Dance Encyclopedia: Salsa


Salsa is a groovy, passionate and incendiary «sauce» from the various rhythms of Latin America, to which it is simply impossible to remain indifferent

Salsa dance has no clear definitions, frameworks or concepts — it mixes the most diverse styles and directions of ethnic Latin American and modern dances. It is impossible to list all existing types of salsa, not to mention how to dance. After all, each of them has its own unique features, whether it be drawing, counting or dance rhythm. But no matter how «tangled» salsa is, it will always beckon with its hot rhythm!


Although salsa is a Latin American dance, it was first danced in the USA. In 1960-1970, in the vicinity of New York, Puerto Ricans and Cubans who emigrated to America began to dance salsa. And the dance got its name from the light hand of the «king of mambo» Tito Puente.

Today, salsa is one of the most popular club dances in Latin America. It is popular not only in Latin America and among its natives, but has long won the love of almost the whole world. Although classical salsa is still associated with Cuba, which to this day keeps the traditions of this dance, its modern variations around the world include not only Puerto Rican, Colombian and other Latin American rhythms, but even elements of such dance styles as pop, jazz, rock, R’n’B.

Despite its insane popularity around the world, salsa remained a «folk» social dance for many years. And only in December 2005 the World Salsa Championships was held — the first world championship in this direction. And competitions were held, as it is not surprising not in Latin America, but in the same USA. True, no longer in New York, but in Las Vegas.

What is salsa

Salsa is an artificially created dance that is a mixture of many Latin American styles and directions. In salsa, there are «features» of such dances as cha-cha-cha, bolero, mambo. However, salsa’s closest stylistic brothers are Cuban mambo, son, and Latin American jazz.

At the beginning of its existence, the dance was presented in a rather melodic and calm performance. However, modern variations of salsa have become dynamic and incendiary dances that have a complex rhythmic pattern.

The basic movement of salsa consists of three steps in four counts of the «quick-quick-slow» type. The fourth count in salsa is usually meant to shift weight, tap (tap), kick (kick), or simply pause. Depending on the direction of salsa chosen, the basic movements and rhythm (shift) may not vary significantly.


It is impossible to list all the styles and types of salsa that exist in the world. Depending on the region, ethnic characteristics, the specifics of the performance of salsa, it acquires more and more new facets, and behind them, directions. But officially there are two main types of salsa:

1. Circular salsa

This type is characterized by the fact that the main geometric pattern of the dance is a circle. Circular salsa includes the following subspecies:

  • Cuban Salsa (Casino)
  • Venezuelan salsa (Dominican salsa)
  • Colombian salsa

2. Linear salsa (Cross-body style)

This type is characterized by the fact that it is danced “along the line”. Linear salsa includes the following subspecies:

  • salsa Los Angeles (LA),
  • salsa london,
  • salsa New York (NY)
  • Salsa Palladium
  • salsa puerto rico

Despite the clear distribution of subspecies, it can be noted that in some respects they intersect. So, for example, some styles of circular salsa (Cuban salsa, casino) and some styles of linear salsa (LA, London) start on the first count. In turn, NY, Puerto Rico, Palladium start on the second count. And Colombian and Venezuelan salsa begin only on the third count, but at the same time, during the dance, a shift in the count can occur. It is also interesting that Cuban salsa can start on any count. And its complexity lies in the fact that the pattern of the dance sometimes changes in the process.

Special features of salsa

time signature — 4/4

Tempo — quick

Music — a mixture of various Latin American rhythms.

Choreography — depends on the species. It can be performed in pairs or in a group (like a round dance).

Dance with pleasure!

Author: Natalia Kay

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