Salsa-A Popular Social and Wedding Dance

Salsa-A Popular Social and Wedding DanceLatin dancers

Salsa is not just a condiment, but it is a popular club dance. It is a hot and sexy dance with quick movements and rapid spins, danced both in open and closed hold. Salsa can be found at clubs all over the world, and is a hot addition to your wedding and social dance repertoire.


Salsa came out of the popular mambo of the 1950’s. Cuban musicians were touring back and forth to New York in the 1940’s and 1950’s. When Fidel Castor came to power and relations fell apart, travel to Cuba was cut off. Many of the Cuban musicians and performers chose to stay in New York, and “El Barrio” (Spanish Harlem) became an oasis for Latin music. “Cuban Pete” or Pedro Aguiluar from Puerto Rico was famous for dancing and was the “King of the Latin beat.” The band leader Tito Puente was “the Mambo King” for the early Mambo, and his career spanned both the Mambo and Salsa era. When he was asked what “Salsa” music and dance were, Tito Puente replied, “Salsa is a food you eat.”

By the 60’s the term “Salsa” made its way onto the music scene. The term “Salsa” was created by record labels to re-brand Latin music as spicy and hot. Parallel to the Salsa movement in New York, were the Cubans in California. Cal Tjader’s early salsa albums was the Cal Tjader Soul Sauce in which the cover donned a fork on a plate of red beans and chili alongside an opened bottle of Tabasco sauce. The Hispanics in San Francisco began using the term “Salsa” to describe Tjader’s music. In time Tjader’s music spread to Los Angeles and the East Coast.

Fania Records was the first to brand the term “Salsa” in 1964 and make it more palatable to New York audiences. By the 1970’s Fania’s bands, known as the “Latin mow town,” were touring all over Latin America. Among them was Cecilia Cruz, the “Queen of salsa.” When asked about “Salsa” Celia said that ”Salsa does not exist as a rhythm, but that it is rather an exclamation for music such as the Guaracha, Bolero, Cha-cha, Danzon, Son, Rumba, and more.” Popular contemporary artists include Enrique Iglesias, and Gloria Estefan.



Salsa is danced in partnership with a lead and a follow, and includes improvisation of various movement combinations and open partnership variations. When dancing, Salsa the upper torso remains mostly stable, leaving most of the motion in the hips, which is called “Cuban Motion”. Salsa music is in 4/4 time at 150-250 BPM (beats per minute), but there are three weight changes in each measure, danced to a QQS rhythm.

Even though salsa began with the Bolero and Rumba, It has two distinct styles today. They are LA and New York style salsa. The LA style salsa danced on beat 1 , or 1,2,3 hold 4, with traveling and improvisational steps. The New York style is also called Salsa on 2, and “Palladium” salsa/mambo, made popular by Eddie Torres. The New York Salsa is danced on 2, or 2,3,4 hold 1, with the follower dancing forward first. The New York style stays in a slot with a lot of turns and spins and encourages “shines” or solo moves. The best of anything is good, and so are all forms of Salsa, no matter whether they are from the “Palladium”, New York, or Las Angelus. Wherever you dance, salsa is hot.

Salsa Overview:

  1. A hot and spicy dance
  2. Salsa developed in the Spanish Harlem of New York with Cubans and Puerto Rican immigrants
  3. Salsa is a partnership dance
  4. Salsa has hot hip motion, called “Cuban Motion”.
  5. Salsa is Danced on 1 or 2
  6. Salsa has three weight changes in each measure
  7. Salsa is danced to a QQS rhythm.
  8. Salsa music is 4/4 time at 150-250 BPM (beats per minute),
  9. There are two styles of Salsa, LA salsa and New York style salsa on “2”


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