Surviving Fast Songs

by Jeff Huang

We’ve all been there before – sitting on the side of the dance floor, waiting for a good song, and secretly cursing the DJ for playing nothing but crazy-fast salsa.

Even worse is when a song starts out slow, lulls you into grabbing a partner, then subtly (or… not so subtly, maybe about 1 minute and 20 seconds in?) turning into another salsa sprint. Surprise! You are now trapped in a fast song! What do you do?

Fast Song Survival Tips:

Small steps
You’ve heard it in class a million times: the faster the music, the smaller the move. The key here is to eliminate unnecessary motion and be more efficient. Taking small steps will make you look sharper, react faster, and make it look less like you are having a cardiac arrest on the dance floor.

Be aware of your surroundings
In science class, we all learned that when molecules are heated, they become more volatile and more prone to colliding with one another. Fast songs do the same thing to dancers. As people start to move faster, the chance of bumping into each other also increases. Now would be a good time to take a close look at your surroundings, and make sure that you have enough space to safely lead your partner. If you can, try maneuvering yourself and your partner towards the sides of the dance floor, where there are fewer obstacles to look out for.

Stick to moves you can do in your sleep
Avoid using challenging patterns, or patterns you are still working on. Slow songs are more forgiving of imperfect leads, whereas rushing a lead you’re not comfortable with may end up hurting your partner. Stick with simple moves that you can execute well. Maintain a solid and clear lead, and your partner will thank you.

Be playful
A faster song does not mean the end of having fun. In fact, fast songs are often charged with emotion, and as dancers, we should embrace and interpret it accordingly. Try playing with more styling – move your shoulders, roll your hips, do a few body waves. In fact, try to take this opportunity to let your partner go and shine!

ADVANCED OPTION – Switch to dancing on 2
For those familiar with dancing on 2, what you may not know is that it actually has a small advantage over on 1 when dancing to faster songs. When you break down a lady’s single right turn beat by beat, you’ll find that the lady will have an extra beat to execute her turns! This adds an extra dimension to how you are able to handle faster music, because you have additional time to prep the moves. You can find a more detailed comparison between on1 and on2 courtesy of our friends at Addicted2Salsa.

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