Did you know that salsa dancing has been around for more than 100 years? This is one of the many little-known facts about this type of dance that is exploding in popularity on dance floors around the world.
Salsa is a combination of Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Cuban dances that bring a sensual and lively style of movement to the dance floor. It’s constantly evolving which is another reason why it’s still so popular today.
Despite its popularity, many people aren’t aware of the history and styles of salsa dancing. At Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Raleigh, we love not only teaching people how to dance but also educating them about the exciting world of dancing. In this article, our Raleigh dance instructors will introduce you to the different types of salsa dances and share 5 little-known facts that will make you want to put on your dancing shoes at our studios!
What is Salsa Dancing?
Salsa is a rhythmic dance that is typically danced with a partner, although it can be performed solo as a “suelta” and “Rueda de Casino”, in which couples exchange partners in a circle.
When people are dancing salsa, their upper body remains level as they shift their weight by stepping into the middle for 50/50 weight. Dancers rotate their bodies in a figure eight, moving their hips. As the arms and shoulders get worked into the dance, salsa dancing begins heating up the dance floor.
Type of Salsa Dances
Several different types of salsa dances are based on where they began. Timing, basic steps, rolls, spins, and body movements help to distinguish one type of salsa dancing from another.
Let’s take a look at four main types of salsa dances:
Cuban “Casino” Style Salsa
This type of salsa originated from the Son Cubano dance. It became popular in the late 1950s and is very independent compared to other salsa styles. The “Casino” style dance is done on the downbeat break of 1 or 3, rather than on a delay measure upbeat that is seen in the Cuban Son Dance.
Colombian Salsa has quick rapid steps and skipping motions that make it stand out among other dances. The footwork is intricate and precise. This is one of the reasons why many people dance this style of salsa at world competitions.
Los Angeles Style Salsa
The Los Angeles Salsa gets its influences from the Mambo, Swing, and Argentine Tango. It’s known for its sensuousness and musicality. Lifts and stunts are often associated with the Los Angeles-Style Salsa.
New York Style
New York salsa dancing is also known as the Mambo. Just as the Los Angeles stay, it is linear and has a breaking forward beat that is done by both the leader and the follower. It’s slower and can appear more elegant than some other styles.
5 Little Known Salsa Dancing Facts
Now that we have some background on salsa dancing and several different varieties, let’s take a look at some little-known salsa dancing facts.
Salsa Dancing Has Multicultural Roots
Salsa originated in the 1920s in Eastern Cuba, but was popular in the 1910s. During the 1970s, Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians in New York helped to give salsa dancing a big popularity boost.
While salsa dancing is a mixture of several Latin dances, including tango, mambo, and flamenco, it is rooted in different cultures. Because of this, there are several styles of salsa, including Cuban, Afro-Latino, and Colombian salsa.
Salsa dancing evolved from different styles of Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican, and African dances. There are also influences from the Spanish guitar and the French minuet.
The Origin of the Name “Salsa” is a Mystery
The dance was named after the style of music but no one quite knows why it was named “salsa.” Some suggest the name comes from the food since it has elements from many cultures much like salsa has many ingredients. Others say it’s because the dance’s movements are hot and spicy, like salsa.
Salsa is a Great Workout
If you don’t like to hit the gym, hit the dance floor instead! Salsa dancing is a great workout. Dancing for just one hour can burn anywhere from 300 to 500 calories, depending on how intensely you’re dancing and your body weight.
Much of the movement in salsa dancing is all in the lower body, making it a great workout for the hips, legs, and glutes. It helps to strengthen and tone those body parts and core as well as being a great cardio workout.
Dancing regularly can also increase flexibility and help to build strength and endurance. Many dancers also get stress relief from dancing because it allows them to escape the daily grind. Salsa dancing is also a great way to boost confidence and improve social skills. These are the things that make salsa dancing a holistic activity.
The Clave is the Heartbeat of Salsa
At the heart of all salsa music is the clave. This is a rhythmic pattern that consists of two bars. One has three beats and the other has two beats. This is commonly referred to as the 3-2 clave. Understanding this is important for salsa dancers because it helps them to stay in sync with the music.
Salsa Music Instruments Have Close African Connections
Although the style of music tends to borrow from the Cuban son, the instruments used in salsa music have a closer connection to the traditional African songs and culture. The conga, Tambora, bass, and bongo are among the instruments that are popular in salsa music. All of them combine to create some uplifting beats that make you want to move!
FAQ about Salsa Dancing
What should I wear to my lesson?
Wear comfortable clothes since there are many turns and hip action in salsa dancing.
I’ve never danced before, should I be nervous?
It’s normal to feel a little nervous before starting lessons. But, our instructors are friendly and easy to follow so you’ll be having fun in no time!
How long will it take me to learn salsa dancing?
The key to becoming good at salsa dancing lies in practicing. At Carolina Dance, we encourage you to take dance lessons once or twice a week, depending on your budget and availability. Before you start practicing on your own or dancing socially, you’ll want to master the foundation of basic moves. Many people learn to salsa dance within just 5 months. Of course, you may find that you’re confident in your salsa dancing abilities in just 3 months of dance lessons or you may choose to expand upon your foundational skills and become an expert at salsa dancing, meaning you continue to take salsa lessons for a year or more.
Are You Ready to Learn to Salsa Dance?
If you’re ready to take salsa classes in Raleigh, take advantage of the new student introductory offer. Pay just $60 for your first two classes for singles or $80 for your first two classes as a couple. Besides salsa dancing, we offer rumba, samba, cha-cha lessons, and more! Learn from the best at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Raleigh as you meet new people and get some amazing health benefits. If you live closer to Durham, be sure to check out our sister dance studio, Dancing Fads where we offer the same attractive introductory special. Call us today at (919) 872-0111 or fill out our online contact form to get started.