Many women think of styling as showing off.


As having to adopt movements which aren’t “them”


As trying hard or trying to look a way that they don’t feel inside.


They equate styling with sticking their arms in the air and being cajoled into doing body rolls.


However arm styling and body mody movement is only part of the styling story.


What Does Style Really Mean In Salsa?


Here are some definitions of style from the Oxford English Dictionary:


  • A confident, effortless manner or technique
  • Fashionable elegance and sophistication
  • A way of painting, writing, composing, building, etc., characteristic of a particular period, place, person, or movement:
  • A way of using language
  • One’s usual way of behaving or approaching situations


So what we can see from this that what many ladies assume they have to do to add style to their dancing is actually the opposite of what they think.


Adding style to your dance is about appearing effortless and confident.


Elegant and sophisticated.


It’s about dancing in a way that is characteristic of you and fits the dance.



It’s about developing a dance language of your own.


It’s about the way YOU do things.


The trouble is, styling like THIS isn’t often taught.


You copy the way your teacher feels a particular piece of music and you copy her movements in her style.


It can give you clues about how you might like to embellish your dance, but often, copying someone else’s style feels like putting on their clothes.


They’re rarely a good fit and simply not “you”.


So where do you start when you’re trying to develop style?


There are actually three roots of style in Salsa dancing:


  1. The intrinsic style of the dance or sub-genre – you have to know what “good” looks like in your chosen dance.
  2. Fusion styles from other dances – other dances you have training in, or feel an affinity with. LA Salsa is heavily influenced by Ballroom dance and Hollywood glamour.
  3. Your personality – the things that make you unique – personality, physical build, aesthetic taste.


You can start by watching a few social dancing videos on Youtube. These are great for helping you pick out specific aspects of what you like and don’t like on the dance floor style-wise.


It’s not just about what the girls are physically doing with their arms or footwork.


It’s about how they express their femininity and connect with the music.


You’ll see that often it’s not the ostentatious arms or serpent-like body rolls, or making a huge statement.


It’s more about owning your movement, having the confidence, precision and placement to make choices in the moment.


So the first step to great style is having technique that is good enough to allow you to FEEL confident – the five techniques being:


Posture and Balance

Weight Transfer and Locomotion

Footwork and Timing

Isolation and Body Movement

Connection, Communication and Collaboration


Just by being excellent in these areas will by definition make you look more stylish, and they need to be of a certain standard before you can start adding extra style embellishments into the dance anyway.


So if you wish to add those extra style embellishments, just like when you want extra “anything” in life, you have to pay for it somehow.


It’s no different in dance.


For this, you need to pay into the three “banks” and the currency is time, patience, repetition and emotion.


The Bank of Movement and Muscle Memory – embedding quality motor patterns for the style movements you wish to adopt as part of your dancing.


The Bank of Musical Immersion – The sum of your Salsa music exp-ear-ience


The Bank of Feeling – All musical interpretation originates from feeling and can’t exist without.


So I hope you can see how there’s a lot more to ladies styling than just sticking an arm up mid dance, and in some ways it can be a lot less too.


And whatever form it takes, it doesn’t just fit you…it IS you.