Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Letting Him Lead, Learning to Follow

Dancing has taught me that I did not know how to let a man lead. Salsa is all about the woman learning to follow. If he steps back, you step forward, if he lifts his arm, you turn. Don't watch your feet, trust your partner to lead you. Relax your arms and let him lead you through a series of intricate arm movements and spins, just keep your steps with your feet. When in doubt, back rock. If you do not learn to follow it looks awkward and both people stop dancing. It does not flow, there is no rhythm and no grace.

I remember my first Salsa class, "Just relax your arms. Let me lead. Just follow" my instructor said to me in his strong Cuban accent. I couldn't get it at first. What did he mean relax? I am relaxed! I couldn't make it flow, I couldn't make it pretty and graceful like I had seen other couples do on the dance floor.

Salsa is a lot like life.

I first learned a type of Salsa style called Casino or Casino de Rueda where couples dance in a circle with a caller and you are constantly changing partners. Like real life you can fake anything in a group, the same is true for Salsa - following in a group is easy to fake because you know the steps and what the man is going to do. But the minute you step out of the group and start to dance freestyle with a partner is when the truth comes out. When people can see that you can not follow.

But when you surrender...the minute it clicks and you "Just relax and follow" it becomes a beautiful dance between two people. When you have a strong lead and a great follower people will stop to watch. They will admire the fluidity that comes through. It becomes a beautiful thing when you are letting him lead as you learn to follow...

I get it now. I...get...it! I was dancing recently to a great live salsa band and my partner and I was in a groove. My partner was enjoying the music so much he spun me out too far and I followed. He had to come and get me.

He looks up and says in a strong Cuban accent "Hey, where did you go?" My answer? "You spun me out there. I was just following!" We both laughed and continued to enjoy the music and dance to a live version of this song:

Peace & Blessings...


  1. Just reading this took my mind to pretend I was there watching you dance. I like that part when you said "learn to follow" because it is not our natural instict to just do it, especially strong minded women who are taught differently. When you speak of your dance and having to learn to follow, it doesn't take anything away from us, it only gives us a sense of saying, hey you...I need you. I'm glad you didn't land on your behind when you were led off the deep end.



    Love love love it!

  3. If there is anything I love more, its salsa dancing. It's so freeing. I miss this great salsa club here in Atlanta. Anyway, seems like you are on a great self-discovery journey.

  4. This is awesome. I am learning the same lessons... knowing when to let my guard down and simply trust.

    I enjoy the way you captured your moments and explained them, I can visualize the awkward and the fluidity of your moments through your words. Awesome.

  5. QueenBee...It is so funny that the women in my class have such a hard time learning to follow. Dare I say it's a woman of color trait? LOL! He didn't spin me hard enough to take a spill but I did spin out of his reach! Too funny :)

    Lovebabz...YES! We are on the same path. I'm dying to learn to Tango (like I don't dance enough) but I love it when I can dance with almost anyone from stepping to ballet to Salsa. I want to be able to travel the world and accept a dance and be comfortable :)

    Insatiable One...The group I Salsa with always takes pictures and it amazes me how my face brightens when I dance. Almost all of the photos have caught me in a big cheesy grin!

    MsKnowItALL...Thank you, some of those beginning moments were indeed quite awkward!