[nabs-l] Dancing, Latino Style

Joe jsoro620 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 14 23:53:51 UTC 2016

In cleaning out crazy old emails, like way back from college old, I came
across a note I thought you guys might find interesting. It might do you
well if you plan on doing some Latin dancing in your near future. I have no
idea who originally wrote the article. I only have the text in an email from
a friend, so apologies in advance for the lack of credit. Anyway, I hope
some of you find the step-by-step instructions interesting, and my apologies
too for the crazy formatting. Tip: Just put that screen reader in Read

Latin Dance Technique
There is no intentional hip movement in any of the Latin dances. The hip
motion is a natural consequence of changing weight from one foot to the
Sub-consciously we do this when walking backwards. We feel for the first
back step with our toe, roll onto the small of our foot and place our weight
the leg, as we lower the heel.
The Roll of the foot
Unless the music is really slow (Bolero/Rumba) always take small steps. If
the music is really fast (Salsa/Cumbia), max it at just a half foot length!
When you step, whether forward, backward or side, step onto the inside ball
of your foot (big toe), roll your foot onto the small ball (little toe) and
imaging you are squashing a grape under your heel, place the foot flatly
onto the floor, straightening the leg. If you have done this correctly, your
weight is now on the foot you have lowered and you should be able to stand
on one leg without falling over.
Knee Bends
You shouldn't need to consciously bend your knee. Relax! As you change
weight onto one leg the other leg should naturally bend at the knee and the
of the foot raise. In the Latin dances whenever one leg is straight (bearing
weight), the other should be bent. If this hasn't happened then your weight
is probably centered. Simply shift your weight onto the appropriate leg. It
may take a bit of practice to co-ordinate your movements. Try not to think
about the isometrics, just let your body do what comes naturally.
Hip Isolation
Your weight should be focused into the middle of the foot. Sorry about the
analogy but if you are in the correct position and I drove a pike through
middle of your skull, it would come down your spine, come out at the base,
then penetrate the mid thigh, follow the leg skeleton down and come out the
middle of your foot. If your weight was centered (incorrect position) the
pike would come out between your legs. Simple fact of physics, center your
and you won't be able to move either foot. To help isolate the hips and
increase hip roll, turn your feet out in a V shape (heels closest together)
as you straighten your leg (change weight) bend the other leg toward the
straightened leg. The hip roll looks more exaggerated if you keep the upper
steady (don't bounce around or sway the upper body about - it looks nerdy).
There shouldn't be any perceivable rise and fall in the body. If there is,
you are raising on the ball of the foot, instead of rolling the foot and
lowering the heel - probably means you are not changing weight fully onto
leg. If you are swaying the upper body, it will throw both your timing and
leads out (or in the case of the girl the acceptance of a lead), not to
probably annoy your partner. Girls seem to think they look sexy if they sway
about but it looks really bad and is a mega turnoff for the guy. So don't
do it!
Leading and Following
Its helpful to think of the Latin Dances as being sexual pantomimes. Even
though the man leads the whole dance, the idea is that the man is trying to
the lady, he is pushing forward and she is pushing him away. So maintain a
slight forward pressure with your body. If you are in hand to hand position
the man keeps his hands/arms at the lady's hip height. If you are in closed
dance position - the man's right hand should be just below the shoulder
(thumb on the back bra strap), and his left hand gently takes hers in his -
the lady must never place her right hand above the man's shoulder, if he is
short she places her thumb on the intersection of the muscles just below the
shoulder (he should have a little slot where it fits naturally), if he is
tall then the lady positions her hand lower down the arm. Her aim is to have
her elbow slightly above his. That way he can lead her. A simple rule for
the man: if the girl is much shorter than you, stand further away from her.
If she is much taller than you, stand closer. The cardinal rule is hold each
other comfortably. Under no circumstances should you stretch to reach your
Arms and Elbows
Try not to thrash your arms and elbows about. You'll look silly and probably
cause an accident on the dance floor. The man should use his arms to tell
girl when to go back or come forward or whatever. Both need to keep some
tension (pressure) in the arms, so the man can lead. A common problem is
complain that guys can't lead. These girls should consider that maybe they
aren't allowing the guy to lead. Typically, they, are the ones that sway
body about too much, flap their arms, bounce around, fake their hip
movements and do not sustain hand/arm pressure when dancing. A guy can't
lead dead
fish, seagulls or bowls of jelly. Guys, even if you are a beginner, you can
dance effectively, if you stand erect and keep a firm forward pressure on
Stand Erect
Although its useful to imagine the Latin dances as sexual pantomimes, that
doesn't mean the man should be sexually aggressive. The dances should be
with a hint of sexuality but remember, children maybe watching. Guys keep
your upper body erect (that means from the waist up) and be gently
Girls and Guys, stand up straight, look at your partner. Enjoy yourselves

Musings of a Work in Progress:

Twitter: @ScribblingJoe

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