The early days of Salsa lessons are by far the most crucial, as it is such a steep learning curve if you are starting from scratch with no prior dance experience.

This is particularly true for guys, who typically lead the dance and have to master what I term “the cruellest form of multi-tasking known to man”.

The habits and friendships you form in those early stages will very likely set you up for how far you progress, and if you stay in for the long haul. Many newbies do fall by the wayside in the first few weeks without really giving Salsa, or themselves a fair chance.

I’ve nurtured many dancers through those challenging first few months, so if you are just starting, or thinking about starting Salsa lessons, I have stacks of advice.

But if I was to boil it down to just three things, this is what I believe will help you most:



1. Find A Learning Environment That Suits You.


Not everyone loves big, busy Salsa clubs and beginners can be put off because everyone else looks like an expert…

For those quieter, more introverted types these types of places can feel stressful. For this reason I have many students who book a course of private lessons before embarking on group lessons.

It is also important to find a teacher who fits your learning style as everyone learns differently. Some have a more auditory style and need clear and explicit verbal instructions whilst others respond primarily to visual demonstrations. Obviously the ideal is a teacher who can cater for all of these equally.

Personally I hate shouty, screechy dance teachers and those who talk to adult students in the same tone they would use for six year old kids.

But that’s just me and I’m sure you have your own preferences. The important thing is to know what those preferences are and find a place to learn that satisfies them as many people give up prematurely blaming themselves for being rubbish when they really just didn’t connect with the teacher’s delivery style or feel comfortable in the environment.


2. Take Your Time In The Lower Levels


The first year is where you build your Salsa foundations…

Be wary of anywhere that seems to lack content and variety in the lower level classes. Often people want to rush into the higher levels not because they’ve mastered everything but because they are bored with repeating the same stuff over and over.

Good teachers will have endless ways of creating variety within the simplest moves and combos whilst still teaching you the base structure and technical principles that define the style of Salsa you are learning.

If you lack solid technical foundations there will always be an artificial ceiling on your progression, and at some point you will have to unravel the bad habits and re-learn the basics from the ground up if you want to break through.

The longer you’ve been dancing, the harder this gets – I know because I’ve done it several times under various different teachers.

It’s worth it in the long run, but much better to learn correctly from the start so you don’t have to go through this.


3. Practice On Your Own

If you can’t dance alone, you can’t dance at all…

I firmly believe this as I know there are many dancers who treat their partner like a safety blanket, and freeze like a rabbit in the headlights if they are let go – men as well as women.

There is a pervading myth that you need a partner in order to practice Salsa and nothing could be further from the truth.

Most people’s partnerwork skills could be exponentially improved by working on their own movement technique.

Solo shines are an integral part of Cross Body Salsa and come with the additional payoff of improving your balance, weight transfer, footwork speed and dexterity, and general coordination and movement aesthetics.

They also allow you to practice many of the turns and spins found within partnerwork without worrying about an external entity disrupting your focus and balance. This gives you a direct and powerful carry-over into your partnerwork which few fully take advantage of, then wonder why they always struggle with particular moves in class, or on the dance floor.

If you can figure out how to include short but frequent shines practices into your week, you will really accelerate your progress.

So those are my three biggest tips for new Salsa beginners just starting out.

And here is a link to my beginner course:

Click here to go to the course page