Today you’re going to learn 8 must have tips to be a good follower and help you with your salsa dancing.
Let’s dive right in, getting the obvious out of the way first…. I am not a woman, therefore, you might ask, who am I to talk about how to be a good follower?
I’m going to take a risk and venture to throw out the wisdom I’ve learned about what’s best for a good follow to do on the dance floor at salsa dancing.
Here they are:
1. He leads and YOU follow
Did I just say that?! Oops! You are called a follow or follower for a reason. Your role is to follow and to listen to your leader, not only using your eyes and ears but with your body as well, to the best of your ability. This is what salsa dancing is all about.
It is very important to have a strong understanding of the basics. This is particularly important for salsa dancing. This is the first commandment of a good follower.
The basic steps give you the ability to move quickly and correctly as requested by the leader’s signal.
Anticipating your lead’s moves means that you are not paying attention to what he wants you to do, and you might also be doing the wrong thing because you CAN’T read his mind.
2. Look interested, even if you’re not
Crushing your lead’s ego is a good way to guarantee you’ll never be asked to dance again. Never forget there are all levels of dancers out there, and the person that asks you to dance might be just starting out or only knows a couple of moves.
Acting visibly bored and checking out other dancers is just plain rude, and will tear away at the new lead’s self-esteem. Remember that you could end up kicking yourself in the future if the lead goes on to become a great dancer.
Do you remember when you first started to dance, when you didn’t know anything about dancing? Exactly! Always pay it forward with a nice smile.
I believe this tips alone will take you places once you apply it all the time at salsa dancing.
3. Don’t apologize
Everyone makes mistakes, and you know it. Try to avoid bringing attention to every one you make. It gets old fast and can be pretty annoying.
The dance becomes less fun for the two of you. This is a habit you DON’T NEED to develop. Unless your mistake involves a hurtful accident, such as hitting your partner in the face, I’d stick with a sheepish smile acknowledging but not making a big deal of your mistake.
Listen, it’s a huge encouragement to leads when the follow looks like she is enjoying herself, even though she may have made many so called “ mistakes.” It can be intimidating to dance with a follow who takes the dance way too seriously.
A good quality of a good follower is to lighten up a little and have fun. You’ll be a lot more fun to dance with and at the end of the day, the name of the game is to have a great time on the dance floor. Right? Right!
4. Quality of connection; NOT how good you look
Nothing, and I mean nothing, would make me feel so sad when I’m watching followers dance and their focus on styling more so than on their leader and their connection.
This is a surefire way to get on a leader’s blacklist, perhaps permanently. No one likes a follower that doesn’t pay attention, or doesn’t make eye contact with the leader lead. No one.
Now, of course, styling can be fun and even be important. It can be a great way to participate in a non-verbal conversation with your dance partner. But that is exactly what it should be – a part of your conversation.
Following itself is hard enough on its own. You get visual cues, cues in your hands, cues in your frame, cues everywhere. In order to embark to the quest to be a good follower you’ll need to throw styling out the window for a short period of time.
By doing so, this will enable you to really dial in to what was happening with the leaders. We certainly don’t care–what does it matter if your hand is soft or if your fingers are fanned out?
Always, always make the right choice to let the connection take place instead of styling your steps until you are good at it. Remember, salsa dancing is all about having fun all the time!
5. Become the Master of your own balance
I see lots of teachers and pro dancers using the following statement: “Leaders can balance the followers. Good leaders always do. They provide firm, steady support to help keep you in place.”
But the reality is quite the opposite. The leader guides you. The leader shows you what to do next. Your leader doesn’t keep you standing up or hold you the whole time.
The more you can stand on your own, and move where you need to be without requiring your leader to stabilize you or force you where to be next, the quicker you become better at this, the leader can increase the complexity of steps and move you on the floor with confidence and ease.
Once again, having a strong understanding of your essential steps and practicing constantly will make this process easy for you.
6. A good follower steps on time
When you’re at salsa dancing, one of the most important things all dancers need to do is be in harmony with the music. This means listening. This means taking your steps on time.
It also means, conversely, that you shouldn’t ever take steps out of time. In salsa dancing, for example, you have a regular 123, 567 pattern of dancing for the ON1 and 234, 678 for the ON2 dancer. To put a foot down outside of that pattern throws off the dance. If you’re on the wrong foot at the wrong time your leader cannot lead you. Plain and simple!
So one of the most important things you can do for your dancing is be careful to be on time, and always put your foot down on the right beats at all time.
7. Stop guessing what’s next
Waiting and not knowing is perhaps the hardest parts of being a good follower.
Waiting is hard because you might be terrified about not being able to follow what comes next. I think this because a great emphasis is placed in styling to look good and to feel sexy instead of the connection with the leader.
Or because you’re used to interpreting music based on your own preferences alone; or because you’ve learned steps that have certain similarity patterns and you’re pretty sure on predicting what’s coming up next.
It is most likely, but often, they aren’t.
To wait means remain in readiness for some purpose. It means to delay an action until a particular time or until something else happens.
8. Keep Moving
This brings us to the most basic but important part of following — moving. Don’t expect your partner to move you or force you anywhere.
Cultivate the habit of NOT fighting the lead. Allow yourself to move as you’re being shown how and where to go. The leader, depending on their skill, will be giving gentle suggestions by using frame based motion on where to move.
Okay, ladies. This is the core list of things you need to get right from the beginning. There are many other things to consider and many elaborations I could make on. I am not an expert in any regard – but these are some things I’ve seen and have taught my students to improve their skills to become a good follower.
Do you have any other interesting suggestion to add to the list?
Share your advice in the comments below!
Happy Learning and Happy Salsa Dancing!
your dance studio
PS. Guys, lead, I have an article for you to help you become better. Click this link to read it