OFF BEAT Support Group…
Is Your Partner a Non-Dancer or Off-Beat…?
by Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
What a nightmare….you’re dancing partner or life partner doesn’t know the rhythm. OR, your life partner doesn’t dance, and you’ve got the Salsa Bug Addiction…
“Excuse me, but what BEAT are you on???”
WHAT DO YOU DO
What happens when the guy you’re dancing with goes off the beat of the music, and doesn’t follow the rhythm? Do you follow a guy when you are dancing even if he is not following the beat of the music?Sometimes I keep the rhythm for just a bit even though my partner is not, thinking that if the guy is inexperienced, it may help him out.But–I have danced with some who refuse to follow the music. Do you feel obligated to follow even if you know are only dancing to the rhythm in his mind and not to the music? My boyfriend says follow and the guy will think you are a great dancer. If the female does not follow, then the guy will think it’s the girls fault and that she can’t dance. How stupid do these guys think we are? – Sick of Off-Beaters”
He’s oFF BEAT
… And I have to Follow this Idiot?
Dear Sick of Off-Beaters,
Well, you can do several things. You could brow beat, and force them into Salsa Submission by pushing them to take classes, or you could just call your going out till all hours of the night, your “aerobics session”. Or, you could get a divorce, and swear your next spouse will be a dancer of at least some sort… All of the above are what I did.
Whatever you decide, I want to hear about it. If you’re having problems, write me about it. I’ve been through two situations myself. My life partner, who refused to dance or go dancing with me, which, I’ll have to tell you the story when I get a chance to write about it…
…..and my former dance partner, who is a self-admitting off-beater, but an awesome dancer. How did I deal with it? Read on…
I encourage those of you out there to please comment below. We NEEED this support group. I’m finding more and more people and mail on the subject, and together, as one, we can get over it!!!
A guy asks you to dance. You accept. You start the first step, and within seconds you realize he’s not dancing to the beat. What do you do? You could do one of three things:
2. Stop dancing in the middle of the song and walk off.
3. Follow him anyway, and forget about what’s right or correct.
Let’s talk about #1.
If the guy sees that you are dancing to a different rhythm than what HE hears, you will both subconsciously fight to see who leads who. You both will run into each other, and have a less than desirable experience. The woman will eventually win this little fiasco because the guy will basically let her. He will chalk this up as a terrible experience, and move on. Men have been taught that the woman should follow; they take it as, no matter what. If the woman doesn’t follow him, he will think she’s impossible to maneuver and control. He will think she’s not following the rules. This is a problem when the woman knows the rhythm, and the man does not. If the man doesn’t know the rhythm of Salsa, his ego will not allow any woman to show or tell him that. He will just think she doesn’t know jack, and not dance with her again. He’ll tell all his friends she’s impossible to dance with, and a terrible dancer. Even if she’s a great dancer with other men, he will assume that she can only dance with certain men, and is inflexible to dance with anyone else. Some women prefer this. If to never dance off the rhythm is your objective, then you must realize that you are limiting yourself to only dancing with certain dancers – the elite, the best. You will lock yourself in with these dancers only, and when they don’t show up at a club one evening, or are so busy dancing with other women, you will not have a very good time – especially if there are so few of them to go around. They will spoil you with their smooth as silk leads, and you will miss out on a lot of potentials out there that would make each night more enjoyable than the last.
This is your choice. All I know, is that when a guy doesn’t follow the rhythm, he truly does not know nor understand it. I honestly feel sorry for them. They place more emphasis on getting the moves and tricks right, playing traffic cop, and keeping the girl interested, than they do on the rhythm. There are people that literally cannot hear the rhythm nor beat of any music – much less Salsa. They try and try, and listen, and listen, and still, cannot hear where the “1” is, much less where the “2” is. Some people will just NEVER get it. This is a sad fact. They are “tone deaf” to the beat of Salsa. They may do a Merengue or Cha Cha fine, but for some reason the rhythm of Salsa is not “heard” by everyone in the same way.
I’ve had the experience of dancing with men, where they have been dancing for YEARS, and still don’t know where the rhythm is. They know all the moves, the tricks, the dips, the flips….. but they just never, never get the rhythm. They think they have to follow a certain instrument. The problem with that is, that the instruments can change so often in the middle of the song. Don’t fall into listening for specific instruments. This will throw you off when they stop playing. You need to hear the pulse of the music. the underlying tone and catch the beginnings of phrases or voices. Salsa is an eight-count, but we dance to a six count. 1,2,3 pause, 4,5,6 pause. Or if you dance on the two, it’s pause, 2, 3, 4, pause 6, 7, 8 pause. It’s difficult to describe in words, but I have a Timing CD that can help you understand the timing.
For women who don’t hear the rhythm, it’s not so bad because the guy leads them into the rhythm. We can get away with it – the guy unfortunately can’t. My instructor, Luis Vazquez NEVER let me get away with it. When I used to dance with him at a club, and get offbeat, he would point his finger to his ear. That would be my signal basically saying, “Edie, you’re off….” I hated that, but it was the truth, and it worked.
So if you want to make an enemy out of the guy you’re dancing with, back lead him into the rhythm, and force him to step with you. He’ll never ask you to dance again.
Let’s talk about #2
If you see the guy is not dancing to the rhythm, it is VERY RUDE to just say “Thank you” and walk off. Number one, this shows that you have zero tolerance, are “Holier Than Thou”, are extremely picky, and you will be considered, and thought of, as a complete a__ss You will really hurt his feelings and destroy his ego. Remember ladies, “revenge is sweet” because one day, if he finally DOES get it, and becomes a phenomenal dancer in the process, he will remember what you did to him. Men don’t forget – ANYTHING.
Another thing this does is discourage budding Salseros. We want Salsa to grow, not shrink. I’ve spoken to men in the past who told me they “gave up” on Salsa because the women were bit-ches and it was too hard to dance to. This saddens my heart to hear that.
This type of attitude closes clubs.
Men have told me that, if you aren’t awesome, the women don’t want to dance with them. This couldn’t be further than the truth, but this is obviously the way they feel, and must feel that way for a reason. They must have had a terrible experience and their egos won’t let them forget it. It’s a personal problem I know, but one that could be prevented if handled with sympathy, empathy, and compassion by a woman. Woman have a big influence over men. Men have told me that there is nothing more wonderful than a woman helping him out a little when he’s learning. We need to encourage men, not destroy them. This is supposed to be fun, REMEMBER? Don’t forget where you came from ladies, you weren’t always awesome…. Yes, you too sucked when you started.
Remember ladies, what goes around, comes around. The only time you should ever leave a guy in the middle of a song is:
2. If he smells bad
3. If he can’t lead to the point of where he’s hurting you
4. If he’s being a pervert on the dance floor
5. If he keeps trying to:
b) Talk to you and ask you personal questions
c) Says rude things to you.
d) Pulls your hair down during a dip (some men think they have to do this to get the woman’s head to go back for a dip. I HATE that.)
e) Purposely touches parts of your body you don’t want touched.
f) Constantly correct and insult your dancing.
The bottom line is, don’t just walk off because he’s not dancing to the rhythm.
Now, let’s discuss #3.
Ladies, there “is” light at the end of the tunnel.
I ALWAYS say, you’ve GOT to bloom where you’re planted.
My partner and I have won six competitions. He has no rhythm. He doesn’t know where “1” is, nor “2”, … sometimes I think he dances on the five….
Another professional Salsa dancer friend of mine has also won major competitions, and her partner doesn’t know where the “1” or “2” is either. Why? How is this possible? What were the judges thinking about?
I’ll tell you how we did it. WE JUST FOLLOW THEM, NO MATTER WHAT. I’ve had countless women come up to me and ask how I can “look so good” with “so and so”, because they just can’t dance with them. They look terrible with everybody else, but with me, they look awesome! My former partner and I have won countless competitions due to him “knowing” where the “peaks” are in the music. He would be “right on” those peaks, which would give the “illusion” of us being on the rhythm. Ha! Fooled the judges, but after a while they caught on. I had NO CHOICE but to follow him, because he would PULL me into the move, but not always the perfect time….
I FOLLOW my man, no matter what. I stop thinking about the music, the rhythm, the beat, the lyrics, everything. I just concentrate on him, duplicating his style, and most of all, concentrate on making him look good at all costs. I know guys, some of you are thinking – Well that’s my job, I’m supposed to make the woman look good. Well I’m hear to tell you that it also can work beautifully in reverse. I’ve seen it done, and have done it myself.
When I see a guy is off beat, I basically give up all hope for the remainder of the song, and make him look as good as possible. This is the woman’s job. This is also the man’s job. You are supposed to BOTH look good on the dance floor, compliment each other, not fight, nor end up with one partner completely stealing the show.
I’ve had to learn this the hard way. I tried back-leading, I tried going to the back and clapping to the rhythm with them, I’ve tried sitting down and explaining the rhythm, I’ve tried the basic with them over, and over, and over again, I’ve written it out, I’ve sung it for them, I’ve tried stepping with them to the beat…. everything. For some people, NOTHING works. I don’t fight it anymore. After I dance with a guy off-beat, I always ask him, “do you want to learn the rhythm, because I noticed you were off.” If he gets insulted fine. If he doesn’t, I’ll spend time with him. Of course, I’m the exception, not the rule.
One word of caution. Make sure you dance with other people who truly know the rhythm often. If your partner is the type who doesn’t know the beat, you will develop very bad habits, and without even realizing it will end up off-beat with other men you dance with. This tragedy happened to me. After about a year with my partner, I danced with my former instructor. He told me I kept getting “off beat”, and said I used to dance better before…
I was livid.
So if you can’t beat them, join them – temporarily. Keep dancing with many, many men that DO follow the beat, and follow them,
No Matter What.
Heed my advice ladies…
– Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
Edie The Salsa FREAK!! Website