Salsa Mojo: real deal or figment of our imagination?

Posted by Sophie on 1st September 2014

Ever since I first started salsa, I kept hearing about this magical thing called a 'Salsa Mojo'. Instantly I wanted one. I was stuck clumsily mamboing away, often over the feet of my patient leads, and invariably going the wrong way at every turn! BUT, I was having a super awesome time, so I stuck at it!

Slowly...I found my Salsa Mojo - the thing I'd heard so much about - and pretty much wanted to show it off at every opportunity! There was this lovely fluency between my leads and I and the music wasn't just a pleasant noise, but something that carried me along. I was having the best time ever, until.... BAMM! My Salsa Mojo rudely got up and deserted me!

Suddenly, I couldn't do anything - if only I could put that damn Salsa Mojo in a jar (preferably as pictured)!! Salsa Mojo or no Salsa Mojo, I still went to classes and still had an awesome time whether it was with me or not! 

As I've been going along to classes, socials and events for quite sometime now, I have often questioned if I had placed too much importance on my Salsa Mojo when I first started dancing? It is afterall intangible...does it even exist? I don't want to spark a major philosophical debate, but can a constant quest for a mojo hold us up? Should we not just try to enjoy all of our dances? It is after all a very special thing that we all have the ability to dance and that we enjoy it so much.

So guys, Salsa Mojo: real deal or figment of our imagination?

By Sophie

Many moons ago my mum, thinking she had a little girl instead of a little boy, took me to dancing. Being more accustomed to running around, grazing my knees, playing rugby and fighting with the boys, I threw the BIGGEST tantrum of all time, embarrassing my mum so much that she never took me back!

Fastforward and I've somehow found myself with quite a salsa addiction!! It's a million miles out of my comfort zone but I love everything about it, especially the StreetSalsa buzz that we have going on!!!

We're such a crazy, eclectic mix of people and I love how we celebrate that every class!! :P xx

By Donna'ton' on 1st September 2014 at 23:54

Figment of our imagination, but by believing in it, we just add to the salsa magic, I think when u first get that buzz as a beginner, that is something,  whether it's a mojo or not I dont know, but after that, u either love salsa or u dont........luckily, everyone of u guys love it.  When people  talk about losing their mojo, I dont necessarily feel thats the case, more that they just have other situations goin on, whether they realise it or not, that need to be tended to, after all,  salsa is a choice for us all, and for many of us its a priority, but as much as I would like to call it an essential part of my life, other things sometimes have to come first......and thats ok.......i for one know that at a certain time of year i 'lose my mojo', but its not my mojo, its just i have a lot of other stuff goin on in my head at that time.....we all have lifes outside of salsa and sometimes that gets forgotten,  but may I add, always accepted, thats why I love the streetsalsa family, all that support, kindness and genuine concern is never taken for granted x sorry for this deepness on a monday night, lol, once I started I couldnt stop x

By Carla (Carlita) on 2nd September 2014 at 09:52

Great post sophie!!! And awesome reply Donna!

Hmmm salsa mojo? I think everybody has a moment where they completely connect to salsa, something clicks and it just seems to be "right", that feeling coupled with "that dance", im referring to a dance where you just have that connection with your partner and the music, where when its done you cannot stop smiling is what i think people refer to as salsa mojo!

I wouldnt say i dont think salsa mojo is a thing i just think that we all have the up and down moments where it either consumes us completely or we just keep going and enjoy a little salsa! I think its a combination of the dancing and the social side. Streetsalsa are a very very close knit family, i know you guys have helped me through tough times and i think the fact that we do have some incredibly epic nights that when we have a quieter one people kind of "drop" slightly!!

Well to be honest mojo or no mojo i love salsa i lve you guys and im the happiest ive been in a long time! :) xxx

By Jason DJ Jazzy Jay on 2nd September 2014 at 11:37

This is a great topic and one I have often thought about myself . I agree with all u guys Sophie, Donna and carla. since I found salsa 9 months ago and it came at a time in my life when I really needed it, and needless to say it was life changing and I was instantly hooked to the point where I was actually dancing salsa 6 nights a week and learned a great deal, I just couldn't leave it alone. Through salsa I made so many new genuine friends who share the same passion, I learned to dance and most of all I met the most amazing girl because of it who is now a big part of my life. and as Donna pointed to life and work started getting busier and I reached a plateu with my dancing and simply couldn't do the amount of dancing I did And wasn't actually progressing and learning and new material. The "mojo effect" then came in to play for me as I went from feast to famine as it were with the dancing. However the love of salsa has not left me and the love of the salsa family for definite is as strong as ever. I guess now it's about balance because I reached that plateu I felt I wasn't actually a competent dancer because I wasn't learning anything new and this tends to knock u a little. I get frustrated because I like salsa so much but I want to learn so much more too and sometimes I wish there was a mojo in a bottle because I would buy it but the crate. 

By Nicky on 2nd September 2014 at 12:09

Great topic and great replies - I also agree with much of what has been said up here - and I firmly believe that everyones idea of 'mojo' is different.  I've been around this scene for *cough cough* lets just say a lot of years!During that time I've experienced highs and lows of both experiences and even mood in relation to the scene.  It has been like a roller coaster at times - but the one thing that never changes is that no matter how long between 'rides' - my so called 'mojo' experiences are the ones my brain holds on to - and thats why I LOVE it so. 

Completely agree with Jason in that if I reflect back - the times when I perhaps wasn't feeling as great about it as I had before - were the times I felt my competence had plateaued.  As humans one of our basic human needs is to grow and learn... and thats even within salsa.  If you don't feel you are getting anything new from it (be it becoming a better dancer, meeting new people, hearing new music, helping someone else) then quite simply I think an element of boredom creeps in.  If you are unsure of the cause I often find a break - or just focussing on stuff outside salsa for a short time really does help reignite that passion for when you do return.

Its like a long term relationship really - you go through the honeymoo period then things slack off - and sometimes you have to inject something new, or have something different happen which reminds you of why you fell in love with that person in the first place.

Lets grow together - and appreciate the good times and the bad times - both on and off the dance floor xx

By Jason DJ Jazzy Jay on 2nd September 2014 at 12:26

Nicky I think that's a great way of putting it about when our enthusiasm wains a little is like a relationship. And totally agree with taking a look at what excited us about it in the first place when the going was good. For me I hit salsa 6 nights a weeks and I became "competent" in such a short space of time. But because of all the breaks and not being able to learn much more in the mean time and when I do get to dance I do pretty much the same I have to say that my confidence as a competent dancer has taken a knock. I know in the past jake has told me to stop being so hard on myself, I always give myself maybe too much expectation. I will be reflecting back on what actually made me spark in those early days when you just couldn't get me off the dance floor as I want to learn more and progress. As in a relationship if it is important to you you will find a way and i think this post has come at the right time for me to "find a way" of getting back that mojo. I am always grateful to Jake for what I have learnt at this point and I am looking forward to learning from yourself Nicky in due course.

By Nicky on 2nd September 2014 at 13:20

I'll be up in Leeds very soon Jason - and verey much looking forward to spending lots of time with you guys... I have lots of Mojo inducing ideas ;-)

By Jason DJ Jazzy Jay on 2nd September 2014 at 13:59

I look forward to it Nicky.

By Donna'ton' on 2nd September 2014 at 18:21

Absolutely loving this thread guys, x

By Sophie on 2nd September 2014 at 18:35

Wow...amazing comments, so interesting to get everyone's viewpoints! Can't wait to be introduced to Nicky's mojo inducing ideas :) I've been busy recently but can't wait to get back to salsa....mojo or no mojo :D 

By Jake on 3rd September 2014 at 00:12

Ok prepare yourselves, this is something I've thought about a lot over the years!  Apologies for the huge post but I've a lot to say on the matter...

I myself started salsa three times before it stuck, each time drifting away for a number of years before I got back into it.  Twice I completely lost my 'mojo'...

Why?

People are complex, that's what makes life so interesting!  The awesome comments above have added a few reasons to my list of 'why I think people lose their mojo' - as well as confirming others:

  • Going too hard too fast - over the years I've seen plenty of people become fanatics overnight, go at it so hard and completely lose themselves in the culture.  They simply burn themselves out.  I can spot these people a mile off now and I've learnt to try and be there for them when they hit the wall - so I can hopefully help them over it.  Because the only cure for any kind of burnout: dance, work or otherwise is to completely back off.  I've not been through this in a dance sense, but business and bankruptcy has made me all too aware of how destructive this can be and very aware of the warning signs in others.
  • Feeling like you're not making gains - as Nicky quite rightly pointed out, humans have an innate desire to learn and grow.  Hitting a plateau is the most common reason I see behind a loss of mojo.  If your enjoyment of the dance is tied into how good you're getting, it's a difficult road to go down - because it becomes slower and harder to make gains as you develop.  Even worse can be the feeling that you're slipping backwards. Just remember that although you may think you're getting worse, you're not!  You're just not developing at a slower rate that you were, which leads onto my next point...
  • Increasing your awareness - awareness of your partner, the space you're dancing in and most importantly yourself - is one of the most difficult things to develop in your dancing.  So why would increasing your awareness lead to a loss of mojo you say?  Because as you become more aware, you realise the things you are doing wrong and just how much you have to learn!  This can make you feel like you are slipping back - re. my last point - but rest assured you are not.  Becoming more aware of areas you can improve is the first step to finding the remedy and I can guarantee you, that this is making you a better dancer, not a worse one.
  • Taking a knock to your confidence - someone or something can give your confidence a major knock.  Dance takes a great deal of confidence and it's simply impossible to dance at your best after a serious knock to your confidence.  You can't dance well without being relaxed, and self-consciousness can seriously hamper your mojo.  Often it's as simple as feedback from someone who means well, but that makes you feel very small indeed.  Occasionally I'm sad to say, that members of the wider salsa community have intentionally knocked the confidence our dancers over the years, because they're jealous of what we have and want to destroy it.
  • Losing a sense of relevance with the dance - the initial excitement of learning to dance salsa can carry you along on a whirlwind where you just want to know more and more.  Time flies and you throw yourself into it, and you invest a lot of yourself.  And then at some point you kind of wake up, look around you and think where am I going with this?  Suddenly you may not feel the same connection with the dance and the scene.  Personally this happened me twice, I got to a decent level and started going to social events but I really didn't feel they were relevant to me, when at the time I was in my early twenties and all my friends where hitting up drum and bass nights.  But I loved the dance.  The third time I felt this happening to me, I vowed not to let it happen again and setup StreetSalsa...
  • Issues outside of your dancing - life is unpredictable, and as Donna quite rightly pointed out - life can run away with you and throw you curve balls.  It can feel like a loss of mojo, but in reality it's your brain telling you there are more important things to worry about.  Just remember that there are a lot of people here who can support you, just reach out to them.
  • Moving through the levels too quickly - I see this a lot, confidence is so important that at StreetSalsa we try to instil confidence in our dancers first and foremost.  Perhaps over-confidence on occasions!  But not nailing the basics is a sure fire way to store up problems for the future which can lead to a very frustrating time indeed when you mature as a dancer.  The third time I got into salsa, I did beginners for a year - even though I'd done it all before, to make sure I had a solid platform on which to grow, and it's stood me in good stead.
  • Just plain getting bored - doing the same thing, at the same place, over and over again can get ultimately get boring.  If you're experiencing this then a fair amount of the responsibility lies with us.  Although it's a never ending battle to keep things fresh in terms of music, material, venues etc.  But if you are feeling bored, don't be scared to let us know in the feedback and we'll freshen things up!
  • Developing an injury - this can be a serious mojo killer, it's difficult to enjoy anything when you're in pain.  But the underlying cause can be related to your technique.  It's worth dropping Nicky a message if this is you, as she can help to advise you in a private session, how to either heal the injury, or work around it.

The Cure!

Wow, way to kill the mood Jake.  But before you all shutdown your browser and have cry - stop - there is a cure!  I'm sure you can all add to this list - and I love the comparison to a relationship Nicky - but here are my top tips for rediscovering your MOJO, yeah baby!

  • Accept that you will go through rough spells - I have them all the time, this summer has been particularly tough for me.  I've had to worry about so many issues outside my dancing, that my dancing has really suffered and I feel like I'm going through a plateau right now.  Coupled with an injury to my wrist.  But I've learnt to stay positive, ride it out and rest assured that it's only a matter of time before I feel on top of the world again when I hit the floor.
  • Chill and enjoy the social side - it doesn't have to be about the dancing all the time, just come to the events have a drink and see your friends.  Have the odd dance but take the pressure off yourself to perform, if you have a bad dance laugh it off and put it down to experience.  Even consider stopping taking classes for a while, and instead just meet up with your friends, have a laugh and chill.  I remember you putting this into practice Jason, and seeing really good results.  I could see the smile back on your face in a matter of weeks.  People suffering a loss of mojo may even want to think about only coming to our non-dance social events for a while, before long you'll be itching to dance and your mojo will be a distant memory.
  • Find something new to challenge you - this is perhaps the single most important piece of advice I can give you.  This is how I deal with a loss of mojo.  Study some new moves or shines, listen to new music, switch up your routine and go to different classes, try a different dance style or find a new partner to practice with.  Seriously, this is the best way to find your mojo again - it works every time!
  • Get into musicality - there exists a permanent cure for boredom, and that is simply put - musicality.  Once you seriously start dancing with an appreciation of the music, you will never get bored of the moves, the music or your partner ever again.  I could dance the same track, with the same follow using just the fundamental moves all day and never once get bored - because once you find a passion for musicality, there's always a new way to express the music and make the dance new.  You can find something new in every dance without the need to learn a truck load of new patterns and moves.  And when you do dance with a new partner, to a new song, in a new place?  Electric.
  • Believe in yourself - whatever the reason, a loss of mojo ultimately comes down to one thing, confidence.  Any of the reasons I've stated above can cause it, but all 'mojo roads' ultimately lead to a lack in confidence.  So believe in yourself, you are great and you have something new to offer the dance - whoever you are.  Develop a skin like an elephant, get out there, stick your chin up and show the world what for!  Remember, this is not the Royal Ballet - it's a social dance, and if you are enjoying yourself and keeping safe, then you are doing it right and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, point them in my direction and I will explain to them - at great length - why they are wrong!

Sorry about this rant, don't say I didn't warn you!  Does anyone connect with the reasons that I've given?  Or have anything to add to the 'cure' lol?  Think I'm off to take a lie down...

By Donna'ton' on 3rd September 2014 at 00:40

Jesus jake, dont think you have missed a scrap mate........perfectly written, glad you gave a warnin with it, nice bit of light reading before sleepytime........totally agree with every word though........yes, CONFIDENCE IS THE KEY.........and if u can dance and laugh at your errors, then u ae half way there x

By Jake on 3rd September 2014 at 00:58

Haha, yeah I don't think anyone will have a problem sleeping tonight! xx

By Jake on 3rd September 2014 at 01:07

Speaking of sleep, think I might get some shut eye...

By Jason DJ Jazzy Jay on 3rd September 2014 at 10:45

Great reply Jake. I think I have to fall in love with salsa again. I pushed hard at the beginning very fast and now I have to find what excited me in the first place. Baby steps of going back to basics first. I think also its worth mentioning that if your heart is not fully in it it becomes a little hard to pick up the moves and remember them. My problem is/was that I always want to remember every single move I am taught and use it thus leading to a Competent dancer. All this has done is put pressure on myself, given me unrealistic expectations leading to feeling a bit flat. I can dance but for me the key is now building on what I already know by learning one or two moves each time and dancing them over and over in the socials until they become routine. This is how I did it when I first started. I will definitely be taking on board your comments on how to develop and help move forward and it's pleasing to hear that I am not the only one with a mojo issue and that others such as Nicky and yourself have gone through this. Thank you. 

By Richard on 3rd September 2014 at 15:14

Wow - very interesting thread. I don't really believe in the existence of a 'Mojo' per se, but I think the comparisons people have made here are right on: work, relationships, exercise etc.

I've been in the salsa scene around two and a half years now, and I've gone through periods of being out 5 nights a week, to only making the one. But for me it's all about expecting too much of yourself and throwing yourself in at the deep end. I haven't had this with salsa, but when it comes to running regularly I have started and given up about 6 times in the last year. There are three things I always try to remember.

It's a marathon, not a sprint

Progress is gradual, not instant. And as others have already said, getting fed up with a perceived lack of progress is bad, and very demotivating. But as Jake mentioned, you're just progressing at a slightly slower rate. Throwing yourself in at the deep end, no matter how hard you try is not going to give you the results you want. It will stress you out, tire you out and make you fall out of love with the idea of doing it at all.

Making habits takes as much time as breaking them

Most people have an objective when they try something new, be it with dancing, exercice, work or whatever. Make sure your objectives are achieveable or you're setting yourself up to fail. If you want to get really nerdy, and like nonsense business methodologies check out the SMART model.

Once you know what you want to achieve, think about what you're going to do on a routine, figure out when you're going to do it, and then do it. And don't allow yourself any excuses. If you don't impose a structure on yourself then you're likely to slip.

That classic quote "pain is weakness leaving the body"

I'm not sure who said this first (and see no point in trying to verify) but I think about it a lot. In a very literal sense, with physical pain, remember you are putting yourself through it for a reason. To better yourself. And by the same token, if you stop and fall out of your routine, you're going to have to do it all over again and it will be twice as hard. In a slightly more metaphorical sense you can think about this with any challenge you have been set. Challenges are so-named for a reason - they're going to be tricky, and perhaps even "painful". Just remember why you're doing it in the first place and then the pain will be a distant memory!

--------------

Finally, bringing it back to Salsa, I mentioned I don't really have this problem - at least not as a dancer. I do as the DJ. It's a constant battle for me to try and keep things fresh, and finding the time around the rest of my schedule. But nothing makes me fall in love with it more than when I have something new, which is my take on Jakes #1 piece of advice above. Mixing it up tricks your mind into thinking that you're going on a whole new adventure, takes away from the monotony, and presents you with a whole new series of challenges and possibilities - and nothing is more motivating than that!

By Nicky on 3rd September 2014 at 18:39

Well I don't know about you guys - but watching this certainly helped my mojo today - speaking musically and musicality... probably the best shown I've seen in years.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqbJc5F6f7M#t=149

By Jason DJ Jazzy Jay on 3rd September 2014 at 18:44

Wow. Nicky the guys and girls in that video are just pure genius and they definitely have their mojo haha 

By Siobhan on 3rd September 2014 at 23:58

Love this post it is so interesting to read everyone's experiences. This is all still newish to me, I started at the start of the year. This summer I really feel like I have learned so much and I am at the wanting to dance all the time stage! But I think I manage to get a good balance so I am not yet overloaded or feeling a lull or boredom with it. Luckily (or unluckily) I have so many other things going on I don't have time to do 'too much' salsa, and I definitely haven't lost my mojo yet. In fact, I think I only recently found it thanks to a particularly fab partner who I seem to have just clicked with instantly ;) xx

By Sophie on 4th September 2014 at 23:47

Siobhan, love you post! Sounds like you've found Mr (or Mrs) right! ;) haha xxx

By Carla (Carlita) on 5th September 2014 at 09:26

Nicky i love that clip!!! :) ... i for one havent ever lost my dance mojo, dance is pretty much why i eat sleep and breathe! But i have lost that interest sometimes, then you have a moment where you either see a performance or have "that dance" that sparks everything back into glorious technicolour and you want it more than ever before!

Nicky i actually cannot wait to work with you! :) x

By Carla (Carlita) on 5th September 2014 at 09:27

Jake! What a reply!!!! Nothing more i can say apart from i love you to bits! lol x

By Siobhan on 5th September 2014 at 09:49

Thanks Sophie, yes I think I might have done! It is so lovely when you just feel at ease with a lead, and like it doesn't matter if you 'go wrong' so long as you're moving and having a laugh :) xx

By Jake on 28th December 2014 at 18:32

Let's hope the seasonal break doesn't cause carnage to people's mojo in 2015.  I know from past experience the first few hours can feel like you've forgotten everything you know!

But rest assured it's like riding a bike, and soon comes flooding back!

By James on 25th March 2015 at 13:47

I don't think you can jar Mojo, but you can bottle it. A few bottles of brooklyn and then I feel my Mojo.