Salsa music is hot and so is the dance! With its tight, compact movements, Salsa is an exciting dance set to Latin music and along with Bachata, Cha Cha, and Merengue is one of the most popular club dances around today. Salsa is a more contemporary name for the same step pattern as Mambo, and came about when dancers started adding Hustle steps to Mambo.
Many of these dances grew from Cuban culture. There was a blending of European dancing – the contredanse – with African rhythms, which turned into the danzon. A later development was more syncopation with an integration with Jazz , eventually leading to Mambo and Cha Cha.
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What are the different styles of Salsa?
Mambo (Ballroom) “On 2″
This is danced with the “break” on 2 and the count is 2, 3, 4, pause, 6, 7, 8, pause. Very sharp, dramatic movements characterize this dance. This is the style danced in Ballroom competitions. This style is also known as ‘Classic Mambo’ or ‘Power 2.’ A less used term is ‘Mambo Tipico.’
This style is also known as the Eddie Torres Style or NY Style. The beat for this style of Mambo is 1, 2, 3, pause, 5, 6, 7, pause, but the breaking step is on 2. This timing gives the dancers an extra beat to do their moves and results in a smooth style characterized by lots of spins.
Salsa “On 1″
A lot of Salsa or Mambo is danced on 1. Some people claim that dancing “On 1″ is really “Guaracha.” However, a huge proportion of the people dancing Salsa, dance with the “break” on 1. There are a variety of styles. For example, LA style is characterized by very dramatic, flashy moves. Both men and women have a great deal of styling that is smoothly integrated into the dance making it even more sensual.
Cumbia is most common in Central and South American countries. The Cumbia step (or the back-basic) is typically danced on 1. The leader steps back with his left foot on the 1st beat and back with his right foot on the 5th. Cumbia is characterized by a very bouncy style with each partner doing alternating left turns.
This style is based in Miami with a strong Cuban influence. It’s danced on 1 with a forward and back basic and cross-body lead. The forward and back basic is different from the other styles because the leader steps forward with the right foot while the follower steps forward with the left. Casino style can be danced by couples or in a very large group called a rueda or wheel. In these ruedas, a caller calls or hand signals each move and the entire wheel does the move simultaneously. Both the men and the women continually rotate around the wheel, switching partners.