How to Dance to Salsa Music

When I first started dancing, I did not know how to dance to Salsa music. It seemed complicated, overwhelming and alien to me. So don’t worry, I am going to do my very best to help you feel confident. Here are my top three tips for how to dance to Salsa music.

Know Your Counts

Salsa has a total of eight counts. I will be explaining this in Los Angeles-style Salsa (also called L.A. Salsa or “on one’). To simplify things even more, I will use leader’s timing. Followers, reverse the steps. The leader always steps forward with their left foot on the first count and the follower steps back with their right. Leaders step forward with your left on one, in place with your right on two, bring your feet together on three and pause on four. Then step back with your right on five, in place with your left on six, bring your feet together on seven and pause again on eight. Instructors will often not say the four or the eight count. They will count “one, two, three…five, six, seven…” with pauses after the three and seven. If you know your counts and are more confident in which foot has to step, you will be well on your way to knowing how to dance to Salsa music. 

Quick, Quick, Slow

Do you know the rhythm of the song We Will Rock You by Queen? Those heavy bass hits are the heartbeat of Salsa. Quick, quick, slooow, quick, quick sloooow. At first, most people are nervous and afraid of falling behind, so they dance quick, quick, quick. But Salsa has moments to breathe and rest. Moments to rest. Saying quick, quick, slow out loud when you are doing your basics will help you keep the rhythm. You will feel a deeper sense of connection. Familiarity with the rhythm will make dancing to Salsa music so much easier! 

Listen to more Salsa Music 

Just like you can’t learn to swim by sitting on your couch, you need to be familiar with Salsa music if you want to learn to dance to it. So whenever you have the opportunity, turn on some Salsa music. Driving to work? Listen to Salsa. Cooking? Listen to Salsa. More importantly, listen to Salsa music actively. This means you try to keep the rhythm by tapping with your foot or with your hand on the table. Even do some basics while you are brushing your teeth. Familiarity with Salsa music makes it easier to predict where accents and drops will be. So this makes dancing to Salsa music easy.

If you visit the Toronto Dance Salsa website and click on Salsa music, there is a playlist of songs to help you practice. This way you will know your counts, learn the rhythm and just be more familiar with the music so you will know how to dance to Salsa music. It is also just fun! When you listen to Salsa, it’s hard to take a nap. Salsa is energetic and exciting. And I hope, at some point, you get to join our school and we get to dance together.

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If you have any questions you would like me to answer here are some ways you can contact me: message me on Instagram (torontodanceSalsa), on Twitter (#torontodanceSalsa), on Facebook (Toronto Dance Salsa) or email me at [email protected].