There’s no way to know exactly what a new (to you) class will be like—that’s kind of like asking someone what the first day of school or work will be like! However, assuming you go to a reputable, quality class with a skilled instructor, there are a few staples you’ll probably find at your first salsa class. If you have specific concerns or are very nervous about being a newbie, talk to the instructor in advance. It can help to visit the studio before taking a class to meet with the instructor, perhaps even watch a class in action, and have a chance to get all your questions answered.
If you have a slew of salsa dance class options available in your city, you’re 1) very lucky and 2) have a little research to do. Salsa studios and instructors are all different, and don’t assume that the “most established” class or studio will be the best. Instead, try them all if you can (a quality studio will often offer a low cost or even free drop-in rate so you can try it out). If a studio requires that you get a membership or buy a pack of classes right away, that’s not the studio for you!
Check out online reviews, ask your friends if they’ve tried classes at any of the studios, and search for videos of the classes online. This will give you a preview of what you might expect. However, keep in mind that people are more driven to write negative reviews rather than positive ones. Don’t let a single negative review turn you off. Instead, tuck that information away and try out the studio for yourself.
No matter which studio you go to, here’s your cheat sheet of what you should expect:
- Instructors who work at your pace. “Your pace,” as a beginner, is going to be very on par with the others in the class. When a student advances to an intermediate level class, the instructor should “boost them up.” This ensures beginner classes are truly for beginners. You’ll quickly find innate strengths as well as areas that need improvement.
- Instructors who are encouraging and professional. You should feel good after your salsa class! Beginning instructors have incredible patience, kindness, and empathy. They remember what it’s like to be new at dance. They’re also professionals and can balance professionalism with friendliness. Many instructors take turns dancing with students, especially if the class doesn’t have an even number, so you’ll be able to feel and see how it is to dance with an expert salsero.
- A clean, safe environment. This should be a given, but you’d be surprised! Studios should be clean, hygienic and ADA-accessible. Ideally, studios are escapes for dancers and a place that will become your second home. There will probably be a comfy place to sit and watch, a spacious dance floor that’s clear of debris, ample mirrors, and maybe even changing rooms. First impressions matter, and dance studio owners should take pride in their space.
- Respectful classmates. Few groups and classes attract as many people “on the prowl” as partner dance groups. It’s not uncommon for the occasional student to try and use a class as a pickup spot. However, instructors are very familiar with spotting these ulterior motives and taking action. If you do feel uncomfortable with a fellow student, tell the instructor. They have ways of handling the situation without anyone knowing you “told.” It’s everyone’s right to feel comfortable in salsa class.
- A serious workout. Salsa demands both cardio conditioning and incredible strength. You’ll use muscles and balancing techniques you’ve forgotten about! If working out in general is new to you, you’ll want to plan to space out your first few salsa classes. Otherwise, you’ll burn out (and your muscles will make certain you know they’re upset!).
- A no-pressure environment. Beware the dance studio that pushes purchases or tries to upsell. If you get the feeling that marketing and sales are more important than operating a dance studio, this might not be the studio for you.
Want to get a preview of what the actual class will be like? Check out one of our many salsa instruction videos online! You can sort by style and level. It’s a great way to dip your toes in the waters and warm up before the real deal.