I used to do a little dancehall Salsa years ago. But it was beginner level, and there are so many styles of Salsa out there that I didn't even really know if the steps that I was doing were right.
But now I've signed up for a weekly group class with the biggest Salsa studio in the city ($13 a class), so if I do the weekly classes for a couple months I ought to be able to go out to any of the big Salsa clubs in the city and be able to do the same steps everyone else is doing. Or at least the same steps that other dancers taught by that studio are doing.
Like I said, I've danced some Salsa in the past, so the classes should be a breeze. It's just a matter of cleaning up some bad technique and form. Also, I ordered an instructional DVD on Salsa in order to review the basics at home. DanceVision.com has some great instructional DVDs for all kinds of dance. Here's the Salsa DVD that I got: https://secure.dancevision.com/store.../salsa/DSJD51/
Click on the little window at the above link to see an example of the instructors teaching one of the steps.
I love the instructional DVDs. They're great for checking out the pros going through the moves one frame or one step at a time. Of course, classes are important too. Nothing like going to a class and practicing the steps with a partner under the watchful eye of a professional instructor. The instructor can spot mistakes you didn't even know you were making.
The only tough part is the practice: Lots of little 10-minute blocks of practice at home, until the steps are smooth and automatic.
I have a busy schedule this week. I have a Waltz class tonight, a Salsa class Tuesday evening, a Foxtrot class Friday eve, and a Bachata class on Saturday.
I used to dance in the past but took a break for 5 or 6 years. In the interim I played World of Warcraft pretty steadily for a couple years. I'm sure people will laugh at the comparison, but nowadays dance classes remind me of WoW. Breaking out and learning a new Salsa step, for example, is like leveling up and having to learn new skills and weapons or like entering a new zone and having to learn your way around. You approach the new material with trepidation, do some prep work (break out the step on an instructional disk or get walked through it by an instructor), and then dive in, do some drilling, and get good at the new step.
Then you try the step out with different partners. I suppose that's like joining a group in WoW for a run through an instance or on a battlefield: It's more social and you have to know the material well enough to not screw it up for the other people involved. And it's a different partner every time, so there's a lot of variation even in running through the old steps over and over.
The other point of comparison is that WoW and dancing are both games. You can put them down and walk away from them whenever you've had enough. If you don't like your Salsa instructor, there are other Salsa studios in the city. Or you can switch to a class/studio that does Swing or blues dancing or ballroom or contra dancing or whatever. In the old days with the big ballroom franchises, you used to sign up for months of classes costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But these days, it's all independent instructors, and they all let you pay by the class. So you can walk in, take a couple classes and drop out again until you find a setting or dance you like.
Oh well, just rambling. I'm breaking out some basic Bachata steps from an instructional DVD in preparation for Saturday's class, and the comparison occurred to me.
The subject of "dance etiquette" covers what happens on the dancefloor. Couples dancing is kind of a weird alternate universe with its own weird rules. Here's a great link on the subject, for anyone curious: VERMONT SWINGS | Social Dance Etiquette
That info is from a place that specializes in Swing dancing, which is a little more lowbrow than ballroom. So some of the advice might be questionable in other settings. For example the idea of putting duct tape on the soles of shoes; you could only get away with that at a Swing dance. The more normal solution is to take a pair of comfortable shoes to a cobbler (shoe repair place) and have them put on leather soles. You can even do this with running shoes--it makes for a very comfortable pair of dancing shoes.
East Coast Swing
Salsa (two types: Generic and New York Style)
West Coast Swing
I'm mainly hitting Latin clubs right now, which means Salsa, Mambo, Cha-cha, Merengue, Bachata, and Kizomba. But I'm getting the other steps up and running so I can start hitting the general ballroom circuit again as well.