Community building and event organisation

How to build a better salsa community

Building a better dance community is a collective effort that hinges on fostering a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment. To start, ensure that new members feel genuinely welcomed. This may involve introductions to regular attendees, inclusive announcements at gatherings, and an open-door policy that encourages diversity and acceptance.

Building an unwritten code of conduct that promotes respect and consideration is vital. This shared understanding can tackle issues such as fear of rejection or shame. It creates a safe space for all members, ensuring that everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves on the dance floor.

Creating a friendly atmosphere is key. This can be achieved by promoting positive communication, mutual respect, and understanding. Ensure that community members feel heard and valued, and discourage any form of discrimination or harassment.

Breaking free from routines can inject freshness into your community. Mixing it up by incorporating different dance styles, like swing dance, can be a fun way to learn and grow together. This keeps members engaged and excited about the activities in your community.

Moreover, regular community-building activities can help members form stronger bonds. This could include potlucks, dance workshops, or even non-dance related gatherings.

In conclusion, the quality of a dance community isn’t determined solely by the skills of its dancers, but by the inclusivity, respect, and enjoyment found within its members. It’s a place where everyone, regardless of their dance proficiency, can feel welcomed and valued.

Hosting a dance event..

Hosting a dance event can range from small, informal gatherings to large, more structured affairs. A ‘mini social’ is a great way to start, requiring just a playlist, portable speaker, and a suitable outdoor space (as long as local regulations permit). With minimal set-up, these events provide a fun and relaxed setting to dance with friends.

As you grow your event, it’s important to consider the financial aspects. Identify your budget and track all possible costs – from hiring a venue to any additional entertainment, such as professional dancers or instructors. Make sure to consider things like sound equipment, decorations, and refreshments.

The venue selection should be based on accessibility, space availability, and the atmosphere it can provide for your dancers. Whether it’s an outdoor park, dance studio, or even a local hall, the location should have enough space for dancing and rest areas.

Promotion is crucial for the success of your event. Use social media, dance community websites, and local advertisement to spread the word. Personal invitations to friends and fellow dancers can also help ensure a good turnout.

Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of your event is to provide a fun and welcoming space for people to come together and share their love of dance. Planning ahead, considering the needs of your guests, and staying organized are the key elements to host a successful dance event.

And how about hosting a little big (informal) outdoor dance?

Hosting an outdoor dance event adds a dynamic touch of freedom and fresh air to your gatherings. Parks and squares serve as perfect venues, offering ample space and often, a fantastic backdrop to make your event visually stunning.

Outdoor dance events, also known as ‘popup events,’ not only allow attendees to revel in the joy of dancing but also showcase the art form to the general public. These events can draw the interest of passers-by and potentially inspire them to join in or take up dancing themselves.

Salsa dancing open air in Seattle

When the weather is suitable, nothing beats dancing under the open sky. All you need to get started is a group of dance enthusiasts and a good portable speaker to fill the air with rhythm. Always remember to respect local laws and regulations regarding noise and gatherings. In many countries, small groups can enjoy outdoor activities without requiring special permissions, but there’s usually a limit to the size of the group before an official permit becomes necessary.

Choosing the right location is important. The spot should be accessible, not too crowded, and should allow for the sound to spread without causing disturbance. Always ensure you leave the area as clean as when you arrived, showing respect to the public space and its other users. Outdoor dancing can bring a community together and encourage new dancers to join the fun. Be sure to check out our website for recommendations on portable speakers and other essentials for your outdoor dance event.

How to be a great community for beginners? 

Creating an inclusive community for beginners in the world of Latin dance is integral to fostering a vibrant and growing dance scene. An environment that is welcoming and supportive not only aids the growth of individual dancers but also contributes to the overall health and development of the community.

Starting with free lessons before the dance socials is a great idea. This gives beginners an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the basic steps and rhythms in a structured environment. Furthermore, it ensures that even newcomers can participate actively in the social dance that follows, promoting a sense of belonging from the outset.

Including a team of taxi dancers or enthusiastic volunteers to ask beginners to dance is another effective way to integrate newcomers. This can be especially helpful for beginning leaders who often face the additional pressure of initiating the dance and guiding the follower. Engaging them on the dance floor helps build their confidence and provides practical experience.

Creating a welcoming atmosphere is crucial. This can be as simple as having a designated person or team at socials to welcome new attendees, introduce them to others, and make them feel included. Emphasize the value of respect and kindness, and celebrate diversity within the community. Encourage more experienced dancers to interact with beginners, as this fosters connections and provides new dancers with role models.

Connecting beginners to more experienced dancers can create a mentoring environment. Pairing up newbies with veterans, perhaps even in a formal mentorship program, can accelerate learning and provide the newcomers with immediate resources for any questions or concerns they may have.

Remember to continually emphasize that everyone was a beginner at some point and that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Reiterate that the focus is on enjoyment, personal growth, and community connection, not perfection.

To sum up, creating an inclusive community for beginners involves a combination of proactive engagement, a supportive learning environment, and fostering connections within the community. By doing so, you can ensure that your dance community is a vibrant, welcoming place for all dancers, regardless of their experience level.

What about drama?

As in any community, social dance circles can also be affected by drama, both on and beyond the dance floor. Failed romances and dating within the community often stir up emotions, leading to discomfort and conflict. Jealousy, whether over partners, skill level, or attention received, can spark tensions. Aggressive behavior, either physically on the dance floor or verbally off it, can cause rifts among members.

Musical preferences can ignite debates and disagreements, especially when the community is divided among different dance styles like Salsa, Bachata, or Kizomba. Economic disputes, such as arguments over the costs of classes, events, and the profits made, can lead to misunderstandings or resentment.

Additionally, the politics of dance schools can stir the pot, especially when students evolve into teachers, potentially leading to rivalry or competitiveness. 

While these sources of drama can be challenging, they also present opportunities for growth and better communication within the community.

Improve yourself as community member and dance partner without getting technically better

Improving as a community member and dance partner isn’t solely about perfecting technical dance skills. It involves cultivating qualities that create an enriching, harmonious atmosphere. To begin with, avoiding drama is crucial. It’s important to respect boundaries, communicate effectively, and not let personal issues impact the dance floor.

Being consistently welcoming and friendly can greatly enhance your presence in the community. A warm smile, a kind word, or simply making an effort to engage with new members can make a significant difference.

Having a good knowledge of music can enrich your dance and make you a more interesting partner. Understanding rhythms, recognizing different songs, and being able to move intuitively to the music can transform your dance experience.

Moreover, offering assistance, whether in organizing events, cleaning up after socials, or helping newcomers feel comfortable, displays your commitment to the community. Such actions make you a valued member and an excellent dance partner, irrespective of your technical prowess.

What are taxi dancers?

“Taxi dancers” is a term rooted in dance history, first emerging in the early 20th century during the era of dance halls. Originally, many taxi dancers were women, paid per dance to partner with men. The name arose from the concept of a taxi meter, as customers paid for the time they spent dancing with these professionals. This led to some associating them with “gigolos”, though this is a misconception and the terms are not synonymous.

Today, the term “taxi dancer” has evolved and is primarily used within the social dance scene. Predominantly male, these dancers provide their skills and time to ensure everyone at a dance event gets a chance to dance. They are often skilled dancers, able to adapt to different levels and styles, making them excellent dance partners for beginners or less confident dancers.

Most taxi dancers aren’t paid, but instead, they receive free admission to the event. Their primary role is to circulate on the dance floor, inviting those who seem left out or hesitant to dance.

The concept might seem unusual to some. However, the aim is to promote inclusivity and ensure everyone enjoys the dance experience. Taxi dancers are integral in creating a welcoming, enjoyable environment at festivals and socials. They embody the spirit of social dancing, making it accessible and enjoyable for all.

What about LGBTQ in your community

The Latin dance community can be a vibrant and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ individuals. Across the globe, there are various events that specifically cater to the LGBTQ+ community, offering a welcoming atmosphere for all. These events range from the annual “Pink Salsa” festival in New York, to the “Queer Bachata Festival” in San Francisco, and the “Rainbow Kizomba Congress” in Berlin, among many others.

However, the level of inclusivity can vary from city to city. Some places have a more thriving LGBTQ+ Latin dance scene than others. It’s always a good idea to do some research beforehand if you’re looking for a dance community that is particularly welcoming to LGBTQ+ individuals.

Our social dance city guides can provide a useful resource for this, offering information about the inclusivity of dance communities in different cities around the world. These guides can help you to find a dance community where you’ll feel welcomed and included, and where you can fully express yourself on the dance floor.

Remember, the essence of Latin dance is all about expression, connection, and community, making it a wonderful platform for LGBTQ+ inclusivity and celebration.

Racial stereotypes, segregation and dance communities

Stereotypes can often permeate our perceptions of various cultures and communities, including dance communities. In many cases, these preconceptions can contain elements of truth. For example, Cubans indeed often lean towards the Cuban style of salsa, and those from Cali are inclined to the Cali style. Similarly, it is common in Latin America to learn dance steps informally, by watching and emulating others, in contrast to certain Asian cultures, where dance is typically taught in formal educational settings.

However, it’s important to remember that stereotypes are not definitive truths and do not define every individual in a particular group. Within each culture and community, there are many unique individuals with their own styles and preferences.

Indeed, dance communities can sometimes reflect societal divisions, including racial segregation. For example, in some cities, there might be separate salsa scenes for different racial or ethnic groups. But at the same time, the love of dance can also serve as a powerful unifying force. Take Cape Town, for instance, where salsa has brought together a diverse array of people from all different groups in society, fostering a shared passion for dance that transcends racial and cultural barriers.

In conclusion, while stereotypes might provide an initial framework for understanding different dance communities, they should not limit our openness and curiosity. The beauty of dance lies in its diversity, fluidity, and ability to connect individuals from all walks of life.

Author: Philipp