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For the salsa-addicted, any holiday is a great opportunity to get a taste of a new flavour of dancing, no matter where you are. Since holiday season is pretty much upon us now, I thought it’d be a good time to share a few ways to get into the local salsa scene quick, no matter where you find yourself.

I was inspired to do this after my first time out salsa dancing in Orlando, a city had visited 3 times before, yet never bothered to dance in because I had no idea where to go, who to go with, or what Orlando’s salsa scene was like. If this year’s first foray taught me anything, is that it’s pretty easy to find good dancing if you know how to look for it! So here’s a bunch of quick and easy steps to that will really help

1. Get introduced

As long as you know that a dance scene – salsa or whatever your poison is – exists where you’re headed, chances are you will know someone who has friends familiar with that destination and can recommend places to go. Ask one of your instructors or the more experienced dancers, and it’s really as easy as having them send a message on Facebook to link you up and viola – insider advice on where to dance!

2. Do your research

In the absence of a local guide or point of contact, the internet is a great place to turn for good places to go. Chances are, there will be a whole lot of options online, but you really want to narrow it down to one or two strong ones. I try to choose socials or parties led by studios, so that you know that the social will be all about dancing. I also go for the biggest ones possible, like once a month parties that will likely draw a good number of local dancers out. Remember, you don’t need to find the BEST event, just the event with the most dancers so that you can then start making friends to find out where the best dancing really is.

3. Observe

When you get to your first party/social, take a few songs to first figure out the lay of the land. What is the predominant style of dance? How good are the dancers at holding their line, timing and space? Where are the ones that dance On2? This takes a while to figure out at a big event, but will go a long way in helping you have a good first night out once you are able to spot the people you want to look out for and the ones you want to dance with. Even if you have arrived with a friend and don’t need to figure things out alone, you didn’t come all the way to dance with each other when you could back home. Take the time to people watch. I promise it will tee you up for more nights of even better dancing.

4. Meet people

The first question I get on the dancefloor is “Are you from here?” Not surprising then, that the question that follows is always on where I’m from. So remember, you’re always an ambassador to your home country. Make an effort for each dance, smile, try to remember as many names as possible and take an interest in their dance scene. Find dancers whose styles complement yours and whom you enjoy dancing with, and ask them for their take on the best places to dance – most would be more than happy to tell you exactly where to go to make your visit and dancing experience the best it can be. Be forthcoming, make friends, and exchange contacts or Facebook adds to stay in touch. These are the same people that will send you event invites, welcome you into their group of dancing friends, and help with driving directions for the next time.

5. Stay in touch

Your new found friends will be your dancing kakis away from home. Don’t be shy to ask where they’re dancing during the week, tell them where you’re going and urge them to join, or just ask how they are and tell them how much you enjoyed dancing with them. They’re going to return the favour by making sure you know where they’re headed and you can be sure that if anything, you’ll have plenty of chances to have good dances and get to meet more people that dance the same style. You’d be surprised, but just a few nights of dancing together can turn you into friends who arrange to meet up again at congresses around the world. I know I met a few this trip and already can’t wait till our next dance together!

So next time you’re overseas and itching to go out dancing, there’s really no excuse. Bring your shoes and a smile and you’ll be ready to tear it up no matter where you are!