It’s time to step up your salsa game for Midsummer Night Swing. New York salsa man and dance instructor extraordinaire Marlon "International" Mills is here to help with dance tips and a playlist of perfect practice songs.

The Tips

1. Dancing is really just coordinated walking, so put full weight on each step. No taps!

2. There is a pause on counts 4 and 8 of the music, so take your time.

3. A solid dance frame—meaning the shape of your upper body—is the key to great communication between you and your partner.

4. When doing turns, don't look down. Look at where you’re going and use your partner as a focal point. This will help you maintain your balance and not feel dizzy.

5. Practice your basic step a lot to become comfortable with the rhythm and flow of the dance. This will make it easier to learn additional steps and patterns.

6. Finally and most importantly: Have fun!

The Songs

With the salsa beginner in mind, I chose these songs because the beat can be heard very clearly and they have a nice, laid-back tempo. It’s important for someone learning salsa to be able to practice without feeling rushed in their steps. Plus, they’re simply great songs to dance to! The list builds up to a higher energy tune by Don Perignon y La Puertorriqueña, who will be playing at Midsummer Night Swing on the night when I’m dance instructor (Wednesday, June 28, 2017—lesson starts at 6:30 pm!). It’s got a great flow. 

The Video

Watch Marlon in action with partner Christina Morrison. This is what you’re going for!

Marlon "International" Mills

About the Curator

Marlon "International" Mills is one of New York's most well-known dance personalities in the salsa and West Coast swing dance communities. He was born in New York to parents from the Caribbean and was educated in New York and Spain.

Marlon discovered his love of salsa in 2001 when he was taken to a class by a co-worker and has not looked back since. He trained with some of the best in the business, including Eddie and Maria Torres, and has performed salsa for films, television, festivals, and on stage.

Through clear teaching and strong fundamentals, he takes people from having two left feet to dancing up a storm while having fun on the dance floor in a relatively short amount time. He has been teaching salsa in dance studios, universities, and corporate settings across New York City for the past 14 years, and was an instructor at the New York International Salsa Congress from 2007 to 2012. Marlon is also a Teaching Artist for the "Dancing Classrooms" program, teaching ballroom dance to kids in NYC public schools. 

Follow Marlon on Facebook and Instagram.