Struggling as a beginner lead in Kizomba

Two Left Feet Podcast
4 min readNov 11, 2020


Question by User Derrick993

So I’ve been dancing for 4 months now with no dance or music experience prior.
Before Covid hit, I was doing classes and socials up to 4 days a week while also dancing on my own.
I know the basic steps rather well and some more rather easy intermediate ones.
Today I have no choice but to wait for Covid to end, I dance home daily and take online classes too.

But I struggle with what feels like the very core basic of tracking the music.
I can identify the beats of a song and dance to it for some time:
But I still sometimes lose where I am in the 8 count and my moves don’t always fit.
How exactly are you supposed to constantly keep track of that 1st beat?

Do you learn a set of moves that are 8 and never deviate from it?
That feels kind of dull and like madness, especially if you do some Urban Kiz / Fusion muscality stuff.
Constantly counting doesn’t seem right to me, either.
It feels as if my musicality muscle is handicapped or something and I feel kind of stuck.

Thanks for any help or tips you can give me.


User StVirgin

I think you have some other dance background, salsa or bachata? Kizomba is different from those and we don’t make an effort to fit every element into a strict 8-count measure. Doing that will kill the fluidity and flow of the dance, because of constantly having to add fillers into your natural flow. So don’t worry about the 8-count. Sometimes you’ll be short, sometimes you’ll go over and sometimes you’ll make it fit. It’s all good.

Source: 10 years of dancing and 6 years of teaching Kizomba.

User nereprezentativ 3 points 15 days ago*

First advice is to be constantly listening to “kizomba” (lol) music. Soundcloud needs to be playing nonstop. You need to be searching for the accents. These are where the music changes or there is something “special” going on. These happen usually every 32 counts, sometimes every 16 counts. The 8 count is only inportant as a teaching device but in real life not so much.

Listen intently and try to find the “drum roll” that also happens before the accent (though not in some edm inspired tarraxo). This drum roll could be a pitch change, some extra drums, something. These give the lead warning a new beat series (phrase) is about to start.

Some songs you just have to learn by heart. And as you progress you start learning faster and remembering more detail. A good example is the (already ancient) Jennifer Dias — Loco. In the begining, between the 4th and 5th ticks there is a breath. At another point the song repeats for some time and the cue for the next part startung is Elji saying “Jenny!”. Of course you cand dance the whole song robot-style by using the main beat but that’s not musicality.

How do you find out what to listen to though? That is a skill in itself. Start following Kizomba and Semba DJs with your shazam at hand. For the unshazamable urbans, tarraxos, tarraxinas start lurking the Name That Kizomba Tune group on Facebook. Add all the songs you find to your soundcloud likes and it will start sugesting relevant new songs.

Look at demos, especially ones that are live and not coreographed. Festivals are good at this as you can use the time you rest to watch some of the competent people dance with not-their-teching-partner and see what works. As festivals are right now either Covidfests (ahem.. Paris..) or private affairs facebook is the way to go. For kizomba try watching the natives. Plenty of lives and clips on FB.

All in all don’t sweat it. You need to be following the process of getting better and you will. It’s especially frustrating for beginner leads and 4 months is nothing. Keep at it with determination.

It is good to identify the 8 and the 1, but it can be difficult sometimes, especially as some songs play around with it and make it appear very fluid by having accents at unusual moments etc. I suggest listening to the music a lot without dancing, close your eyes, try to count, isolate the beat, isolate other musical elements (voice, instruments), see when they come in the 1 to 8 count, see if the repetition is every 8 counts, or 16 counts etc., try to identify the intro (often without beat) etc. It will help you develop a feeling for it, which is more important than counting itself. Still, it can be helpful to keep count when you don’t know a track well, and want to understand what is Happening so that you can still lead in a musical way. So I’d suggest don’t get stuck on counting, but still- practice it.

User red_nick

Don’t worry about which beat of the bar you’re on. Don’t count.

Far more important are which bar you’re on and changes in the music. Kizomba music is generally pretty predictable for when a change is coming up, so when the music changes, change what you are doing.



Two Left Feet Podcast

Podcast Where we interview Dancers, Instructors and Performers. Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Brazilian Zouk.