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4 Tips to Help You Dance Salsa Faster

I recently posted a fun challenge called the Salsa Speed Test, to see how fast you can dance.

Now, dancing salsa fast is not easy. There’s a lot of technique that goes into it.

So, let’s cover four tips to help you dance to those fast salsa songs. Then I’ll give you a four-step training process to progressively improve your speed.

Let’s get started!

Four Technique Tips to Dance Salsa Faster

Tip #1: Master Your Weight Shifts

Weight shift technique is crucial. Unlike walking, in salsa dancing, we don’t step heel-toe, heel-toe. We walk on the balls of our feet, kind of like you’re marching in place.

Keep your steps low, lifting your foot just enough to come off the floor and replace it efficiently. Since salsa is a quick dance, lift your foot only as much as needed to place it in the new position.

For break steps (the steps you use to change direction), use the balls of your feet. This allows you to absorb your momentum and push back quickly. Think of sprinters or boxers—they don’t run or bounce on their heels. They use their toes for quick reactions.

So during your front break and back break, push off the balls of your feet. If the song is slow, your heel can touch the ground. However, for faster songs, especially on back breaks, keep your heel up and push off the ball of your foot.

Tip #2: Get Low

To be reactive, don’t stand tall with straight legs. Think of a basketball or tennis player—they’re always in a ready stance, low and bent, ready to move in any direction. In salsa, avoid dancing with straight legs. Instead, lean forward slightly, bend your knees, and adopt a ready stance. This makes it easier to connect with the ground, push off, and move faster.

Tip #3: Relax

To move fast, you need to relax. Tensing up restricts your muscles and makes it difficult to move quickly.

Try this: tense all your muscles and then try to move your feet quickly. It’s tough, right? Now relax all your muscles and try again. Much faster, isn’t it? Relaxation allows your joints to move more freely, enabling you to respond and flow smoothly in your dance.

Tip #4: Take Small Steps

Don’t work harder than you have to. Many beginners make the mistake of taking large steps because they learned the salsa basic to a slow song. When dancing to a fast song, take smaller steps. Instead of stepping wide, keep your steps small and keep your feet right underneath you. This allows you to move quickly and stay responsive to the song’s speed.

The Four-Step Process to Improve Your Speed

Step 1: Start Simple

Begin with just the basics, as we did in the Salsa Speed Test. Master these before moving on.

Step 2: Add Simple Shines

Gradually increase the speed of the music and add simple shines to your routine.

Step 3: Practice Partner Work

Incorporate simple partner work. If you don’t have a partner, shadow dance as if you do. When you have a partner, practice with them.

Step 4: Combine All Elements

The final test is to do everything you know at the increased song speed. Once you can comfortably dance at a certain speed, increase the speed and repeat the process.

Progressive Overload for Salsa

This method of progressively overloading both your mental and physical capacity helps expand your comfort zone. As you get comfortable dancing at faster speeds, you’ll find that slower songs become easier to dance to. Continuously push your comfort zone, film yourself for feedback, and identify where your execution quality drops. This will help you pinpoint weaknesses and improve them.

Just like in the gym where you progressively overload muscles by increasing repetitions or weight, in salsa, you either increase the song speed or the complexity of the movements.

What’s Next?

If you want to keep improving your social dancing, we have an incredible online salsa program for you. Our students often say they’ve learned more in an hour with Dance Dojo than in private classes. You can even try it free for a week here.