Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to learn if you have “dance chemistry” with your partner! Here’s how salsa dancing helps your love life – and how it can can hurt your relationship.
If you’re interested in salsa dancing and your relationship, check out the Learn to Salsa Dance Beginners Pack: The Complete Beginner Salsa Dancing Guide. The most fun way to learn how to dance salsa with your partner is to learn alone, without others around. After a few salsa dancing lessons, you can sign up for a salsa dance class with confidence.
I’m writing an article on salsa dancing for a magazine, and was enchanted by one of my interviews with a salsa instructor. One of the most interesting parts is that not all couples – no matter how much they love each other – have dance chemistry together. Don’t tell my husband this, but I think we’re one of those couples.
“As salsa is inherently a flirtatious dance and, as all partner dances are danced in the arms of another, it is apparent that there is a kind of magic that exists in some partnerships called ‘dance chemistry’,” says Cheryl Williams, co-founder and owner of the Montreal dance studio Dance Conmigo. “Just like regular infatuation ‘chemistry’, there’s sometimes no rhyme or reason why you might have dance chemistry with one person and not another, but it is a palpable experience. Often it is a sense of comfort with the other, an ease in reading the others’ signals and a similar understanding of the music. Sometimes dance chemistry with a stranger just happens, and is much stronger than it is with one’s significant other. Many couples accept this and are ok with it, but you can see how it might also create problems for a couple.”
Isn’t that fascinating? If you are thinking about taking salsa dance lessons with your partner for Valentine’s Day (or just to spice up your relationship), this one of the signs of good relationship advice to take…
How Salsa Dancing Can Help Your Love Life – or Hurt It!
I wish I could take credit for these tips on salsa and relationships, but I can’t. This is from salsa instructor Cheryl Williams, who lives in Montreal, Quebec.
Williams is quick to point out that salsa dancing itself can’t hurt or help a relationship – it really depends on the couple.
Why is salsa fun for couples?
Salsa dancing and partner dancing in general can be fun in that the roles of the partners are a bit of a throwback to another time. The man generally leads and the woman generally follows. Though some find this setup quite outdated, I find it refreshing.
What “leading” in salsa dance means
One misconception about the terms “lead” and “follow” that they can be interpreted respectively as “active” and “passive”, but this is not the case. “Following” requires a great amount of skill, though I must admit, if the principle is mastered, it is MUCH more relaxing than leading.
We (dance instructors) often refer to the leader as providing the “frame” and the follow being the “picture.” And this is what makes salsa (and many other partner dances) so much fun.
As the “picture”, the follow, we do not need to think about what move to do next, or what our partner is doing, we just need to think about being responsive to the lead. This frees the follow up considerably to listen to the music – and though the patterns are being dictated to us by the leader – we can stylize and inject our musical interpretation within that framework.
How salsa dancing can help your love life
Salsa has some hip movement and lots of arm styling that can be performed to accent the music, which is fun. It is a lightly flirtatious dance so I also find it fun to be playfully seductive in my energy and movement – this is part of the dance.
Salsa music contains a lot of sophisticated rhythms, influenced by its partly African heritage, there are some movements borrowed from African dance, such as shoulder shimmies or contractions of the abdomen that are fun and look great on both leaders and follows.
Salsa is a great social activity, but I wouldn’t make any claim as to whether it can hurt or help a relationship. I think that depends on the couple itself. Salsa dancing can be fun and add a whole new dimension to a relationship – and it’s more fun than board games for couples!
For some couples, dancing salsa is a fun, social, physical, playfully flirtatious activity that they can enjoy together. It is a partner dance so it requires teamwork and can be an activity that brings them closer together. Dancing in general is a liberating experience and so to be able to share the experience of movement and music with a significant other can be very powerful and wholly satisfying, bringing a couple closer together.
Also, because salsa is flirtatious, it can inject some sensuality and romance into a relationship.
How salsa dancing can cause problems in a relationship
However, salsa dancing can spell trouble for a relationship! Learning to partner dance with one’s significant other can be trying. Learning anything new can be frustrating, and often it is easiest to take one’s frustrations out on those closest to us.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed this all too many times in a dance class setting. Partners blame one another for not doing the steps right, which is often the case, but patience is key. This is another reason why we have couples change partners throughout the class – people are generally so much nicer and more patient with strangers!
If you want to learn salsa as a couple at home, check out the Learn To Dance Bachata, Bachata Dance Mastery System, 3 DVD Set: A Step-By-Step Guide To Bachata Dancing.
Getting an at-home salsa DVD may be a good idea because of jealousy. Since salsa is a social activity, jealousy can ruin the dance and strain a relationship. Though many couples go to salsa clubs and dance exclusively with one another, it is more custom that couples branch out and dance with others. This can bring out insecurities in a relationship, which isn’t helpful!
For more relationship tips, read 5 Habits of a Healthy Marriage – From Whales to Treasure Hunts.
What about you – have you tried salsa dancing with your partner? Did you find it helpful or harmful for your relationship?
Cheryl Williams has been teaching social partner dancing since 1997 and is co-founder and owner of the Montreal dance studio Dance Conmigo.