Does a Dance Team a Good Dancer Make?
by Joe Figueroa

When I last danced at Brazils night club, I was listening to what people were saying about the dancers and the dancing and heard that people thought the back end of the dance floor near the DJ booth is the prime spot reserved only for the "good dancers". Although I never looked at it that way, I attributed that observation to the fact that the bar at the front end of the club was where more of the people go when they want to have a drink and just watch so therefore, the hardcore dancers stick toward the back where there is more room to move. I don't know about you, but I hate dancing when I'm getting bumped every 5 seconds by someone making their way through. In the back there is less traffic. But I digress…. The discussion then turned into commentary on how only dance team dancers hang and dance in the back.

And that's what got me thinking.

There are quite a few dance teams in Philly, roughly twenty or so today, where there were only one or two a few years ago. All of these respective teams have fantastic dancers that can compete and have performed with the best on a national and international stage.
But when thinking about the perception that only good dancers out there are those that are on dance teams, I began to wonder if this was truth or merely just perception.

In classes and out in the clubs, more and more it seems lately that the goal of many dancers and students in the salsa scene today focuses on getting good enough to get on a team. While this competitive spirit definitely keeps the scene moving forward and keeps the innovation of dancing creative, it is almost corrupting the basic premise that drew most of us to salsa in the first place, to dance just for the sake of dancing.

Dance team-ers are good, no doubt, but they are not the only great dancers out on the floor. There are plenty of fantastic dancers who don't belong to any team for whatever reason. They just dance because they love it and don't care what others think.

Some great male and female dancers I've seen in Philly don't belong to a team. Have you ever seen Desiree dance? She's new to the Philly scene and is one of the most popular girls out there. Or how about Steve Tirpak Another example of someone who can really move to the music executing patterns without missing a beat…and is not on a dance team. Rick is another dancer who always has the ladies wanting more and I watch him everytime he steps on the floor. . . That rhymes. And the list goes on and on.

As we continue to push Philly into the forefront of salsa worldwide, it's not all about who dances for whom and what team are they on, because salsa was here before most of us were even born and salsa is going to be around long after we are all gone and who was on what dance team is not going to really matter. For anyone out there who feels like the only way to be recognized as a "good dancer" is to be part of some dance team, you're wrong. Just remember whatever it was that drew you to salsa in the first place. That is what salsa should be about for everyone.