Imagine yourself driving your car on a high way. Suddenly the car in from of you breaks hard and turns. You step on your break. You curse. What an idiot! Suddenly you see another car coming towards you, on your side of the road. Aaaaaaaaaa! Break. You turn. What an idiot! You look around. Every single car is moving in a different direction, and nobody is respecting any signs. Cars are going in all possible directions on this one way highway!!! What idiots! Nobody is taking care about the other cars! Crash! Somebody just hit you! What an idiot! Didn't they tech you in school to take care about others?! You are not alone here! Didn't you see the sign that this is a one way street?? What an idiot!
And now imagine yourself on the dance floor... You are dancing with your partner and somebody unexpectedly changes his moving direction! They almost step on you. What an idiot! Crash! A high heel just ends up in you ankle. Auuu! What a pain! What an idiot! Didn't they teach you in you in your dance school to look out for others?! You are not alone on the dance floor! What an idiot!
You wipe away the blood from your ankle from the cut you just got, which is about 5 - 6cm long and think about whether to go back dancing at all or not. This was the fourth time already you have been stepped on this night. Will I be to stand on my feet tomorrow?!
A lot of times it happened that I get stepped on the moment I walk onto the dance floor. Usually a high heel or an elbow finds its way to my body. Imagine what it's going to be like in the crowd... And what's the solution? Not to dance on a crowded party? Put on some sneakers? Or to step on someone before they have the chance to step on you?
More and more dancers are going out to salsa parties, especially if there is some workshop or congress going on. This is one of the reasons why it can get crowded on the dance floor, and the dancers have less space to dance their figures. Then problems start. But once I eve got stepped on by a girl when there were only three couples dancing!
In Croatia most of the dancers are dancing Cuban style salsa, and this takes a lot more space than another line- dancing styles. On Croatian dance floors people like to "mix" salsa styles. At this moment I am not talking about advance dancers who are developing their own style, but about students from different dance schools who just went to some workshop and insert some new figures from a different style into their existing one. What does this mean on a dance floor? The problem in this is that, when you see a couple dancing a specific style and all of the sudden they decide to "pop" in some figure from another style. What happens? Crash! Somebody ends up being stepped on! When a dancer is dancing he should really check all his rear-view mirrors and analyze the situation as if driving on a highway. For example, ok - I got two couples dancing "Cuban" to my left, in front of me a couple is dancing "New York" style and to the right I got a couple of lovers just dancing close not moving to much. In this way the dancer can measure his dancing space in the crowd and by the style the other couples are dancing predict their way of direction.
On salsa parties, girls usually like to dress up into some nice like nice skirts or dresses, but also put on some high heels. The problem here starts when those girls are starting to make huge steps (and with this they look everything feminine) placing their right heel about a meter away from them directly to the floor or on somebody else’s foot! For such a girl I can only conclude that she had a bad salsa teacher who never dedicated some attention in explaining feminine steps and the technique about not putting the right heel on the floor.
I also think that most of the instructors don't give much importance to educating their students about respecting their space and other dancers. I think that teaching "dancing manners" should be put in from the first day on, in every possible school that teach some kind of social dancing.
At the "Rovinj Salsa Festival", I was stepped on a few times really badly. I also had a chance to talk to some instructors about this problem; we even discussed it on the instructional classes. Some of the instructor there said that this is one of the bigger problems of salsa here in Croatia. The famous instructor Mambo Mike was of great help, contributing with his comments in writing this article, stressing out that the safety on the dance floor and taking care about other dancers and their space is one of the most important things. You need to be aware of the people on the dance floor, take care that you don’t step, hit or crash into somebody and say "I'M SORRY" in case it accidentally happens, although I would rather classify an apology as a personal manner of every human being.
The first thing we all can do is to respect other dancer and their space.
Secondlly, I would like to call upon the instructors of all dancing schools to devote some time for teaching dancing manners on their classes, not only in theory - but in practice as well where the students get a chance to learn and dance figures when there is less space available. It also should be explained that the right heel should never be placed on the floor. This counts for both partners.
The third thing is that usually every dancing couple wants the biggest space for themselves so they can show to others what they know and how they dance (acrobatics, dips, saltos, etc.). In case someone wants to show off, he can do that on the stage while performing, and not in the crowd of a salsa party where everyone tries to enjoy their time dancing. Here are some more advices:
What can we do today?
Nowadays it is really hard to get through to the dancers because they can't find themselves in those stories. Everybody thinks that they don't step on or push other people while they are dancing. Personally I think that this article refers to all the dancers because every now and then, everybody steps on someone. If all dancers become aware and contribute to the solving of this problem, we can maybe achieve something.
Please forward this message to all the salsa dancers so that they can become aware of this problem and so there can be more laughter on the people’s faces and less injuries. I would like for us all to work together and take care about other dancers not to get injured or to suffer more serious injuries just because of our unawareness and not respecting other people’s space.
I've been preparing myself to write this article for a long time now, but the injuries my legs have suffered lately urged me to sit down a finally write it. But it is not only me. A lot of dancers complained to me about injuries and bruises which one could never imagine a high hell was capable of doing. I was a witness to injuries where you could only ask yourself, is it possible that this could have been caused by another dancer (in most cases it's the girls we are talking about who have difficulty controlling their moves)? By observing people on parties I convinced myself that this is more than possible, and only because of one reason... The dancers show no manners of dancing in a small and crowded place.
Now you are certainly going to ask yourself: „How come the author of this text bringing this up because it happened to all of us at least once that we stepped on someone else's foot?“ Yes, this is true, but in this case it would at least be appropriate to apologize to this person. But there are dancers, especially professional Latin dancers, who are trying to „show off“ their moves and dancing skills occupying almost the whole dance floor with figures that really look beautiful, but not on a dance floor which is small anyway, and where people are actually trying to enjoy their dance. By doing so, they ruthlessly step on other people invading and pushing them out of their space without even looking back. But just to make it clear, this is not only going out to them.
In Rijeka I had the chance to see a guy who actually lifted his partner over his neck and turned her around without even looking around if he's going to hit someone in the face with her legs or not. I guess he himself was enough to him so I guess he wanted to show his masculinity: „Look how strong I am and how I can easily lift and turn my partner. “ I don't really think his partner really enjoyed this moment of the dance, because you could see on her face expression that these seconds passed like hours. Anyways, if he wanted to show his superiority, he could have stayed at home or find some gym and take his partner, or even better a log of wood (this would be even better because he could only harm himself) and turn around his axis until tomorrow if he wanted to. Of course, this is an extreme example, but amongst us there are many like this.
It is actually sad that nobody talks about it on salsa classes. Nobody is going to tell you to make smaller steps because of many people around you who are trying to enjoy their dance as well. Nobody is here to tell you that you don't have to show off with complicated figures if you don't have enough space for them. Nobody is here to tell the dancers to take care of their dancing partners; because it didn't only happen once that the guy was leading his partner directly into someone else, causing injuries, because he didn't check first where she's going to end up. Nobody is going to tell you that, if you end up stepping on someone, you should at least be polite and apologize and not just arrogantly continue conquering the dance floor. If we are not aware of it, than at least someone should tell us what we have to look out for. The aim of dancing is not to suffer pain and have bruises all around, but to enjoy the moment and to look out for each other.