Improve Your Salsa Turn Technique 10 Times Over With This Easy Drill

Raise your hand if you can’t wait for your next mediocre dance!

*No hands move* – that’s what we thought.

As Salsa dancers we turn hundreds of times per night (some nut jobs probably hit the 4 digits), but despite this staggering amount of repetition, SO many of us are losing our balance and limiting ourselves from experiencing incredible dances. That’s insane!

Simply put, if you’re off balance, you’re missing out big time. It’s time to end this madness and unlock your ability to turn better. Sound good?

This quick tip on salsa turn technique is going to change the way you practice your turns and it’s the perfect test to find out if you’re slacking off!

Warming Up Your Turns

Next time you’re at home or in the studio practicing your turn technique, try executing multiple half turns across the floor while keeping your posture upright and your legs firm. As you rotate, maintain firm legs by squeezing your glutes (booty muscles) and holding your thighs tight.

Adding The Bottle

Once you’ve practiced that a couple times, it’s time to add the bottle. Grab any medium sized plastic bottle and wedge it between your upper thighs. Make sure it’s in a comfortable place—it’s going to be there for a while.

Now, go ahead and do some half turns across the floor.

If you do them in good form, you should be able to hold the bottle between your legs the whole time without it slipping lower or dropping to the floor.

Common Pitfalls When Turning

There are two bad habits that a ton of dancers have:

  1. They turn their knees in and out as they rotate
  2. Their legs separate as they turn

If this bottle drill isn’t working out so well for you, there’s a good chance you’ve got a pair of lazy legs that are diminishing your ability to turn properly.

A Bottle Is Just The Beginning…

Think you’ve got the hang of this bottle thing? Try holding something even slimmer between your thighs and you’ll have to work those legs twice as hard.

Patrick challenges you all to try using your cell phone! Now that’s one thing you wouldn’t want to drop!

Salsa Tips - How to Improve your Salsa Turn Technique

  • John Pham

    Would dancing with a bottle in between your legs (not just for turns) be benficial? My partner, the follow, seems to have a wide frame when dancing. I would figure that keeping the bottle in between would help you stay tight throughout the practice session and it would translate to the dance floor. Thanks!

    • Hey John, great question!

      The purpose of the bottle is to ensure the follow is working her legs to stabilize the body for turning. When you’re not turning, you need your legs to be more relaxed so your body is able to move more freely – think body movement and the lady walking forward during cross body leads etc. If her legs are always tight (ankles, thighs and butt), she isn’t going to be able to move her hips, swivel during her steps and be prepared for turns. She’ll also look stiff and dancing won’t feel very good for her.

      In summary, stabilization and creating body tension is key during turning and spinning, so squeezing the bottle helps here. Although some level of body stabilization is required during all other movements, it’s no where near as intense as when you turn or spin, so the bottle will actually inhibit your partner from executing non-turning/spinning movements correctly.

      Hope this helps!

      • Simona Serbanescu

        Yes, that’s the beauty of salsa, and that’s why I love salsa so much: you combine the moves which require loose legs and arms with movements dor which you bod has to be ballet tight. Still, I noticed by practice that you can’t dance a good salsa without your core being always strong, no matter the movement.

        • Totally Simona, core control is everything! Sometimes you need to be fluid yet stable and then sometimes you need to tighten that core along with your legs for turns so everything moves in one piece.