Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

Discussion Response: Erik Rodriguez – Okinawa, Japan

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

I think that as long as there is one narrow minded dancer (On1 or On2), that boasts that his or her style is the best we always have some kind of bickering. You can believe what you want as long as you don’t down talk any one else. I’ve seen awesome dancers in both styles, but nothing makes me believe that any style is better. It’s just a matter of opinion. What’s good for you may not be good for some body else.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

I believe the reason for this is that an established On1 dancer doesn’t want to start over. I am a convert as well and this was what I felt when I first started.

-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?

Again, this is based on opinion. The majority of the “good” dancers believe that they are better than their respective counter-parts, regardless whether they dance On1 or On2.

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

There are many different reasons for this. One might be the pride factor. After all that time and effort trying to learn a new trade, why not practice to stay sharp. Another might be that narrow mindedness I spoke of in the first question. I would think that someone who dances on both would be a better dancer. I believe they compliment each other rather than negate.

I hope my contributions are good enough to make your newsletter. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you in promoting a healthier environment between the On1 and On2 community.

Sincerely,
Erik Rodriguez
Director of the MambOki Dance Co.
Okinawa, Japan
www.mamboki.com


Jody Perez – Atlanta, GA

Sure. And each of us is responsible for that. I dance on one and on two, and I refuse to argue the supposed superiority of either. The merits of either, sure – each has its advantages in some ways, but not superiority. If we each do that, then there’s no problem.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?
Fear:

Of the unknown.
Of work.
Of looking like a goof for a while.
Of not finding enough partners who can dance on 2.
Of taking guff from people who can only dance on 1 themselves.
Of taking criticism from pros who have a heavily vested interest in promoting On1.
Of no longer fitting in with the LA-Style social set and their ways.
Of spinning! YES! There are many more multiple spins, and that frightens people who don’t spin well yet.
-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?
Maybe because of the spinning.
Maybe just because there are zillions of newbie’s who all dance on 1badly, as opposed to On2 newbies whose numbers are pretty small.
Or maybe, they’re just a little proud of having taken the time and effort to expand what they know – that alone will make one a better dancer.
Or maybe – because On2 is how Ballroom Mambo is danced, so you get a lot more technique if you study that way.
Or maybe, because it’s difficult for newbies to really hear the music and find the ones (let alone the two’s!), that dancing On2 generally implies a better feel for the music.
Maybe, it’s because On2 tends to stay further away from the big flashy moves. In On2, you can’t count on gymnastics. You HAVE to dance it.
Or maybe, just because it’s so easy to intimidate On1 dancers (see zillions of newbies above).
But mainly, for myself, I get very, very tired of being dragged all over the floor by guys who take mile-long back breaks, and getting thrown into and stepped on by other couples attempting the same thing on a crowded floor. I’ve had a continuous series of painful bruises, shattered toenails, pulled muscles, and deep gashes in my feet for years now. This is from all the very large movement of some of the On1 style and the collisions it causes on the floor (and On1 pros are not always an exception!) This could imply poor leadership, and sometimes that’ s really the case. But even more so, it implies that On1 is just not as crowd-friendly, in the same way that some forms of Swing were modified years ago because Lindy dancers and their wild aerials and drops were causing so many injuries in the dance halls. That kind of athletics is usually reserved for areas here you have plenty of room, and are not usually attempted by many people all at once. (Imagine 6 divers trying to use the same board at the same time.) For social On1 dancing, the Puerto Rican style with smaller steps and more side basics is just a lot more controlled and less likely to cause injuries.
-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

I don’t know that this is necessarily true. I now prefer to dance On2 when I get the chance, but there aren’t all that many On2 dancers in the Atlanta area yet. And also, I have heard that some groups try to discourage their members from dancing outside their On2 group. But then, I’ve also seen that in some of the On1 cliques. I take a very dim view of that practice myself, and I refuse to go along with any kind of snobbery or franchise no matter who’s doing it. I came to DANCE!

Happy Dancing’,
Jody Perez


Sheila McneilDiscussion Response: Shelia McNeil – Washington, DC

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

Yes we can. I learned both simultaneously..sort of…On1 for a couple of months..then On2. I never distinguished myself as either…I just dance.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

As with all new skills…some come easy to us and some are more difficult. My friends in LA who are exceptional dancers claim to be taking On2 classes..but when I go out there..they only wanna dance On1..(after complaining there are no women to dance On2 with)? Go figure.

-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?

I don’t think I’m better..I just know more than one way to dance “Salsa”. But for those who do think they are “better”, may be that dancing On2 does take some getting used to. Think back to music class in elementary school..we learned 1,2,3,4..1,2,3,4. Now you ask me to forget the one and begin on 2 after 40 some years?!!! ;)

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

I haven’t strayed…most of the people I know/hangout w/dance On2 and know I dance On2….so that’s how we dance. I still dance On1..although I do prefer On2…it’s more passionate and bores down to my soulful core.

Sheila


Discussion Response: Lynne Hart – St. Louis

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

This depends on the maturity or willingness to accept other’s viewpoints of the members of the community.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

I’m sure everyone has their own reasons. In St. Louis, there are many women who can or are learning to dance on 2. Their interest likely comes from traveling to congresses and the interest in being able to dance well with any partner who’d like to dance. The challenge for us is that no guys here dance on two – especially the excellent guys On1 are absolutely not interested in learning. I think that’s possibly because they simply prefer the other style. Or, possibly because it’s not any fun to go back to being a beginner – or at least not the best.

Discussion Response: Carrie Moaty – Atlanta, GA

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

Of course they can. It’s not whether you dance on 1 or on 2 that is the problem. People’s attitudes and tolerance levels influence how the two communities interact and get along. The deeper issue appears to be tolerance and respect for diversity. When we don’t understand something or do something as well, sometimes we have a tendency to put down the people that can do the very thing we don’t do so well.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

It’s harder in some ways. Being a ballroom dancer, my first exposure was to Mambo on 2. It was a year later that I was exposed to on 1. For the last 2 years I have been dancing more on 1 , and my on 2 mambo is limited to choreographed routines for competitions. As a result I have found it harder for me to hear the 2 beat. My dancing on 1 has become stronger in many respects because I don’t dance on 2 that often. I think we have a natural tendency to gravitate towards the familiar. Personally, I have a lot of fun dancing to whatever I am led in, despite my greater comfort level on 1, and dancing on 2 is always remains a pleasant challenge.

-On the contrary, Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?

I don’t think that on 2 dancers necessarily feel that they dance better than the dancers that dance on 1. I think some of the issue goes back to your first question . The rest may be due to the following – and again, this is simply conjecture: There are on 2 dancers that might have more technique due to the fact that they are sometimes trained in other disciplines of dance. For example, I have personally come across more on 2 dancers that are trained in ballroom (up to 10 varieties of dance) , versus on 1 dancers whom I have found are usually limited to salsa or salsa / hip hop exposure. As a ballroom dancer, I am fairly proficient in the follow position in 13 different dances, each of which is judged heavily on technique on the competitive floor. The cross disciplines and training allow the person trained in multiple dances (no matter what they are) to transfer their knowledge and technique into whatever style of dance they may be practicing. However, an on 1 dancer would have the same technical ability if trained in the same dances, and all of the above would apply to the on 1 dancer. The more dances and techniques we are exposed to, regardless of being an On1 or On2 dancer, the better the dancer we become.

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

This may be because on 1 is typically taught by the on 1 only instructors who specialize in on one salsa. People who learn on 2 often learn from a ballroom instructor or in a ballroom studio where multiple techniques are heavily emphasized (a form of cross-training) and “ground in”. What is sometimes a shame, is that those now on 2 dancers don’t always realize that it is just as appropriate to transfer that technique to on 1, and that it is “healthy” to do both. The more dances and styles we practice, the more flexible we become as a dancer, while perhaps specializing in certain areas.

My humble opinion,
Carrie Moaty


Discussion Response: Ave Marie – St. Louis, MO

I’m from NJ and I dance on 2. I recently moved to St Louis where the salsa world is MUCH smaller than in NY/NJ, and (mostly) everyone in my new city dances on 1. So what’s a girl to do if she wants to dance? Learn how to dance on 1. I’ve sort of taught myself to dance on 1 and I have to say that I much prefer on 2. It seems to flow better, it’s smoother…or maybe I’m just smoother on 2 because I’ve done much more 2 dancing than 1 dancing.

Now that aside, I don’t think the bickering and attitudes are because someone dances on 1 or on 2. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter if you dance on 1 or if you dance on 2, but for some reason, the salsa world is full of egos and ugliness. We’ve all seen it. People who will only dance with certain partners. How quick those people forgot that they once were not the great dancers that they are today, and that they did not get to be great dancers by dancing only with people at their level. In order to become a better dancer, we all need to dance with partners who are better than us, or maybe with a different style. Keep the competing where it belongs—in competitions, not on the dance floor on a normal Saturday night. Dancing should be fun. You should be out on the floor trying to be the best that you can be…not just trying to be better than someone else. And we should all be kind to our fellow dancers. If someone wants to dance with you, dance with them…don’t say no because they are not up to your level. Stop being Salsa Snobs.


Discussion Response: Sharon German – Rhode Island

The problem between the On1 and On2 communities, between and among themselves is a problem that derives from the ignorance of the dancers within the community. The misinterpretation of music, dance and art. These three things have always existed in our society as a form of self expression. Today, what you see in the salsa community is competition and impassionate people trying to share talent. I have been in the scene for 2 1/2 years and now that I can consider myself somewhat advanced, experienced, and knowledgeable; ironically sometimes I have less fun on the dance floor than when I first started dancing. Why? Because when I was a beginner the dancers that would approach me knew they couldn’t show off. My skills wouldn’t have allowed them to do that. So, they were only bound to dance for the love of dancing. After 2 years of training with April and eventually becoming part of Melaza, my level of dancing boosted, and so did my humbleness; the key factor that unfortunately many dancers of the On1 and On2 communities are lacking. If you look around at some of the best dancers, April, Thomas, Osmar, Shaka, Frankie, Johnny, Amarilys, Super Mario, Juan, Cindy, Massiel, Kimberly and the list keeps going; These people will never turn down anyone from dancing. So, if these professional cats can have a great time dancing with anyone at any level and any count, then what gives us the right to feel that we are better than anyone else, take the example.

So will the On1 and On2 crowd be able to coexist? Yes, when people learn to understand that the beauty of dancing comes from what you are able to share and exchange with your partner when you’re simply dancing; and not how much more you can do from the previous couple who danced on a different count.

Why is there resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from the On1 community, why do On2 dancers think they are better dancers and stray from dancing On1? The competitive atmosphere that salsa has taken has caused people to think, feel and behave this way; passing on a strong message to anyone in who is in their circle. It looks like the salsa congresses are going to need workshops in not only turn patterns, spinning, and styling, but also ethics.

Quote of the month

“Remember only people who can see the invisible can do the impossible.”

Sharon German


Discussion Response: Beto Zaleta, Jr.

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

Sure. So long either community can keep an open mind and not insist that one style is better than the other.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

Because *SOME* On1 dancers have probably put a lot of time or effort getting to where they are now and don’t fancy the idea of being a beginner again. They expect to pick things up quickly and from my experience, and others, that’s not always going to be the case when learning how to dance On2

-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?

The clave argument gets brought up over and over. Actually a lot of arguments or points get brought up over and over again however I think it’s one of those things where neither side will be able to convince the other.

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

Because it’s new to them and because it’s fun. It’s like a new toy that or set of skills that you want to play with. Also for some On2 dancers who made the transition from On1, they find new ways to interpret or move to the music. Unfortunately this can result in some On2 dancers forgetting about On1 or just preferring to stick to On2 for a while. Whether they stick to it permanently (I’ve seen this happen) or come back to On1 periodically (I’ve seen this happen too) will depend on the person. Some people like to pick a count to break on and stay there and others (like myself) like to ‘straddle the fence’ and dance on either depending on the song or the person they’re going to be dancing with.

Just my 0.02
Beto Zaleta Jr.


Discussion Response: Karen Aguliar – Washington, DC

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

I think we can all get along. Music & dancing should bring us together not separate us! We all have the same passion for dancing so why not!

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

My personal experience, I started as a on1 dancer and I still dance on1, but I wanted to learn how to dance on 2 because when I saw the New York Mambo ladies, it inspired me. I think its just a preference, but when it comes down to it, dancing is an expression and a passion that we all have in common and whoever has that passion takes the time and dedication to develop it, so just do it! Yea if you are an on1 dancer you will have to leave on1 aside for a while till you develop dancing on on2, but you will not forget, your body does not forget what you have taught it to express and do. Once you develop dancing On2, go back to it and refresh On1 and vice-versa. That’s if you want to dance both, if not stick to what you prefer and what your body expresses more. Remember dancing is a passion and a way to express yourself not a job!

-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?

My experience my dancing skills did develop more when I started dancing On2. I do feel that I have become a better dancer, more technical, more skillful, now my body is so used to the technique and skill that I can actually enjoy the song and smile my ass off when I am dancing, but that’s because I took the time and dedication to develop dancing On2. That’s just my opinion. I do think that there are very skillful dancers On1. It’s just the time and dedication you put on dancing whether its On1 or On2

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

I personally don’t think On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1. The way I see it is you teach your body to express itself differently, move differently, react differently, feel and hear the music differently, so yea, you can dance On1 the old way you used to dance to, but now you are dancing a different way to a different beat and it becomes a challenge so you want the world to see how you have developed as a dancer, so why not! You worked hard to retrain your body! So now you can do both dance On1 and dance On2 and your own preference takes over and you either stick to dancing On1 or stick to dancing On2! It’s not an issue it’s a preference, stick to your preference and enjoy your dancing!

That’s just my input! see you on the dance floor :-)


Discussion Response: Amy Schroeder – St. Louis

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

In St. Louis it seems like there are just some people who can dance On2 or On1 (and I know some of them prefer On2) and some (most) who can only dance On1. There aren’t two separate communities. The people who can dance both will happily dance On1, only because they know that that’s what most people here do. I’m not speaking for the whole St. Louis salsa community here, because I really don’t know what the rest of them think about it. I dance at least twice a week, but I don’t know what the general talk is about it. I can tell you how I feel about it and what I’ve observed.

Last year, there was a little surge of On2 dancing after a pretty large group from St. Louis went to the Chicago Salsa Congress and learned On2 (including me). If you looked out on the dance floor, you saw a bunch of couples On2. But I’ve noticed that now, everyone’s back to On1. I think that it’s just a matter of convenience, because most of the dance partners you’ll find socially here are On1, and comfort level because of having more experience On1. But every now and then you can look out and see a couple dancing On2.—

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers? This questions was a surprise. I didn’t know that it was true. I LOVED learning On2. The few friends that I took On2 classes with in Chicago felt the same way!

-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?

Good question. I don’t feel that way. I know there are tons of people here who dance better than I do. I was just grateful to learn On2 because it expanded my horizons and it was an eye-opening experience to feel a new way to dance and because now I can dance with guys visiting from out of town who only know On2!

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

If more guys here danced On2, I would actually like to do that more often. I almost always dance On1 here though because that’s what my partners always do. And that’s okay, because it’s dancing and it’s fun. But On2 seems lighter somehow. I don’t know exactly how to describe it — it’s just more fluid.


Discussion Response: LeeAnn O’Neill – Alexandria, VA

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

The question itself implies that we all align ourselves to one side or the other. Personally, I like to dance on both, it just depends on the music. If the clave and the tumbao are really strong, I like to dance On2, if the cowbell, vocals, whatever are strong On1, I like to dance On1. There’s a lot of salsa music where the clave and tumbao aren’t very prominent and it doesn’t seem to make sense to force an On2 mentality on it.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

I guess I haven’t really noticed the resistance, but maybe its because the people I tend to migrate to are generally open minded. I think there’s a much higher resistance from established On2 dancers to learn On1… mostly because almost everyone I know started dancing salsa On1 and switched to On2 later.

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

Because people are silly and they think it gives them some sort of status. I’m learning to lead now, and I think it’s fun to learn how to translate turn patterns from On1 to On2 and vice versa. I would rather be a versatile dancer who can dance with anyone than force someone to dance a certain way.

My .03 cents,
LeeAnn O’Neill (who happens to be wearing my “On1 On2, doesn’t matter… t-shirt today)

Discussion Response: JD Smith – Boston, MA

This question has puzzled me for some time now. Here in Boston where I live, most dancers dance on 1, indeed I myself learned on this count. As I acquired proficiency in the on 1 style I began to notice that the dancers that drew my attention most often were on2 dancers. Frankly, I don’t know why it seems to be the case, but for some reason I can’t quite explain, some dancers look better on 2 than 1. Personally, I have learned to enjoy dancing on either count. For me the music dictates the count I will decide to lead on. Some music simply feels better on 2, some better on 1. Songs where the conga drum is laying down that strong on2 backbeat,(Boogaloo, classic mambo) on 2 seems a natural choice. The salsa “romantica” type music seems to me harder to dance on2. I have always felt that it just “lays”better on1, with those cowbell hits on beats 1, 3, 5. The fact is that I enjoy them both, each in their own way. I personally see no necessity to create schisms of any kind. Sometimes I believe it is merely human nature to develop clans and cliques with all that “our way is better than your way” nonsense, rather than acknowledging that there may be many ways to enjoy the same thing and that the enjoyment of music and movement is a very subjective thing, notorious in its’ defiance of rigid structure. So mostly I brush those issues aside and go on about the business of having fun on whatever count I feel best fits the music, those who know me will tell you, I have even been known to dance on 3!! Its all good.

Discussion Response: Gregory Fitzpatrick – Atlanta, GA

On 1, on 2, on 3, on 4? How about “on infinity”. Is it really important??? Is it really important?

In the old movie “Dance With Me” with Vanessa William, an important point was brougt out – it’s about “feeling” the music and not getting hung up on counting.

A key point that Shaka G. Brown mentioned in his discourse below that should have been emphasized much more is, “I would measure the better dancer as someone who can express what effect the music has on them.” Class, can we say all together now, “feeling the music”? One more time in unison – “FEELING THE MUSIC”

Personally, I’ve taken classes “on 1” and “on 2”. I just don’t FEEL IT “on 2”. When I watch someone dance “on 2” they don’t seem to be dancing to the music. I even have advanced salsa tapes “on 2” and the excitement is not there for me in watching the tape. If I see something I like in these advanced salsa “on 2” tapes, I break it down to an “on 1” count and incorporate it.

When I see someone who dances well “on 2”, I don’t get near the same energy and excitement watching them dance as I do when I see someone who dances well “on 1”. That’s just me. There are others out there who see it just the opposite, I’m sure.

If we just remember “feeling the music” is the important thing. Whether it’s “on 1” or “on 2” is not important. The important thing is to have fun!!! If we remember this, there would be no bickering when it comes to answering the question, “Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering.”


Discussion Response: Shaka Brown – Washington, DC

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

I don’t think that either community has existed without bickering independently, so the chances of them coming together and finding a universal harmony is not where I’d put my money. On1 people battle within themselves, On2 people have their own internal conflicts. On an individual level, can an On1 dancer be friends with an On2 dancer? Of course, it would be silly to say otherwise. But I’m hard pressed to think of two groups that can coexist without occasional sparks. Can Mac and PC users co-exist without bickering? Can Cablemodem and DSL exist without bickering? A big part of it is that once people find something that they identify with and feel to be a part of, they are not going to be really open to someone telling them that it’s wrong, or that they should be trying to be a part of _this_ group instead. So it’s going to be met with resistance. Personally I have an iBook, Win2K and BSD machines in the house. They each have their individual benefits and drawbacks.

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

I’m not sure what “established” means, but if it means someone who has made their name as beign an On1 dancer, then that would be their claim to fame, how well they dance On1. No one wants to give that up and put themselves back into the beginner classes. It’s like if I spend years gaining a phD in some particular science and then people say “Hey, the science you should really study is _____.” People don’t generally like to have their faith challenged.

-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?

On2 dancers are taller. slimmer. faster. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Or maybe not. I don’t know why any dancer feels that they are better than any other. Someone breaking on where the clave begins is not going to mean that they are a better dancer. It would be like calling someone who can do 4 spins a better dancer than someone that can “only” do 2. I would measure the better dancer as someone who can express what effect the music has on them.

-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?

Well, there’s only so much time in the day. If you like dancing On2 and have people that you can dance On2 with, can get your fix dancing with those people and there are plenty of them, what reason do you have to do something different? Just as there are people that are happy dancing On1 and don’t see a reason to do anything differently, there will be people that dance On2, are happy dancing On2 and prefer to dance On2. Nothing wrong with that either.

Shaka G. Brown
Dance Instructor
Dance Videos Available!
www.clavekazi.com


Discussion Response: Richie Blondet – New York, NY

-Can the On1 and On2 dance communities co-exist without bickering?

1. Hell No!
2. Maybe?…Someday?
3. Naaaaaah!

-Why is there so much resistance towards learning how to dance On2 from established On1 dancers?

Egotistical Elitism.
Acceptance towards their natural approach as a valid form of expressing themselves to this music.
Failure to grasp the importance of breaking on the 2 to this particular style of music.
-On the contrary… Why do On2 dancers feel that they are better dancers, simply because they dance On2?
That’s how they’ve been taught and what they’ve been told.
They actually understand the basic concept of Salsa music and how a rhythm sections works. That in all other types of music you phrase ON the beat, while in Salsa Music you phrase BEHIND it.
Egotistical Elitism.
-Why do On2 dancers stray away from dancing On1, socially, once they have learned how to dance On2?
It’s the cool thing to do and all the sexy [people] dance On2.
Via experience they’ve managed to develop a good ear, which would hone their instincts. Thereby, forcing one to take any musical element he or she has managed to fully grasp into account, and avoid any steps or movements that might clash. Those elements being the rhythms.
Egotistical Elitism
Richie Blondet