Tango lessons in Brooklyn

You just started taking Argentine tango classes and want to practice, but you’re having trouble finding the right music to practice to.  Piazolla and Puligese are great, but difficult to dance to for a beginner, and even for experienced dancers.  There are hundreds of amazing tango songs to choose from,  but when starting out with tango lessons, what you want is songs with a steady and clear tempo, and not performance type pieces.  You want songs that you won’t have trouble finding the beat.  Here is a list of great tango songs for the beginner tango dancer.  At our two Brooklyn dance schools, we find that these are the best songs for the beginner Argentine tango dancer.   They all have a very clear beat, and are also great pieces of music.

Tango lessons in Brooklyn NY at our Park Slope Dance Studio.

Tango studio in Brooklyn NY.

Argentine Tango Songs For Beginners:   Don Juan/Carlos Di Sarli,  El Once/Carlos Di Sarli,  A la Gran Muneca/Di Sarli,  La Cumparsita/Di Sarli, Milonguro Viejo/Di Sarli, Yo Tambien Era Dichoso/Francisco Canero,  Pura Parada/Canero,  El Pescante/Canero, DonJuan/Canero, Por Tener un Corazon/Rodlofo Biagi, 16 y Vovemos A Queremos/Rodolfo Biagi,  Sentimiento Gauch/Francisco Lomoto, Yo Tambien Sone/Romero, Ojos Negros Que Fascinan/Ray Salina, Yo No Se Porque Razon/Enrique Rodriquez, Cafe Dominguez/Angel D’gastino

Hustle Lessons in NYC

Hustle lessons in NYC at  Dance Fever Studios. Hustle beginner class in Brooklyn.

Hustle Class in Brooklyn NY at Dance Fever Studios

Hustle Songs by Tempo:

After teaching hustle classes for many years at our two Brooklyn dance studios, I realize one important thing for students progression is to practice to the right tempo music.  If you want to get a body movement down the right way, you need to do it to slow enough music.   Here’s a list of hustle music by tempo:  Slow, medium and fast, but not too fast to dance to.

SLOW HUSTLE SONGS:  Ain’t Nobody/Chaka Khan, Love to Love You Baby/Donna Summer, Fantasy/Earth Wind and Fire, Kiss You All Over/Exile, Rock You’re Baby/George McCrae, Miss California/Dante Thomas, Turn Your Love Around/George Benson, You’ll Never Know/Hi-Gloss, Rock The Boat/Hues Corporation, Feelin’ Single/R. Kelly, Staying Alive/The Bee Gees, Love’s Theme/Barry White

MEDIUM HUSTLE SONGS:  If I Can’t Have You/Yvonne Elliman, Good Times/Chic, Ain’t No Stopping Us Now/McFadden and Whitehead, A Fifth of Beethoven/Walter Murphy, Caribbean Queen/Billy Ocean, Native New Yorker/Odyssey, Never Knew a Love Like This Before/Stephanie Mills, More Than a Woman/Tavares, We Are Family/Sister Sledge, Second Time Around/Shalamar, Share My Love/R. Kelly, Too Hot/Kool And The Gang, Just an Illusion/Imagination

FAST HUSTLE SONGS:  Cuba/Gibson Brothers, Lost in The Music/Sister Sledge, Don’t Leave me This Way/Thelma Houston, Open Seseme/Kool And The Gang, Build it With Love/London Beat, Spank/Jimmy Horne, Waiting For Tonight/Jennifer Lopez

To see hustle lessons and classes at our two Brooklyn NY dance studios, visit our Youtube chanel.


Health Benefits of Dancing

There are many activities you can do to stay fit and healthy.  Dancing is one of the best.  Besides eating right, sleeping enough and not playing in traffic, staying active is critical to staying healthy.  We all know this, but many of us can’t manage to stay active.  You don’t like gyms or working out.  It’s boring.   Lifting a weight up and down isn’t exciting.  You don’t want to run around the same track again and again either.  Now how many times around was that?   You tried boxing, but don’t like getting hit in the head.  It hurts.  You even tried kick boxing.  That hurts even more.  So what can you do?  Dance.  It’s safe, it’s fun, and you don’t get head aches.

Dancing gives you a total body workout.  You are using all parts.  It’s anaerobic as well as aerobic.  It’s a mental work out, and also involves lots of flexibility.  There are few activities that have all this.

intermediate Argentine Tango class

Argentine tango intermediate class in Brooklyn.

Aerobic is endurance stuff.  Walking, jogging, etc.  You get that from dancing.  Try our Latin cardio class and you will see what I mean.  You will have a great time listing to great music and moving to it non stop.  The same is true for salsa, hustle, bachata, samba and tango.  One or two sambas, jives or Viennese waltz is guaranteed  to get your heart beat up.  I just had a group of twenty year old girls come to our Salsa Latin Hustle Social at our Park Slope dance studio.  After a few salsas and bachatas, they needed to sit down.  While we have regulars in their 40’s and 50’s who dance 3 or 4 hours straight with no problem.  Dancing builds your aerobic endurance.

Anaerobic is more like weight lifting or playing the net in tennis.  Quick, explosive movements.  Dancing has this too.  Try dipping or lifting your dance partner, and you will see what I mean.  It’s just like lifting weights.  Spins and lunges are also very anaerobic.

Flexibility is also a big part of dance.  Any Argentine tango student who is learning body dissociation, or salsa student who is learning figure eights and hip rolls knows what I mean.  I have a new student at our Midwood studio who is a martial arts teacher.  A black belt in many styles.  After two or three classes, he tells me that he is feeling muscles sore that he never knew he had.

Beginner salsa class

Salsa lessons in Brooklyn at Dance Fever Studios

Staying healthy isn’t just physical.  Your mind also needs to be fit; constantly growing and learning new things.  In dance your memory is put to the test.  You are always learning new patterns and sequences.  If not used, they will be forgotten.  Anyone who has ever choreographed a routine knows what I mean.  A 4 minute salsa routine can easily have over 100 different steps and patterns.  The more routines you do, the sharper your memory gets.  Dancing gets both the mind and body fit; while also having fun, meeting new people and making new friends.


Salsa classes in Brooklyn

Best salsa songs to learn to by tempo

You’re a new salsa student and you’re having trouble finding songs to practice and learn to.  You check on Youtube and

Dance Fever Students dancing salsa in NYC club.  Dance Fever is a top salsa studio.

Latin couple dancing salsa in NYC club.

Google for songs but are having trouble.  You want not just good salsa songs, but ones that are good to dance to.   Aquanile is great, but not so much for beginner salsa dancer.   La India has some nice songs, but not the best for dancing.  There are many great songs, but you want ones without long intros and a bunch of breaks.   You also want the songs broken down by tempo.  Slow for practicing the stuff you just learned.  Maybe medium tempo for the stuff you almost have, and faster for the stuff you have mastered.  So, here’s the list you’re looking for.  Broken down by very slow, slow, medium and fast.

VERY SLOW:  Melao de Cana/Celia Cruz,  Porque Yo/La33,  I like it Like That/Pete Rodriquez,  Mi Media Mitad/Rey Ruiz,  Mi Son Cubano/Roberto Torres,  Que Lindo El Punto Cubano/Roberto Torres,  En El Barrio/Son Boricua,  Catalina La O/Pete Rodriguez,  Estan Quemando la Cana/Yuri Buenaventura

SLOW:  Te Falta Ritmo/Calambuco,  No Me Acostumbro/Rey Ruiz,  Perdoname/Gilberto Santarosa,  Esa Mujer/Tony Vega,  Siempre Sere/Tito Rojas,  Eres/Santiago Cerron,  Sobredosis/Los Titanes,   La Lave/Latin Vibe,  Y Volver/Latin Fusion,  Amigo Mio/El Gran Combo,  La Magia de Tu Besos/Grupo Niche,  Maria Teresa y Danilo/Hansel y Raul,  Entregate/Maelo Ruiz

MEDIUM:  Otra Oportunidad/Jimmy Bosch,  Yamulemao/Joe Arroyo,  Tu Amigos O Tu Amante/Sabrosura,  Buscandote/The Latin Brothers,  Caballo Viejo/Roberto Torres,  Micaela/Sonora Carruseles,  Juliana/Cuco Valoy,  Mata Que Dios/Cuco Valoy,  Casi Te Envidio/Andy Montanez,  Antidoto y Veneno/Eddie Santiago,  La Cura/Frankie Ruiz,  Llego El Amor/Gilberto Santa Rosa,  Que Paso/Hansel y Raul,  Cali Pachanquero/Gupo Niche

FAST:  Me Libere/El Gran Combo,  Sabor a Melao/Tabaco y Ron,  Ven a Medellin/Grupo Galla,  Vamonos Pal Monte/Son Boricua,  Lady/Orquesta La Palabra,  Baracuaniguara/Africando,  Dejate Querer/Jose Alberto,  Mi Negra Su Calentura/Grupo Niche,  Tiene Sabor/Henry Fiol




Secrets to Dancing Argentine Tango

 tango lessons in Brooklyn at Dance Fever Studios.  An authentic Argentine tango studio.

Tango class in Brooklyn at Dance Fever Studios.

There are really only three major types of steps in Argentine tango.   Walking, giros(pivots) and ganchos(hooks).   Almost every complicated pattern or amazing sequence you see, is composed of these three types of steps.  95% of your time dancing tango, you will be doing these types of steps.  Most of the time you will be walking, some times pivoting, and less time hooking.   Practice these three things, alone, by yourself, and you will be good.

Since most of your time is spent walking, this is what you should practice first.  Again, practice without a partner.  If you can’t walk a straight line forward and backwards, to different tempos, in total control of your balance,  by your self; don’t expect to do it with a partner.  Start with walking every two beats.  Step on the 1 and the 3.  These are called the strong beats.  Walking slowly is much harder than fast.  Practice this too.  Step every 4th beat of the music.  So, now you’re stepping on the 1st beat with the right, then the 1st beat with the left.  Don’t use the free leg to help you balance.  Keep your movement going over the entire 4 beats.  Walk like a cat creeping up on a bird.  There are some tango schools and teachers in Argentina that will only teach walking for the entire first year of lesson.  Once you can walk the right way alone,  you have a chance of doing it the right way with a partner.  Now,  that’s assuming that your partner also did the same practice.  If not, she or he will be using you as a balance beam.

To see more videos go to our Youtube chanel.

Pivots.  Once you have the walk, move on to pivots.  If not, don’t start learning pivots.  Just like walking, you need to be able to pivot by yourself, or you won’t be able to do it with a partner.  Do not practice against a wall.  This only gets you in the bad habit of relying on the wall for balance.  Start with 1/4 pivots.  Face one wall with your entire body.  Now,  turn only the upper part of your body, your torso, so that it faces the next wall.  You will feel a pull.  Your lower part wants to follow your upper part.   Allow it to by pivoting on one foot.  Now your body is aligned again, facing the next wall.  Repeat this.  These are 1/4 pivots.  Go both ways.  When you can do this well, move onto 1/2 pivots, then full 360 pivots.  When you have these, do it backwards.  Being able to do this is the basis for forward and backward ochos.

Ganchos,  like walking and pivoting, you must practice on your own.  Practice ganchos backwards, sideways and backwards over your own leg.  Make sure you point your toe and maintain your balance. Do all this, and dancing with a partner will be a lot easier and more fun.


Difference between salsa on1 and on2

 Salsa studios Brooklyn. Dance Fever Studios salsa class.  The premier salsa dance studio in  Brooklyn.

Salsa lessons in Brooklyn at Dance Fever Studios.

I have heard so many bad explanations of this from salsa dancers and also,  even teachers,  that I need to write this.  The only difference between salsa on1 and on2 is the beat you are breaking on.  On1 you break forward on the 1st beat in the measure of the music.  On2 you are breaking on the 2nd beat in the music.  This is the difference.  There aren’t any different steps, or better steps in on1 or on2.  You can do all the same steps.  There aren’t any different shine in on1 or on2.  You can do all the same shines.   One isn’t better or worse than the other.  There are just as many great on1 dancers as on2.

On1,  the first two beats are quick quick.  You pause or hold the 3rd and 4th beat.  On2,  the 2nd and 3rd beats are the quick quick.  You pause on the 4 and 5.  That’s the slow.   So in on1, the first part of your basic is within the measure of music.  On2, you split the measure of music in your basic.  The pause is between two measures.

Now, on2 has two ways of starting.  You can just break straight  forward with the leader’s left on the 2nd beat, or the leader breaks back with his left foot, then breaks back again with his right foot on the 2nd beat.  The first way the leader is breaking forward on the 2 and back on the 6.  The second way, the leader is breaking forward on the 6 and back on the 2.

If you really want to be good, learn how to do both on1 and on2.   This will really develop your timing and musicality.   Once you learn both, you will understand what I am talking about.  Take a look at the attached Youtube link to see on1 and on2 basics demonstrated.  You can see more video on our Youtube chanel.

Improving your salsa dancing

Salsa dance studios Brooklyn.  Dance Fever Studios is a top Brooklyn salsa studio.

Salsa class in Brooklyn at Dance Fever Studios.

Improving your salsa dancing

Here are some tips to help both leaders and followers become good salsa dancers.  1)THE MUSIC is number one when you dance.  Listen to it.  It has two parts: rhythm and melody.  First, concentrate on the rhythm or beat.  You must dance to this beat, or there is no way you will become a good dancer.  You actually want to feel as though you are dancing behind the beat.  Even fast salsa music, when you get really good, is not that fast;  so don’t rush.  Stay with the tempo.   The majority of beginner salsa dancers tend to rush the tempo.  They are ahead of the beat.  A good way to slow yourself down is to practice salsa basics to cha cha music.   Just leave out the cha cha.  This will definitely slow you down.   If you are dancing to one tempo,  and your partner’s on a different tempo,  there is no way you will have a good time.  This is the single most important thing.  The melody or the tune is the second part of the music.  This is a lot harder to dance to, and will only come with lots of experience and knowing the music.  Eventually, you want to dance to both.

2)BODY MECHANICS: Each type of dance has a specific way of moving.  If you don’t move that specific way, you won’t look good dancing to that music.  You can’t dance salsa and look like a tango dancer or ballet dancer.  It doesn’t look right.  You need to have that salsa look and feel.   There are a lot of elements that make a salsa dancer look like a salsa dancer.  Two of the most important are Cuban motion and the figure eight.  You can see these two things explained and demonstrated on our Youtube chanel.   You need to have both motions wired to look and dance salsa well.  Do not spend another second learning a new “advanced step” before you have these motions down pat. Salsa dancing isn’t salsa dancing without these two motions.

3)Stay in your DANCE CIRCLE.  If you stand on one leg and allow the free leg to naturally hang down so that it just touches the floor, then make a circle with that free leg around your body without any stretch, this is your dance circle.  Stay in it when you dance.  This will make sure that your steps are the right size.  Large steps are a not good. You should be dancing with your body and not your legs.  The body moves the legs and not the other way around.   Smaller steps will also help your balance.

4)DON’T GRAB.  You want to be connected to each other with a very light touch.   The leader is not there to be your balance beam.  You don’t want to grab  on to him on every other step.  If you have trouble with your balance don’t wear 6 inch heels.  Wear flats until you are able to dance in heels.  And for the leaders.  You aren’t doing judo.  A good leader doesn’t need to throw the woman around.  You should be able to led a good follower in almost every step with one finger.  When you are leading and following the right way, it will take almost no effort.  The wrong way, and it feels like a wrestling match.

5)DANCE at each others ABILITY.   A great leader when dancing with a beginner, will only do steps she can do.  Taking her into steps that are beyond her ability is bad leading.  If you haven’t danced with a woman before, build the dance.  Start with easy stuff, and get more and more advanced.  Don’t do a cross body lead with a turn before you have led her in a simple cross body.  This is building the dance.  If you’re an advanced follower, and you agree to dance with some beginner guy, don’t expect him to be Johnny Mambo.

6)ADVANCED DANCERS:  Dance with people who are better than you.  This is true for any field.  Want to raise your chess game or boxing skills, you’re not going to do it with people at a kindergarten level.  This is sometime hard to so since advanced dancers usually have no interest in dancing with beginners.  So the best way to do this is by taking privates.  With one on one instruction, you can work on all your problem areas at your own pace and get out of any bad habits and be prevented from developing any new ones.

7)PERFECT PRACTICE.  Practice makes perfect is one of the most untrue phrases I have ever heard.  Practice all day long the wrong way, and you will do it the wrong way.  Go to the golf range and see all the golfers practicing their bad swings and never getting any better.  They are just enforcing that bad swing.  This is a problem with many dancers.  They get in bad habits and dance with other dancers who have the same bad habits.  Grabbing, steps too large, rushing the timing, poor body mechanics is no way to dance.  When you learn something, make sure you learn it exactly the right way,  and practice it exactly the right way.  If you don’t, you are only enforcing bad habits.   Remember, only perfect practice make perfect.

How to Make Your First Wedding Dance Perfect

First wedding dance lessons at our Park Slope dance school.

Dance Fever Studios Park Slope Location

Here are some ideas on how to make your first wedding dance, well, maybe not perfect,  but pretty decent.

First:  Give your self enough time to learn how to dance.   Dancing isn’t something you can do in a crash course.  It’s not a long list to memorize before the test in the morning.    If you want your dance to look good, you need to dance good.

The majority of wedding songs are ballads or slow dance.   Dancing to a ballad is not so difficult.  With the right amount of practice and time you can look like a dancer.   Usually 4 to 6 lessons will have you dancing nicely to a ballad.   If you pick a more difficult type of song,  and want to do some elaborate choreography, then you need more time.

Second:  Practice.   You need to practice what you are taught in the lesson.  Too many couples take a private one week, return the following week, and have forgotten what they were taught.  Now we have to review past material, instead of progressing on to new things.  So,  make sure you put some time aside to practice.  It’s a good idea to practice what you have just learned in the private as soon as possible.  If you wait a few days, you will forget a lot of it.  Just 15 to 20 minutes of review, will make a big difference.  You also don’t always need to practice as a couple.   You can and should practice solo.   So, if you have trouble finding time to practice together, it’s not an excuse not to practice.  The leader or man’s part in the dance is more difficult, and he usually needs more practice time than the woman.

This brings us to our third point.  Since the leader’s role is more difficult,  he may want to take a few extra lessons with out the bride to perfect his lead.  This is usually a good idea.

Fourth:  Choose a song that is danceable.   If you have trouble finding the beat in your song, it’s most likely not a great choice.  If you  are undecided about what song to choose, ask your dance teacher.  They have probably taught hundreds of first wedding dances, and will know what works well.

Fifth:  This is a partnership.  It’s only going to work if both of you are into it.  A reluctant groom who just shows up and gives 50% makes thing difficult.  By the same token, if one of you has some dance experience, but the other doesn’t, be patient.  Everyone learns at his own pace.  I recently had a bride who was dancing since she was a little girl.  The whole nine yards: tap, ballet, jazz, was a cheerleader.  Her groom had no experience.  She wanted to do a show stopping routine, with lifts and everything.  Her groom had trouble keeping a beat.  They had to get less ambitious.  Again,  it’s a partnership.  Like marriage, it only works if both are committed and willing to work with your partner’s strengths and weaknesses.

Dancing in Brooklyn:

Salsa classes in Brooklyn

Salsa class in Brooklyn, NY. at Dance Fever Studios

Salsa classes in Brooklyn at Dance Fever Studios

Students always ask me, “which movies can I see some good salsa dancing in?”  So, here’s a list of salsa dancing in movies that I know of, or can remember. If you know of any more that you’d like to include,  add them in the comments.

1) Dirty Dancing: The funny thing about this film is the song that Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey dance to is not a salsa.  It’s really a hustle.  But who cares,  it’s the movies. Earlier in the film, Swayze and his blond partner dance to “Johnny’s Mambo”, which is a salsa.  This song is good for performances.  Lots of accents and breaks in the music.

2)Dance With Me:  Some nice salsa dancing and better salsa music than Dirty Dancing.

3)Shall We Dance: Has a bit of salsa dancing, but is better to watch if you’re looking for tango and ballroom.

4)Salsa: This is actually the title of the film, and it might be the best of the bunch. The entire film focuses on salsa dancing. It’s kind of a Dirty Dancing and Saturday Night Fever combo. Check out the 80’s big hair style. This film also has some very good salsa music.  Celia Cruz, Willie Colon, Grupo Latino, Grupo Niche, Tito Puente and Charlie Palmiere are some of the contributors.

5)Salsa y Amor: This is a French movie about a classical pianist who must hide his secret love of playing salsa music. Eventually the salsa wins out. The film has some nice dance scenes and better salsa music.  If you can think of any more, please let me know.