An Online Guide To Salsa

An Online Guide to Salsa

Dancing is good for your body and your soul. Becoming one with the beat of the music provides you with a feeling of invigoration. Throughout the years there has been a rise in the popularity of Latin dances which tend to be very sensual and rhythmic. Salsa is a type of Latin dance that is typically a partner dance. It is a combination of many different dance influences such as the Rumba. Cuba is credited with the birth of salsa. Early in the 1800's French people who left Haiti came to Cuba and brought Danzon (previously referred to as Contra-Danze of England/France) which united with African Rumbas and Cuban Son. Cuban Son is a combination of African drumbeats, flavor and Spanish troubadour (which is referred to as sonero). The mix was put to the beat of the clave. From Cuba the salsa spread through Latin America and the Caribbean. During the age of prohibition Americans came from Miami to Havana to drink alcohol. They brought salsa music and dancing back with them to the U.S. when they returned. The actual term "salsa" referring to Latin dance music came from a Cuban song composer in 1933 in New York. His name was Ignacio Pinerio and the song he wrote was "Echale Salsita."


Basic Movements

There is a recurring six-step pattern counted over eight-beats for the salsa. Each measure of salsa music contains eight beats. When performing a basic salsa step, you begin by moving on beats one, two and three. You pause on the fourth beat and then repeat the pattern of moving on beats five, six and seven and pausing on beat eight. Salsa is typically a co-ed partner dance so the male foot movements and female foot movements are slightly different. The basic step for a man begins by stepping forward with your left foot on the first beat. On the second beat of music you step in place with your right foot. On the third beat you merely step back with your left foot so it is next to your right foot again. You pause on beat four. On beat five you step back with your right foot and on beat six you step in place with your left foot. On beat seven you step forward with your right foot in order to bring it back so it is next to your left foot again. Pause on beat eight. For a woman, you begin by stepping backward with your right foot on beat one and step in place on beat two with your left foot. On beat three you bring your right foot forward so it is next your left foot again. Pause on beat four. On beat five you bring your left foot forward and step in place on your right foot for beat six. On beat seven you bring your left foot backward so it is by your right foot again and pause on beat eight.

Salsa Basic: The Ballroom Dancers website provides you with an instructional video demonstrating the basic salsa steps along with written instructions.

The Salsa Basic Step: The DeSarge Danceworld website has easy to follow drawings of the basic salsa step.

Salsa Basic Steps: The Salsa is Good website provides a written explanation of the basic steps of salsa as well as a picture of each step.



There are different styles of salsa which have emerged throughout the years. Columbian/Cali Style stems from Columbian dance rhythms which include Boogaloo and Cumbia. The basic step for this style of salsa is diagonal or "atras." The steps are quick and there are skipping motions included. Casino Style is also known as Cuban Salsa. Many salsa enthusiasts believe that this style is the most pure style of salsa. Miami-Style Casino is a version of Casino Style and is danced to the downbeat on one. Rueda de Casino is referred to as a round dance because dancers form a circle and a "cantante" or "lider" calls out moves. Many of the moves require quickly switching partners. Los Angeles Style salsa is a line dance which is danced on the one beat. This means that on the first beat the leader will step off. The dance format is slotted which means that the leader is fairly stationary while the follower moves in a rectangle shape to the leader. This style is very well-known for its lifts (which are influenced by ballet) and aerial moves. New York Style is also danced in a line. It is danced on a two which is the second beat of the music. The follower takes the first step forward.

A Continuing Evolution: The Salsa Lessons website briefly explains the different types of salsa.

Various Styles of Dancing Salsa: The Salsa Latina Dance Centre website explains in greater depth the difference between different versions of the salsa.

The Different Styles of Salsa: The Toronto Dance Salsa website provides information on the following styles: Columbian Style Salsa; Cuban Style Salsa; Miami Style Salsa; Casino Rueda Style Salsa; L.A. Style Salsa; New York Style Salsa; and Puerto Rican Style Salsa.

Dance Salsa: The Heritage Institute website explains how salsa began, the difference between mambo and salsa, different salsa styles, salsa moves and steps and music.



The rhythm of the salsa is the one, two, three, pause on four. Then five, six, seven and pause on eight. This rhythm comes from the musical instruments which are used to create it. If you can understand the rhythms of the main percussion instruments which create the salsa music then you will be better able to determine the one and two beats to know when to begin dancing. The "son clave" is a rhythm with two main variations and is the basic rhythm of salsa. The two main variations are the "3-2 clave" and the "2-3 clave." Another main instrument in salsa is the conga. A conga is a drum which is played with both hands and is tall. There can be a set of congas played which would vary in size. "Tumbao" is the name for the basic salsa conga rhythm. The open tone "boom-booms" and the "slaps" are the loudest notes and the most important. The cowbell (which is also referred to as a bongo bell or a campana) is also played by the bongo player. It produces the fundamental salsa beats and can be heard during louder portions of the music. The tom or timbale is played during the softer musical parts. A drum stick is tapped on the side of the timbale to create the rhythm called "cascara." The Guiro makes a scraping sound. Two short notes are created by it between long notes accented on beats one, three, five and seven.

Salsa Rhythm and Pattern Tutorial: The website discusses the basics of salsa rhythm, Afro Cuban music and the clave, salsa band members, the conga rhythm, the bass rhythm, the bell and guiro, the timbale, and the salsa song.

Salsa Timing and Rhythm Labs: The Latin Dance Factory website offers you fun videos to learn the rhythm of salsa.


Salsa Dancing Tips

10 Tips to Improve your Salsa Dancing: The To Salsa website gives you 10 tips on improving your salsa dancing such as finding a practice partner.

The Salsa Dance Starter Guide: The Dance SF website offers 10 tips for classes and learning salsa.

The Basics of Salsa! Tops Tips to Improve your Dancing: The Cesar & Filo website offers you tips on improving your salsa such as feeling the rhythm.

Salsa Tips & Info: The Dance Store Online give you tips regarding salsa dancing such as taking small steps.

Dance Tips: The website gives you many great dance tips regarding many different parts of dancing.

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