The Secret to Salsa Shines


Sometimes it’s fun in a social dance to break out your own solo moves for a change. Salsa dancing provides a lot of opportunity for these kind of dance moves, called shines. But they can also be a scary prospect, especially if you are used to clinging to your partner like a life raft.

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Shines, are well-worth learning however, for a number of reasons. They show you are confident enough to dance without the rules of partner work, allow your partner to express themselves in new ways, and generally increase the variety in your movements. In fact, some dances end up being 90% shines! Let’s look at how to turn you into a true shiner, one step at a time.


First, learn some shines!

Any salsa teacher worth their shoelaces has at least a few basic shines they can teach you, or you can always look at instructional videos on YouTube. Start with something easy, break it down and practice until you feel confident you could pull it off if the opportunity presents itself.


The Lead-In:

For leaders: Wait for an instrumental solo in the music – that’s a common area where shines are expected. The easiest way to start a shine is to simply release hold, but you can make it look more natural if you lead a free spin, like a hand toss turn, and don’t reconnect afterwards.

For followers: Keep an eye on your leader, and if they disconnect and don’t reach for your hand again, that means it’s go time!


During the Shine

For leaders: Stay close to your partner during the shines – you don’t want her thinking you’re leaving her on the dance floor! Keep an eye on her to see if she’s enjoying herself, and if she starts dancing the basic step, take that as a signal that she doesn’t want to shine right now, and reconnect when you get the chance.

For followers: As with leaders, stay close to your partner while you shine. Go ahead and play with any shines you’ve learned so far, and switch to the basic step when you want to reconnect.


The Exit

For leaders: The best way to reconnect smoothly is usually a crossbody lead. Try to catch your partner on the first beat of the step (either the ‘1’ or the ‘2’), stepping closer to her and offering your left hand low, while placing your right hand on her shoulder blade. You may have to time the moment carefully, especially if your partner is still shining.

For followers: Regardless of whether you want to continue shining or not, when your leader offers you his hand again, it’s time to finish. Make sure your right foot is ready (fake a step if you have to), so you can transition smoothly back to the connection.

Author: Ian Crewe – SocialBallroom.Dance
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review