dancing in couples is mainly a phenomenon of Western European
culture. Social dance has structure but is not executed in
the form of routines i.e. basic rules which once understood
allows two individuals to dance together and flexibly determine
their choreography, even if they had never met before. This
demands that each move element of the dance posses a unique
identifying start signal. Initiation of the signal
and comliance with it result in the co-ordination of the move
element by both partners.
When a couple takes to the dance foor,
both partners cannot initiate at the same time, neither ca
they both comply. Therefore one partner initiates and the other
complies. This is known as leading and following respectively.
Traditionally the lead role has been assumed by men and the
following by women.
The lead (known
as la marca meaning "the
mark" in tango) for a move can take a variety of forms,
usually presenting itself as a change in pressure (increase/decrease)
as the point of partner contact. or in the body position of
the leader relative to the follower. The most elegant leads
are clear and considerate to the follow without being obvious
to the casual on-looker. The challenge to the follower, in
choosing to comply with the signal, is in finding ways of self-expression
whilst dancing within its constraints.
Consequently salsa demands the abilites
of lead and follow of its dancers in order for it to be executed
on our club floors in a social context.