Who could fail to be impressed watching Jake and Janette’s Salsa on Strictly this year? All the tricks and lifts made that routine an absolute showstopper, unlikely to be forgotten.
The problem is though, if you turn up at your local Salsa club expecting to see anything remotely resembling that, you will be sorely disappointed… However there’s no need to be disillusioned. This is the exact reason that you could be better than Jake within quite a short timeframe – if you put the work in!
The Salsa you see on Strictly is a very different animal to the authentic, living, breathing Salsa that is taught in classes and clubs. Here are the pro’s enjoying a social dance:
Here are ten reasons why the Salsa you see on Strictly looks so very different:
- Salsa is really a social, party dance. It evolved in packed clubs and on the streets. It’s not designed to travel across the ballroom floor like the Quickstep. Therefore it doesn’t translate well to large studios where audiences have to view from a distance.
- Few of the professional Latin and Ballroom dancers were trained in Salsa. Believe it or not, that matters. Dance ability is specific to what you’ve been trained in. The techniques are different. Which means that the pros don’t really dance Salsa particularly well, or “get” it that much. You will notice that the ladies keep their legs straight, whereas Salsa is actually danced with a bent knee. They also adapt the choreography to make it more like the dances they are familiar with so they don’t make themselves look silly.
- Salsa has two main, distinct styles as well as many sub-styles which cross over into other Latin dances. It is fluid in its development, whereas the traditional Ballroom and Latin dances have remained faithful to their roots.
- Salsa has fast and intricate, complicated hand changes (or “armography” as Craig Revel-Horwood likes to call it!) This doesn’t translate well to TV screens or studio audiences where it can get a bit lost.
- The male celebrities aren’t really leading their female professionals much of the time. When guys learn Salsa properly, they are expected to lead the entire dance, and the lady follows. If the man doesn’t lead, there is no dance.
- The routines on Strictly are pre-choreographed, whereas Salsa is danced spontaneously in response to the music…completely freestyle.
- Salsa dancing feels better when it’s danced to the authentic music. The crowd-pleasing, popular mainstream songs they use on Strictly often don’t feature the clave instrument which forms the backbone of salsa music. The percussion patterns in Latin music are particular to it, and are what good dancers connect with primarily.
- You can’t learn real Salsa from scratch in a week, no matter how many hours you put in. But if you really want to, given time and a bit of persistence and hard work, you can become pretty damn good…even with no prior dance training.
- You won’t have the pressure of TV cameras, judges, or the big studio performance in front of a live audience. In your typical Salsa club, everyone is too concerned with their own dancing to be in the least concerned about anyone else’s.
- There is no glitterball to be won! All you have for your dedication to learning Salsa is tons of satisfaction, some great nights out, a load of new friends, and no excuse to ever be bored, because the experience doesn’t finish when the TV programme is over at Christmas!
So now you know, why not give it a go!