Stop Salsa Violence.

3 Aug

Stop Salsa Violence

As the image says, ‘Stop Salsa Violence’ » is a global campaign against violence on the dance floor. This campaign was started by the folks at Salsa Croatia ». I first learned of this campaign from Irena Pfundner’s post, “Recap on salsa violence” », from her blog, Dulcelocura06’s Weblog ».

For me, I know that I’ve improved in my floorcraft because now the salseras I dance with rarely get stepped on. It does not matter whether she is an advanced salsera, who takes appropriate-sized steps, or an absolute beginner salsera, who takes honking huge steps. It does not matter whether the dancefloor is spacious, with only experienced salsa gigolos and salseras, or if the dancefloor is packed, with mostly inexperienced beginners. I’ve learned to adjust my lead, my frame, my steps, whatever, to accommodate and protect a salsera’s feet. If there is one thing I’ve improved on most, as a salsa gigolo, it is to make sure that the salsera I’m dancing with doesn’t get stepped on or hurt.

That’s not to say that I haven’t stepped on a salsera’s feet. I still do. Even the best of us do. But now I know when it is mostly my fault and when it is not. If I am dancing a basic, in one place, and suddenly I feel my heal contact salsera flesh, I know that a fellow salsa gigolo has mislead her into me. If I don’t get an apologetic look from fellow salsa gigolo, I will apologize to salsera and assume responsibility, and chalk it up to fellow salsa gigolo still learning his floorcraft (Don Baarns, The Unlikely Salsero, has written a good post on this phenomenon, “Unaware Club For Men” »), or salsa gigolo covering-up his own mistake and not taking responsibility (not cool).

I think the revelation for me was when I was in a salsa club, standing next to the bar, when, surprisingly, my salsa instructor stepped on my foot. Now, I was taking-up very little dancefloor real estate, and more importantly, I wasn’t even moving, and this was the first time I’ve ever seen this instructor step on anyone, let alone, on me, so it was really unexpected. Of course he apologized, but I was still stunned. Not because my foot was stepped on by my salsa instructor, but because of the way he stepped on my foot. It was so light. It was not so much a step, but a caress. It felt like he stepped on my foot with love. So this is another way I know I’ve improved: When I step on a salsera’s foot, I am sure to step on her foot with love.

So in that previous scenario, where fellow salsa gigolo mislead salsera into my back-step, even though she may have thought it was my fault, and perhaps she felt a bit indignant when I waited a couple beats for fellow salsa gigolo to assume responsibility … before assuming responsibility myself … even though I stepped on her, I knew it didn’t hurt, because I was sure to step on her foot with love.

Along with this campaign from Croatia, here is one possible solution from Croatia, in the form of a pool party at Croatian Summer Salsa Festival 2008 ». I don’t know about you, but this clip makes me think that the salsa world everywhere could use a bit more Croatia in their salsa and bachata:

Here’s a map to Croatia and Slovenia, if, like me, you’ve suddenly become interested in visiting there some day:

Map to Croatia and Slovenia


10 Responses to “Stop Salsa Violence.”

  1. Don Baarns August 4, 2008 at 12:38 am #

    Great article!

    The biggest issue from my point of view is awareness among the leads. I hope your message gets out, because we need more guys like you on the floor.

    Once you know the lead is the one responsible and you decide you’re going to be protective, you can eliminate 95% of the foot injuries for your partner. (Nothing is perfect.)

    I’ve also found something interesting; the salsera’s notice they are being protected, and they respond in a very positive manner, even if I have to dumb down or modify the dance to keep them safe.

    Once they know you are protecting, they relax and have more fun, rather than worrying about being hit or stepped on. While you may have to do “less” in terms of complexity, the connection aspects go up and they sense you’re in charge of the situation.

    Follows respect and enjoy leads who take care of them first, and leads who protect are a premium in most scenes.

    Don Baarns
    The Unlikely Salsero

  2. Irena Pfundner August 4, 2008 at 4:17 am #

    Speaking from personal experience, it really doesn’t hurt if you get stepped on in the water 😉
    That festival takes place each year in July and it really is fun! We’ll soon have something similar in Slovenia – a boat party, followed by a pool party and 3 evening parties… not bad ha? 😉
    And after that there’s a big festival in October called Salsa Power, which is probably the best way to make a dancing holidays in Slovenia. Everybody says the country strikes them when they first visit it and they feel very cozy and welcome here. The festival itself has a great vibe too (
    Sorry for all this promotional crap, but I guess that’s the only way you can get some worthy information on Slovenia. 🙂
    You get it from the slogan as well: IN sLOVEnia WITH SALSA (both meanings are true) 🙂
    Thanks for supporting the campaign! And keep writing cause there are some nice readings on your blog 🙂


  3. salsagigolo August 4, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    Don, Thanks. A rule I follow: Whenever the salsera I’m dancing with gets stepped on or bumped, I always apologize, even if she believes it’s not my fault. I take this lesson from that episode of The Simpsons, where Marge, a novice bowler, accidentally throws her bowling ball into an advanced bowling gigolo’s lane:
    “Marge: I’m awfully sorry!
    Bowling Gigolo: Entirely my fault. It’s nice to meet you…”

    Irena, Thanks. I never realized how pretty Slovenia is, as a country, or that it is shaped like a chicken :). looks interesting, and I enjoyed watching your video:

  4. Irena Pfundner August 5, 2008 at 4:23 am #

    Yes, yes, it’s all true – nice sites, cheap beer, beautiful girls… 🙂 If you look at the map you posted, you can easily see the chicken shape…
    I see you’re a real web hunter, since you found that movie… I think it gives you the right feel on how it is down here. So welcome anytime, as long as you promise to be the gentleman on the dancefloor 😉

  5. salsagigolo August 5, 2008 at 8:13 am #

    Irena, Well, that movie was easy to find, since it was on the first page of the Salsa Power website :). Yes, I think it would be nice to visit some day …

  6. Anonymous August 6, 2008 at 6:18 am #

    Oh, you would be surprised how many people don’t notice that…
    Here’s a nice opportunity: 🙂

  7. Walter March 9, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    Floorcraft, or lack of it, is definitely an issue
    I can’t even start counting the number of times I had to pull a girl out of the way just because another lead was launching his lady right into her. And I haven’t even been dancing that long.

    Let’s hope more people start taking paying attention to their surroundings and the floor becomes an even more pleasant place. You and Don have done your part of spreading the word, I guess I’m going to have to be next 🙂

    As for the Croatian festival… all I can say is, if you have the chance… Go!

    I was there as a volunteer last year and had an amazing time.

    This year promises to be even better as it’s their 5 year anniversary and there will be 2 additional days of fun.

  8. salsagigolo March 9, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    Well, Thanks for the recommendation. It definitely looks like a lot of fun :).


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