djGary posted a new Article on 10/03/2005 @ 16:18
This Q&A series is aimed at those thinking of learning to dance salsa in Ireland.
Q. Where can I learn to dance salsa?
There are salsa classes all over the country (in major cities like Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, etc and also in small towns). For listings, see:
Salsa in Ireland
Salsa Dance/Music in Dublin/Ireland
Salsa.ie Events Listing
Also, the IrishSalsa mailing list (and its message archive) are good for announcements of new classes, changes to schedules, etc. To subscribe, send an email to
If you're still having trouble finding classes in your area, try asking in the Salsa.ie Forum or Chat Room.
Q. Do I need a partner?
In classes you usually change partners every few minutes, for a number of reasons:
- You get to practice leading/following with a number of different partners
- You get to meet other people at your level
- You're not stuck with same partner throughout the class
- If there are uneven numbers of men and women, no one is without a partner for long
If you want to come with a friend or with a group, that's fine, but it's not necessary - many other people will be on their own too, so don't feel nervous. (If you're bringing a large group, perhaps let the organiser know in advance, just so that they can be prepared for you all turning up.)
And in most salsa clubs it's normal to dance with many different partners - just pick someone you want to dance with and ask them. And it's fine for girls to ask guys to dance.
Q. Can I do classes with a single partner?
If you want to stick with a single partner, that can usually be accommodated, though it is not to be recommended as it can result in both dancers knowing each move perfectly to the point where a lead is not as essential, which will create problems when you try to dance with other people.
Q. What should I wear?
It's not too important what you wear when starting salsa, but do try to wear:
And since you'll be dancing with a partner, please make sure your personal hygiene is good (but avoid strong scents).
- Shoes: Smooth-soled (not trainers/sneakers), comfortable, that won't slip off easily
- Clothes: Comfortable, light (as it can get hot if you're dancing a lot), from very casual to slightly "dressy" (whatever you prefer to wear - there's so set dress style)
Q. Do I need to book / pre-register / pay in advance?
Sometimes, but classes are often run on a pay-as-you-go basis as well, so check details of individual classes, or contact the organiser.
Q. How much do classes cost?
See individual teachers' listings for exact details, but group classes typically cost around €7-10 per hour-long lesson, often including club entry.
Q. How long is each class?
Usually about an hour long, often followed by a salsa club so you can practice what you've learned.
Q. How do the dance steps fit with the music?
Each "measure" of the music contains eight beats. Put simply, salsa dancers dance (i.e. move their feet) on the 1-2-3 and 5-6-7, but pause on the 4 and 8.
It can be difficult to recognise where the first beat of each measure comes in the music (if you have musical/dance experience, e.g. playing a musical instrument, you may find it easier than others do). To help you, timing CDs (click on "I Will Buy It" for audio samples) are available with the beats (especially the first and fifth) counted out over the music to help you get used to recognising where the 1-2-3 and 5-6-7 come in the music.
Q. Do all salsa clubs have classes beforehand?
Most do, but check details for each specific club.
Q. Apart from weekly classes and clubs, are there any other salsa events?
Within Ireland, there are a number of salsa weekends run during the year.
And there are lots of salsa festivals, congresses and other events run throughout the UK, Europe and the rest of the world, all year round.
Se http://www.salsa.ie/ or http://cityguides.salsaweb.com/ireland/dublin.htm for some upcoming events.
Q. Do I always lead/follow my partner?
As well as dancing with your partner (i.e. leading or following them in a "hold"), you can also dance "shines", which is where you break apart and each perform your own series of steps (and hopefully "shine"!).
Q. When can I start?
As most classes are ongoing, you can probably start at the next class in your area (maybe even tonight!). See "Where can I learn to dance salsa?" above for links to class listings. For example, Dublin has classes most nights of the week (except normally Friday and Saturday).
Q. Can I try salsa just once to see if I like it?
Since many classes are run on a pay-as-you-go principle, yes, you can try one lesson and if you find salsa is not for you, leave it at that.
Q. Can I get individual tuition?
Yes, but of course these are more expensive, so as a beginner you are probably best to start with group lessons and take it from there.
Q. Can I miss a class?
Since many classes operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, you can drop in and out as often as you want.
Q. Why do people dance salsa?
Some of the reasons salsa dancing is so popular and addictive:
- Music - the rhythms are infectious, and the more you get into the music the more you're likely to get hooked
- Fun - dancing with a partner can be much more enjoyable than dancing on your own
- Social - since you dance with many different partners in classes and clubs, you meet lots of people
- Fitness - it's a lot more fun than a session at the gym
- Challenge - no matter how much learn, there's always room to improve
- Health - while many dancers may enjoy a few of drinks during the evening, too much alcohol tends to impair your ability to dance well, so you tend not to drink as much as you might on another night out
Q. Is salsa good for keeping fit ?
In addition to being great fun, dancing does provide some exercise and can form part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
But if you're specifically interested in fitness, there are some classes that combine salsa with an aerobic-type workout (sometimes known as salsa aerobics, cardiosalsa, etc.), which are normally done without a partner.
Q. Is salsa similar to latin American ballroom dancing (like on "Strictly Come Dancing") ?
While there are of course similarities (both are partner dances done to latin American music) the two are noticably different, apart from just the differences in steps.
Competitive ballroom dancing, like that shown on "Strictly Come Dancing", is very highly stylised, formal (fixed smiles, stiff postures, etc.), overseen by organisations who control which steps can be danced, and is typically pre-choreographed.
Salsa dancing is much looser, relaxed, and not choreographed in advance (the person "following" will usually have no idea what the "leader" will lead next). It is not controlled by any "governing body" and is constantly evolving.
There is a similar difference, for example, between the highly stylised "ballroom" tango and authentic, sensual argentine tango.
Q. I've never danced before. Will this be a problem?
Not at all. No dance experience is necessary for beginners lessons. And even some of the best dancers will have started with a beginner's lesson, just like you!
Q. Do I need to do beginners' classes if I've lots of dance experience?
Yes, you should. Any other dance experience will help a lot and you'll probably progress quickly, but you still need to learn the basics before progressing.
Q. What exactly is salsa music / dancing?
There are many different definitions of what salsa is, but you could say "salsa" refers to a range of related styles of afro-cuban and latin American music, and the accompanying related styles of dance. Now we've got "dry" definitions out of the way...
http://www.salsanama.ch/charts.htm features some salsa track samples. To hear more examples of salsa music, visit http://www.salsanama.ch/einleitung_zu_den_listen.htm (it's in German, but just click the links to different countries: "USA", "Kuba", etc. to hear music from each country)
And here's just one video clip of a couple dancing:
There's more background information on salsa at:
Q. Do salsa clubs play only salsa music?
Usually, plus often other latin american dance music like:
merengue (mer-EN-gay), e.g.
bachata (ba-CHA-ta), e.g.
"Obsesion" by Avenura:
reggaeton (reh-gay-TONE), e.g.
Some also play other music such as latin pop, latin R&B, etc.
Q. What are Cuban-style salsa and Rueda?
Most salsa taught in Ireland is "cross-body" style (where you and your partner dance up and down an imaginary line or "slot"), but there are also some classes in:
If you learn Cuban-style salsa, you generally won't have a big problem dancing with someone who has learnt "cross-body" style, or vice-versa, since the basic steps are similar (though you may well notice the difference in the steps your partner is leading, or the way your partner follows your lead).
Q. What is "On 2" / "New York Style" / "Mambo"?
Most salsa taught in Ireland (unless otherwise specified) is "On 1", which basically means you "break" (or step) back or forward on the first beat of each measure of music.
In "On 2" / "New York Style" (usually danced to a style of music known as "mambo"), you "break" back or forward on the second beat.
"On 1" is the most common style of dancing in Ireland and dancers usually only move on to try "On 2" / "New York Style" after learning "On 1".
Q. Is salsa addictive?
Yes. Be warned!
Q. What else can I read?
Try the Beginners Guide to Learning Salsa
Enjoy your dancing!