Body language is a powerful thing, and in the social dances we all want to know the right thing to do to get asked to dance as much as possible. I generally don’t have too many problems asking men to dance and most salseros are enlightened enough that they don’t get offended that a woman violated some sort of antiquated “rule.” Still, I have to admit that we all want to feel wanted, and it’s a much nicer feeling to be asked than to ask, particularly by a dancer that you enjoy dancing with or that you admire.

Thanks to a recent post on Alex.Tango.Fuego, I discovered an older post on Siguiendo mi corazon called How to sit at a milonga. It is well worth a look-see particularly for the lovely explanatory pictures, and is probably going to be useful info if you’re a lady going to a milonga any time soon (and, as a side note, an inordinate number of people find their way to my blog by searching on all variants of “legs” and “dancers legs,” so for all you weird leg search people out there…).

I have to admit that at first I felt a little upset when I read Tina’s post– something along the lines of how women have to do all these superficial things to get noticed by men. But having mulled on it all evening, I think that in a way, when we get onto the dance floor, be it the milonga, the salsa club, or the swing joint, we are complicitly entering a world of our own collective creation, a world and a culture that has its own culture, behaviors, and expectations– and this includes certain behaviors, postures, and positioning that will increase our likelihood of getting asked to dance, which is what we came there for anyway.

Let’s admit it– it sucks pretty hard when your favorite song comes on, and all the good leaders are out on the floor and you were not among the invited. So how does a salsera get asked to dance?
I’d like to thing that as a general rule, we salseros are pretty overt about signaling our readiness and eagerness to dance (no sexy sitting here). If someone is grooving on their own at the edge of the dancefloor, chances are they’ll get asked. They’re already dancing… it’s obvious they want to get out there! That can be a little tough if you are new to the scene and can feel pretty silly if you’re not actually feeling it at the moment. Alternatively, you could stand at the edge of the floor and look friendly and open, or if you’re talking to someone, don’t look too deep in conversation.

A lot of salseros will just wait at the edge of the dance floor and grab their chosen partner as they’re coming off it from the last song. I have no problems doing the same– grabbing the person I want to dance with. It often plays out more subtly than that– some eye contact, a smile, a nod, and then an outstretched hand. And there’s no better feeling than never making it off the floor all night except for when you want to rest.

Of course, there are the people that everyone wants to dance with because they are so fun/easy/amazing to lead/follow. I know that most leaders do enjoy dancing with me, but I go out so sporadically these days and there are so many new faces on the scene now that it’s not as if my reputation precedes me.  What I discovered recently is that if I get to the club early when there are fewer people, chances are I will not sit out many songs at all the whole night, because I get a lot of visibility and people can “vet” me (yes, we do check each other out to see if we’re worth dancing with). And, bonus, I can get my tired old self to bed at a decent hour and still have had a nice long night out!

Ok, so my conclusion is that I was a bit premature to get my hackles up at such suggestions (and as Tina pointed out, the post was written with humorous intent)– we all want to be asked to dance and will do what we know we need to to in our own particular dance subculture to get what we came for.

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By the way, Tina must be on to something (check out the pictures on her post, or if you can’t be bothered, see Tina’s pic below– con tuo permesso Tina), because after reading her blog, I saw this in Express coming home from work:

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how Tina recommends one sit:

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