Posted by on Sep 9, 2017 in Blogs

salsa dancing

Salsa has a diverse background, with influences from African drum rhythms, Spanish guitar and Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean dances. While the movements and style originated from the Caribbean, salsa got its name in New York between the 1960s-1970s. The fun part is that as early adopters of salsa left New York, they brought the dance with them, which gave rise to a number of different styles of salsa, each with their own unique flair. Join Elite as we highlight some of the most popular salsa styles!

Colombian Style

The Columbian style of salsa is danced to a slightly different type of salsa music called “Cumbia”, which is characterized by longer pauses between the first three and last three beats. You’ll recognize this style for its circular motions. Feet never move forward or backward, it’s always a back to center or side to center step. This is a less “showy” style, as it doesn’t include many turns or fast movements. Partners are held very closely, often with their entire bodies touching.

Cuban Style

Cuban style salsa takes its influences from Afro Cuban style body movement, which includes body isolations and lots of hip movement. Similar to the Columbian style, the movement is more circular opposed to linear. While the footwork is quite simple, the arm work is complex. Technically speaking, Cuban style dancers will tap on the pauses on the 4th and 8th beat (if the dancers are dancing on 1). Don’t worry, more on “dancing on 1” farther down!

Miami Style

Miami style salsa evolved from the Cuban style but is said to be a more difficult and technically advanced style. Moves are intricate and circular and usually require a good amount of flexibility.

LA Style (Dancing on 1)

LA style salsa is definitely one of the flashier styles. Flips, dips, and drops make for an exciting show. This style is danced on 1, which means beat 1 is the most accented beat in the series. The lead will break forward on beat 1 in this style and back on beat 5. This makes for a powerful and fast-paced performance.

New York Style (Dancing on 2)

New York style salsa, also referred to as “Mambo salsa”, was created in New York in the 1960s. This style is “danced on 2”, which means that dancers will break forward on beat 2, not beat 1. Dancing on 2 is rhythmically more difficult as dancers usually find it easier to hear and break on beat 1. You’ll notice New York salsa is smooth, controlled, elegant and highly technical. Movements are linear, and come with complicated footwork.

Interested in giving salsa a try? Elite offers different class levels to cover a wide range of dance experience. Register today!