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What is Salsa Dance? | Waldo y Jacqui

Thursday, May 02, 2024

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What is Salsa Dance?

Salsa dancing is a lively and exciting partner dance that is famous all around the world for its energetic moves and vibrant music. Here's a simple way to understand what salsa dancing includes:

A History: The Salsa Dance Origin

This diverse and invigorated favorite from so many dances is of enduring significance. Salsa dance boasts strong roots and immense popularity in Latin America, particularly due to its evolution in Eastern Cuba and the profound influence of Latin American cultures on the diversity of styles in salsa music and dance.

As we have mentioned salsa was born out of Cuba in the early 20th century. Initially, it was inspired in part by Spanish African and Caribbean dancing such as Cuban Son or Afro-Cuban rumba.

Dance music of Latino and African peoples in Cuba played major roles in salsa development. African rhythmic movements combined with European dance structure resulted in a rich and diverse dance culture.

What is Salsa Dancing?

Salsa is a lively and engaging dance style characterized by its sexiness and energy. It is typically danced to the pulsating and dynamic beats of Latin music, greatly contributing to its global appeal.

Salsa is unique among partner dances for its social aspect; dancers often pair up with strangers, adding to its enjoyable and communal spirit.

This social quality has helped salsa gain immense popularity globally, making salsa clubs a common sight worldwide.

The Benefits of Salsa Dance

Salsa is an adaptation of Salsa to all levels. Yes, even without knowledge of movement you can participate in salsa. Waldo y Jacqui has a free salsa dance website that will help beginners get started on salsa! Check our website now and enjoy the benefits: Sala is so electric it makes you feel forgotten about the whole process.

Having fun at a Salsa party is a guaranteed thing.

What style of Salsa Dance do you teach?

A. There are 5 main styles: Modern style, Cuban, Colombian salsa, Los Angeles style salsa, and Miami-style Casino. We regularly teach the modern On1 style, as it is the most popular style in the world. However, Colombian salsa is known for its energetic footwork and joyous nature, and Los Angeles-style salsa is recognized for its flashy elements and intricate footwork

After mentioning Los Angeles style salsa, it's important to highlight Miami-style Casino as a form of Cuban Salsa that originated in Miami, emphasizing its fusion of Cuban and American culture and its unique characteristics compared to other salsa styles, including its exclusive dance to downbeat (On1), elements of shines and show-style.

In all our clubs, we have dancers from all styles. Most dancers nowadays know the minor differences, and it is great fun dancing with people from different styles.

What are the different styles of Salsa Dance

Salsa Dance LA Style ON 1

Salsa L.A. style is danced on 1, in a slot. It is highly influenced by Hollywood and by the swing & mambo dances. L.A. style emphasizes sensuousness, theatricality, and acrobatics. The Los Angeles style is a distinctive dance style that combines the elegance of ballroom dance with the lively rhythms of salsa, showcasing the emergence and characteristics of the Los Angeles-style salsa with its flashy and showy elements, incorporation of spins, dips, and intricate footwork.

The fundamental aspects of this dance include the basic forward and backward steps, along with the cross-body lead. In this sequence, the leader moves forward on the count of 1, then to the right on 2-3, simultaneously rotating 90 degrees counter-clockwise. The follower advances on 5-6 and completes a turn on 7-8, as the leader continues another 90-degree counter-clockwise rotation. By the end of these 8 counts, the leader and follower switch places.

Francisco Vazquez and his brothers, Luis and Johnny, are widely recognized for pioneering the LA salsa style. Francisco taught his brothers to dance, leading them all to gain international fame with their distinctive dance style. Early in their careers, Francisco and Johnny established the "Los Rumberos" Dance Company, which remains a top dance company in Los Angeles. Similarly, Luis and Joby Vazquez (who later changed his name to Joby Martinez) started the Salsa Brava Dance Company, another prominent dance company in the city for many years.

Other key figures who played a role in shaping the L.A. Style of dance are Rogelio Moreno, Alex Da Silva, Joby Martinez, Josie Neglia, Cristian Oviedo, and Luis 'Zonik' Aguilar. Furthermore, Tony Cordero and Robert Menache were crucial in broadening the influence of this dance style, helping it gain traction in areas like Long Beach and Orange County.

New York Salsa Dance Style ON 2

New York-style salsa emphasizes the efficiency of movement, elegance, and body isolation. By focusing on control, timing, and precision of technique, dancers aim for smooth execution of tightly woven complex patterns, incorporating strong and elegant movements with a focus on linear patterns and smooth transitions. Influenced by U.S. music genres such as R&B and Jazz, as well as other Latino dances, New York-style salsa has evolved to include new movements shaped by the harmony with percussive instruments in salsa music. In New York City, this dance style is rigidly adhered to On 2 timing, yet globally, dancers frequently incorporate New York's techniques and sequences into their On 1 dancing style.

The On 2 timing highlights the tumbao pattern of the conga drum, urging dancers to pay close attention to the music's percussive elements. An advocate of York-style salsa considers this to more accurately reflect the Afro-Caribbean ancestry of the music, focusing on footwork skills, dancing on the second beat of the music, and placing an emphasis on 'shines' or solo footwork with intricate styling. This style involves harmony with percussive instruments in salsa music and is associated with notable figures like Eddie Torres who have helped formalize and popularize the on 2 timing and styling techniques in New York style salsa.

On2 with Tumbao Timing:   8&, 2,3…   4&,6,7

On2  (Power 2):    2,3,4 … 6,7,8

Either way, the emphasis is on 2,3 and 6,7,  which way you choose should be guided by the music

This style is often called "Mambo" because it follows the second beat in the music measure, although other dance forms might more accurately carry this name. Many dancers who favor New York Style On2 typically come from a background in crossbody On1, habitually dancing to the counts of 123 567. On2 dancers particularly value the Congas, which follow the Tumbao rhythm and form a central part of most salsa bands' rhythm sections. This pattern is complemented by other key instruments like timbales, bongos, bass, and piano, which collectively define the music's dynamic.

In social dances, the New York style of salsa is performed in a tighter formation compared to the LA style. It strictly adheres to the rule of staying within the designated "slot" and minimizes movement across the dance floor.

In New York-style salsa, there is a strong focus on individual "shines" where dancers temporarily break away to perform solo routines. Dancers of this style take the musicality and precise timing of their performances seriously. To meet their preferences, dance "socials" frequently feature mostly "salsa dura" or "Hard Salsa," which is a faster-paced salsa emphasizing percussion and instrumental arrangements over singing.

The Jimmy Anton social is New York's oldest ongoing social event, taking place on the first, third, and occasionally the fifth Sunday of each month.

Eddie Torres is widely recognized as the original and most celebrated champion of New York-style salsa. He began dancing in 1962 and started teaching by 1970. Numerous notable dancers, including Seaon Bristol (also known as Seaon Stylist), Amanda Estilo, Eric Baez, April Genovese de la Rosa, and Jai Catalano, have performed with his dance company.

Furthermore, notable figures in the On2 style encompass Frankie Martinez, Ismael Otero, Tomas Guererro, Osmar Perrones, Griselle Ponce, Milo, Ana, and Joel Masacote, along with others.

Predominantly popular in the eastern United States, New York-style salsa also enjoys widespread popularity globally among professional dancers and instructors, making it a staple at international salsa congresses.

Cuban Salsa

Cuban salsa, rooted in traditional Afro-Cuban dance, is characterized by its circular movements and playful connection between partners, blending intricate footwork and a unique fusion with American culture and LA Style in Miami. It is exclusive to Downbeat and incorporates shine and show-style elements.

Cuban-style salsa, known as “Casino,” can be performed to both the downbeat (“a tiempo”) and the upbeat (“a contratiempo”), with the downbeats occurring on beats 1, 3, 5, and 7, and the upbeats on beats 2, 4, 6, and 8.

A fundamental step in this dance is the “Cuba step” or Guapea, where the leader performs a backward basic movement on beats 1-2-3 and moves forward on 5-6-7. The follower mimics this pattern, reflecting the leader’s actions. Additionally, it is typical for the leader and follower to circle each other during many of the dance patterns.

An essential move in Cuban-style salsa is the cross-body lead, also referred to as Salida Cubana or Dile Que No, especially in the dance form known as Rueda de Casino. This step is pivotal in the more intricate variations of Cuban Casino, leading to the Rueda or wheel dance, where several couples switch partners and perform synchronized movements directed by a caller. Salsa dancers, especially in the context of Cuban salsa, blend movements with American Jazz and often break apart to dance solo, known as 'shines'.


Mambo, also known as Palladium and Power 2, is a Latin dance with Cuban roots that is performed in mambo music. It shares rhythmic similarities with the slower-paced bolero but features a more intricate step pattern. Typically, the saxophone establishes the syncopated beat, while other brass instruments carry the melody.

In the late 1940s, Perez Prado originated the dance style of mambo music and was the first to promote his music under the name "mambo." After starting in Havana, Prado took his music to Mexico and subsequently to New York City. During this period, he gradually adapted his style to better suit the tastes of the American mainstream audience.

Ballroom Salsa

It's particularly elegant for salsas. Ballroom Salsa was popular at the turn of the century and was accompanied by at most 2 dancers, like in most ballroom dances. The performances are usually handled professionally and have the experience of Salsa variations and Ballsa styles to their credit.

Puerto Rican Style Salsa

Puerto Rican salsa is also known in Puerto Rico as “On Two”. Often called “Mambo”, it emphasizes dance to music’s second beat. Usually featuring smooth and fluid movements Puerto Rican salsa features elaborate turning and shimmers that provide elegance in this dancing technique. The relationships between the partners are crucial, especially in relation to musical interpretation.


As we've explored the vibrant world of salsa dancing, it's clear that this dance form is much more than just a sequence of steps—it's a dynamic expression of cultural heritage, emotion, and connection. Salsa is not only about learning the moves but also about feeling the music and sharing the joy with others, whether they are old friends or new acquaintances on the dance floor.

From the energetic clubs of New York City to the intimate dance halls of Cuba, salsa dancing offers a rich tapestry of experiences that resonate with people across the globe. Each style, whether it be LA, New York, Cuban, or Colombian, brings its own unique flavor and history, contributing to the dance's rich diversity. Moreover, salsa is accessible to everyone—from beginners to advanced dancers—making it a universally beloved part of the global dance scene.

We invite you to dive into the world of salsa, to explore its rhythms, and to let the music move you. Whether you choose to start with a basic step or leap into a complex routine, the world of salsa is open to all who are ready to embrace its rhythm and spirit. Join a class, attend a social, or just practice at home. Whatever your choice, salsa dancing is sure to enrich your life with its vibrant music, passionate community, and the pure joy of dance.

​Thank you for joining us on this journey through the art and soul of salsa dancing. Remember, every step on the dance floor is a step towards a more connected and joyous life. So, lace up your dancing shoes, feel the beat, and let salsa move you to the rhythms of its world-spanning heartbeat.


Is salsa dance Spanish or Mexican?

Salsa dance is neither originally Spanish nor Mexican. While it has become popular and is widely practiced in many countries, including Mexico, salsa primarily originated in Cuba. Over time, it has incorporated influences from Spanish and African rhythms, which have enriched its style and execution.

Where did salsa dance originate?

Salsa dance first emerged in Cuba during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It developed from earlier Cuban dance forms such as Son, Son Montuno, cha-cha-cha, and mambo which themselves draw on earlier Spanish and Afro-Cuban musical practices.

Is it hard to be a salsa instructor?

Being a salsa instructor can be challenging but also extremely rewarding. It requires a deep understanding of the dance's technique, history, and music. Instructors must be able to communicate effectively, possess good interpersonal skills to engage students of all levels, and have the patience and creativity to keep classes interesting and dynamic. The ability to inspire and motivate students is key to being a successful salsa instructor. Additionally, maintaining personal skills and staying updated with dance trends is crucial.

Empower Your Dance Career...

Become A Certified Salsa Instructor...

...in 16 weeks and turn your passion for dance into a thriving profession.

Why Choose This Program?

The world of Latin dance is evolving, and There's a Growing Demand for Salsa Instructors.

This program is designed to:

Enhance Your Skills: Elevate your dance technique, teaching methods, and business skills.
Boost Your Confidence: Prepare to lead classes with professionalism.
Open New Opportunities: Become Qualified to teach at dance studios, workshops, and events.
Make a Difference: Inspire others with the joy of salsa dancing.

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​Transform your dance business with the Solanos' strategic insights and dedicated coaching. Ready to lead the dance floor? Contact them now! 🌐✨

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Empower Your Dance Career...

Become A Certified Salsa Instructor...

...in 16 weeks and turn your passion for dance into a thriving profession.

Why Choose This Program?

The world of Latin dance is evolving, and There's a Growing Demand for Salsa Instructors.