When I first started thinking about learning to dance Salsa On2, my options were limited.

There were no classes or teachers teaching On2 near where I lived, and hardly anyone dancing On2 at the clubs I went to.

It wasn’t feasible to get into London regularly enough and integrate the established scene there, so I had to muddle along the best I could to begin with.

I did a couple of On1 to On2 conversion classes at congresses.

I made all the mistakes and assumptions that nearly all On1 dancers make – mostly because they haven’t researched and understood the evolutionary timeline of Salsa, and because there is key technical input missing from their On1 Salsa learning curve.

I assumed that it was just a case of translating everything I did On1 to a different timing.

(How hard could that be?) Lol…

I started really getting a taste for it when I did my Salsa teacher training with Susana Montero.

It was the first time I’d delved into the history of Salsa properly, and loved watching the old footage of the Palladium dancers on YouTube.

I started to appreciate the real differences between the Salsa styles – not just timings – their specific style markers, and why they were how they were.

But it wasn’t until I met Irene Miguel and started training with her that I finally realised there was way way more to dancing On2 than I had ever appreciated, or had ever been communicated to me.

The timing was only a small part of it – and even within that there were variations, apparent contradictions and different schools of thought:

Eddie Torres or Palladium?

NY or PR style?

Aligning your steps to generic counts, or what the instruments were actually doing in the music?

Counting the 1 in class but realising you were actually stepping on the 8 in freestyle?

An increasing number of questions and a lot of people who it appeared were only sharing small fragments of the answers.

It was then that I fully committed to the process of becoming someone who wasn’t just muddling through and winging it, but someone who actually knew what they were doing both technically and musically.

I realised that there were significant differences in the way the mechanics of certain moves played out, and that the timing completely altered the feel.

There were certain things that were unique to On2 which simply didn’t happen On1 – and vice versa.

I started digging deeper into the music and rhythms – Son, Rumba, Guaguanco.

I started to look much closer at the technique and styling of those dancers we all admire and look up to – Charlie and Tania, Tito and Tamara etc.

I was working daily on my dancing anyway, but I started getting even more focused with my isolation and body movement – learning how to integrate it into my shines and partnerwork.

Learning as many shines as possible, digging deeper to understand the music more, and expanding my movement vocabulary.

The whole thing was an uncomfortable process.

I went from being one of the better dancers at my regular club.

To becoming a small minnow in a much larger one.

At the weekend I would go into London for the parties that were known for having a big contingent of superb On2 dancers, and I literally felt like an amoeba on the sole of their shoe to begin with.

To start with I struggled to get dances, and if I did get the choice of On1 or On2, sometimes I would play safe and opt for On1 because I wasn’t always brave enough.

If I did dance On2, often I would crash and burn in the middle of the song where my brain and body just dropped back into On1 habits.

Confidence has been an ongoing struggle with many highs and lows.

But persistence pays off.

I’ve improved so much, and i’m starting to feel like a part of that scene, properly at home on those floors, and having more and more fabulous, fun dances where people are starting to recognise me.

It’s been an incredible challenge, and I’m still a long way from where I want to be.

The more you learn, the more you realise there is to learn.

I’m not an expert yet, but I’m committed to doing the work.

And the more work you do, the more you appreciate how incredible those world class Mambo dancers are.

And the more you “get” what that smile really means within that first minute of a song – when a guy asks if you want to dance On2 and you say yes…and it becomes apparent that you’re both on the same wavelength musically.

Or when a follower laughs with delight as she cruises through the turns and you both hit the breaks together.

It’s the sweetest feeling in the world, and one I’ll never get tired of!


Learn Salsa On 2 With Me

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