How Much Hand Pressure Should I Use While Salsa Dancing?

How much hand pressure should I use when Salsa dancing? Does it change in the open position VS the closed position?

It depends.

It could be a lot, a little, or none at all. The amount of pressure all depends on what you need to achieve. The idea is to exert just enough pressure for the move at hand.

Before we get too deep into the intricacies of hand pressure, let’s talk about an important concept called the three centers. This handy concept will help you better judge when pressure is needed and how it should be applied. Understanding the three centers will help you manage the space between you and your partner as well as the push/pull tension that’s involved when you execute various steps.

What Are The Three Centers?

The three centers include your center of balance (your belly button), your partner’s center of balance (her belly button) and the mid-line between the two of you. Your common center—the mid-line between you two—can be easily seen because it’s where your hands meet. This will be the same regardless of whether you are in the open hold or closed position.

The purpose of the common center is to ensure that there is always an equal distance between you and your partner. If one person collapses their frame and lets their elbows slide backwards beyond their hips, the common center is compromised and dancing becomes incredibly difficult.

The trick is to always remember to keep your elbows in front of you. If you don’t, your frame collapses, your common center disappears and one of you gets their feet stomped on because there’s nothing in place to maintain your personal space.

Once you both understand the concept of three centers, you can easily maintain your own space and improve your chemistry.

How The 3 Centers Help You Manage Spacial Awareness and Hand Pressure

Hand Pressure in the Open Hold Salsa Basic

If you’re doing a Salsa basic in the open position, no hand pressure is necessary because you both know that your hands should meet at the mid-point. And you’re both responsible for keeping it that way.

Hand Pressure in the Closed Hold Salsa Basic

Just like the open hold, you should keep your posture upright, maintain your connection (with your elbows on one side and your hand connection on the other), ensuring that it’s at the mid-line between the two of you. If you’re doing things right, there is no need to give any additional push/pull pressure other than what is being initiated from your traveling torso.

Key Takeaways To Improve Your Salsa Success

  1. Keep your posture
  2. Maintain your frame by ensuring your elbows stay in front of your hips
  3. Keeping your shoulders pulled slightly down and back will help you keep your frame strong
  4. If your frame is strong, you’ll be able to lead and react to your partner more effectively
  5. Maintain the common center at the mid-line between you and your partner
  6. You shouldn’t have to push or pull your partner during your Salsa basic
  7. Push and pull tension is naturally created by increasing or decreasing distance between partners
  8. Only exert enough push/pull pressure to send your partner a clear signal
  9. If your partner doesn’t respond well to your pressure, you either have a connection problem or an inexperienced partner. Never assume they are the problem.
  10. Whiplash should never happen!

Time to Practice

Now that we’ve introduced you to the three centers, try applying this during your next practice or social dance. We know this is a quick answer to a complicated question so feel free to ask some follow up questions in the comments or in our Dance Dojo Facebook group!