Salsa Love Lab.

22 May

The following references are from:
Blink:  The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell ».

This book explores interesting examples where good and bad decisions can be made in a “blink” (of an eye), and how our subconscious mind influences these decisions. For me, the main insight of this book is in introducing me to the research on marriages and relationships done by John Gottman ».

Chapter One, Pages 22-23:
… “Recently, a professor who works with Gottman named Sybil Carrière, who was playing around with some of the videotapes, trying to design a new study, discovered that if they looked at only three minutes of a couple talking, they could still predict with fairly impressive accuracy who was going to get divorced and who was going to make it.” …
… “Thin-slicing is part of what makes the unconscious so dazzling. But it’s also what we find most problematic about rapid cognition. How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgement in such a short time? The answer is that when our unconscious engages in thin-slicing, what we are doing is an automated, accelerated unconscious version of what Gottman does with his videotapes and equations. Can a marriage really be understood in one sitting? Yes it can, and so can lots of other seemingly complex situations.” …

Chapter One, Pages 22-23

Analogies are sometimes drawn between salsa dancing and relationships. What makes for a good salsa connection? What makes for a good relationship? I know that I’ve been pulled by the strong desire to dance with an unknown salsera, based on just a feeling that I would have a good connection with her. Also based on just a feeling, I have taken a more cautious wait-and-see approach with other salseras.

Even with complete beginners, who I’ve never seen dance before, just by looking at the way they sit or stand or watch or whatever, I’ll get a feeling of ‘yes’ or ‘wait-and-see’. I’ll make this assessment in a blink. Then, within a few basics, I get a sense of whether I would want to dance with this salsera again. It takes 2 dances, at most, to confirm my initial impression. Similarly, a salsera can probably tell by watching a salsa gigolo dance a few basics with another salsera, whether she would want to dance with him.

Chapter One, Pages 32:
… “Gottman is far more selective. He has found that he can find out much of what he needs to know just by focusing on what he calls the Four Horsemen: defensiveness, stonewalling, criticism, and contempt. Even within the Four Horsemen, in fact, there is one emotion that he considers the most important of all: contempt. If Gottman observes one or both partners in a marriage showing contempt toward the other, he considers it the single most important sign that the marriage is in trouble.” …

Chapter One, Pages 32

In his ‘love lab’, Gottman studies how couples communicate with one another. Communication also happens within dance and through dance. A Gottman-like study done on salsa gigolos and salseras, while they’re dancing, might reveal similar insight as studies done in his love lab. The salsa love lab.

For an easy example of defensiveness » in salsa, watch how a salsa gigolo reacts when a salsera says ‘no’. Sometimes the salsa gigolo will show no visible emotion, but sometimes the salsa gigolo will lash back with some kind of verbal retort. For a subtler example of defensiveness in salsa, one might consider why a salsa gigolo doesn’t ask a salsera to dance.

I’m not exactly sure what to make of stonewalling » in salsa. Maybe this would be analogous to ignoring or not acknowledging your partner in some way. Not listening to your partner, when they are trying to communicate that they are not feeling good, or safe, or comfortable.

Criticism »would be analogous to ‘teaching’ on the dancefloor. One of Gottman’s rules is that healthy relationships exhibit 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction ». From observation, people in general aren’t very skilled at giving or receiving criticism, on or off the dancefloor, especially if it’s not asked for. So even if one is an expert at giving constructive criticism, chances are that the receiver won’t be an expert at receiving criticism. There’s a more-than-likely chance that the receiver will experience the interaction in a negative way.

I know that I sometimes see the flitting expression of contempt » cross a salsa gigolo’s face, when a salsera can’t seem to follow what he is trying to lead. Or is that a sneer »of superiority? I once saw a salsa gigolo muscle a salsera through a turn pattern in a way that looked mean, contemptuous, and ugly. Contempt is easily the opposite of love.

At 1:55, this clip mentions a jiggleometer, but I couldn’t help but think of gigolometer.
Salsa Gigolometer 60


4 Responses to “Salsa Love Lab.”


  1. Decoding Salsa Love. « Salsa Gigolo in TO - December 18, 2009

    […] book was an easy read, and follows a “Blink”-like » formula for presenting other people’s research, including John Gottman’s », except […]

  2. CLOSE-Embrace Salsa. « Salsa Gigolo in TO - January 18, 2010

    […] Connection – two become one ». Love – appreciate your partner ». Openness – permit mistakes to happen ». Sincerity – love, honour, reverence, substance ». Energy – positive interactions ». […]

  3. Salsa Stress. « Salsa Gigolo in TO - March 22, 2010

    […] strike-up a conversation with me the other day, and while I thought of a suitable social reply, I Blinked » to myself, “What’s the point? She doesn’t look like she dances salsa.” […]

  4. Deep Salsa Survival. « Salsa Gigolo in TO - November 15, 2010

    […] wilderness. Beyond the aquarium? Relationship salsera? Live by patterns. Recognize patterns. Blink ». […]

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