The most basic requirement to dance Salsa or any other dance style for that matter is to understand / appreciate the music and its rhythm.

Not understanding music is like speaking a language without understanding its grammar & not understanding the rhythm is like bad grammar coupled with a bad accent!

Note: these observations are specific only to the Mumbai salsa scene (may also be applicable to the Delhi & Bangalore salsa scene), with the assumption that 99.97% of Mumbai’s Salseros dance ON1, 0.03% dance the Cuban Salsa and ON2 is as common as caviar.

Drop in at any Salsa social in Mumbai and it’s easy to spot 3 different musical errors.

1. Dancers Can’t keep up to the Count: The beginners usually would agree with this, where keeping up to the music seems like a challenge. It could be either because the men may not be able to offer timely leads or the lady could be slower on her execution, worst still – both have issues. They do seem to be on count sometimes but that’s because the music catches up with them.

2. Count can’t keep up to the Dancers: The thrill for some is in dancing real fast, trying out fancy combinations. The adrenaline rush gets them dancing faster than what the song proposes. Quite a few advanced dancers are guilty of this crime, but they do manage to get back on track as soon as the fancywork ends…umm if you ever catch me off-count, this is why 🙂

3. Me against the Music: These dancers are primarily the ones who do not understand the difference between counts ONE and FIVE. I have seen many newbies + veterans, instructors and xplosive dancers dancing on FIVE! constantly!! This is the most common of mistimed sights on the floor. I guess they only pay attention to the tumbao rhythm and get confused between counts.

Dancing off count is no excuse whether you’re a newbie or Salsa pro, the worst part is most people don’t care, they just want to be seen on the floor. Some instructors are to be blamed as well- you don’t need to spend hours explaining musical instruments and their rhythms but before people start off they need to have a basic sense of understanding of musicality. Dance forever will remain indebted to music from where it evolves and both dance and music are representatives of a culture, if you can’t respect one you can respect none.

Ajaz Shaikh
Director — Baile -de- Salon — Ballroom Academy
www.salsaaa.com

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