Lately, tango has taken a backseat to my new muse…salsa dancing. I took a round of beginner classes last month, got instantly hooked, and am now in round 2 of classes! I think what I like about salsa is that it has all the lovely intricate footwork and the heat of tango but it’s a little more overt. Tango is subtle and sensual. Salsa is for when you just feel like cutting loose. Less thinking…more spinning.
To put a physics twist on this whole discussion, I was reminded of my chat with a physicist about tango and the conservation of angular momentum. (me-ow) We were talking about the various forces at work when you tango dance and how dancers who are aware of these forces and use it to their advantage are usually better dancers.
Example: You have to use the floor.
Sink into it because that’s your springboard and all good boleos, sacadas, and ganchos come from there. Well, it’s the same thing with salsa. It’s much easier to keep your balance while doing those insane triple spins if you know when and where to bounce your foot off the floor.
There’s also another force at work more in salsa than in tango (in my opinion). The force of your partner. Salsa depends on spring action a lot so when you’re in open embrace, it’s essential that you’re giving your partner some good resistance. It builds up momentum and then BAM!, you’re being shot across in a cross-body lead. (say it with me people, ME-OW!)
I find as a follow in salsa, I’m much more able to add overt flare. In tango, it’s still very hot to add a little hip wiggle hear, a heal turn there, etc. but in salsa, you can really let yourself move.
Last night, I danced with lots of people but two leads, in particular, kept me on my toes. One of them taught me ‘the butterfly’ where the follow ends up in a spin with her arms out straight (like she’s flying), the lead stops her mid spin, he spins under her, and then the follow does one final spin to get out. It’s hard to explain but it feels AWESOME.
I wish I had a picture of the dress I was wearing but the clothes are part of what make dancing fun. I was wearing a blue jersey dress with a crossed back. Love it!
And now for an awesome graphic I found online (reference coming soon):
The Phases of Salsa Addiction: