5 tips for anyone wanting to learn Kizomba

The Scene

I’m relatively new to the scene, having only been dancing kizomba for a year. It’s long enough to be comfortable dancing with most people, but short enough to remember clearly what life was like when I was brand new to the dance, so I thought I’d share 5 tips I found useful when first learning this beautiful dance.

Dancing Kizomba becomes easier when you listen to Kizomba
When people (ok, women) are asked what makes a good lead for them, one of the top answers after ‘I like it when he smells good’ (I joke) is musicality. Musicality becomes that much easier when you know the songs. And ladies, it’s good for you too, because it helps you to be an active follower. Which makes you a joy to dance with. Don’t think you can just let the men do all the work. That’s never a good idea.

Variety is the spice of life
Everyone has their favourite place to go to class. It might be that they really enjoy a particular teacher’s style, or that they like the social, or it might just be that that’s the day that fits in the best with their schedule. What I would say is this, It’s really good to try out different teachers. Each teacher will have their own style and preferred way of dancing. By mixing up who you learn from, you’ll be able to take your favourite bits from each teacher and use them to create your own style.

Socials are important. Like very important
Now, I’m not saying that socials are more important that classes. Classes are important for teaching you the fundamental steps, improving your technique, and learning sexy bits of choreo that you can impress your dance partner with. However, it is my personal opinion that going to socials are key if you want to become a better kizombeiro/kizombeira. You get to practise what you’ve learnt, experience different leads/follows, and develop your own swag. As a lead, you will learn how to adjust your lead for different followers (Some followers are less, ahem, “obedient” than others so may require a firmer hold.) As a new follower, you’ll learn that everyone leads in a slightly different way. Some people you also learn the difference between a lead who’s trying to dance tarraxhina with you and a slightly creepy guy who’s using tarraxhina as an excuse to get feel ups. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.

You don’t have to be perfect straight away
One of the main reasons why newer dancers are apprehensive about socials, is because they are worried about how they will do on the dancefloor. I took my first kizomba lesson at a festival, and the next night, danced with a man told me off for not being a good follow. He was trying a women’s saida with a shuffle. At the time, I had just mastered second basic, and he knew this because I had told him as much. I stopped the dance in the middle of the song, said thank you but I’d rather stop, peeled his fingers off my wrist and kept it moving.
A good lead will check to see where you are out before they try a men’s saida followed by a women’s saida with a lift in the middle and then a cha cha on the left. Likewise, a good follow will do just that, follow your lead, even if you miss a step or start dancing on the three beat. They won’t anticipate you lead, or try and lead themselves. One of the key things to remember is this; Kizomba is supposed to be enjoyed, it’s not school.

Some people are more enjoyable to dance with than others
This bears no reflection on a person’s lead/follow (though naturally, the better your lead/follow, the smoother the dance). Kizomba is all about connection, and as with any other human interaction, some connections are stonger than others. I’ve experienced technically complex dances with people that have been ok. I’ve also experienced really simple dances with people that have felt like an embrace from an old friend. That’s the beauty of Kizomba, no two dances are alike.

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