Finding a dance partner can be a big challenge, especially if your goal is to ultimately compete. For dancers who don’t have a significant other, or don’t have a significant other interested in dancing, it can sometimes feel like dating all over again—but even more challenging since you want to keep the romance out of it! There are also unique challenges if you’re in a relationship but looking for a separate dance partner, too. You don’t want your significant other to get jealous and you certainly don’t want to cross any lines, but it’s also within your right to seek out a dance partner at the same time.
How can you find that perfect partner? It’s always best to look right under your nose! Dance studios, classes, and salsa clubs can be a great place to find a fellow dancer who’s looking to take their dance to the next level. In a class setting, you can get a great idea of others’ skills, interests, and whether or not they may be open to finding a dance partner. There are two kinds of partners you might be seeking: Someone to simply split private classes with and attend salsa clubs with, or someone who wants to work towards competing with you.
Here’s how, when, where and why to find a partner based on your goals:
You want to find a partner to compete with.
If competition is your goal, you’re probably already a very skilled dancer. If you’ve been dancing in the same geographic area for awhile, you also probably already have a few contacts. The best place to meet potential partners is in established studios and classes. Instructors might also be able to play “matchmaker” and introduce you to potential partners. Ask around and let others know you’re actively looking for a competition partner. However, do bear in mind that just because someone says they’re interested, that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. You both need to be comfortable and feel it’s a good match.
Try out a few private classes together and talk about your goals. How many days per week can you commit to practicing, and what times work best for both of you? Are there specific competitions you want to attend, and how long of a partnership do you have in mind? Do you work well together on the dance floor already? What kinds of other commitments do you each have, from marriage to kids or work that might take you out of town? At the competitive level, both partners are well-versed in what they’re looking for, so the process can be a little quicker.
You want to find a partner to take classes with, and you’re single.
Single and looking—but only for a dance partner? Whether you’re happily embracing the single life or you’re interested in dating, it’s best to keep your dance partnership non-romantic. If romance blossoms, then it can certainly work out, but you’re already committing yourself to spending a lot of time with this person. In some cases, people may use dance as a means to scoring dates. It’s important that you make it very clear that you’re looking for a dance-only relationship. Again, if you ask instructors to help you find a partner, they can mediate and help make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Looking for a partner in a club, rather than a studio, can open the doors to more romantic partnerships. Proceed with caution. You might also want to place an ad in the local digital or print outlet looking for an “activity partner” and specifically spelling out your (lack of) romantic intentions.
You want to find a partner to take classes with, and you’re in a relationship.
This scenario can be the wobbliest of all. First, make sure you discuss your goals with your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend. If they don’t want to take classes with you, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically okay with you finding a dance partner who isn’t them. The process of finding a partner can be the same as if you’re single, but you do have a third person to take into consideration.
Places to find dance partners:
There are many places to reach out to potential partners, and the “best places” can vary based on where you live. They can include:
- Dance studios/group classes: This is often the best place to find interested partners because everyone in attendance is already committed to the dance. Ask your instructor for help pairing you with someone (they may know a great fit who isn’t taking the same classes as you). You can also feel out potential partners as you dance in a group setting.
- Your personal network: Post what you’re looking for on social media, and you might be surprised at what you find! Maybe that old college friend who doesn’t post often has been taking lessons for years and is also looking for a partner. Someone you already know, or a friend of a friend, can be much more comfortable than partnering with a total stranger.
- Online/print advertisements: There are many platforms to find activity partners, including Craigslist. If there’s a salsa-specific site with a lot of active users in your area, that’s even better. Just be certain you’re clear about what you want in a partner and the arrangement, including payments for private classes (an even split) and your romantic boundaries.
- Salsa clubs: Sure, you’ll find a lot of committed dancers here, but it’s also a bit of a meet market. Spell out your intentions, goals and ideal arrangements with anyone you meet here so they don’t get the wrong idea.
Finding the perfect partner takes trial, error, dedication and a bit of luck. However, when that magic moment does happen, it’ll be well worth the effort. A dance partner can help you better your dance and, together, you might turn your hobby into a full-fledged career.