Not a Subscriber?

Join 17,000+ social dancers getting practical tips and resources every week to level up outside of class.

Are You Dancing Salsa Too Far Away From Your Partner?


Understanding how to use space will significantly enhance your salsa dancing abilities and quality of your connection.

Let’s dive into why distance matters and how you can master it.

The Importance of Distance in Salsa

Distance is a fundamental principle in salsa that applies to everything. It’s common to see dancers maintaining too much space between them, which can lead to bad habits, especially when attempting more complex moves. If you’re used to dancing with a lot of space between you, it will be challenging to adjust when you need to be closer for intricate arm work or faster routines.

Optimal Distance: Elbow or Forearm Length

Aim to keep an elbow or forearm distance between you and your partner. This ensures that your elbows stay in front of your body, maintaining a comfortable and functional space. While there are times when you’ll need to create more space (like during open breaks), always return to this optimal distance.

Exercise: Maintaining Distance

Here’s a simple exercise to help you practice:

  1. Stand facing your partner and grab each other’s forearms
  2. Dance some basic steps in any direction
  3. Maintain this optimal distance

This exercise helps you feel your partner’s frame and movements, enhancing your connection and fluidity.

Creating Elastic Sensations

When dancing, there will be moments where you create an elastic sensation. For instance, in a cross-body lead with an open break, you’ll generate tension by stepping away from each other but then you’ll come back closer together. This tension and release enhance your dance without needing excessive space.

Exercise to Practice Elastic Connection

  1. Stand face to face, holding each other’s hands in the middle
  2. Lean backwards, away from each other, at the same time until your hand connection stops you
  3. Pull when you reach the limit, lean forward towards each other, and rotate your palms like a high-five at chest height to stop your faces from hitting each other.
  4. Repeat back and forth, in and out.

The amount of tension you need to give is equal to whatever your partner gives you. And this exercise shows you that you don’t need to think about it. It’s intuitive. You do what’s necessary in the moment.


Tips for Crowded Dance Floors

On crowded dance floors, keeping movements tight and controlled is essential. Avoid long, straight-armed open breaks. Instead, maintain a slight bend in your arms and take small steps back, just enough to create tension without losing your partner.

Practical Examples (see video)

Let’s break down some moves:

  1. Cross-Body Lead: The goal is to switch places, not to cover vast distances. Small, controlled steps ensure you stay connected.
  2. Inside Turn to Titanic: Move with your partner to maintain closeness and control. If there’s too much space, communication and execution become difficult.

By keeping your partner close, you can perform intricate arm work and transitions more effortlessly, making your dancing look smooth and polished.


The key takeaway is to stay close to your partner. This proximity allows for better communication, easier execution of complex moves, and a more enjoyable dancing experience. Remember:

  • Maintain an elbow or forearm distance.
  • Practice exercises to keep this distance.
  • Create elastic connections without over-extending.
  • Adapt to crowded dance floors with tight, controlled steps.

If you enjoyed this tip and want to learn more about improving your salsa dancing, check out our online salsa program here – you can even try it free for a week here and learn as much as you like.