If you have tried to learn Salsa without a prior dancing background, you probably know the feeling all too well: trying to teach your feet to feel the music, your body to follow the feet, all the while still getting accustomed to the fast and complex salsa rhythm. Under those circumstances, keeping track of the dozens of new dance patterns learnt in the first few months of dancing is not easy, and calling them on demand into a coherent choreography for your partner to enjoy probably feels completely out of reach. I've spokent to too many guys who, after a few grilling lessons, wrote dancing off as a bad debt.
I originally took these notes to keep track of the two dozen or so moves which I have learnt in the beginners course at Latin Dance Australia. Then I've started adding various pointers and notes about common traps “discovered” during private lessons, until I've realised that my notebook is probably of some use to many other budding salseros.
These notes describe LA-style salsa “on one” as tought by the folks at Latin Dance Australia, although I imagine that adapting them to breaking “on two” should be relatively straightforward (than again, if you can do this, you probably don't need my notes in the first place!) Currently, I only describe the leader's point of view on this page, but I may add the follower's perspective some time in the future. Also, please remember that the notes are meant to be used in combination with real-life salsa classes. Please, please do not try to learn salsa from scratch by reading this page and then blame me for your failure. It will not work, and you will waste a lot of time to no gain. Besides, I take for granted most of the fundamentals tought in every dance class around the world, such as the details of the closed hold, and make no attempt at presenting the intricates of the salsa rhythm. Most of the recipies on this page can only serve as a clarification of prior knowledge, and will make no sense to you unless you see them performed first. And, finally but most importantly, salsa is not some challenge to be met or a puzzle to be solved - it's about holding a beautiful girl in your arms and loosing your whole self to the intoxicating music of Latin America. So stop reading, get out, and enjoy yourself! There's no better way to learn to dance than that!
The basic step describes the fundamental footwork pattern in salsa. It can be performed from any closed or open hold, or even solo as a shine (in which case it's usually called the “mambo shine.”) In all cases, the leader must ensure that the girl receives a strong forward lead on (1), normally by pushing forward into her right palm with his left hand. In an open “handshake” hold (that is, holding her right hand in your right, or her left in your left), the lead can be given with whichever hand holds the girl's.
(1) Step forward on your left foot, transferring your weight onto it.
(2) Transfer weight back onto the right foot.
(3) Step back with your left foot past your right, transferring your weight onto it. Note that in most introductory classes, instructors will teach you to bring your feet together into the initial position on this count, but, in my opinion, that feels and looks clumsy and makes it much harder to keep balance during more complex moves. So get into the good habit from the start, and step past your left. You will almost never bring your feet together in salsa, except possibly as a styling.
(5) Step back with your right foot past your left, again transferring your weight onto it.
(6) Transfer your weight back onto the left foot.
(7) Step forward with your right foot past your left and transfer your weight onto it.
If the music is slow, it is quite possible to lift your foot and step in place on beats (2) and (6), instead of merely tranferring your weight onto the appropriate foot, which makes your dancing look more energetic, if that's what you're after. However, at for me, this doesn't seem to work particularly well while performing anything more complicated than the basic step.
It is a good idea to polish your basic step early, and you can easily practice it alone in front of a mirror. Watch your footwork on the “long” beats ((5) and (6)) - while you are still getting accustomed to the salsa rhythm, it's easy to skip the pause and commence the second half of the measure on (4) instead of (5). It's good to find something to do with your feet on (4) and (8) - some schools teach the “tap”, and others (particuraly, it seems, in New York) prefer to prolong the step on (3), by stepping on the ball of your foot on (3), and delaying the transfer of weight until the following beat (4). If done right, the later will also help to ephasize the Cuban hip movement. Do whatever feels more natural.
I will usually perform two or three basics at the beginning of each song while getting accustomed to its individual rhythm. More experienced dancers will perform only one basic, usually followed by a cross-body lead in preparation for a pattern.
This is a very simple step, usually tought in the first beginners class. It's useful if you get a mental block, or if you are having trouble synchronizing yourself with the music, and want to keep the girl occupied with something more fancy then the basic while you're recovering. (Another way to recover from getting off-beat which works better than stopping in the middle of the dance floor is doing a few in-place merengue-like steps, before giving the girl a strong lead into the basic step once you hear (1) again.)
(1) Beginning in a closed hold, step back and to the right on your left foot, placing it slightly behind and almost perpendicular to the right foot. At the same time, give a strong forward lead with your left arm, while turning your partner clockwise using your right hand on her back.
(2) Transfer your weight onto the right foot. Release the girl's left hand while turning her counter-clockwise back towards the basic position by pulling her right hand with your left.
(3) Step onto left foot and back into an open hold.
(5) Step back and to the left with your right foot, placing it slightly behind the left foot. Twist your partner counter-clockwise by extending your left arm forward in between you and her.
(6) Transfer your weight onto left foot, turning her clockwise back towards the start position, by pulling her right hand with your left.
(7) Step onto your right foot and back into an open hold.
(1) Same as (1) above, except beginning in an open hold: catch her left hand with your right and turn her body clockwise by extending the right arm forward analogously to step (5). By now she should know what's coming.
Some people find exiting the back step a little cumbersome. It's best to return to the closed hold by catching your partner at her waist on (1). That way, she'll know that you've had enough of the back step, rather than second-guessing what she perceives as an issuficiently-strong lead into another back step.
This turn is always performed on beats (1) to (3), since it begins by stepping onto the left foot. It is a clockwise turn, and may be incorporated into a dance pattern or used alone as shine. In either case, the turn should finish by (5) with the body in the same position as for the basic step on the same count, making it possible to complete the measure with a hook turn (see below) instead of the basic step footwork.
(1) Step forward with your left foot. Any hand not holding a girl should be held firm in front at your waist to help balance the body during the turn.
(2) Step in place onto the right foot, turning it clockwise by 90 degrees so that both feet are perpendicular to each other and the body is facing in the direction of the right foot. Keep your head turned in the direction of your left foot, spotting over your left shoulder.
(3) Spin your body clockwise by 270 degrees (using the momentum already acquired on the previous beat helps!), landing the left foot close to your right. Keep your legs close to each other throught the turn, and your knees bent at a constant height. At the end of the count, both feet should face in the same direction again, and the weight should be on the left foot. Remember to spot!
(5-7) Proceed as with the basic step. Remember that, on (5), you will be stepping back onto your right foot rather than forward.
The spin on (3) will feel quite fast, and spotting correctly will make it look even faster. However it is quite comfortable, thanks to the momentum gained from the forward step on (1) and (2), provided that you hold your hands close to yourself in front of your chest and turn your upper body sharply. It takes some practice not to "overshoot" the turn: when, during the turn, you are facing in the original direction once again, you can stop the spin by lowering your heel, which acts as an efficient breaking mechanism.
You cannot underestimate the importance of spotting during this and all other turns. When turning, turn your head left and look over your left shoulder at some spot in front of you (such as the girl's nose) for as long as you can, then quickly turn your head clockwise, and, well before your body is facing in that direction again, look for the same spot over your right shoulder. If done correctly (and quickly!) this will stop you from getting dizzy (particuraly painful during double turns!) and, as a bonus, will make the turn look smarter and sharper.
Spotting correctly takes a lot of practice. Try it at home, while walking reasonably slowly in a circle. That way, you'll know when you're spotting correctly: you're there when doing a dozen rotations in a row still doesn't make you dizzy.
This turn is always performed on beats (5) to (7), since it begins by stepping onto the right foot. Like the forward turn, it is a clockwise turn, and may be incorporated into a dance pattern or used alone as shine. In either case, the basic step performed on beats (1) to (3) may be replaced with a forward turn.
(1-3) Same as in basic step. Finish with both feet close together by (3).
(5) Place your right foot behind your left, rotating both feet and your body clockwise by 90 degrees. The head should still face in the original direction, spotting over your left shoulder.
(6) Spin your body clockwise by 180 degrees, landing with both of your feet close together and facing in the same direction as your body, with the weight on your left foot.
(7) Complete the turn by stepping forward on your right foot, in the same direction as you were facing on (1). Rotate the left foot by the final 90 degrees as you transfer the weight off it.
Since you get three counts to perform the full rotation, the hook turn feels much slower than the floor turn described above. You are basically stepping in the circle with the music, and a lot of dance patterns, particularly in cuban-style salsa, involve the hook turn in one form on another.
This is the simplest turn of all. The leader turns the follower clockwise by guiding her right arm in a relatively loose circle above her head, leading her into a full clockwise turn, which she performs on beats (5-7). This is one of very few turns which start on (5) rather than (6). As a leader, remember to step in-place while your partner is performing the turn; otherwise, you will find it hard to exit the step on the right count. Stepping in-place will also help you in maintaining the tempo of the turn itself - a turn performed too fast will throw you both out of beat.
(1) (Open Break) Beginning in an open hold, step back onto your left foot while releasing your partner's left hand. Give a strong forward lead with your left arm by extending it. LA-style salsa owes much of its characteristic dynamic look to highly-exaggerated open breaks. But don't let the arms stretch out completely - you want to keep them bent slightly at the elbows to maintain a comfortable tension throught the move. If done correctly, a sharp open break looks like the couple is suddenly thrown apart by some invisible force, which looks nice when done to a fast music.
(2) Transfer your weight onto the right foot, raising the left arm slightly.
(3) Step forward onto your left foot. Raise your left arm to a level at or just above your partner's head, and join the palm of your left hand with the palm of her right.
(5) Step slightly sideways onto your right foot. Begin turning her clockwise using your left arm.
(6) Continue turning your partner, transfering your weight onto the left foot.
(7) Bring your left hand back towards your waist, catching her with your right hand. Doing this in a way that feels comfortable to the girl may take some practice. Bring your hand down in a loose arch, bending your elbow so that your palm travels close to your face before proceeding down towards your left waist.
As you get more confident, you will find yourself replacing most of outside turns in your salsa with doubles, but single turns still seem more appropriate to a slow-paced music.
This turn can be performed instead of a single outside turn in most of the patterns described on this page. Although it looks very nice, and most girls love to spin, it is quite demanding of the follower, as she will get very dizzy if she isn't spotting correctly. So don't try it with a beginner, and make sure that you lead strongly and provide much of the turning force, or she'll never manage to complete both turns on time! The basic idea is to complete the first turn sharply on (5), followed by a second, slower turn on counts (6) and (7).
(1-3) Same as for a single outside turn.
(5) Turn the girl sharply clockwise by a full 360 degrees. She should be facing you again by (6). To make this work, you must lead her strongly with the arm holding her right hand in a tight circle above her head. Don't lower your hand after the turn! It is best to lead this turn with at most two fingers instead of palm-to-palm, held loosely in the cup of the girl's hand. However, if the follower refuses to form the cup, try to give as much contact as possible with the full palm, in which case you will probably have to perform the turn more slowly.
(6-7) Perform another tight 360 degree turn, this time lowering your arm by (7) as for a single outside turn.
The girl must remember to spot, so stay alert and catch her (with either arm), should she loose her balance. Since you are helping her to maintain balance during the turn, step in place or not at all during the turns.
A helpful piece of styling is to swing your left arm to the left while stepping back on (1) during the open break beginning the move, before bringing it up on (2) and (3) to signal the turn. Besides looking nice, this gives you a little bit of extra momentum for the fast turn on (5).
This is a variant of the basic outside turn described above. The only difference is that, while raising your left arm to give the palm-to-palm turn signal on (3), you bring your right arm up to your left, and switch the hands holding your follower's right, giving the turn signal with your right palm instead of the left. You will end up in the open handshake hold after the turn, holding her right hand with your right. You can then proceed to any of the handshake patterns described below.
It is also possible to switch hands during a double outside turn, either for both turns on (3) as described above, or on (6), guiding the second turn with your right and finishing in the handshake hold by (7).
Cross-body lead is the starting point for most of the subsequent dance patterns, especially in LA-style salsa. It looks good on the dance floor, and is a very effective way of navigating around the crowd.
(1) Beginning in a closed hold, step forward onto your left foot, giving a strong lead with your left hand.
(2) Step back onto your right foot, positioning it roughly perpendicularly to your left one. By (3), you want to be in front of the lady, and remember that she will be stepping forward on that count, so it's best to step back rather than just transferring your weight. You probaby also want to step slightly to the side, so as to get out of the way of their partner when she will be traveling across during the second half of the measure.
(3) Step back onto your right foot. You are now in an L-position with the lady just in front and to your right, facing across you. Your two feet should now be positioned in parallel, with the weight firmly on your left foot, and your right hand placed in the middle of her back.
(5) Transfer your weight onto the right foot while taking your partner across with a strong lead from your right hand in the middle of her back (if you lead her from her shoulder, she will probably turn away from you instead of moving forward.) Keep your left hand low at her waist level. This lead is not just a single push on (5) - it should be a constant pressure continuing for the duration of counts (5) and (6), until she's well to your left.
(6) Give another strong lead with your right hand while, stepping onto the left foot and behind her, turning your body counter-clockwise by 90 degrees. Release your right hand from her back (this gesture distinguishes cross-body lead from a cross-body turn.)
(7) Step onto your right foot and behind your partner. She has not returned to face you yet.
(1) Bring your left hand back to your waist, while catching her with your right and returning to the closed hold.
As described later, this and most other cross-body moves can be followed with a turn. In order to give the girl ample time to realise that no turn is going to follow, it is common to emphasize the action of lowering your left hand on (3) in front of her.
The footwork is the same as for the basic cross-body lead described above.
(1) Beginning in an open hold, give a strong lead forward with your left hand.
(2) Hold with your arms while you're stepping out of your partner's way.
(3) Pull your left hand back, possibly exending the right. The motion looks best when it's sharp and energetic. Some followers do not like the twisting motion caused by extending the right on this count (especially to a slow music), in which case you may want to skip this motion.
(5) Extend the right hand while pulling your partner across with your left. Alternatively, you may pull her across with both arms, which works better to a slow music.
(6) Follow the girl with both of your arms as she moves across.
(7) Turn her counter-clockwise to face you, returning into an open hold by (1).
It is also possible to release your right hand some time after (6) and return into a closed hold on (7).
This step is identical to a normal cross-body lead (from either closed or open position), except for the exit: instead of placing your hand on her shoulder on (6), leave it free, switching hands once she is facing you on (7), thus returning into an open handshake hold.
This is the easiest way to prepare for any of the moves described later which begin in the open handshake hold. Note that you can switch hands in that way at the end of almost any step based on the cross-body lead.
(1-5) Same as for a cross-body lead, except by (5) raise your right arm slightly in preparation for a turn on (6).
(6) Footwork is the same as for the cross-body lead. Raise the left hand above your partner's head. Move your right hand to her right shoulder blade and spin her counter-clockwise, controlling the turn with your left hand.
(7) Continue the turn. She should be facing away from you by the end of the beat.
(1) Bring your left hand back to your waist, completing the turn. Return to a closed hold by catching her with your right hand.
In this step, the lady walks under an arch of your left hand as through a tunnel, giving the step its unique feel. This step is also called Lady's Tunnel for the characteristic gesture of leading the lady under the arch formed from your arms. The footwork is identical to the basic cross-body lead.
(1-3) Same as for a cross-body lead. By (3), raise your left hand up above her head, forming an arch for her to walk under.
(5) Lead the girl across under the arch. You will also have to lead the left hand (the one forming the arch) forward, since pulling her right arm back too much will cause her to turn or get hurt. However, if you pull her hand back slightly, she will still be appear to walk under the arch.
(6) Give the girl a gentle push on the left shoulder with your right hand, while still leading her across.
(7) As you're stepping behind the girl, turn her clockwise to face you, by bringing your left arm down, returning to an open hold.
One of the most sensual simple steps that you can see on a dance floor, this cross-body lead variant starts in an open left-handed handshake hold, in which your left hand holds your follower's left. It's a nice follow-up to a cross-hand outside turn, an outside copa or a cross-body lead travel turn. The footwork is identical to the basic cross-body lead.
(1) Beginning in a left-handed handshake hold, give a strong forward lead with your left hand (which should be holding your partner's left.)
(2-3) Place your right hand on your partner's back in preparation for a lead on (5). Place her left palm on your left shoulder by guiding it in a gentle arch above your head.
(5-7) Same as for a cross-body lead, except you are turning the girl using your left hand holding her right.
(1) Beginning in an open handshake hold, give a strong forward lead with your right hand.
(2) Pull her forward using your left arm.
(3) Once in the L-position, toss her right arm up and above her head, landing your right palm on her back by (5) in preparation for the cross-body lead. Extend your left hand palm-up for her to catch with the falling right arm.
(5) Lead her across with your left hand and the right, which now on her back.
(6-7) Complete the step as for a basic cross-body turn.
(1) Beginning in an open hold, release your partner's right hand. Give her a sideways lead by swinging your left hand to the left while also stepping to the left and onto your left foot.
(2) Step across and to her right onto your left foot, while beginning to turn her counter-clockwise with your left hand.
(3) Step beind her and onto your left foot while completing the turn.
(5-7) Continue as for the basic step.
You can also complete the step with an outside turn on (5-7), or with some shines. It is also possible to make the inside turn in-place without changing places.
(1-3) Perform an inside turn.
(5-7) Continue with a hook turn. Hold her right hand low behind your back while you're turning, switching it into your right around (6).
(2) Step forward and across onto your right foot in front of your left foot.
(3) Step forward and behind the girl onto your left foot. Extend your right arm (holding her right) in front of the girl, and place your left hand on her right shoulder. You should now be facing in the same direction as your partner, with her in front of you.
(5) Spin her clockwide using the left hand on her shoulder and by leading her right arm energetically to the right. When leading her into the spin, place two fingers of your left palm in the little dent on her shoulder just above her armpit without pushing her down, and pull the shoulder energetically towards you.
(6-7) Continue with a basic step. Catch her into a closed hold by (7).
You can also prolong the spin by performing some shines before returning into a closed hold.
This step looks much harder than it really is, with a number of possible exits. A part of its appeal is that most of the step is performed facing away from your partner, and the surprise she receives on (6) when a simple outside turn turns into something very different.
The name comes from the styling motion of the follower on (6), when her hand slides down your back to fall into your right hand, as if scratching your back.
(1-5) Same as for an outside turn. Remember to step to your right on (5) to gain space and momentum for the following turn.
(6) While continuing the outside turn, step onto your left foot, beginning turning yourself counter-clockwise under your left arm. Some people prefer to step slightly towards the girl to remain close to her during the second half of the move.
(7) Complete the 180 degree turn by stepping back onto your right foot. You should now be facing away from your partner. Bring her left arm over your head, placing her right palm on your left shoulder. Ask for her right hand with your right hand, by placing it palm-up behind your back. Lean slightly forward to exaggerate the back-scratching hand motion of your partner.
(1) Step forward (but not too far) onto your left foot, catching her right hand with your right as you rock away from each other. This will probaby require extending your right hand slightly, but not fully, so that there remains strong arm pressure between you.
(2) Twist 90 degrees clockwise and towards her, asking for her left hand with your left, palm up. Make this motion obvious, as some followers only know the alternative exit from this move described below and may not be expecting you to be asking for her left hand at this stage.
(3) Catch her left hand with your left, while still holding her right hand in with your right, and pull her sharply towards you with your right hand into the L-position.
(5-7) Complete as for a cross-body lead outside turn.
Since you are still holding her left hand in your left, you can follow-up with an over-head cross-body lead.
(1-7) Same as above.
(1-3) Same as above, except do not ask for her left hand on (2). On (3), step onto your left foot and towards her, into the handshake hold instead of the L-position and raise your left hand to signal an outside turn.
(5-7) Complete as for a cross-hand outside turn.
“Copa” (literally meaning “a goblet”) refers to the position in which both you and your partner are facing in the same direction, with her in front of you and tilted in opposite direction (your weight on your left leg, hers on her right.) It's a very expressive move, although requires a lot of cooperation from the follower, so remember to lead strongly!
(1) Perform an open break.
(2) Step forward and to the left onto your right foot, placing it in front of your left. Pull the girl towards you and begin raising your left arm to indicate the upcoming inside turn.
(3) Step forward onto your left foot, positioning yourself perpendicuraly to the girl. While she's traveling across, turn her counter-clockwise by 180 degress, making sure to catch her with your right arm on her back so she doesn't keep going backwards or fall on her back!
Like all cross-body lead moves, you can finish the move off with a turn on (6).
(2) Step forward and to the left with your right foot, catching her right hand in your left. Pull her energetically towards you with your right.
(3) Using your left hand (which should now be holding her left), turn the girl sharply by 90 degrees clockwise, while pulling her towards you with your right hand, then release her right hand and catch her by the waist to stop her moving to the right. This needs to be a very firm action, as the follower gains a lot of momentum and can easily keep moving right (or fall!) if not cought in time. Your bodies should now be aligned and facing in the same direction, yours titled to the left and hers to the right.
(5) Lead her across to the left with your right hand on the girl's waist, while extending your right hand.
(6-7) The remainder of the move is similar to an outside cross-body turn, except that the finishing counter-clockwise turn is 90 degress longer, since it begins with the girl facing away from you.
This is a very energetic step which adds a whole new dimention to your dancing. Apparently it is very easy for the lady to follow if you're leading strongly, since it gives her very little scope for mis-interpretation of your signals. Note that this step works as an alternative finish for any step based on a cross-body lead, including cross-body turns and copas.
The only problem with this step is that it's not very friendly in crowded dancing conditions, as the couple ends up taking a lot of floor space.
(1-7) Perform one of the cross-body leads described earlier, returning to a closed position. Your right hand must be very firm at this stage for the step to work.
(1) Step forward onto your left foot, pointing it sideways to your left.
(2) Step onto your right foot forward and to the other side of the girl, pointing it in the same direction as your left. At the same time, turn her counter-clockwise to face you, by keeping her locked in a tight closed hold. Make sure that your weight is fully on your right foot.
(3) Using the momentum gained at the previous beat, turn your upper body (from your shoulders!) counter-clockwise by 180 degress, landing the left foot in the L-position, with your weight on it. Your feet should now be parallel to each other, possibly with the left one placed slightly behind. While you're turning, keep your left foot close to your body, and the girl locked in a tight closed hold, to prevent the move from looking clumsy and slow. It is you who are swinging the girl, as she doesn't have enought room and momentum to perform this turn on her own! But it's OK to use her as a pivot to balance your body around during the spin.
(5) Step back with your right foot while leading the follower into a cross-body lead.
(6-7) Complete as for a single cross-body lead.
The double cross-body can be naturally extended to a multiple cross-body lead, leaving the couple traveling across the floor like a fast spinning top. At any point, you can change direction by inserting a basic cross-body between the doubles. But watch out: you're quickly become dizzy with all the spinning!
Following a double cross body lead immediately with a sharp open break and a double outside turn is one of LA-styles well-kept secrets. It looks and feels good, and helps to avoid dizziness by interleaving clockwise and counter-clockwise turns.
If you find it hard to hold your right arm tense on (3), you may want to hold the girl even tighter during the turn, to the point of wrapping your arm around her back and holding onto her right waist.
This step is named for its distinct twisting motion. It ends is an free spin, which can be prolonged with shines before returning to a closed hold.
(1-5) Same as for a cross-body lead. Place your left hand on your follower's right shoulder by (3).
(6) As you step forward onto your left foot (a little further forward than for a normal cross-body lead), lower your left hand from her shoulder to her waist and begin turning her counter-clockwise.
(7) By (7), you should be positioned parallel to the girl and facing in opposite directions, your left hand on her waist. Stop her from moving to her right by catching her with your left hand at her waist. Be sure that you use your open palm to catch her, as poking her with your fingers can be very painful to her!
(1) Push her to her left with your left hand, while extending your right arm in preparation to catch her at her waist by (3).
(2) As you step onto your right foot, keep leading her with your left hand at her waist, and follow ahead of her with your right at the level of her waist.
(3) Catch her at her waist with your right hand, stopping her from advancing to the left.
(5) Spin her strongly counter-clockwise using your right hand on her waist.
(6-7) Follow her with a basic step as she spins. On (7), catch her back with your right arm into a closed hold.
This step is most naturally followed by a cross-body lead.
The name of this step comes from the way that you lead the girl forward for the core of the pattern, holding her at her shoulders as if massaging them.
(1-3) Begin a cross body lead, placing your left hand on the girl's right shoulder by (2).
(5) Lead the girl across with your right hand on her back and the left hand on her shoulder. To avoid turning her towards you, you may want to position yourself slightly facing her on (3), but still out of her way.
(6) As you step behind her onto your left foot, turn her counter-clockwise to face you, using your right hand on her shoulder.
(7) Turn her to face away from you using your left hand on her right shoulder, then replace it with your right hand and place the left on her left shoulder. You should now be facing in the same direction, with both of your hands on her shoulders.
(1-2) Lead her straight forward for two steps. Do not twist her sideways at this stage, as it feels unconfortable.
(3) Step forward again, this time twisting her by about 90 degress counter-clockwise as if winding up for the upcoming free spin.
(5) Throw her into a free spin by turning her clockwise using your hands on her shoulders and letting go.
The walk on (1-2) can of course be prolonged for a complete measure, as long as the exiting spin is prepared on (3) and performed on (5-7) as described above.
This is another very expressive move, which you begin in an open handshake hold, asking for her left hand with your left, palm-up, and crossed above your right arm.
(1-2) Same as for a cross-body lead, fllowing her to place her right hand in your right palm. By (2), strech your right arm (holding her right) towards her belly button.
(3) Stop her from moving past the L-position using your right hand on her belly, as you transfer your weight onto the left foot.
(5) Pull her across using your left hand as for a cross-body lead while extending your left arm across her body, then move your right hand up towards her left shoulder, still holding her right hand. Her arms are now crossed in front of her chest, with the hands close to her shoulders.
(6-7) Step behind her as you're turning her counter-clockwise by 360 degrees, untangling your hands and extending them into the “crucifix” position. Your palms should be facing up, with hers lying freely in them.
(1) Bring your arms down while moving your hands so that they gripping hers (lightly!) from above and twisting her counter-clockwise in preparation for a turn. Step onto your left foot forward and to the right of your partner.
(2) As you transfer your weight onto the right foot, bring your right hand up to signal a turn, and release her left hand.
(3) Turn her to face you and bring your right hand up to signal an outside turn.
(5-7) Complete as for an an outside turn.
You will usually complete this step with a double rather than a single outside turn. Note that the crucifix position on (7) can be prolonged for a whole measure, allowing her to perform some shines before completing the pattern (Susie Q looks nice!)
(1-2) Same as for a copa. By (2), raise the left hand in preparation for a sharp turn that is coming up on (3). Prepare your left hand to trace the girl's waist during the turn.
(3) Step forward onto your right foot, placing it parallel to your left. Turn the girl sharply counter-clockwise by 360 degrees using your right hand, then place her right hand on your left waist for support. You should complete the turn by the end of (3). During the turn, trace the girl's waist with your left hand, ensuring that she spins as close to you as is comfortable without punching you in the face with her right elbow. By the end of the count, your left hand should be wrapped closely around her waist with the palm placed firmly in the middle of her lower back, and her right wrapped across your chest and holding your left waist. Your bodies will now be placed in a tight lock, touching at the waists to give her maximum support for the upcoming dip. To achieve this, move your hips slightly forward after completing the turn, and pull her towards you at the last moment, aiming her waist at yours and tilting her very slightly backwards. To keep her comfortable, keep the whole turn close, so you do not have to pull her far at the end.
(4) After completing the turn, swing your right leg past her and place the foot behind her, preferably between her feet, and as much in parallel to your left foot as possible. Distribute your weight evenly between the two feet, and keep them spread apart for balance.
(5) Dip. Lower the girl backwards by bringing your right arm down gently, while bending your knees. The lower the dip, the better it looks, but ultimately it is her who is controlling how far she wants to go. Remember to keep your upper body straight and upright and your knees bent if you don't want your back to feel like lifting bags of groceries all day by the end of the night!
(6) Hold in the dipped position.
(7) To come out of the dip, bring the girl back up using your right arm and step back onto your right foot while turning your body clockwise by 90 degrees. Turn her clockwise by 180 degrees using the hand wrapped around her and extending your left arm in front of her.
You are now in the L-position, except that you arrive there too early (on (1) instead of (3).) In practice, however, after the effort of the dip, (7) can be easily spread across three counts, synchronizing you back with the music and ready to lead the girl into a cross-body lead by (5).