What Makes A Great Social Dance?

Have you ever wondered what makes a social dance truly magical and memorable?

Is it the moves?

The music?

The partner?

The atmosphere?

It’s probably all of the above in some measure.

They all contribute to the overall experience we have.

But even when those things are all great, even with our favourite partners and our favourite song, we can still have those odd dances which don’t quite “gel”.

Now I’m not saying that every dance should be, or could be a blow-your-socks-off experience.

That would be impossible and one of the primary ways we can ruin connection is by going into a dance with too many expectations, or too many fixed ideas about what “should” happen.

However from my own experience it’s rare for those amazing dances where all the planets align to happen on those occasions when we are feeling a bit “meh” or our energy is off.

Or if something in a dancer’s technique is distracting or dysfunctional.


What’s Your Definition Of Fun?

In Salsa I think there is a bit of an assumption that as long as you know a few moves, everything else will automatically fall into place.

And that as long as you’re moving to music “it’s all fun”. And that’s true to an extent. 

But I have had my share of dances which actually weren’t much fun – and from what I hear the types of experiences I’ve listed below aren’t that rare:.

It’s no fun being thrown, pushed, pulled or dragged through the moves as a follower.

Being thrown off-time into a backwards neck drop by a near-beginner or coming off the dance floor with bruises on your upper arm where you’ve been grabbed or man-handled.

Or an assumption made about how close you like to dance, or that you like or even know how to do advanced tricks and lifts.

And as a lead it’s no fun when followers lead themselves or won’t reciprocate the connection you offer because they don’t know how.

Or when they launch themselves into a move you haven’t actually led.

Or you nearly get decapitated by arm styling and a black eye from the classic flying elbow. Or when a more advanced follower gives you a bored look and clearly can’t wait for the dance to end. 

Yes – poor connection is DANGEROUS and a major cause of dance floor accidents.

All the above scenarios could be mitigated or avoided entirely through better connection.

So I believe connection is a technique in its own right.

Therefore it is something which can be broken down, explained, demonstrated and practiced in a way that anyone can learn.

And it’s something we must all take responsibility for and actively work on.


Want To Feel More Connected In Social Dances?

Connection Secrets For Social Salsa Dancers is the brand new course where I will teach you how to develop your connection skills for the social floor.

I created it because I felt I had something unique and valuable to contribute that would make a real difference as I believe that the vast majority of club based classes simply don’t address the issue of connection beyond the most superficial level.

And yet we are quick to moan when we feel our dances lack connection.

So, as this issue of connection can make or break a dance, I decided it was worth devoting an entire workshop to the subject.

It started out as a four hour workshop – then I realised I had way more tips and exercises and nuggets to share than I could fit in the time.

So now I’ve turned it into a full 8 week course packed with useful content and I’m really excited to finally be ready to share what I’ve learned through my good, bad, and ugly dance floor experiences!

I’ve boiled everything down to solid principles which are taught through drills, fun but revealing exercises, dance floor reality tips and tricks which you will be able to use on the dance floor immediately with every partner to get smoother, more seamless dances.

And because these are techniques and principles rather than choreography, you don’t need to remember a heap of new moves.

You will be able to apply what you learn to your existing repertoire, in order to make it look, feel and work better.


What I Believe About Connection

I don’t believe connection is at all mysterious, or a dark art, or something that happens randomly like a lightning strike.

I also don’t believe it just automatically happens as you learn moves and progress through advancing levels of Salsa class, although some dancers do it more naturally and intuitively than others.

I believe it can be enjoyed by all dancers of all levels when the right conditions are created. After all, connection is simply sharing the joy of moving to music with another human being.

But Salsa has a spefic language of connection, a standard vocabulary of basic moves, and most importantly a leader and a follower.

For the lead this means putting the ego to one side and taking responsibility for creating a beautiful and unique shared experience in every dance.

For the follower it means trusting the lead to do his job and not taking over. Why not become a better follower rather than blaming the leads for everything that goes wrong?

For both it means looking beyond your current level and realising there is always room to learn, grow and improve.

Above all, connection starts with an open heart and an open mind – and having an attitude of genuine acceptance and care for everyone you dance with.


Showing Up, Not Showing Off

So a big part of connection is showing up not just for ourselves, but for each and every partner we have the privilege of dancing with ot any given event.

Unfortunately there are some conditions we unwittingly create which interfere with our ability to create and maintain connection. 

Some of these are technical – it is important to understand the mechanics of how a physical connection is maintained during complex turn patterns with fast, frequent hand changes.

This is something which followers are sometimes oblivious to, as they are not directly orchestrating this, however they need to know how to reciprocate what is given by the lead and respond correctly, and this is often overlooked by teachers.


Are You Making Or Breaking Connection?

Connection exists on multiple levels, and every second of every dance we make conscious and unconscious choices which can enhance connection or sever it entirely.

The very act of thinking too consciously about what we are doing can disconnect us from our partner. Like the guys who are staring into space, racking their brains to remember their next move.

Or the dancers who grip onto their partners hand for dear life – sure there’s a stronger than necessary physical connection, but the level of discomfort for the other partner almost certainly is annoying and distracting.

Or the guy who is so busy showing off his leading prowess with complex turn patterns that he is oblivious to the follower struggling to keep up and not really enjoying dancing with him.

Or the follower who is so busy preening and posturing for admirers on the side of the dance floor that she forgets to follow.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t bring our awesomeness to our social dances – of course we should – but what if our primary goal was to create an amazing shared experience, rather than to blind everyone with our brilliance?

This doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario.

Knowing when and how to give your partner full focus and room to express themselves is an integral component of social dance skill.

And when you both have room to express yourselves as individuals whilst still being equal collaborators, reflecting the energy and vibe back and forth between you, it’s a feeling unlike any other.


Connection From The Lead Perspective

Many guys think that the moves have to be “difficult” or “complicated” for a dance to be good.

The truth is that the more complex the turn patterns are, the more funky hand changes and the faster the music, the more opportunities there are for the physical connection to be lost.

And this is where trickier combinations can fall apart at the seams.

Trying to lead complicated content without first establishing connection and rapport will often lead to missed leads and scrappy dances, even if you dance with that partner a lot.

Connection From The Follower Perspective

Technical skill is important on both sides, as the follower needs to know how to reciprocate the tension and connection which is offered by the lead.

This is not a passive thing, and should not rest entirely on the lead’s shoulders – and although many guys in chivalrous fashion will take the blame when something goes wrong in social dances, it’s rarely all their fault.

It disappoints me when ladies say they can only dance well with good leads, as this is a very disempowering belief.

It also devalues the role of the follower by not recognising her as an equal collaborator by means of technical skill, musicality and creative expression.


How To Be A Better Dance Partner

There are three levels of skill in my book:

  1. Make your partner feel good by being a decent human – anyone can do this.
  2. Help your partner look good by giving them great technique and room to express themselves. And by being kind if they mess up. Don’t try and “teach” them how to do do it correctly.
  3. Skilled dancers can actually cover up their partner’s mistakes as well as their own. If you see a couple having fits of laughter during a dance you can almost guarantee it’s not because someone told a good joke, but because someone messed up.


When Is The Course?

The next Connection Secrets For Salsa Dancers course will start on Monday 8th May at 7pm.

Where Is The Course?

The course will be held at my private studio in Merrymeade House, Brentwood.

This is just a few minutes from the High Street and has plenty of free parking right outside.

We have a new, bigger studio and dance floor which guarantees you an even better experience.


Days Until Next Course








How To Book

The cost of the course is £199

This is due to the limited places and amount of personal attention you’ll be getting – it’s a steal as I truly believe the material will be a game-changer for many.

Use the PayPal link below to make the payment.

You will be sent a confirmation email within 24 hours.

What’s Covered On The Course?

I am in the business of transformation.

It’s no secret that I’ve been on my own transformative journey through Salsa for many years now.

This course will not be for you if you want to learn a few funky new moves which you’ll probably forget and never use again.

It’s not for you if you want to be spoon fed routines and choreography – by its nature, anything too tightly choreographed does not work to enhance connection in a social dance as it means the lead already has too many preconceived ideas about what he wants to happen.

It will also not be for you if want pure mechanical technique.

Whilst there is a large dose of technique contained in the course, I also cover some less tangible themes such as the energetic and emotional side of connecting with a partner.

What I can tell you is that you will never look at a social dance in quite the same way!


Who The Course Is For

This course is aimed at improver and intermediate Cross Body dancers who want to enhance the quality of their technique and have more fun on the social floor.

It’s for those who want to raise their lead/follow skills and connect with any partner of any level.

Whilst I don’t want to teach advanced dancers to suck eggs, often we have gaps in our skillset and it’s the willingness to go back to basics and relearn the fundamentals better than before that will ultimately take you to a higher level.

Course Format

The first half of the course will cover more of the tangible aspects of connection such as physical mechanics and technique. We’ll explore the lead/follow dynamic including non-verbal and tactile communications that often fly under the radar, yet are extremely powerful on the dance floor.

The second half will explore themes which are less easy to define and fall outside the scope of traditional format Salsa classes.

This includes setting up playful interactions between partners in a conversational style, how to orchestrate breaks for shines, read your partner’s body language, and how to convey intention and use the music more effectively.

We will tap into into our masculine and feminine energies and learn to express ourselves spontaneously and authentically, relying less on pre-choreographed “set pieces” and more on feeling our response to the music.

Part 1 - Physical and Spatial Connection
  • Connecting to your body – you cannot connect with a partner until you first connect with yourself. Foundations of trust and confidence in yourself and your partner.
  • Spatial connection – together whilst apart, defining the line and creating your dance bubble.
  • Mechanics of connection – frame, handholds, reciprocal tension, best practice for leads and followers to avoid pushing, pulling, towing, dragging and clinging on.
  • Maintaining connection through complicated combos – spatial awareness, proximity, positioning and contact points. Tactile cues and clues. Communicating speed, direction and managing momentum and flow.
Part 2 - Emotional and Energetic Connection
  • Connecting to the music – establishing timing, mood and common ground. Assessing the level of a new partner. 
  • Playful Interactions – Shines, dance “conversations”, copycat games, using breaks and going “off-piste”.
  • Playing with masculine and feminine energies – exploring assertiveness, strength, seduction, sensuality, surrender. Creating light, shade and drama.
  • Dancing from the heart – showing up, staying present and developing improvisational skills.

How To Book

The cost of the course is £199 per person.

This is due to the limited places and amount of personal attention you’ll be getting – it’s a steal as I truly believe the material will be a game-changer for many.

Use the PayPal link below to make the payment.

You will be sent a confirmation email within 24 hours.

What Others Said

Huge thanks to Shulagh jacobs at salsa intoxica for putting on a brilliant Salsa dancing connection workshop.

I highly recommend you guys and girls book the next one. Shulagh has a gift for deepening connection between partners by using touch, proximity, eye contact, energy and becoming in tune with the music.

Absolutely brilliant course!

Adam Day

Thank you Shulagh jacobs for a brilliant salsa workshop on Sunday.
Now that’s what I call a workshop. Was so much fun and jam packed with superb techniques and sharpening of salsa dance skills. Came away feeling much more confident, understanding and experience of salsa dance.
Lots of practice too with a great teacher and team to accompany.
Highly recommended if your looking to take skills to the next level no matter what your experience. Can’t wait for the next one xx
Sally Ann Harrington

Verve Clinic

Who Am I?

I’m Shulagh Jacobs, a full time teacher of Salsa and Owner/Founder of Salsa Intoxica Dance School – a small private studio in Brentwood.

You’ve probably not heard much about me as I don’t run a big club night – I prefer to work closely and consistently with small groups, couples and individuals.

As a lead I am known for my smoothness and never-ending flow of moves.

As a follower I’m known for my responsiveness, playfulness and musicality.

As a teacher I’m known for my simple and clear breakdown of complex moves and technical concepts, and my progressive methodology which enables everyone to experience successful learning outcomes and grow their confidence and dance skills.