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Salsa Music

Salsa music is a diverse and predominantly Spanish Caribbean genre that is popular across Latin America and among Latinos abroad. Salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations; the term can be used to describe most any form of popular Cuban-derived genre, such as cha cha cha and mambo. Most specifically, however, salsa refers to a particular style developed in the 1960s and ’70s by Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to the New York City area, and stylistic descendants like 1980s salsa romantica. The style is now practiced throughout Latin America, and abroad. Salsa’s closest relatives are Cuban mambo and the son orchestras of the early 20th century, as well as Latin jazz. The terms Latin jazz and salsa are sometimes used interchangeably; many musicians are considered a part of either, or both, fields, especially performers from prior to the 1970s.

Salsa is essentially Cuban in stylistic origin, though it is also a hybrid of Puerto Rican and other Latin styles mixed with pop, jazz, rock, and R&B. Salsa is the primary music played at Latin dance clubs and is the “essential pulse of Latin music”, according to Ed Morales, while music author Peter Manuel called it the “most popular dance (music) among Puerto Rican and Cuban communities, (and in) Central and South America”, and “one of the most dynamic and significant pan-American musical phenomena of the 1970s and 1980s”. Modern salsa remains a dance-oriented genre and is closely associated with a style of salsa dancing.


Salsa is the world’s most popular Latin dance. It is loved because of it’s music, it’s origins and it’s many dance style’s. Salsa refers to a fusion of informal dance styles having roots in the Caribbean (especially in Cuba and Puerto Rico), Latin and North America. The name “Salsa” is the Spanish word for sauce, connoting (in American Spanish) a spicy flavor.

Salsa is usually a partner dance, although there are recognized solo steps and some forms are danced in groups of couples, with frequent exchanges of partner (Rueda de Casino). Improvisation and social dancing are important elements of Salsa but it appears as a performance dance too.

Rhythm and steps
Salsa is danced on a core rhythm that lasts for two measures of four beats each. The basic step in salsa dancing typically uses three steps each measure. This pattern might be quick-quick-slow, taking two beats to gradually transfer the weight, or quick-quick-quick allowing a tap or other embellishment on the vacant beat. It is conventional in salsa dancing for the two musical measures to be considered as one, so the count goes from 1 to 8 over two musical bars.

Salsa styles
There are many characteristics that may identify a style. There may be different step patterns, different timing of steps, particular movements on the dance floor, dancer preference of turns and moves, attitude, dress code, and others. The presence of one or more of particular elements does not necessarily define a particular style. For example, many styles can be danced “On One” or one style may be danced “On One” or “On Two”. The following are the major “recognizable” styles.



Cuban Salsa (Rueda)
Cuban-style salsa, also known as Casino, is popular in many places around the world, including in Europe, Latin America, North America, and even in some countries in the Middle East. Dancing Casino is an expression of popular social culture; Cubans consider casino as part of social and cultural activities centering around their popular music. The name Casino is derived from the Spanish term for the dance halls, “Casinos Deportivos” where a lot of social dancing was done among the better off, white Cubans during the mid-20th century and onward.

Rueda, pronounced (ROO-EH-DAH) this dance form originated in the streets of Cuba, where couples formed a circle and created various moves and patterns involving partner changes. Rueda is normally danced to Cuban style salsa music, which is more dynamic and funky than traditional salsa.

Brazilian Samba – Ladies only
Samba is a lively, rhythmical dance of Brazilian origin in 2/4 time danced under the Samba music. The Brazilian Samba music rhythm has been danced in Brazil since its inception in the late 19th century. Samba is a solo dance that is most often danced impromptu when samba music is played. The basic movement involves a straight body and a bending of one knee at a time. The feet move very slightly – only a fewinches at a time.

Zouk Lambada
Zouk-Lambada (also called Lambada-Zouk or Brazilian Zouk) is a group of closely related dance styles based on or evolved from the lambada dance style and is typically danced to zouk music or other music containing the zouk beat. A slower paced rhythm than Lambada, Zouk is a sensual dance.

Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. Bachata is a very smooth and sexy dance that is easy to learn.
A popular dance that is danced in Salsa clubs. The basics to the dance are three-step with a cuban hip motion, followed by
a tap including a hip movement on the 4th beat.

Cha cha cha
With its origin from Cuba, Cha Cha Cha evolved from the Mambo. It is a very popular Street latin dance style because it can be either danced to authentic Cuban music, or Latin Pop or Latin Rock. The music for the international ballroom cha-cha-cha is energetic and with a steady beat. The Cuban cha-cha-cha is more sensual and may involve complex polyrhythms. Characterised by 2 slow steps followed by 3 fast chasses. It became a sensation in the 1950s to dance on the off beat instead of the common down beats.