Do you want to know how to dance Salsa?
The sensual Latin dance known as Salsa is one of the most famous dances in the world. It originates from the kinship of passion and identity, as it represents Latin culture.
Quick Answer – How to Dance Salsa: Culture Guide
- Where did Salsa Originate? – The History of Salsa
- Interactive Video – How to dance Salsa
- Learn the Steps – The Salsa Steps
- World Famous Salsa Songs – Learn These Famous Salsa Songs
- Learn About Cuban Culture – Facts About Cuba
Salsa dancing has always been one of the great cultural hallmarks of western culture and has been used worldwide.
Did you know that Salsa dancing originated in the Caribbean?
There’s no wonder so many people are becoming more and more interested in this rhythmically enticing dance.
How to dance Salsa?
Before getting into this Latin dance, there are a few fundamental pieces of information you need to wrap your head around before hitting the dancefloor.
History of Salsa
Salsa is the amalgamation of Latin American dancehall styles originating from the mid-twentieth century.
Many sources cite the birthplace of salsa dancing to be New York City, where many Latin American immigrants congregated in the nightclubs.
However, this was most likely where the term salsa became the common term. Fania Records in the 1960s are the first known people to refer to the dance and its music as ‘salsa’.
The popular Fania All-Stars LP offer the perfect listening pleasure for anyone you know that loves the sound of Salsa.
Salsa in Cuba
Salsa music and the dances can be linked back all the way to the late 19th century in Cuba.
Salsa is seen as one of the biggest influences on the dance culture of the 20th century since it tries to incorporate many complementing styles.
Many attribute the echo chamber of the Cuban embargo to the evolution of Afro-Cuban Rhumba style.
The Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, and the Mambo all originated from Cuba, but it’s salsa that has taken the world by storm with its accessibility.
Many cite Havana as the passion capital of the Latin world.
Cubans even began to wear all black clothing whilst Salsa dancing to hide sweat and deodorant marks, so they could dance the night away and stay in the passion of the moment.
Salsa in New York
New York City, with its huge outreach to Latin communities, shaped Salsa music since the 1970s.
Many dances that came out of Cuba in the 50s stayed in the public consciousness because New York took the helm as the epicenter of the worldwide Salsa wave.
Consider the Mambo and other styles at the time, none of them became as hugely popular as Salsa. Salsa is now considered the entryway into Latin dancing and Latin culture.
Don’t take notice of dances claiming to be Latin but take no discernible skill such as the Macarena or the Conga.
If you’ve always wanted to experience Cuba or Caribbean culture, then Salsa music and dancing is a great place to start.
How to Salsa Dance
There are many different styles and flares in Salsa dancing, so not all Salsa dances are the same.
Salsa has the capacity for improvisation and thinking on your feet. However, knowing what to do and how to be creative when dancing the Salsa takes practice and IQ.
The main parts of Salsa always lie within the confines of beat and tempo, so the first part to master is timing.
Salsa Beat Count
Salsa dancing is all about getting into the groove of the music. Salsa dancing is just as important as Salsa music, so being acquainted with the style is key to knowing how to start.
The basic rhythm of Salsa is four beats per measure. This means that Salsa uses eight beats that you have to dance in time to. The best thing for any beginner to start with is just listening to Salsa music.
Clapping in time with the eight beats will get you started with the rhythm, which is arguably the most important part of Salsa.
The basic Salsa step requires the dancer to step on every beat but to pause on the 4th.
1,2,3, pause, 5, 6, 7, pause. Once you’ve got the rhythm down, start using your feet as a march. On the spot, march the steps of the Salsa beat, but pausing on every 4th beat.
The Steps of Salsa
This is the part that may take a couple of hours to master, but it’s important to master the fundamentals.
With x4 A3 sized sheets of paper positioned landscape, mark the numbers 1-4 on each piece.
You should have four pieces of paper similar size to your feet, with 1 written on one sheet, 2 written on another and so on.
Next, lay out the numbers on the floor one foot apart in this order:
- 2 (in front of)
- (in front of)
- (in front of)
Salsa Dance: The Basics
Once you have the paper laid out, you start with both feet firmly planted together on the number 1.
- On beat 1, step you right foot onto the number 2 sheet.
- On beat 2, shift your weight from front to back and swing hips.
- On beat 3, move left foot back to number 3 on the balls of your feet.
- On beat 4 pause movement, but roll weight from balls of the feet to heel.
- On beat 5, step backwards with right foot to sheet 4.
- On beat 6, shift body weight to left foot.
- On beat 7, step right foot forward to sheet number 1.
- On beat 8, balance both feet on sheet number 1 and pause.
Just like most dances, you’ll find on Dancing With the Stars (Strictly Come Dancing in the UK), Salsa is a partnered dance with a lead and follow.
With every Salsa song having a 4/4 measure, making each weight shift three times for every four beats means it all loops back eventually.
What happens during that extra beat is part of what differentiates the styles of the dance.
All the weight changes and movement of the hips means that the whole upper body can be completely still during the whole dance.
Famous Salsa songs
Once you’ve got your salsa steps down to a T, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the most famous salsa songs
See these world-famous salsa songs below:
- Conciencia – Gilberto Santa Rosa
- Yambeque – La Sonora Ponceña
- Pedro Navaja – Ruben Blades
- El Preso – Fruko y Sus Tesos
- Vivir Mi Vida – Marc Anthony
- Las Caras Lindas – Ismael Rivera
Now you shouldn’t have any trouble impressing your friends and family with these salsa rhythms.
How to dance Salsa?
Salsa dancing and Salsa music are extremely liberating and fun.
Anyone can have a go at this dance and feel how important rhythm is. You don’t need to be a percussionist or a rhythm section instrument player to understand the importance of groove and beat.
Salsa is the gateway to Latin America, passion, and the soul.
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