Many ladies are resistant to the idea of performing shines.


Whenever their partner breaks away from them, they freeze in terror, forget all the cool footwork they’ve learnt in styling classes, and visibly shrink into their dance shoes.

I think this is a real shame because by opting out of shines, you deny yourself one of the big pleasures and payoffs of learning to dance.


Everyone starts dancing for a reason that is usually to do with how they think it’s going to make them feel.

For me, I wanted to feel sexier, more connected to my body, and more desirable as a woman. I also wanted to feel comfortable being the centre of attention and when men looked at my body.

Performing shines is one of the best ways for me to feel these feelings…even more than Salsa partnerwork, but even for me this was way out of my comfort zone to begin with.


It’s easy to counter with the argument “If I had a better body, or lost weight I’d feel more comfortable doing them,” but actually this is a back-to-front way of looking at it.


The reason I say this is because the whole process of learning and practicing shines is what GAVE me the body that I felt proud enough of to want to wiggle and draw attention to it on the dance floor.


What I will say though, is that it takes work to learn and practice a repertoire of shines to the point where you can just pull them out of the bag without thinking at any time during the dance.

It takes still more work to get them looking clean and stylish…it’s common for me to spend an hour just working on mobility and body isolations before I even get to practicing the shines themselves.


As a result I noticed the following:


A 18 month old shoulder injury sustained from overtraining in the gym just melted away

I became more flexible – more than when I was doing yoga twice a week.

I felt less stiff overall.

My sticky out stomach that had survived the most intense abdominal training regimes and strict diets disappeared in less than a month…I was still eating a LOT of chocolate!

My hips and lower back completely unlocked which meant I could separate the movement of my upper and lower body – key to a healthy spine and keeping back pain at bay.

The bingo wings went without trace.

My arms started to look elegant and floaty.

I lost about a dress size.

I regained the incentive to be careful with my diet, although ironically I realised I suddenly had the freedom to eat much more of the stuff I’d been depriving myself of.


I didn’t need the gym at all…every change I wanted to see in my body was occurring through practicing Salsa technique!


And this fascinated me. As someone who gave sixteen years of my life to learning and teaching other people about fitness and exercise, it was a revelation to realise that gym training (a) wasn’t the only way to get in shape, and (b) wasn’t even the quickest way, and (c) given the evidence, clearly wasn’t a way that suited me or my body.


Now bear in mind that I didn’t achieve these changes through group lessons and social dancing. I very much doubt if that’s possible. The reason is this:


In order to perform styling and shines properly, you need complete body control and mastery of all the little muscles – this alone creates a greater demand for energy from your metabolism.

However, you can only achieve this if you’ve been taught how to isolate your hips, ribcage and shoulders – your body won’t do it naturally unless you are very lucky, and you will need to integrate this into your dancing by regular practice in front of a mirror. This requires a significant investment of time and commitment…daily for quickest and best results.

The other side to this is that the mirror practice is what gets you comfortable enough with your body to do the shines with attitude – there’s no point being half-hearted about any sort of styling.

And remember this:

You won’t be comfortable being the centre of attention on the dance floor until you are comfortable looking at your own body movement in private!

It’s important  to note that you need to observe yourself with a critical eye, not a judgemental one – the two are not the same.

A critical eye is constructive and kind, a judgemental eye is not.

So BE that Salsa Diva…it’s nowhere near as scary as you think…and you might just get the body you’ve always wanted in the process!