16 group lessons, and 8 privates.
I wish it were that easy!
Here I have this student who wants to be a good dancer in 5 weeks for a party, or a wedding he wants to attend. He has never danced a day in his life, and comes to me with the question – “do you think that if I attend the group class on Mondays I can get good at dancing in 5 weeks?” I explain to him that it won’t be possible, so he follows it up with “how about if I come on Wednesdays too? It won’t be all Wednesdays though; I can only make it 3 Wednesdays.”
I get this question from 1 out of 3 people who call me on the phone asking for lessons. People want results and they want them now. I wonder if these people also decide to call the gym and ask them if they can get fit in just a couple of weeks, or think to themselves – “I want to speak another language; can I do it in a few classes”?
If you are a logical person and see the improbability of the two scenarios above, why insist that this does not apply to salsa dancing? Dancing is a skill like any other and it takes time to develop. Because it’s a recreational skill, we think it doesn’t take much time to get. The truth is that if you have ever seen someone with great dancing skills, whether it is at a competition, party, club, or family reunion, they have spent time to develop those skills. No one gets good at dancing (or anything) without practice, and lots of it!
So then, answering this question becomes REALLY tricky!! There are some factors that have to be taken into consideration: skill level, rhythm, ability to learn, effort, concentration, coordination, and resilience, among other things. So, how long does it take to become a “good dancer”?
Let’s say you have no previous dancing experience, average physical coordination, not willing to practice outside of the classes (rarely people do at the beginning), but you will put effort in the class. It might take you six months to one year of group lessons to be able to social dance the basic moves.
Private lessons are a different story. If you have the same person from above, taking private lessons, the journey can be shortened dramatically. It only takes 10-15 private lessons to achieve the same results you would attain in one year of group lessons without any other practice.
On average, this is the case for people like the ones I described above. If you are willing to look for a partner to practice outside of the classes, the time will be significantly shortened, and you can be dancing in no time.
Learning to dance is like learning to speak a language. The more you practice the more fluent you will become and the easier it will be to keep on learning.