When I was learning (and even now on the very odd occasion) I had those dances where I knew it just wasn’t happening between us. I couldn’t follow, I felt pulled off balance, dragged off time, wrong footed and worried about looking like I didn’t know what I was doing.


Like many women when they get out of Improver level and into Intermediate, I used to blame HIM.


“He’s being too rough”


“He’s off time”


“He’s only interested in making himself look good”


“He doesn’t know enough moves”


“I can’t feel what he wants me to do”


“He isn’t a good lead”



Of course you guys have your own thoughts on this…


“She’s too stiff”


“She’s leading herself”


“She did that move fine in class but she won’t do it now!”


“She feels heavy”


“I can’t lead the moves I want because she can’t get round quick enough”


“She’s too busy styling to even notice me offering my hand”


So…who’s fault is it really?


Well, the guy’s leading, he’s in charge right?


Ergo if it all falls apart it must by definition be his fault.




Sorry ladies, things aren’t quite the way you’ve been led to believe.


It wasn’t until I got out of the group class environment and into a private studio with a teacher who explained how this dance works in a clear, simple and understandable way that I realised it wasn’t the lead’s fault at all.


It was mostly mine.


My fault for not taking responsibility for being an equal partner in the dance.


My fault for not being able to control my centre of gravity and stay on balance and on the line.


My fault for not knowing the footwork for the essential core moves of Salsa.


My fault for not understanding how to maintain a good connection with my partner.


My fault for not being in the expected position so he could lead whichever move he chose.


You see, the limiting factor in a lady’s social dance experience of Cross Body Salsa is rarely, if ever, the man’s leading ability.


Here’s why:


In Cross Body Salsa, the moves are requested by the man via his lead, but performed by the lady.

What he has no control over though, is her ability to actually perform them.


This matters because every turn pattern is constructed from linked sequences of the basic step plus six essential core moves. The arm lines and styling are layered on top of this structure.


The limiting factor is not how many moves the man knows – because there are only six of them.


it’s not how many different ways he knows of leading them or linking them together.


It’s not how smooth or polished or well timed his lead is either.


The limiting factor is – usually if not always – the quality, speed and precision of the lady’s footwork and her ability to manage her own centre of gravity, stay on the line and on balance, at speed through multiple changes of direction.


When she can do this, it doesn’t matter if the guy is on or off time.


It doesn’t matter how rough or jerky his lead is.


It doesn’t matter how many complicated hand changes and twisty arm positions there are.


She’ll be in the right place at the right time….whatever else is happening.


This above anything else dictates what the man can actually lead, and how the dance will feel for both partners.


And this is why a lady who has her moves and footwork nailed will look good with any man…regardless of his ability 🙂