If you’ve noticed an increase in salsa classes for kids, you’re not alone. In ballroom and Latin studios around the country, youth salsa classes are highly popular—and for good reason! Obviously, salsa dancing is a great workout and can complement any physical extracurricular activity you can imagine. Since it helps with stamina, balance and strength, it works fantastically alongside any sport from soccer to cricket, or track to basketball. However, there are also benefits to salsa dancing that extend far beyond helping your kids improve their athletic endeavors.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of salsa dancing for kids. If you have boys, you might especially consider enrolling them in class. They may resist at first a little more than girls, but learning to socially dance is key for growth and can help them in numerous life situations.
Don’t believe me? Just consider the grown men who can dance and those who can’t. It’s easy to see how the dancers have an advantage!
- Salsa helps with social growth. It’s one thing to be on a sports team and learn sportsmanship and camaraderie. That’s great and much needed, but what about the more nuanced social graces we all have to navigate? Learning how to dance with a partner and 1) lead for boys or 2) follow for girls while being in close quarters is a skill that can dramatically improve their social etiquette. Plus, learning how to graciously ask someone to dance and either accept or decline is just good manners—and they’re not often being taught in school anymore!
- It boosts self-esteem. When you know how to dance, your self-esteem climbs higher. Numerous studies have indicated this, and it’s never too early to begin. It doesn’t matter if your child is popular and outgoing, a little shy and reserved, or somewhere in between. Salsa helps dancers learn how to communicate better and increase confidence. Childhood is rough, and the teen years are especially trying. Any chance you have to give your kids a boost of self-esteem should be jumped on.
- Dancing teaches how to treat the opposite sex. No matter your child’s gender or sexual orientation, knowing how to properly treat the opposite sex is a critical life skill. It can help them immensely in their future romantic lives and professional lives. We’ve all witnessed both men and women who seem to have no clue how to properly act in social situations—this is often because these folks were never taught! How to treat a lady or a gentleman requires practice, and salsa dancing is the perfect platform for it.
- It offers alternatives for after school activities. Almost every studio party is for all ages, and when your kids are old enough it’s a fabulous option for their Friday or Saturday nights. They can dance, enjoy a healthy hobby, socialize with others who share their passion, and (much to parents’ delight), do it all in a safe, secure and nurturing environment. It will also help give them an edge when they get old enough to actually attend nightclubs!
- Salsa looks good on applications. Colleges and competitive activities will always seek out well-rounded students. Salsa dancing isn’t the most common activity you’ll see listed on applications, so it will really help your child stand out. Plus, many committees are well aware of the numerous benefits of salsa (such as those listed above), which makes your child a very attractive candidate. The committees will know that your child can communicate, knows social etiquette, and has grace, strength and flexibility.
- It gets them over the “cooties” stage fast. Before learning how to treat a lady or gentleman, kids need to get over the “Ew, I don’t want to touch a boy/girl!” phase. Touching appropriately is, of course, a staple in salsa dancing. This can be particularly helpful for kids who don’t have siblings of the opposite sex, or who are especially resistant to touching a boy or girl. This, in turn, can dramatically up their maturity level. As an added bonus, everyone needs kind touch. With salsa, you get in a little more contact with others.
The sooner a person starts learning Latin dancing, the better they’ll become—it’s just a matter of practice! However, some children might be resistant to any kind of dance or partner dance. Encourage your child to commit to at least five classes, and try out a few studios to find the right fit. You’ll likely find that after five classes, they’ll be hooked.