Salsa is played throughout the Hispanic world and has influences from Latin American and Afro-Caribbean countries. This popular dance style inspires confidence and freedom to improvise with the traditional steps. Whether it’s with a partner or dancing it out solo, salsa is a way to embrace the Latin culture one step at a time.
Claudia Ramirez has been dancing salsa for years and finds it to be a fun, cultural pastime and the best way for her to stay physically and mentally healthy.
“It is so liberating,” Ramirez said. “To many, hitting the gym and pumping iron are ways to relieve stress, but to me, dancing salsa is my therapy. Brings out the total Latina in me.”
History of Salsa
Salsa is a combination of Latin American and Afro-Carribean dances, such as merengue, mambo, cumbia and the rumba. While the roots of salsa are most famously known for coming from Cuba, many other countries adopted this dance into their cultures, such as the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Puerto Rico and the United States.
In the 1970s, New York City received an influx of Latin American immigrants, who brought along their music and dance styles from their unique regions. Cultures united and created modern day salsa, which continues to evolve today.
The Basic Steps
In any dancing style, practice makes perfect. With salsa, practice is important to keep your rhythm flowing but, when it comes to the basic steps, it’s more about learning how you can make them your own.
Classic Salsa Music
Practice your moves with some classic songs that provide upbeat, shoulder-moving, hip-swaying music for an energetic dance session.
- “Quimbara” by Celia Cruz
- “Lloraras” by Oscar D’Leon
- “Las Caras Lindas” by Ismael Rivera
- “Pedro Navaja” by Ruben Blades
- “P’a Bravo Yo” by Justo Betancourt
Below is a guide on how to get into the flow and feel of salsa using simple footwork patterns.
Salsa Side Steps
Step 1: Left, Right, Left
Step left with your left foot, then step in place with your right foot, and then close your left foot to your right foot.
Step 2: Right, Left, Right
Repeat this step with your right foot by stepping right, stepping in place with your left foot, then close your right foot to your left foot.
Salsa Forward Steps
Step 1: Forward Left, Right
Place your left foot forward, then step in place with your right foot. Then close your left foot with your right foot.
Step 2: Back Right, Left
Step back on your right foot then step in place on your left. Close your right foot with your left foot.
As you practice these simple steps, it’s about harnessing the energy of the music and releasing it through twists, turns and feet that won’t stop moving to the beat. In many ways, salsa dancing is an expressive art that allows you to mix fresh imagination with cultural traditions, which make for a style that is timelessly appreciated.