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Ask MARGARITA or Mario
Now that I have your interest let me ask you. Do you have any burning dance-related questions, comments or stories to share with us? Just ask our resident nightclub 'know-it-alls' Mario and Margarita. Margarita and Mario have been teaching dance in Los Angeles for the past 15 years and... They have heard it all! We have asked them to give you the male and female perspective on your questions! We can all learn from each other's experiences. Don't be shy. Come on, just ask Margarita or Mario! mailto:email@example.com
Our friends, students and web-buddies ask Mario and Margarita:
It's really exciting dancing with all the women in dance class. I usually get a little nervous, so I chat with my partners while dancing. I find I make a lot of mistakes when I talk and dance with the women at the same time. How can I dance and find out more about them. I'm trying to get some basic info before the instructor says "change partners"!
Margarita says... Now that's a dilemma! Dancing and talking at the same time often causes mistakes. It's just that the mind likes to concentrate on one thing at a time. Talking distracts concentration needed to execute the moves. If you know the moves very well and you can execute them automatically, it's easier to talk and dance. You may want to chat before or after class to get to know classmates better.
Where is it better to learn partner dances such as Swing, Salsa and Ballroom dances? Is it in Dance Studios, Or is it in Colleges and Universities or Is it in the Nightclubs?
Margarita says…In my opinion, the Colleges and Universities are best in teaching both Partner and Solo/Theatric dances “if and only if” you are ready to learn the structured step-by-step way. If you don’t have the discipline to learn in a structured manner or you just want to compete and perform or you have been a dance performer and dance competitor, the Colleges and Universities will frustrate you.
Colleges and Universities dance instructors are at least bachelor-degreed, technically trained dance instructors, and have studied or experienced being a teacher or corporate trainer. The Colleges/Universities administrators closely monitor the dance instructors’ curriculum or lesson plan. The dance curriculum is also checked against the standards of other Colleges and Universities around the world. That means, the techniques, steps, rhythm and styling must be widely used and accepted around the world to obtain the highest quality standards and to ensure that you, the dance student, can dance with anyone around the world. Dance classes in Colleges and Universities are very affordable and offers the most value.
Dance Studios ranked next to Colleges/Universities because you will learn mostly from “dance instructor trainees” which means you will get quality-diluted dance instruction. Dance instructor turnover is high in a dance studio. Not only that, the professional dance performers who is supposed to coach and teach the students are always not available because they are preparing for competitions and performances all the time.
The curriculum taught for each dance differs greatly from studio to studio. Which means that if you first learn from a Dance Studio, it does not mean you can dance with people from other studios around the world. Not only that, sometimes dance studios will tie you up to a long-term contract to take such number of private and group lessons. This can cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. You may ask, why hundreds and thousands of dollars? The monies collected will be used to support and fund the performers and competitors representing the dance studio (approximately 80%) and the rest for dance studio overhead expenses.
Nightclubs are the worst place to learn to dance. Aside from the noise from people who are socializing, the background music played is high and the dance floor is always crowded. Because of that, the nightclub is not conducive to any sort of learning including dance. Also, although the nightclub occasionally package the entrance fee with a dance instruction and sometimes with a buffet (this makes people thirsty), they charge too high for the drinks ($4 to $10 per drink). These charges are understandable though. To keep the culture of the dance alive, they have to pay for the band, DJ, bartenders/waitresses, security personnel, valet parkers, ushers, dance hosts/instructors, promoters, owners and nightclub overhead expenses.
The dance instructors in the nightclubs may or may not be accomplished dance performers and most did not learn how to teach properly. Most of the time, these club dance instructors teach very fast and does not take time to explain the steps, the lead, the follow, coordination, rhythm of the dance, styling and few techniques for effective execution. Most of them will teach you how to listen and feel the music and its beat. LEARNING HOW TO DANCE IS ABOUT MOVEMENTS AND TECHNIQUES OF EXECUTION NOT A MUSIC CLASS.
Mario has the same opinion as Margarita except Mario adds the following: it is too expensive to learn from a Nightclub. You have to pay for valet parking, alcoholic drinks, entrance and sometimes baby-sitting if you are a parent. One night spent in a nightclub is equivalent to taking 6 one-hour lessons in Colleges/Universities and in the Dance Studios. Mario also adds that if you are aspiring to be a dance performer/dance competitor as opposed to just learn to dance for fun, it will be better to go to a well-respected dance studio instructor to learn exhibition moves. However, that can be an expensive and time-consuming proposition and does not guarantee a full-time job as a dance performer or dance competitor.
I am a 29 year old male who wants to enter in the field of dance. I wonder what careers are available in this field. Is there any money to be made or is it really just dancing to feel good with no money expectations? Given that I have been enjoying dancing Modern, Jazz, and International Ballroom and given that I always admire the performers when I watch theatre plays, do you think I can realistically switch my current Computer Programmer career to any of the dance fields?
Mario says…There are 4 possible careers in dance namely: dance performer, dance competitor, dance promoter, and dance instructor. In each of this field, there are set personalities required.
If you crave for attention from people around you, does not mind rehearsing 3 to 4 hours a day, open to travel occasionally for auditions and rehearsals, does not need lots of money, and has the obsession to look good by dieting and exercising on a daily basis, then, the dance performer field is the best way to go. As of the year 2001, average gross earnings for a dance performer in the United States of America is only $1,460 a month. This is not a lot of money but the attention from people around you is great.
If you always want to win and hate to lose, then, the dance competitor field is for you. However, lots of commitment, preparation, and financial risks are involved in becoming a winner or champion. You must be ready to diet and exercise on a daily basis, rehearse 3 to 4 hours daily, be willing to travel for competitions, and most important is the ability to get corporate sponsors to pay for your entrance fee in competitions, airfare, hotels and costumes. Getting funding is not easy and most of the competitors I know has to spend most of their savings just to compete. Most of them are barely paying for their life’s necessities namely: health insurance, dental insurance, disability/accident insurance, life insurance (if they have young kids) food, clothing and rent.
If you have tons of patience, attention to details, ready to answer questions from the dance students, methodical, strong charisma, always ‘ready to help’ attitude, selling & marketing capability, and has the ability to make the class have a good-time, then the dance instruction field is for you. Travel is not required unless you need to. You may need to travel if you want to teach not only in your city but in other cities as well. Another thing, a dance instructor must be always open to new learning such as learning new dance movements and new methods in teaching dance. However, not everyone can become a dance instructor. Most colleges, universities and schools require a teaching certificate in addition to receiving 200 clock hours of practical and theoretical dance training. Some dance studios require teaching certificate nowadays because of competition between dance studios. This is not a problem if you own your own dance studio, but still, it will be good if you are a certified teacher or at least a bachelor’s degree holder to gain respect from your dance students. The average gross earnings of full-time dance instructor in the United States of America on a monthly basis is $1,876.
If you don’t want to be in the public’s eye too much, but want lots of money, then, being a dance promoter is the answer. Being a dance promoter is not easy. You must have strong selling and marketing ability, be able to handle basic to intermediate bookkeeping/accounting tasks on an ongoing basis, must have the ability to research competition & survey prospective customers (spectators and social dancers) on what they like in a dance event, must have the patience to look for corporate sponsors & business partners in organizing dance events on an ongoing basis, trustworthy ( to deliver the best event for the customers, partners and sponsors and be able to manage employees and contractors in a dance event. The average after tax and after expenses income of a full-time dance promoter in United States of America is an annual net income of $29, 847.
Based on these information, hopefully, you can make a decision if dancing career is for you. To be honest with you, you may be better off keeping your Computer Programming career.
In any partner dances such as waltz, swing, cha-cha, salsa etc. what is the best method of learning these dances?
Mario says…First, you must learn the proper steps or footwork that is recognized around the world so you can dance with anyone. Second, you must learn how to lead or follow. Again, so you can dance with anyone. Third, you must coordinate your lead or follow with your footwork along with your partners’. Fourth, ‘Rhythm’ and that is how you match up the footwork, lead/follow, and coordination with the widely accepted set beats of a particular partner dance with any partner. Fifth, ‘Styling’ and that is making your footwork, arm movements, shoulder movements, torso movements, thigh movements, knee movements and ankle movements look good together. Therefore, styling is impossible if you don’t even know the proper footwork and proper lead/follow.
Margarita agrees with Mario except Margarita added: If you hear fast music shorten your steps and if you hear slow music, long steps.
If you go to any dance gatherings, How would you know or measure who is a good dancer?
Margarita says…First, a good dancer executes proper steps/footwork. ‘Proper’ in this context means widely accepted footwork/steps around the world. Second, a good dancer can learn or follow anyone who have learned the ‘proper’ steps/footwork. Third, a good dancer has some sense of ‘rhythm’ (see ‘rhythm’ in the question/inquiry above) and coordination with anyone whom he/she dance with. Fourth, a good dancer has ‘styling’ that loosens and relaxes his/her total movements (see ‘rhythm’ in the question/inquiry above).
Margarita says…Mario and I enjoy dancing with other people! We often join “Jack and Jill” dance contests which forces us to dance and partner with somebody we’ve never danced before and prepare for competition in less than 30 minutes. This contest is a lot of fun and a good personal measure for me. At the end of each night, I make sure that I dance with 6 different people.
Recently I went to a club and danced with someone I never saw before. I was very irritated because this person kept correcting me while we were dancing! I'm not an excellent dancer, but I have been taking lessons and am confident that I look good on the floor. This really affected my confidence and made me doubt myself as a dancer. It ruined my evening because I was so mad at this person. Was this person trying to help me or crush me?
Mario says... That person was definitely not trying to help you. If you find you are dancing with a person who criticizes you, don't dance with that person again. It's not uncommon for a dance partner to show you a new move or share a tip with you. This is all given in the spirit of being helpful and friendly. Trust your feelings and intuition. If you dance with someone and their comments make you feel uncomfortable, mad, or embarrassed - that person has another agenda. I would not call their comments helpful, but poisonous. The rule of thumb is.. After dancing you should feel uplifted; if you feel troubled - find another dance partner.
I am a woman in my late 30’s and never been married. I have been dancing in the nightclubs two to three times a week for the past 12 years. However, I cannot find any guy who can consistently dance with me and at the same time be a compatible mate for me. Most of the guys in the club just drink and talk to me but does not dance. What should I do? I badly need help!
Margarita says…These are the realities: 1.) Men who dance are a rare commodity. 2.) Men are at a disadvantage from the very beginning of learning how to dance. 3.) 95% of the time, you will not find your husband-to-be in a nightclub and 4.) You don’t always get what you want.
Let me expound the above realities. In my early years, from grade school and high school, there are very few guys enrolling in the jazz, modern, ballet and tap dance classes. For every 2 to 3 gals, there is only one guy. This ratio of 1 guy for every 2 to 3 gals continues until I finished my College education when I’m also learning Ballroom, Swing and Contemporary Latin Dances from various Colleges/Universities and Dance Studios. Over the years, I’ve been asking guys from all walks of life why they want or do not want to participate in dancing. Most of them told me that their fathers want them to play sports like basketball, football, track and field, soccer, hockey and baseball. They also saw their fathers watch or play these sports week in and week out. Of the guys in the minority who like dancing, they view dancing as a healthy way of expressing oneself.
The guys who indeed tried to learn partner dances based from my research get discouraged even from the very beginning. They told me it is so difficult leading and it seems that they have to think so much while leading and doing the footwork. It seems that coordination is also difficult. I empathize with the guys partner dance role in this respect and they are truly at a disadvantage to begin with. We women just need at a minimum to learn the footwork and to follow i.e. respond to the man’s lead.
Experiences of most of the women that I hang out with over the years found their husbands mostly through the organizations they belong. That is at least 9 out of every 10 women.
Based from these realities I expounded to you, here are some of the things that you may want to consider doing step-by-step to find your dance mate and husband: 1.) What are your other interests aside from dancing and being in a women’s group? Where do you hang out for these other interests? These other interests will be your segue in finding your potential mate. 2.) Invite and bring along a potential mate that has at least little interest in partner/social dancing to a few dance classes as a start with an understanding that your potential mate will not learn overnight. Motivate and encourage him whenever he executes the exact move that the instructor shows to the class. If he keeps making mistake in the execution, don’t ever get mad and call him ‘stupid’. Help him learn the move and be patient with him. Remember, the men has a challenging responsibility to lead and perform the footwork at the same time. While women just needs to learn the footwork and respond to the man’s lead as a minimum requirement. 3.) Motivate him to be more romantic with you by dancing physically closer to each other. Romance is important for the longevity of a relationship especially when you want a potential mate to be your husband. 4.) Understand that the perfect husband is just a fantasy. Also understand that all relationships needs some maintenance or adjustments from time to time. Since you enjoy dancing by being in the dance club often, try to be contented with the potential mate that we developed in the earlier steps to be your dance partner...
I'm not a tall man, I'm 5'2". Other guys I see dancing look almost the same height or taller as the woman they are dancing with. Would the women in dance class avoid dancing with me?
Margarita says. No! No! No! You are exactly the right height to dance with any woman. Please men understand this about women. Women love to dance! Attention, Attencion! Women love to dance! One more time! Women love to dance. Some of the best dancers are under 5'5" and they always have women who wait in line to dance with them. It is not your height, it is your dancing ability that attracts women. If you take time to learn the moves and focus on becoming a strong lead, in the women's eyes, you will be 10 feet tall. Also, believe me, she'll be telling all her girlfriends about you.
I consider myself a strong, independent woman. The men I dance with tell me that I always try to lead them. It's the 90's why do I have to follow the man all the time? I would rather control the leading, than be so submissive. Help! I'm running out of guys to dance with!
Mario says... Hmm, where have I heard this before?!! I'm very glad that you asked this question because both men and women can benefit from this discussion. First of all, dancing is a sensitive partnership activity. It takes concentration and cooperation as one partner gives direction and the other partner moves accordingly. The lead gives direction, in this case it is the man. This doesn't mean that he is controlling you or that you are submissive. Relax! It's just dancing. It doesn't define who you are or imply that you're being dominated. Here are the generally accepted rules. Rule #1: The man always leads! Let's repeat that... The man always leads. Rule #2: The lady always stays in receptive mode and listens to the lead the man is trying express to her. Try to give up leading the man and you'll have lots of partners to chose from.
What should I do? If I'm at the club and a guy asks me to dance but I don't know if he can dance. I don't want to be embarrassed if he can't dance, but I don't want to hurt his feelings by saying 'no' either.
Margarita says... Many club dwellers watch others dance to see who they would like to dance with. If you haven't seen him dance yet, why not simply dance with him anyway. You might be pleasantly surprised and meet a new dance partner. Otherwise you could politely say you are resting or 'sitting this one out'. A bit of kindness goes a long way.
I see a guy in the club every week. We always dance together but he never asks me out. I think he's interested but I'm not sure. How can we start dating?
Margarita and Mario says...Not so fast! Just because he dances with you, doesn't mean he is interested romantically. Some men and women simply LOVE TO DANCE. Sometimes a dancer is married to a non-dancer, so the dancer goes out alone. This doesn't mean they are available to date. You could ask that person while dancing if they are married or dating someone. If they say 'no' ask them if they would like to join you in some other activity than dancing. If they say 'no' you will have your answer. Mario says some guys will deny they are married or otherwise committed just to keep the woman in the club as a dance partner.
There are women I enjoy dancing with but they are hard to lead. I feel like they want to lead or are doing the moves before I lead them. Is there a way I can partner up with them better?
Mario says... Yes, a strong lead usually will signal to a woman that you are leading. I know the men have a complex job leading, but the more direct you are, the more receptive the woman should be. Mario says to politely tell the woman that you are trying a new move, so you need her to wait and follow. Also the women you are dancing with may not have properly learned the moves. If it's too much trouble, try other dance partners that don't take that much effort to lead.
I have been taking lessons for a while now. I can remember the moves in class, but I forget them at the club. What's the trick to remembering the moves?
Margarita says... Dance, dance, dance! Each time you dance, you are forcing your brain memory and muscle memory to retain the moves. In time the moves get stored in your muscle memory making the moves automatic. It all takes time. Be patient. If you are taking several classes, learning several combinations you have more moves to remember. Select one pattern and practice it repeatedly until you do it smoothly. Then you can add new material.
I want to take dance lessons with my husband, but he doesn't want to go with me. How can we go together?
Margarita says... Men are very concerned with performance and skill, so when trying something new they can be apprehensive. Ask your husband to enroll with you as a birthday or Mother's Day gift. Let him know the dance class could be a 'date night' together. Tell him in return you'll join him in some activity that really interests him. Big hugs and kisses are very persuasive too!
I have been taking Salsa and Merengue lessons for about 2 years now. I can learn the combinations but I don't feel I have the right rhythm. How can I learn it?
Margarita and Mario say... There is the technical and passionate side to Salsa and Merengue dancing. Some students come with wonderful rhythm, but struggle with learning the moves. Other students learn the combinations very fast, but their dancing looks more technical than passionate. Also those who started with Ballroom dance lessons have a tendency to push off on the ball or toes of their feet, rather than a flatter foot step. This gives them a rocky or bouncy look. Since you've been taking lessons for 2 years, you have probably learned lots of moves. Now concentrate on your rhythm and styling. Consider investing in a few private dance lessons to correct your rhythm. For a no-cost learning experience, find club dancers that you admire and spend some time watching them dance. You can also dance with partners who have the rhythm you want to have. Give yourself time and practice, don't bounce and you should pick up the rhythm in time.
There is a very attractive woman in my Salsa dance class. How can I get to know her?
Margarita says... Women in dance class often won't go on dates with male classmates. Just because a woman is friendly doesn't mean she wants to date. Some women like to take time to get to know a man before going on a 'date'. This way if they don't hit it off, they won't feel uncomfortable in dance class together. An easy-does-it approach is more successful. You DanceMates dance classes go out every 2 weeks to dance. Ask her to join you and the other classmates to meet at the club. This way, there is no pressure or expectations on either part. Dance and socialize with her and others. In terms of romance, it's always better to be cautious and go slow.
Sometimes when I dance with men at the club, they hold me and it feels uncomfortable. They hold me by my waist or too tight and close. How can I get them into a hold that doesn't make me feel uncomfortable?
Margarita says... I'm guessing they aren't your classmates in dance class. With new dance partners it's always good to let them know if you are uncomfortable. Another female dance partner may not object to a tighter hold while you feel he is trying to 'romance' you. If any man puts his hands anywhere you don't like, simply move his hands where you want them to be. A gentleman will understand and keep his hands in 'safe territory'. If he returns to that compromising position, tell him you prefer this position and move his hands again. Remember, if anybody does anything to insult you, excuse yourself and break-up the dancing. Even if you don't speak the same language, gesturing is universal.