A quick guide to the dance we call Salsa

Find out more about Salsa dancing and its different styles.

Let’s be honest, if you still haven’t heard about Salsa as in the dance and not with Nachos, you must be living under a rock! Salsa is known for being one of the most fun, energetic, and spicy dance styles, which makes it very popular in social dance circles all around the world! However, there is more to this wonderful dance style than what you might think, that is why we will be giving you a quick tour around the basics of Salsa.

The origins of Salsa

Cuba, the land of beautiful white, golden, and black sandy beaches, tropical weather, joyful people with their love for music is where Son, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, guaguancó and rumba came to life.

Puerto Rico, equally as magical and beautiful is where Taíno, Plena and bomba music originated. Decades later, expat Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians introduced their afro-cuban/portorican rhythms to Jazz musicians in the nightclubs of New York city while jamming. Swing dancers mixed with Latin dancers in the famous Palladium ballroom, which then fusioned, creating what we now call Salsa dancing.

The origin of the name “Salsa” is still a mystery; some say it was from the Queen of Salsa herself, Celia Cruz improvising in one of her songs saying “Echale Salsita” or from legendary Johnny Pacheco’s explanations stating that it’s because of it’s spicy and hot connotations. However, a lot of people associate it with its meaning “Sauce”, as the ingredients used in making a sauce represent the fusion of dance styles that made the Salsa dance! Nonetheless, salsa has traveled the world making it one of the most loved, contagious, competitive and fun styles of dance that anyone can dance. Some compare salsa moves to mathematical equations, as there is no end to how many patterns you can come up with. Always fusioning, always surprising, that is salsa.

The origin of the name “Salsa” is still a mystery; some say it was from the Queen of Salsa herself, Celia Cruz improvising in one of her songs saying “Echale Salsita” or from legendary Johnny Pacheco’s explanations stating that it’s because of it’s spicy and hot connotations. However, a lot of people associate it with its meaning “Sauce”, as the ingredients used in making a sauce represent the fusion of dance styles that made the Salsa dance! Nonetheless, salsa has traveled the world making it one of the most loved, contagious, competitive and fun styles of dance that anyone can dance. Some compare salsa moves to mathematical equations, as there is no end to how many patterns you can come up with. Always fusioning, always surprising, that is salsa.

The types of the Salsa dance

All the changes and fusioning that the Salsa dance went through, were the reason we have many styles of this sensational dance, of which:

  • New York Style: New York was the first place where Salsa got famous, and it is known to be influenced by some popular US genres like Jazz, R&B, and also Latin ones like Mambo and cha cha cha that’s danced on “2”. Dance instructors like Eddie Torres and Sonny Allen taught many and highly influenced the direction and style it has taken.
  • LA Style: The LA style Salsa is flashier and more on the theatrical side, as you will notice that the dancers use a few tricky movements and flips, which makes it a really entertaining show!
  • Cuban Style / Casino: The Cuban style is what is mostly known as Casino. Influenced by the Afro-Cuban style, with more circular movements, arm patterns, less choreographed and more ​​improvised and danced “contra-tiempo”. The party style.
  • Miami Style Casino: The Miami style is a more advanced version of the Cuban style, as it is more technical and intricate, and the follower needs to have more body flexibility compared to the other styles.
  • Rueda de Casino: The Rueda de Casino (Rueda meaning Wheel) is a group version of the Salsa dance which is done by multiple couples in a circle with one designated dancer that will call out to each of the movements to perform exchanging partners within the wheel.
  • Colombian / Cali Style: Cali is known to be the “Capital de la Salsa / Capital of Salsa” in Colombia, and this style of dancing is danced to fast paced music with lots of repetitive, intricate footwork, athletic lifts and tricks making it incredibly spectacular to watch and fun to dance.

Are you a Leader or follower in Salsa?

Like most dance styles that require partners, you will surely hear about “Leaders” and “Followers”, and the Salsa dance is no exception. Generally, the Lead/Leader is the man, and the Follower is the woman, but hey, it is totally fine if you want to switch it up and choose whatever role suits you better, the most important thing that you should keep in mind is that both are equally important and what matters the most is the communication and connection!

As the names indicate, the Leader is the person in charge of leading and executing moves all while giving the Follower enough room and freedom to express themselves with their styling!

You should also note that one can be both leader and follower at the same time, which will help the dancer to have more awareness and understanding of their partner and create a smoother communication between the two.

Salsa is a sensational dance that is worth your time! Trust me you won’t regret it, as Salsa dancing is not just a normal dance it is fun, energetic, it will also get your body moving and your heart rate increasing which makes it a highly enjoyable form of exercise too! If you are around Montreal and want to give it a try, you can take a look at Latin Groove’s wonderful offer for 7 intro classes of Salsa for only 37$! What can you lose but your 2 left feet!