Salsa and Dating? How does that go together?

Growing up in a Panamanian home meant that we listened and danced to salsa music…a lot. I have grown to love this art form so much and it brings me joy like nothing else in this world. Little did I know it would also be a guiding tool in how I approached dating.

Step 1 – Lay the Foundation.

In a salsa class, before you ever learn to dance with a partner, you learn the basics. You lay the foundation. These are the basic steps with which every other dance move is based upon. If you don’t master these steps, it makes dancing salsa almost impossible. When it comes to dating, how solid is your foundation? What are the morals and values that mold and shape you…that guide your every decision? If you are not sure what these are, entering the dating game can be challenging. You will be tested and tried and if the foundation of who you are is not set, it could lead to less than favorable outcomes. Know who you are. Know WHOSE you are. This is an important factor. You must have a strong conviction of before ever going on a first date.

Step 2 – Choosing a Partner.

Whenever my friends and I would go dancing, I would always carefully scan the room. I would usually either sit at a table or lean against a wall allowing the sounds of the live band to completely envelop me. Most importantly however, I was off in the shadows to simply observe. I would purposefully look for the lead dancers on the floor to watch and learn how they lead. In salsa, it is customary for people to change dance partners giving you the opportunity to see how a lead dancer interacts with various dancers, or in this case the “follows” on the dance floor.

As my eyes scanned the room, these are the questions I would ask myself. Was the lead patient with the “follow” they were leading if a mistake was made? Did the lead grow impatient and leave weaker “follows”on the dance floor? Was the lead a good communicator? Were they able to convey to the “follow” they were dancing with exactly what they wanted them to do for the dance to go smoothly? The lead dancers who have a very good foundation usually almost always stand out immediately.

Similarly, in dating, it taught me to get to know the person I have this newfound interest in. I would watch and observe. How did he treat the server at a restaurant? How did he treat his parents, his siblings, his children, his friends, his relationship with God? Did he react or respond when angry? Did he shut down or did he talk things through?

Just like on the dance floor, these observations would be huge clues to just how solid his foundation was. If a lead approached me on the dance floor and asked me to dance, I would base my answer on what I had observed. If I knew he didn’t have the basics down, I had a choice. I could accept the offer to dance, knowing I was in for a bumpy ride, or simply kindly decline….and wait until someone with a more solid foundation (who I knew could lead me properly and that I could rely on) would come along.

Jennifer Maggio Speaking

You asked…so we’re going there! Jennifer Maggio brings you her best tips on Dating as a Single Mom. Check her out on Single Mom University HERE, or read her article called Dating, Sex, and the Single Mom.

Step 3: There can only be one lead.

In the dance of salsa there can only be one leader. If two people try to lead, the dance is doomed and doesn’t flow because two people are trying to do their own thing instead of working in unison for a common desired outcome. But don’t get it twisted, the “follow” has to be just as strong a dancer and communicator as the lead in order for the dance to flow smoothly. Consequently, if the “follow” tries to lead the dance at the wrong time, it is called “back-leading.” Many times strong “follows” tend to back-lead because they get impatient with the leader. This ultimately results in the demise of the dance. Like in salsa, in a relationship there has to be a lot of give and take. Usually the strength of each partner determines who leads at a given time. Additionally, as in salsa, when both partners are equal in terms of what they contribute to the relationship, it allows the relationship to flow smoothly, ebbing and flowing through and around hardships and challenges.

Step 4: The More You Practice the Better You Become.

The more you practice salsa with your partner, you understand how they communicate turns etc. much better. You begin to anticipate and predict patterns, understand their strengths and weaknesses and simply fall into a better, more comfortable, seamless rhythm. The dance feels less and less like work and becomes more and more enjoyable.

The more you practice the easier it gets. Once the basics are mastered, you start learning more difficult turns and moves making even arduous dance steps look easy. The same applies to relationships. The more you learn to communicate and spend time with each other, the more you begin to understand each other’s love languages, how each respond to different situations etc., the easier it is to navigate through challenges and the relationship becomes more and more enjoyable.

As single parents, we have to make sure our future partner not only meets our needs, but also those of our children. Just like in salsa, it takes time. Don’t be afraid to scan the “room,” watch and observe to see which “lead” rises to the top. Once you choose your partner, remember to take time and master each small step and build on it. Before you know it, your relationship could look like this!


nicole smithNicole Smith is a Panamanian-American, single mother, dancer, published author, workforce development manager and motivational speaker. After graduating, she founded her own non-profit dance organization. Her experience in Sports and Entertainment, Radio, TV and the Performing Arts has spanned nearly 20 years. She has danced and cheered for four Professional and Semi-Professional sports teams, and her heart’s desire is to provide others with tools to overcome life’s challenges while pursuing their dreams. She is the founder of Game Day Prep 365 designed to aid people along their journey to seeing their dreams come to fruition. Connect at



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