about dancing correctly and showing off.

    Well, there is no problem with the music you like. It is good dancing music.
    It might not be of the right kind for people locked in the middle of the 20th century, but that is the music that makes people want to dance. And that is part of the definition for good dancing music.
    Around here we have no choice where to go - either we go to that party or we do not go dancing that weekend. So I sometimes end up at a party where Yuca would like the music. It actually is the biggest regular party around here, because the organizing crowd is of very high status and gets their friends from far and wide - in London it probably would be a mid sized one. Well, the atmosphere there is like in a freezer. The people are gathering in their clique, bathing in each others presumed superiority, nipping their drinks and filming each other. This lasts for 3 hours, with the most energetic songs being Bachatas or Kizombas.
    At 1 a.m. the bored muggles start leaving, so the DJ can stop to pretend. They put on dancing music (like track 5 for example), put the drink and camera aside and the floor starts burning.

    Sorry, I have a hatred against pretending and dishonesty. And the majority of the people who say they like the "good" music starts to really enjoy the dance, when the elevator music stops. Words are meaningless, if the actions show them to be untrue!

    And the very few I know that actually do not dance to the more energetic music really have a different understanding of dancing than me ... one where filming and socializing has a very important role and you never must be seen dancing to the wrong music.

    Many "Real Cuban style" parties are "the same in green" as we say here. They play hardcore Cuban style and the people - that can dance westernized salsa at all - are often aggressive towards dancing presumed as non-Cuban and the follows are as pretentious as the ones of the linear show crowd. Even though it is easier to ask them, because they take part in that more actively.
    You should visit mixed nights. In a megacity like London there must be decent parties with good floors and a crowd, that is about dancing and having fun at the same time.
    But be advised, the status of these parties and the people going there often is shockingly low. On the one side, the people caring for the status do not go there and on the other side, the people caring for the status of their preserved reservation actively damage the status of these parties.
    But this lack of status means, that the people going there who actually can dance are all about dancing and having fun, are more tolerant to different styles of dancing - i.e. linear to Cuban music - and simply more friendly. (Of course you have to see the individual party - I am speaking about well visited Salsa parties, not about disco where some Salsa music is played or empty floor locations.)

    And by the way, if you know how to lead, every half decent westernized-Cuban style follow can deliver a decent linear dance. But you actually need to learn to lead, which many of the mid level to lower advanced linear leads, that only grew in their style's preservations, are bad in.
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  19. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    You make a hell of a lot of assumptions about me. All of which are incorrect. Also your knowledge of salsa music and dance in general seem to be lacking. I suggest you refrain from judging a vast culture based on what you have seen on the 'salsa scene'.
  20. MrR

    MrR Son Montuno

    *runs with his trident around, poking yuca*

    To the DAAAAAAARK side I will bring him, to the DAAAAAAARK side. To the pits of burning floor, lit by the soles of dancing feet, that misbehave. Dancers that dance the wrong way, that enjoy the wrong music, that understand it wrongly, that have fun when they are not ought to have it, they all are my prey, they all will fall from the heavens where they praise the right music, the right style in the predetermined way, as it was set to always have been.
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