Salsa is largely a partner dance, unless you prefer the rueda de casino style. That means someone is going to have to be doing the asking at a club, and social norms dictate that it’s usually the lead/man. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a requirement! Most people at salsa dance clubs are there to, well, dance. It’s not like other clubs where dancing is a veil for getting dates and hookups (at least not all the time!). Women are more than welcome to ask men to dance. Still, some people—for a variety of reasons—prefer to play the more passive role when it comes to snagging a dance partner.
Getting more asks is as simple as controlling your body language and nonverbal cues. This goes for both men and women. While the ultimate goal of going to a salsa club is to dance and get better at your passion, another goal is to not get your ego bruised. It can always sting a little when someone turns down an ask to dance, even when they do so kindly and graciously.
If you want to get more asks, it’s simple: Look approachable, friendly and like you want to dance. That shows others that not only are you eager to dance, but you’ll make a fun partner. You don’t need to be an expert salsa dancer to be one of the most popular dancers at the club. All you need is to be the most approachable and willing to have a great time with every person you partner with.
Positive Body Language
Your smile is the strongest asset that you have. It invites people in and tells them that you’re happy and willing to dance and talk. However, that RBF (resting bi$ch face) can really throw up a challenge for some people. It’s not enough to smile when you catch someone’s eye or they talk to you. As unnatural as it may feel at first, practice smiling in general. A lot of people report feeling silly smiling at nothing in particular, but it doesn’t come across that way. Need something to smile about? Watch fellow dancers and the band, and it won’t look at all like you’re smiling for no reason!
Other non-verbal cues include being accessible to the dance floor (with your salsa shoes on). It’s pretty tough to ask someone to dance when they’re squished into the deepest pocket of a booth with friends on either side. You’re basically asking others to battle through a crowd and awkward furniture to get you on the dance floor. Sure, you’re worth it, but you’re putting up literal, physical obstacles that few people are up for battling.
Invite the Asks
Particularly for women, the number one way you can guarantee more asks is to attend a salsa club alone. That’s it. If you take your entire crew, whether it’s a mixed crowd or not, that can be very intimidating—even if the person asking you to dance isn’t doing so with romantic interests. It can be intimidating enough to approach a person alone, but when they’re flocked by friends who might all stop and watch the interaction, that’s just overboard. If you really want to go with friends, go with two (preferably female). That way, someone asking won’t feel badly when they “ignore” your friend because you’ll be leaving two friends together while you dance.
If you’re a man looking for more asks, it’s best to attend with one other friend. Single men alone at a club can give off iffy vibes to some people. Fair or not, that’s often how it’s read. Approachable men are happy dancing or simply watching the dance floor. They have friends, they’re social, and they’re up for dancing with any partner.
Red Flags You Don’t Know You’re Waving
Some salsa dancers, regardless of level, make it a point to “only” dance with the best salseros in the club. That can be a great way to learn and improve your own dance, but it definitely sends a message to others. There are no benefits to being a “salsa snob.” The more people you dance with, and the more variety of abilities, the better your own dance will grow and thrive. Unless you’re on a date, make a point to dance with as many different people as possible.
Of course, the best way to dance with more people is to be the one asking! Salsa clubs are a great way for men to get more comfortable approaching women and it’s also a fantastic platform for women to experiment with shaking up gender norms.
One final tip—get off your phone! It’s a crutch many of us have, and it tells everyone to back off.
So—who are you dancing with this weekend?