Controversial Moves, Controversial Contests
By Terryl Jones, of Let’s Dance LA
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It was fun getting to spend time with you this weekend. Enio and I work and travel so much that I rarely get to spend time talking to another girl.

We have made the decision to not travel quite so much and therefore I look forward to getting to spend more time visiting. We both look forward to working with you more in the future. Below is the article that I wrote. I warned you that it is somewhat inflammatory, but I really wanted to start some dialog along these lines. The more things are brought out into the open, the better they can be dealt with. Terryl

I have judged and seen many dance contests over the last 20 years. I have seen a trend in Salsa that has made me angry enough to feel it is time to speak up.

I’ve seen way too many pros doing moves that use the girls as a prop to be thrown around like an old rag. Now there are semipro and amateur dancers attempting to copy these moves with even less skill than the pros they are trying to copy. Both pro and amateurs are performing moves that are dangerous and tasteless. I’ve watched a guy accidentally drop his partner onto the floor and 30 seconds later he hit her in the head! I’ve seen guys laying on the floor looking up the girls dress while she wriggles over him, girls put into the neck drop with their legs wide open like a gynecological exam. I find all of this offensive. In competitions, many couples are going to extremes to excite the audience rather than dancing with finesse and class. If you want to get a crowd reaction do as Enio says “light yourself on fire or take your clothes off.” If you want to impress me with your dancing try dancing with a little class and execute good technique. Now these offensive actions are moving onto the social dance floor.

There are two ways you can “miss” a move. You can “miss”- meaning the move didn’t go the way you planned, she didn’t turn, a hand catch was missed, etc. or you can “miss” by attempting a move that you had no business trying in the first place and hurt your partner in the process. The second one is called stupidity.

Girls get clubbed in their kidneys, shoulders and arms yanked, hands crushed, fingers wrenched, heads hit, feet kicked and stepped on and then dropped onto the floor as the big finish! If you were not dancing you’d get arrested for assault. This is not exciting it is offensive. I am not exaggerating! I know a girl that went out one night and danced with the first guy that asked. He wrenched her arm so roughly she now has pins in her shoulder. I read on the internet two years ago about a girl that was dropped in a club, broke her neck and died. I’ve seen wannabe pros think that they can imitate a real athlete and do a trick. Maybe they can get through the move but when she nearly dies from it, was it worth it? I saw a pro do a trick, miss her hand, she hit her head on the floor. He managed to “save” it by catching the wrong hand so he minimized the damage. Many in the audience were sure she was seriously hurt, fortunately she was not. For the rest of the evening when people talked about the show he was identified as the “guy who dropped the girl”. I recently came across several guys watching several couples on a dance floor, when I inquired as to what they were doing they said they were “watching so and so beat up the girls.” Is this the reputation you want? Or how about the guy I danced with that repeatedly twisted my arm behind my back and tried to lift it over my head in that position? I was told later that the girls had nicknamed him “The Terminator”. Still no one had told him he was too rough. Guys are doing “cool” moves that have elbows flying dangerously close to the girls faces, which they often hit. Even recognized male pros are hand crushers or just throw girls around without care for anyones safety.

The ballroom and west coast swing communities have evolved to the point that partnering is considered an art and is admired. The Salsa community has not evolved to that point yet. You would not see a guy from these other communities repeatedly drop or hit a lady. Not only would the lady not tolerate it, the other guys would tell him he is too rough and to back off.

Guys in these other dance communities either learn to have a gentle lead or they end up being ostracized. Men are admired for their ability to lead the lady and make it look smooth and effortless, not by how “exciting” they made it by yanking and cranking her all over the place.

Trained dancers take lessons for years and when they learn a new trick they take several lessons to learn the proper techniques and then they practice long hours until it reaches a level of consistency. I can’t imagine going out onto a show or comp floor and do a trick that puts one of the partners at risk and not being 100% sure that it will work. Not sure out of arrogance, but sure out of knowledge and experience. You should have enough training and practice in the trick that the risk is gone. I get mad when I see these guys say “Oh I can do that”, copy what they think they see, try it a few times and then put it in the routine they compete that week. No wonder I’ve seen so many girls beat up.

Part of the problem is caused by the fact that the Salsa dance community consists of mostly male teachers and non-speaking female assistants. What is wrong with this? Men and women see things differently, value different things and usually have a different criteria for what makes a good dancer.

Guys are usually caught up in the “completion of the move”. Much like a football pass, it can be ugly, rough and barely there but as long as it is completed it is a success. Some guys even think the more he had to work to make it happen the more exciting it is! Kinda like sex…huh girls?

Partner dancing requires an understanding of how your actions affect your partner. Many men instructors teach what they expect from followers. Lady instructors should be speaking up and letting guys know what girls expect and want from leaders.

Woman have throughout history defined the etiquette of a society. When are we as a community of women going to say that we do not admire dancers like that. Girls wanting to dance with the flashy guys allow these men to throw them around. When ladies speak up and let these bullies know that they are hurting us then we can start the evolution of the Salsa community to a higher level. The ladies should not continue dancing with a partner that is guilty of dance abuse.

In a recent contest a woman was wearing a garter belt and G-string and felt it necessary to bend over with her backside facing the audience and shake it. She needed this to get the crowd reaction? This does not belong in a venue where children are present. If you want to dance like a table dancer work at a gentleman’s club. Many years ago Miriam and Sandor of Forever Tango performed the now popular neck drop. To see a current lady executing this move properly check out Natalie Mavor or Edie, The Salsa FREAK (..). They do the drop on one leg with the thighs closed. For several years wannabes have been doing this drop on two legs, thighs wide open, crotch to the audience. Ladies get a clue!! Do we really need to be in these gynecological positions? Not only is this a lower skill level it is just low class.

If you want to win contests or just impress on the social floor you need to learn to do proper techniques, not “flash and trash. Ladies it is time for us all to stand up together and say we don’t want to be props for the men to use to show off. To say we expect to be treated with respect. It is time to say you want your dancing to be judged by your skill, not by how much skin you show. It is time to raise the standard and encourage the evolution of Salsa respected dance form. Tango started in the brothels and now it has evolved to Presidential palaces and Broadway. Lets bring Salsa to that same standard or beyond.

Salseras Unite!


Lets Dance LA