Dance Salsa

I know you’ve been reading about going out dancing.  Besides that, you’ve been watching DWTS and tons of videos on YouTube. This is because you don’t know much about learning to dance.  But, you do know one thing – you want to dance Salsa.  The question is, what kind of Salsa should you learn?  

With this in mind, let’s look at a few things that are important if you want to dance Salsa.

The answer to the question as to which style to learn depends on a few conditions, such as where you live and where you plan to use your dancing.  Will you be going to Latin clubs?  If so, are the clubs in New York, Los Angeles, or Miami?  Each city has its own distinct style.  Hence, you’ll want to learn the style that is danced in that city.  Will you be dancing at home or at house parties in the neighborhood?  If that is the case, you’ll be dancing the more authentic Salsa that many people grew up doing.  

If you’re looking to dance Salsa, you’ll enjoy this brief description of the most popular styles.

Rueda (click to see Salsa Rueda in action)

Salsa Rueda – Cubana

  • Salsa Rueda originated in Cuba and is similar to square dancing. 
  • The Cuban Salsa style is circular with partners traveling around each other.
  • Dancing in the round and switching partners are the main components of Rueda.
  • In order to dance Salsa in a circle, Rueda requires two or more couples.
  • The ‘caller’ selects common patterns for the couples to dance.
  • Salsa Cubana feeling and expression are more of a relaxed street style as opposed to “look at me“.
  • Cuban Salsa dancers dance on ‘1’.

Salsa Rueda – Miami

  • Miami Rueda is more complicated than the Cuban Salsa Rueda.  Furthermore, it can have as many as 300 patterns.
  • The intricate use of the arms in turns (using pretzel moves) requires flexibility and outstanding partnership skills.
  • Miami Rueda uses the slot style.  As a result, there is the appearance of moving in and out of the circle.
  • Arm styling is flashy in the same manner as Hustle and Disco.
  • Like Cubana Rueda, Miami Rueda dancers also dance on ‘1’.


  • Cumbia originated in Colombia.
  • The slower music results in slower dancing.
  • As opposed to some other Salsa styles, Cumbia is not at all big or showy.  
  • Cumbia is a more romantic, intimate dance, therefore, it uses body contact.

Miami Style 

  • Miami style Salsa is closely related to the Cuban style. (Go figure!)
  • It uses circular movements and cross body leads.
  • The partners rotate around each other.  
  • Turns, spins and arm styling make this type of Salsa stand out.  Dance Salsa Miami Style
  • Similar to Miami Rueda, the use of pretzel moves requires flexibility and outstanding partnership skills.
  • The Guapea basic is danced between combinations.  In Guapea both partners step back, then forward towards each other making contact with their free hand.
  • Dance Salsa Miami style on ‘1’.

Los Angeles Style 

  • LA style is danced as a slot dance using cross body leads to switch sides.
  • Showmanship is number one in styling this dance.  Because of this, it is very flashy, just like it’s namesake.
  • With that in mind, for more flair and musical expression, use tricks, such as lifts, drops, and dips.
  • Shines are solo steps, done individually, and are prevalent in this style of Salsa.
  • Dance LA style on ‘1’ as it breaks on the first beat of the music.

New York On 2

  • In order to achieve a more linear feel, this style is performed in a slot.
  • Dance NY on 2 in a smooth, easy manner.  As a result, it’s elegant rather than rushed. 
  • Spins, fancy footwork, and, equally important, Shines are part of the style of NY on 2.
  • Like Mambo, you’ll be breaking on the ‘2’ beat.

Check out this website for more about New York Salsa on 2.  A Website About New York Style Mambo Dancing “Breaking on 2”.

Puerto Rican Style

  • Puerto Rican style Salsa dancers love to express themselves with complicated and speedy Shines.
  • Dancing in the slot produces a neat, polished result.
  • Many old-school PR dancers prefer the circular movement, much like the Cuban style.
  • Put the whole body into the music, using lots of hip action and shoulder shimmies.
  • PR style Salsa dancers have the choice of dancing on either the ‘1’ or the ‘2’.  If breaking on ‘2’, the leader is breaking forward on the second beat.

If you want to dance Salsa, where should you begin?

Many people choose to begin with LA style, minus the tricks, of course.   I agree that it’s a great place to start.

Here’s my reasoning.

  1. This style of Salsa breaks on the ‘1’ beat.  Furthermore, most people find it easier to get started on the first beat of the music.
  2. LA Salsa is danced on the slot.  Dancing on a track gives it more structure.  Therefore, it makes it easier to stay oriented to your partner.
  3. There are 3 or 4 basic steps and 3 or 4 basic turns.  With a modest introduction, you’ll have enough material to dance whole songs with good variety.

Don’t put it off for another day.  Get out there and learn to dance Salsa.  Go to a studio, take some group classes, watch YouTube, whatever.  You’re missing out on a whole lot of fun, so get a move on and get your move on! 

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Fantastic I’ll bare all this in mind when we finally get around to it in classes ❤️💐🙏

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