Popular Salsa Styles

There are many Popular Salsa Styles. At Toronto Dance Salsa we teach LA. Style Salsa but it is just one of many different styles of Salsa. After reading this, you may want to pick one of the Popular Salsa Styles and master it first. Or you may want to dip your toes in many different styles of Salsa. It doesn’t matter which style you choose, just pick one and get out on the dance floor! I will describe the three most Popular Salsa Styles.

L.A. Style Salsa (Dancing “On 1”) 

L.A.-Style Salsa is danced “on 1”. That means that the dancer starts on the first beat of the eight-beat rhythm. This popular style of Salsa has complicated, speedy footwork and jazzy moves. Dancers use lots of dips, flips, drops and tricks. This makes L.A.-Style Salsa exciting to dance and watch. Because the dominating beat is the 1 beat, the dancing looks and feels powerful and fast. L.A.-style salsa has incorporated many elements from other dance styles, including jazz, hip-hop, and ballroom. Many of the moves are created from cross-body lead variations. Salsa shines are an important component of this type of Salsa. If you want to learn the basics of L.A.-Style Salsa click here to learn more.

New York-Style Salsa (Dancing “On 2”, Mambo Salsa, Eddie Torres Style) 

Salsa on 2 is a popular style of Salsa first introduced by Eddie Torres in New York in the 1960s. Hence its multiple names – New York-Style, Mambo Salsa, Eddie Torres Style. Unlike L.A. Style Salsa, the dancers begin on 2. New York-Style Salsa is distinguished by smooth, controlled, highly technical movements that are elegant and graceful. The style is very linear. Many of the turn patterns evolve from cross-body lead variations, just like in L.A.-Style Salsa. Multiple spins, complicated footwork, Afro-Cuban body movement and Salsa shines are characteristic features of this popular style of Salsa. Dancing “On 2” is rhythmically more difficult. It is easier to hear the 1 beat and break on this beat. Many dancers learn to dance “On 1” first and then train “On 2”. Because it is more musically and rhythmically rich and complex, it can take a little longer to master.

Casino Rueda Style Salsa (Rueda de Casino, Salsa Rueda) 

Casino Rueda (meaning Salsa wheel) is another Popular Style of Salsa. It is a group dance that originated in Havana, Cuba in the 1960s by a group called Guaracheros de Regla. In this dance, couples dance in a circle while one dancer, designated as “The Caller”, provides hand signals or calls out the moves which will be executed by every couple simultaneously. Many of the Casino Rueda moves involve switching partners. The result is a Salsa style that can be tricky to execute and spectacular to watch. Rueda is very popular in both Cuba and Miami and has gained popularity all over the world. Cuban Rueda tends to be more playful with easy-to-follow fun moves.  Many callers will know anywhere from 150-300 moves. So memory, speed and accuracy are key to ensuring the circle is not broken.

There are so many reasons to dance Salsa. You can read more about some of them here. So really you cannot lose when you pick any of the Popular Styles of Salsa. I have also only explained three of them. There are other popular styles of Salsa including Cali or Cumbria Salsa from Colombia. My advice is just to pick one and I will see you on the dance floor!

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