The salsa dance has a sensual, lively style that brings passion, energy and joy to the dance floor. This Latin dance is a combination of Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Cuban dances that were popular in the ballrooms and nightclubs of San Juan and la Havana by the end of the 1950s. Salsa dance grew in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. as Dominican and Puerto Rican workers moved to the continental U.S. Now, it is a very popular dance all over the world.
Relative to its popular music style, Salsa is constantly evolving. Modern dance styles are named according to the geographical locations where they begin and are expanded upon. Columbia, Cuban, On Clave, Los Angeles, New York, Puerto Rican and Rueda are some of the famous Salsa styles. It continues to grow in popularity because of the fast pace and lively music that accompanies it. You’ll find many places to dance the salsa like nightclubs, ballrooms, restaurants, and at outdoor festivals.
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What Is Salsa?
Salsa is a fun dance that combines dance forms from the Cuban Son and the Rumba, an Afro-Cuban dance. It is normally a partner dance, but it can be done as a solo, “suelta” and “Rueda de Casino,” where multiple couples exchange partners in a circle.
In many styles of salsa dancing, the upper body remains level as the dancers shift their weight by stepping into the middle for 50/50 weight. The movement rotates in a figure eight to cause the hips to move as arms and shoulders are also incorporated, giving the dance a spicy flair. Hip movement is known as “Cuban hip movement” and is found in other Latin dances as well.
As with most Latin dances, the Salsa builds to a crescendo that creates tension and release, making it a great dance with a partner.
The basic Salsa dance rhythm consists of taking three steps for every four beats of music. This odd number of steps creates the syncopation inherent to Salsa dancing and ensures that it takes eight beats of music to loop back to a new sequence of steps.
Take a look at some Fred Astaire students Salsa dancing:
There are several different styles of Salsa dancing, primarily based on the geographical locations where they began and are expanded upon. Styles are continuously evolving and are open to improvisation. Characteristics that identify a style include timing, basic steps, rolls, spins, body movement and turns, and attitude.
Even though there are a variety of styles, here are three primary Salsa dance styles:
Colombian Style Salsa
A major difference in Colombian Salsa and other styles is the footwork which has quick rapid steps and skipping motions. The footwork is intricate and precise, making this style popular for winning at world championships.
Cuban “Casino” Style Salsa
Historically, the Casino style originated from the Cuban Son dance. It was popularized in the late 1950s and is independent of the other styles of Salsa dance, partly due to the effect of the Cuban Embargo. As opposed to the Cuban Son that dances on a delay measure upbeat, the Casino is danced on the downbeat break of 1 or 3.
Los Angeles Style Salsa
The L.A. style of salsa is easy and adaptable. It is influenced by the Mambo, Swing, Argentine Tango, and Latin Ballroom dancing styles. Characteristics of the L.A. Salsa include sensuousness, theatricality, aerobics, and musicality. Lifts, stunts, and aerial aspects of today’s salsa shows primarily come from the L.A. style.
Benefits of Salsa Dancing
We love Salsa because of its many benefits, which include:
- It strengthens and tones your legs, glutes, and core, in addition to being a great cardio workout
- Dance classes are a great way to meet new people and make new friends
- Dancing has been shown to improve your brain health and relieve stress
- Many people say their self-esteem and confidence get a boost from dance lessons
Spice Up Your Life by Joining Our Salsa Classes!
Are you ready to learn to Salsa dance? Our expert Salsa instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Raleigh would love to get you on the dance floor! We teach from beginner level to advanced, and no partner is necessary! Give us a call at (919) 872-0111 or fill out the contact form below to schedule your first lesson!