Salsa (dance)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Technology: unclassified
Type: Couple dance , ballroom dancing
Music: Salsa , Latin American music
Time signature : 44- stroke
Tempo: 37-60 TPM
Origin: USA and the Caribbean
Creation time: ~ 1970
List of dances

The salsa is a modern society dance of Latin America , is dancing in the group of pairs or.

History of origin

Like salsa music, the dance that goes with it is a combination of Afro-Caribbean and European dance styles. The origins come from the English counter dance of the 17th century. In many figures the pair is there in a similar dance pose as in ballroom dancing opposite where the woman places her left hand on the upper arm or the man's shoulder, the man has with his right hand her hip and the free hands in the Hit air. The counter dance was a group dance; most of the figures comprised two 44 bars, i.e. eight beats. As in square dancing there was a " Caller " ( Engl. , About "Announcer"), of which cried to the couple in the hall for dancing figures. The caller could also withdraw in the course of a piece and leave the couples to themselves and the music. At the end of the 19th century, this dance in Danzón became a couple dance.

French and Spanish colonial rulers introduced the dances of their homeland to the Caribbean. The island of Hispaniola played a special role . Hispaniola has been divided into two parts since the 18th century: Saint Domingue Francés, today's Haiti in the west and Santo Domingo Español, today's Dominican Republic in the east. After the uprising against the French colonial power in 1791, French plantation owners fled with their slaves to the eastern part of the neighboring island of Cuba and brought their customs, dances and music with them. In the Cuban Orient , the African drum and dance traditions mixed with the guitar music of the Spanish farmers.

Spanish colonialists often saw themselves as missionaries who tried to suppress the cultural and religious heritage of their slaves. In contrast, the French slaves had much more freedom to preserve their traditions. These played an important role, especially in religious celebrations. Music was understood here as a community experience in which different groups participated. Some drummers played a repeating rhythm, while others mixed in their own rhythms that were identified with the respective deities. These rhythms could be very complex and were syncopated and varied more and more over the course of the session , so that there was a risk of getting lost. For this reason, a vet drummer played the clave - a basic rhythm that everyone else followed. As long as the clave was playing, all the drummers were in sync despite their polyrhythm .

The audience, who had no drums, did not remain idle. They supported the rhythms by stamping their feet on the floor or clapping their hands. Those who did not stomp or clap, followed the rhythms with their bodies: by moving shoulders, upper body, hips, knees, etc. Such drum and dance elements found their way into ballroom dancing. However, they were always viewed with suspicion by the elitist upper class in Cuba: Too many African movements in dance were considered a "lower dance form" of the lower classes. The Danzón has successfully defended itself with its calm and expressive movements up to the present day and in the Cuban Son a distinction is made between the elegant urban “Urbano”, where the man often just stops and leads the woman around him, and the rural one " Montuno " with a lot of arm and upper body movement.

In addition to the religious reference, dance always had an important function in finding a suitable partner and in conquering a woman. The Cuban guaguancó and the Colombian cumbia are advertising dances. The dance gets an erotic note: the couples present themselves in the dance, often with a lot of self-expression by the man. Sensuality in dance does not necessarily mean close physical contact - the partners circle each other in many Caribbean dances without touching. On the mainland, salsa is danced almost exclusively in the open, with the man usually leading the woman with only one hand. During the turns, it also circles the woman, which gives the dance its round, dance-like character.

After the end of World War II, many emigrated to North America from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Venezuela. So many cultures came together in cities like New York, including dance and music. In the sessions, the types of dance were mixed so that a "sauce" (salsa) was created from different dances. The main influences were the rumba, the danzón, which emerged from the counter dance, the mambo , son and latin jazz.

Salsa in Germany

Salsa came to Germany in the early 1980s. An active scene emerged particularly in metropolitan areas. In larger cities you can choose from numerous different salsa lessons and nightlife options, similar to the tango scene . Almost every ADTV dance school also offers salsa lessons.

Dance styles

Show group

When salsa became increasingly popular in New York in the 1970s, a dance style of its own, the New York Style , developed to match the new music - determined by the Cuban and Puerto Rican schools and enriched by a variety of other dance school elements. At the end of the 1980s it had also reached the west coast of the USA and manifested itself there as the LA style . On the Latin American mainland, however, salsa was under another influence, the Cumbia Colombiana. From Colombia , this dance style, determined by the cumbia, spread throughout Latin America to the southern states of the USA, where it was appropriately named cumbia style .

Basically, the individual styles and schools do not differ significantly. Those who have mastered one of these dance styles can dance with dance partners from other schools. However, the leadership in the NY style differs somewhat from the leadership in the Cuban style, as this is not danced in a line, but in circular movements around the partner.

All of these styles are similar in the basic rhythmic structure of the dance steps and the basic turns of the cross body lead . The salsa dance as such continues to develop.

New York style

The New York Style as a synthesis of Puerto Rican and Cuban dance reflects all the dance elements of the two countries, in particular the elegant urban “Urbano” in Havana . It is characterized by its straightness and the use of step techniques and light show figures (e.g. falling figures). Like the LA style, the New York style is danced “on the line”. As a difference to the LA style, the New York style is exclusively “on2”, i.e. H. danced to the second and sixth beat. In addition, the New York Style is a more compact form of dancing, which means that the dancers take up less space on the dance floor than, for example, with Salsa Cubana. Another important element of the New York style are the "shines". These solo dance elements are integrated into the couple dance in that the man briefly lets go of the woman and both perform their own dance interpretation of the music.

Mambo style

In 1987 Eddie Torres, a dance instructor and choreographer from New York City of Puerto Rican descent and the self-proclaimed "Mambo King", presented a variant of the New York Style . He pointed out that the salsa actually descended from the mambo and therefore demanded that the basic step should be started with a lunge on the second (and sixth) beat, similar to the mambo. His dance style was also called Salsa Mambo Style and received a lot of attention, especially in the 1990s. The fascination is based on a new sense of rhythm when dancing. Eddie Torres himself called his style Salsa Nightclub Style .

Meanwhile, the Salsa Nightclub Style is taught by many teachers worldwide in the tradition of Eddie Torres. In addition to the salsa nightclub style, there is also the " palladium style", which uses the same basic step as the mambo and currently z. B. is taught by the Razz'm'tazz Dance Company of New York City.

Puerto Rican style

The Puerto Rican style corresponds to the New York Style in basic step and dance figures, but it is danced more openly overall. The partners present themselves here effectively to each other through sophisticated step combinations. Puerto Rican dancers dance less symmetrically and often need more space with their figures.

Los Angeles style

The Los Angeles Style , also known as LA Style , was created between 1995 and 2000. The brothers Luis, Francisco and Johnny Vazquez are considered to be the inventors. Even more than the New York Style, it contains choreographic elements and show characters, which makes it particularly popular in cinema productions, competitions and dance tournaments. It is always danced “to 1”.

In the meantime, the LA style has also become popular within the amateur scene and is often danced at salsa parties, where guidable elements have prevailed over choreographic elements, which again makes it less different from the New York style. In Europe, many dance schools refer to this style. Important representatives of this dance style are the dancers Edie and Al Espinoza, Alex Da Silva , Josie Neglia and Melissa Fernandez.

Cuban style

In contrast to the styles mentioned so far, the Cuban style is danced in circles. However, many figures can also be performed in simple couple dance; In addition, wrapped figures and the dominant leadership of the man determine the dance image. The Cuban Style, also called “Casino” or “De la calle”, is originally danced “on 2” (Sun) and “on 3” (Salsa), but in western regions mostly “on 1”.

Cumbia style

This style, also known as Latino Style or Colombian Style , is based on the Colombian Cumbia and therefore differs considerably from the forms mentioned above. Characteristic are the open dance posture, leading with only one hand and the circular dancing of the partners.

The Colombian dance style is the most common salsa dance style in Latin America. At the world championships of the renowned World Salsa Federation (WSF) in Miami , the Colombian Style has had its own category since 2003.

In 2005, Colombian salsa dancers were the world champions in show dance ("Cabaret") at the WSC in Las Vegas and the world champions in the Colombian style, in the shines, formation dance and the overall world champion at the WSF in Miami.

Rueda de Casino

Salsa dancers, Cali style

In addition, there is the rueda ( span .: "Wheel"), a kind of circle dance. Here several couples come together in a circular formation and dance synchronously with each other at the instruction of a singer (= "Cantante"). Above all, the use of fun elements such as changing partners, loud shouts or sexually suggestive figures makes this dance form very popular. The Rueda de Casino also differs in “Cuban Style” and “New York Style”. Different commands can cause confusion. Internationally, the “Miami Style” is increasingly gaining ground, which unifies the various commands and the dance figures.

Cali Style, Salsa Caleña, Cali Colombiana

The style comes from Cali in Colombia, known as the capital of salsa. This style can be recognized by the very fast leg and hip movements. The classic figures that you learn in Puerto are not very suitable for this form of salsa. What is congruent, however, are the basic figures. In addition, acrobatic interludes are built into the Salsa Caleña. The quick foot movements are often used for solo performances as well. The Caleña style is taught by professional dancers from Colombia as well as danced by free groups.


Basic step

The Los Angeles Style Basic "On 1".
The Cuban Style Basic "On 2".

Salsa is in 4 / 4 - stroke danced. A step is not taken on every counting time, but only on 3 of the 4 times. The basic step extends over two bars, which is why dancers usually don't count on four, but on eight. This results in z. B. When dancing salsa to 1 (Breaking on 1) the counting method 1,2,3 break 5,6,7 break. For more on this topic see timing (salsa) .

Los Angeles Style (Breaking on 1)

The Los Angeles-style basic step begins on the first beat of the bar, with the leader taking the first step with the left foot forward on the 1st beat, the second step back on the 2nd beat and the third step on the 3rd beat .Beats back one more time. The person being led takes a backward step with the right foot on the first beat, a step forward on the second beat and a step forward with the right foot on the 3rd beat. The basic step on beats 5–8 is reversed.

A pause on the fourth beat of a bar is characteristic. The basic step thus reflects the special salsa rhythm: Together with the vocals and the instruments, a bar begins with the first beat, but the pause, together with the percussion , puts the emphasis on the fourth beat. Breaking on 1 means changing direction on the first and fifth beat from front to back and vice versa.

New York Style (Breaking on 2)

The New York Style Basic Step can basically be danced in two different ways. One type is the Son on 2, also known as Palladium on 2, the second type is the Eddie Torres Style. With the Palladium on 2, the basic step takes place as in the L.A. Style with the difference that instead of the steps on 1–3 and 5–7, the steps are danced to beats 2–4 and 6–8. In Eddie Torres Style, the leader's first step begins with the left foot on the first beat backwards, then on the second beat again with the right foot backwards and then with the left foot on the third beat forward.

The guided person begins with a step forward with the right foot on the first beat, then a step with the left foot forwards on the second beat and again a step backwards with the right foot on the third beat. For beats 5–7, the reverse is true for both partners. Breaking on 2 means the change of direction on the second and sixth beat from the front, back and vice versa.


Tap ( English : knocking or pounding ) describes a step in dancing in which the foot is put down without strain. Some salsa dancers tap on the fourth beat of a bar, which is usually a pause, to accentuate the rhythm. This tap belongs mainly to the Cuban style and Caleña style.

Shines, Pasos and Brincos

Shines (from English : (to) shine - to shine or ( shoes) polish ), also called pasos ( Spanish : steps ), describe step combinations in Salsa that are danced without a partner. On the mainland, small jumps are sometimes woven in, the so-called brincos ( Spanish : jumps, hops ).

Shines are used for the self-portrayal of the partners and can be performed both as playful improvisations and as artfully choreographed foot techniques. Dancing shines serves as warm-up training for many. Shines form the basis of salsa aerobics .


There are no official bodies for salsa that could provide uniform structures. Each organization can call its own national or international congresses, dance competitions or championships. The most prestigious associations are in the USA:

The "World Salsa Federation" (WSF) was founded in Miami in August 2001 and has since organized an annual worldwide salsa dance competition. It awards world championship titles for the best salsa dancers in the categories:

  • Colombian style
  • mambo
  • New York style
  • Show dance
  • LA style
  • Cuban style
  • Shine
  • team

From all disciplines of "World Salsa Champion Undisputed" is selected ( Engl .: the undisputed world champion salsa ).

In December 2005 found Las Vegas the first annual World Salsa Championships (WSC) ( Engl. : Salsa World Championships of "Salsa Seven Inc." under the direction of in) California well-known salsa teacher and promoter Albert Torres instead. Here, the dancers have not been divided into individual dance styles and only four disciplines are assessed: "On 1", "On 2", "Cabaret" and "Team". The category “Cabaret” corresponds to “Showdance” and also includes acrobatic figures. There is no overall world champion at the WSC.

The International Dance Organization (IDO) also regularly organizes salsa tournaments and even world championships. The IDO is also international and therefore located worldwide, but mainly spread in Europe - at least when it comes to salsa.

Salsa congresses

Salsa congresses and salsa festivals take place around the world every year. Mostly dance teachers and famous dancers of the salsa scene from all over the world are invited. They pass on their know-how to the participants in the form of workshops . In the evenings there are big salsa dance parties where the teachers show their skills on stage. An example is the world-famous West Coast Salsa Congress by Albert Torres.

Tier system

In contrast to the ADTV world dance program (German dance badge bronze, silver, gold, gold star, super gold star 1–3) and the group names for standard and Latin dances (D / C / B / A / S) there are no uniform names in salsa for the different stages of development at dance schools. The usual congresses, however, are beginners / beginners, intermediate / intermediate, advanced / advanced and masterclass. The quality and demands of the individual levels can, however, vary greatly from congress to congress.


  • Salsa - it's hot (US 1988) Robby Rosa, Rodney Harvey - directed by Boaz Davidson
  • Dance with Me (US 1998) Vanessa L. Williams, Chayanne - Director: Randa Haines
  • Salsa y Amor (France 2000) Christianne Gout, Vincent Lecoeur - directed by Joyce Buñuel
  • El Cantante (US 2006) Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez - Director: Leon Ichaso
  • Dirty Dancing 2 (US 2004) Diego Luna, Romola Garai - Director: Guy Ferland
  • Mambo Kings (US 1992) Antonio Banderas, Armand Assante Director: Arne Glimcher
  • Street Dance 2 (Great Britain 2012) Falk Hentschel, Sofia Boutella - Director: Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini
  • Cuban Fury (UK 2014) Nick Frost, Rashida Jones - Director: James Biddle

There are instructional videos from numerous dance schools or teachers on all styles.


  • E. Brunken, I. Brunken: Salsa - The dance book. , BoD GmbH, Norderstedt 2001. ISBN 3-8311-2646-1 . Easy introduction to the basics of dance.
  • J. Henseling, Silke Zech: Samba, Salsa and Co. , Könemann Cologne 2001. ISBN 3-8290-2735-4 . Simple introduction to the Latin American dances of the world dance program including some salsa figures.
  • JC Caballero: Salsa, Mambo on 1,2,3 , Schmetterling Verlag 2004. ISBN 3-89657-379-9 . Introduction to the rhythm of salsa.
  • Tanja Lindner: Salsa - pure love of life. , blv Verlagsgesellschaft, Munich 2004. ISBN 3-405-16658-6 . Dance course Rhythm Emocíón with a foreword by the Cuban choreographer Requena Delgado
  • Barbara Balbuena El Casino y la Salsa en Cuba ISBN 978-959-10-0997-5 The history of Salsa in Cuba. Edicion espanol.
  • Barbara Balbuena El Casino y la Salsa en Cuba ISBN 978-3-8370-8267-8 The history of Salsa in Cuba. English edition.

Web links

Wikibooks: Dancing: Salsa  - learning and teaching materials
Wikibooks: Dancing: Salsa: The Figure Cheat Sheet  - Learning and teaching materials
Commons : Salsa  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Salsa history - Salsa creation in 12 steps. In: Retrieved June 4, 2016 .
  2. Salsa - origin and history. In: Retrieved June 4, 2016 .
  5., series “Kaffee-oder-Tee?”: Salsa aerobics with expert Corinna Michels, master's trainer at the German Gymnastics Federation ( Memento from January 11, 2003 in the Internet Archive ), broadcast on October 10, 2001, accessed on 26 September 2015.
  6. - current list of the largest salsa congresses
  7. ^ West Coast Salsa Congress