Thumbs have nothing to do with the dance!
One of my pet peeves when dancing is people who hold you with their thumbs. Now, we all have done it at some point. I understand if you are a beginner, or you’re not very sure of yourself, and no one has pointed out this habit to you. But people who have been dancing for a long time and they still hold their partners with their thumbs when dancing have no excuse. If you have ever danced with someone who does this, then you are familiar with the feeling, like you caught a catfish with your hand. This is a salsa curse.
If you are a perpetrator, realize that this grip is uncomfortable, and sometimes physically painful. Become aware of what your thumbs are doing during the dance, this is very important! Salsa is a thumb-less dance. All the moves and patterns in salsa can be led and followed without the use of the thumbs. When dancing with someone and you are grasping with your thumb, you are sending out the wrong message. You’re telling the other person that you are a dependent, clingy person, or you are a control freak. Holding with your thumbs (unless your dancing on the ledge of a building) doesn’t show confidence, or proper technique (who cares about that anyway??). Relax your grip!!! Don’t use your thumbs!!!
Guys, no girls like your death thumb grip. If the girl is not following your pattern without the death hold, then check out my CLASS SCHEDULE, I’ll show you the way. Girls, no guys like you sticking your long nails in the skin of the middle finger. If you need to hold on to the guy with your thumb throughout the dance, then you are using the wrong shoes. Even though this is not a rule written somewhere, there is an unspoken commitment when dancing salsa, the “I don’t use my thumb, you don’t use your thumb.”
Types of Holds
Claw grip: This grip is exclusive to females with long nails. Those things are HAZARDOUS (I’ve gotten cut a couple of times). I don’t want ACCUPUNCTURE in the dance floor, when I’m dancing with you!!
Hand crusher (aka grip of death): If you are a guy, then you have an “I’m a macho type of man, so you turn when I want you to turn” complex. If you are a girl, then you have some controlling issues to deal with.
Hand caresser/ finger rubber: You’ve just met the person your dancing with, and they are rubbing/caressing your finger with their thumbs. It’s weird, and creepy at times. It feels like they’ve been waiting to caress your hand for a long time. What good intentions could they have??
Technically speaking holding with the thumb does not allow followers to follow better (it doesn’t let the hands rotate and flow freely), and it doesn’t allow leaders to lead better, if the follower is latching on to the hand. If you have encountered this, SAY SOMETHING to stop this salsa illness. Don’t be rude; politely say that it is hurting your hand. If the person persists, then refer them to this blog, or my classes (you’d be doing them a favor, and I’d appreciate it ;))
Notice how we are NOT using our thumbs!!