In salsa, the man leads and the woman follows. We’re supposed to be passive but responsive and do what the signals we receive from the leader are telling us. It seems odd to me, therefore, that at a salsa social, if you don’t ask men to dance, you’re probably going to be sitting out for long periods of time.
Because most of the women who salsa are confident enough to ask – and as the women usually outnumber the men – if you don’t take the bull by the horns, so to speak, you will get nowhere.
I tend to attend these social with two of my salsa friends who are a couple – therefore have a guaranteed partner – and my regular dance partner, who is a good lead, French, in his mid-twenties and seemingly irresistible to women of all ages. Needless to say he has no trouble in getting dances.
When you do get asked to dance, experienced leaders will ask how long you’ve been dancing so they can gauge the level of moves you will be comfortable with. My answer (about 18 months) generally results in “oh great, you’re fine” they then proceed to spin, twirl and dip you to their heart’s content.
There is another kind of leader, who will watch you dance with other guys in order to decide if you’re good enough to dance with them. Part of me then wants to refuse these guys, due to their arrogance, but in all honesty they usually have the best moves!
Sometimes leaders will make you feel uncomfortable, either due to inexperience or because they invade your personal space, but most of the time dancing with new people helps you develop your own technique and grow in confidence.
That’s why I need to be a little bit braver the next time I go to a social.
After all, if you don’t ask you don’t get!