Since we have had several requests lately for instruction on dips, I though I would provide some female perspective. I asked some fellow salseras, and this is what I found.
Our favorite kind of dip is a small one at the end of a song. By small, I mean the guys bring us into dipping position and we lean back slightly, but it looks more like a perpendicular hug, as seen in the picture to the left. This is an elegant ending to a nice dance.
Our least favorite kind of dip ........
........is the kind where we feel in danger of crashing onto the floor. In this dip, the guy dips the lady, and lowers her closer and closer to the floor. This is bad in social dancing for several possible reasons:
- The girl may be beginner and not know she must hold her own body weight...in this case, the guy will either injure his back or she will fall.
- In social dancing, many others may have the same idea, and the girls heads will come crashing together (see Anthony's previous article in which this happened to him. It has also happened to me, and it's no fun).
- Dancing is all about communication between partners, and if you miss signs from the girl that she does not want to dip, then she will not be happy.
READ THE SIGNS: if you initiate a dip, and the girl does not lean back on her own, but instead seems to resist it, it's not because she expects you to do all the work. It is because she does not want to be dipped. She may not want to be dipped because she has a bad back, or because she knows that she can't hold her own weight yet (requires strong abs), or it could be a bad previous experience with getting knocked in the head.
Of course there are exceptions, and every style is different...some salsa styles involve more dips, tricks and drops than others (Los Angeles). That is a whole other topic, but suffice it to say that I get extremely nervous when a guy does any of these tricks (especially drops) because I have had no training in them and I know I would just look awkward, or fall. For dips, just observe what is common in your scene (what the ladies are used to) and take it from there. If your style would be severely lacking with no dips, then do them. I have heard guys say at the end of the song, "oh, the obligatory dip", but I really don't think any girl expects it, and some would even prefer not to. This actually makes life much easier--can you think of how many times you've either dipped or been dipped and it was a "false alarm"? The song goes on and you realize that oops..it wasn't over yet! Dips can be difficult for the lead to time correctly, so the smaller, the easier to plan and execute.
A few tips for the ladies who are beginner dippers:
- The most important thing is to hold your own weight, DO NOT depend on the lead.
- If you are brought into a low dip, mind your legs: they can be crossed at the ankles, parallel, or one leg straight and the other supporting you (my favorite for stability), but no legs in the air and no legs apart, especially in a skirt or dress.
- It is esthetically nice to have your head aligned with your body or dipped slightly towards the floor, rather than looking up. This shows that you trust your partner.
The moral of the story is, small dips are nice once in a while but not necessary, larger dips are dangerous on the floor, and the most important thing is to read your partner's body language when deciding what to do.