Salsa Shoes for Men

Women are already sorted in this department, usually owning enough shoes to stock a storefront.

But what about the men? Our shoe collections are usually nice a minimum. Complementing our fridge complete with tumbleweed.

Stereotyping and misogyny aside – there are a lot of specialized dance shoes on the market, made specifically for guys.

They Look Awful

But personally; I think they look awful. They look like the things my parents used to make me wear for school. Not the awesome trainers that lit up (I was a spoiled child). I’m referring to those silly black plimsolls I was made to run miles in or those Clark’s shoes my parents told me where cool. 

A lot of them have heels as well. If Robert Downey Jr couldn’t pull off Cuban heels, I’ve got no chance.

I’m a little vain when it comes to footwear

Personally I visit average trainer outlet for my dance shoes. Not only is because I’m a little vain when it comes to footwear, but when I look at the instructors I more often than not see them wearing a pair of Adidas or Reebok instead of those cabaret shoes.

This isn’t to say I just pick any. I will admit though, I’ll struggle and adapt to shoes that look cool rather than picking sensible ones (like a woman).

Avoiding Canvas Shoes

I want them to be hard-wearing and for this reason I avoid the canvas plimsolls (i.e. those white toed Converse). They just tear during the turns. Maybe it’s my massive bear feet, but these things rarely survive the walk to the party let alone a few socials.


These are for Builders and Soldiers. Not Salsa dancers.

I have legit seen a man in motorcycle boots on a dance floor. It’s ridiculous, a bit of protection against a rogue heel is one thing, but steel toe caps is another.

This is why I feel the need to advise dancers against wearing boots.

Getting Thrifty with Cheap Nasty A** Trainers

Despite my provocative subtitle I have nothing but praise for these affordable, disposable and generically styled trainers.

They are incredible light and outlast some of the more expensive .

When they start to discolour or fray you can just buy another pair as well!

The cheap soles, which offers no grip during normal situations work incredibly well for turns.

You can also find these nasty cheap trainers on the internet, and make a fantastic budget alternative to those upselled dance trainers.

Basket Ball Trainers

Last, but certainly not the least. Basket Ball Trainers.

These make a lot of sense if you think about the similarities between the surface of a basketball court and dance floor. In a lot of schools and gyms, they are one and the same!

This style of trainer is designed to be hard wearing, and used in a sport that has many sharp and short movements.

Wear What You Want

Despite what targeting advertisers will tell you; I don’t believe any kind of shoe will make you a better dancer.

If you’re struggling to perform a move, it’s probably not the floor or your shoes.

It could be the lager though!

Cuban Rumba Video

Happy Monday!

To begin a YouTube rabbit hole of Cuban Rumba , this video is as good as any to start.

I find the man’s reaction to having his vacuna blocked by the woman particularly relatable.

For the uninitiated, this dance is flirty game where the guy is trying to seduce the woman and he gets attitude despite all his efforts.

But just like life, with enough shoulder movements, deception and begging you can take one home in the end.

Salsa Musicality Tips

Feeling bored and unchallenged as you find yourself repeating the same sequence over and over.

Maybe you don’t have enough moves in your repertoire or feel like a robot repeating instructions rather than a dancer interpreting the music?

Sometimes its easy to get caught up in the technical aspects and drills, and forget what you originally got into dancing for.

Listen Hard

Really listen to the music. Maybe even sit this track out, and join mid way through when you get the vibe or mood of the piece.

At the end of the day, the connection between you and the music is more important than your connection to your partner.

And last on your priorities should be impressing or competing against other dancers. Unless your in a competition, of course!

Be Present

As in the moment.

When are they going to play bachata?
I can’t remember the routine.
Did I leave the gas on?

Just focus on the beat, the vibe, your feet.

If you’re feeling a move, try it. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work, just shimmy it out.


Remember to breath.

Don’t over think it.

And Mostly

Definitely don’t worry about remembering these steps about not worrying and relaxing. As its totally contradictory.

Its just a blog post, anyway!

Enjoy yourself and shimmy irresponsibly!

Newcastle Salsa Party Easter Weekend

If you want to move your keister this easter, then check out the upcoming Salsa Party at Kommunity.

If you’ve got your energy for a full day of classes and workshops they’ll be on through the day, full details on the Hola Cuba event page below.

Details for Hola Cuba All Dayer

I’m invested as I’m a regular at this venue to begin with. Its also relatively cheap (the event, not me of course).

Most people who will be attending the classes will be aware of it already, but there are probably quite a few social dancers who wouldn’t be aware of my favorite social party.

I’m also invested because its a birthday celebration too. Which means there will be cake.

Improving Musicality

The term “musicality” is often said, but not often understood. Its often used to compliment someone who is hitting all the beats and adapting to the music.

It seems to be a subject shrouded in quite a bit of mystery and placed upon a pedestal by a lot of Newcastle salsa social dancers.

Just like timing; not everyone will get it in five minutes. But there are steps anyone can take to up there musicality game.

Hold Up. What is Musicality?

Just like timing; not everyone will get it in five minutes. But there are steps anyone can take to up there musicality game.

I believe musicality can be used to describe dancers comprehension and receptiveness to the music.

Comprehension of the music played is something that is taught and can be quickly applied. A simple example would be dancing a cha cha step to cha cha music and a bachata step to a bachata rythm.

To further apply comprehension dancers can take into account the mood, and even the lyrics.

Receptiveness would be referring to how a dancer reacts to changes in the track. How does a dancer react to pauses and fills?

What social dancers want, but don’t ask for

I think what most dancers want, when they ask to be taught musicality is to have something impressive that they can show of. Something like a well rehearsed, technical shine they can bust out in the Black Swan during a social.

This is probably a lot more achievable, and might fill a hole temporarily that you could pave over later more throughly.

You could rehearse and rehearse an 8 to 16 bar shine to a break in a popular track for a couple of weeks and you might even convince your friends you have that mystic musicality. 

For those feeling daunted by choreography, you can just take something you learned in a lineup or styling class and string together some moves.

What social dancers can’t be bothered to do, but what your instructor wants you to do

Its an obvious one. Getting your head into the rhythm and song structure will give you a lot more confidence. 

In particular to the structure of the songs, but also note the fills and drum rolls that signal a change is coming.

The percussion is the best metronome, and saves the mental labor of counting in your head. Plus if your following the song, and know basically what’s coming your not going to get lost if you zone out thinking about lager.

Its possible to be in-time but off-beat. Try to step on a beat, rather than the count in your head. If you’re not sure where the “1” is or where to take your first step, then your going to find it exhausting counting your way through.

What’s musicality mean to you?

Its a good question. Its not “get good, quick” and it probably means a lot of different things to different people.

So it might be worth taking a moment, away from Google, and ask yourself what you think musicality is and why you want it.

In the mean time, shimmy responsibly (and with practiced  receptiveness and comprehension of the track).

Salsa Consistency

When I see and talk to other salsa dancers around Newcastle; the most common trait amongst the more proficient and technical dancers is their commitment to dancing regularly.

But isn’t variety the spice of life?

There are fantastic events every month where you can do walk out a 1 hour Cuban salsa workshop and straight into a sensual bachata workshop. Have a drink and then do an hour of cross-body.

These events are fantastic socials and a great opportunity to dip a toe into other styles. Keeps it fresh, and give you a new direction to pursue if you find something you really like.

Forming that foundation

But being consistently inconsistent won’t build that foundation you can rely on. In any other trade or profession, you need a solid background in one discipline before you can branch off into another.

From there they can use it as a sort of launch pad, an island in the ocean you can push off from, and if you stray too far you can reach out and steady yourself on that.

Not only does consistency foster discipline and measurable progression, but forming a habit of practicing a skill (any skill) little and often will take you much further than if you binge every one to two weeks.

Something relatable

I very good analogy would be to think of a boozy night out.

Now if you drink a glass of wine every night, you’ll be fine.

But if you don’t drink for two weeks, then go crazy mixing and binging drinks then you’re going to have a headache the next day and not remember much.

Same applies to the Newcastle Salsa scene.

Son & Rumba Clave

I stumbled upon this YouTube channel called Dance Papi. This particular video talks about how to hold and play the different styles of Clave. Its quite in-depth, but a nice chill watch.

After not comprehending the Salsa Rhythm at all during my Newcastle Salsa classes (no matter how many times it was explained) this really helped me get my head into it.

Your mileage may vary!

I’m Not Very Good

The most common complaint I here in the Newcastle salsa scene is this one.

I’m not very good.

Its not the venues, the prices or the DJ. Its often a growing dissatisfaction with our own abilities.

Maybe the learning curve seems long and impossible. Especially in an age where you can access any salsa track in seconds and order a new pair of shoes with “next day delivery”.

But you can’t download timing, confidence or choreography. Unlike in the following deleted clip from The Matrix.

“I know Salsa”

Cut yourself some slack

Life is a journey, not a destination
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

If Salsa was about getting to the end as fast as possible, then we wouldn’t need a full song.

The band could just play crescendos. You would get up, position yourself where you want to end and then walk off the dance floor – high-fiving your partner because you’ve just accomplished all that could be accomplished in this alternative Salsa world.

In this reality, however, a dance will take as long as the song plays. You don’t look at your watch as the song starts and think “Have I got time for this, one?”.

So why is it that we approach learning the steps with that mentality filled with deadlines and milestones?

When your 8 you think being 28 is going to be amazing because you can drive and wear a tie. But you didn’t beat yourself up about not having a driving license as even as 8 you were smart enough to realize that you where at different points in your life.

Unless you where a thick kid. Probably eating dirt and glue for the amusement of your peers.

What Can You Do Now, That You Wanted to do last year?

When you first saw salsa you probably thought it would be cool just to have the confidence to get up, take a partner and know a few basics to get by.

Now you’re self flagellating (hopefully not literally, or you might be asked to leave depending on which club you’re in) because you can’t nail a triple spin or incorporate a backflip into your shines.

If previous you could see you now (without tearing the space-time-continuum apart)… or anyone a few months or more behind you… would they want to do what you can do?

Great Scott!

Be Grateful

I bet you know more than you think you know. And even if you still don’t have every turn and step down. Consider the friends you’ve made and the experiences you’ve had.

It’s not the olympics. You’re not being scored. At the end of the day if you had fun, and didn’t break anyone’s toes then you can count that as a bonafide success.

But I’m Still Super Competitive and what to crush my salsa nemesis

You’re still reading, but maybe you’ve made a sub-audible tut at this wishy washy feel-good nonsense. In that case, this point is for you. If you where enjoying the wash of feel good nonsense, you can click away and check Facebook now.

When Sir Roger Bannister ran the 4 minute mile, his goal was to run a 4 minute mile. Not to run as fast as he can, or to be the fastest man forever. He focuses solely on that 4 minute mile.

If reaching a goal is tied to your self-worth an happiness, then maybe its worth clearly defining what ‘it is.

This thing you’re trying to get, or achieve that would make you happy; Write it down and focus on that, but just that.

It could be hitting every break on your favorite track. It could be mastering a triple spin. Maybe it’s incorporating a backflip in a shine (I really want to see this now).

So go out there and crush your goals, and leave your nemesis alone. He’s a nice guy really, once you get to know him. We go bowling all the time, honestly he’s chill.

The More You Snow

The “Beast From The East” had turned my street into a ski resort. It was so bad the shops ran out of bread, and then the news ran multiple stories about the bread shortages. I still however thumbed Facebook and sent a message:

“Is Salsa still on?”

I knew what the answer would be. But my fear of being left out overrode my fears of getting snowed in on a metro on my to a Newcastle salsa class. Spending the night defending my bread from hungry northerners.

This hasn’t been the first party I wasn’t able to attend due to not being invited. So I was ready with a backup plan of having my own party.

An actual alternative party this time. Not eating crisps in bed and then telling my mates I had a much better party the next day.

I’m blessed enough to have a (mostly willing) follower within the house so there was no need to bother the neighbors – not that I am on the best terms with them *.

* The neighbors that is.

Beaming YouTube to the TV and getting over the weirdness of living-room Rumba (which isn’t a metaphor like the no-pants dance) after a few minutes we might as well have been in the club.

A smaller, tastefully decorated club that lacked such staples as people to trample on my new trainers or that guy who just likes to stare.

You know the one

Had I been living alone I probably would have just got a £3 bottle of wine from Lidl and practiced shines in front of the mirror.

Man dances in mirror
After half a glass

I strongly believe these lowkey, private parties keep the scene alive. Big kudos to those guys and girls who organise their own practice sessions and parties!

It is also a great exercise in adapting to the uncertainties of life. I say this and I hate breaking routine. It’s not just about sticking to goals but also an opportunity to connect with those close to you.

If you’ve got no-one that close to connect to, than there’s probably even more reason for you to put some time aside to nurture a lighter and carefree attitude.

Or you could depress yourself by brooding over Facebook or start getting animals and dressing them up in human clothes.

“What have I become, my sweetest friend?”