5 Facts of Salsa Dancing

by Ann LaPan
Salsa can be danced for fun or as part of a dancing competition.

Salsa can be danced for fun or as part of a dancing competition.

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Salsa is a Latin dance, similar in style to the Mambo. Salsa evolved in several different South and Central American countries, and takes ideas and moves from many different styles of dance. Salsa is based on the rhythms of the music associated with it, often combining those beats with the steps.


French people from Haiti originally brought a dance called Danzon to Cuba, where salsa is mainly considered to have originated. This dancing technique was soon combined with African and other Caribbean dances, such as rumbas. It also combined with the dance called the Son, which came from Cuba. The Son has its roots in African drum patterns, as well as Spanish dancing, and lent these flavors to salsa. In the 1930s, salsa found its way to Mexico and New York, where it became popular and the actual term for it was coined.


Although it may seem simple, salsa dancing is actually quite complicated. In the very simplest sense, salsa consists of dancing six different steps over music with eight counts. Depending on the sound of the music, the particular style of the dancers, and the actual salsa style being danced, different beats in the music are accented. For example, accenting the first beat is commonly called dancing on one.


Salsa is very similar to other Latin dances, including the Mambo, as the two dances are made up of the same number of counts and steps. However, dances such as the Mambo tend to have a feel of moving back and forth. Salsa has more of a side-to-side movement. The motion of salsa dancing is often quick, and should look very smooth.


Salsa can be danced simply, but is also enjoyable to do or watch when more complicated steps are involved. Salsa style dancing often incorporates many different turns. These turns often help distinguish salsa from other types of Latin dancing. However, not all styles of salsa incorporate these particular moves.

Different Styles

There are actually many different types of salsa dancing. Each style developed in a different area with its own particular style. There are a few salsa styles that are widely recognized, such as the Linear styles, which include Los Angeles and New York style, Puerto Rican style, Miami style, Cuban style, Rueda style and Casino style. Cuban style is considered to be the most traditional salsa dance style. Each style incorporates slightly different steps and tricks, such as various turns, as well as different timing and accents.

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