One of the most listened-to musical genres in Latin America is salsa.
Influenced by music from the Caribbean and Africa, it is a distinctly Latin rhythm. Salsa blends elements from jazz, mambo and Cuban rumba. Its place of birth is contested, but many agree that it was Cuba.
There are many ways to dance to salsa professionally.
One method is the so-called casino style, in which dancers wheel while executing easy movements. This style was born in Miami, where some Cubans were exiled after the country’s revolution.
The line dance is the second style. As its name suggests, dancers create a straight line with their movements, making this style more complex.
Other styles, called On1 and On2, involve dancers moving backward and forward following a set of steps with a particular timing. These styles are similar to son cubano, a type of music and dance that originated in eastern Cuba.
It is handy for people who want to get started in salsa to learn about the dance styles.
“I started attending salsa classes because I didn’t know how to dance, and whenever I went to a party, I stayed at the table watching people have fun,” said Fernando Palomino Faibre, an amateur dancer at the Ángel Dance Academy in Veracruz, Mexico. “Now, I have learned to dance the casino style, as it is a freer and easier style for me. Now, I am interested in taking more classes, to learn more and participate in competitions.”
Classifications by provenance
For Latinos, Los Angeles is a major hub for salsa. Angelenos practice the On1 style, many of them on a professional level. New Yorkers, on the other hand, dance and perform mostly in the On2 manner, while Puerto Ricans give the same style their own touch as they move their shoulders, hips and hands.
Colombians have their “caleño” salsa (from Cali, Colombia), with more complicated movements, including acrobatics. Venezuelans dance with a style of their own, making erotic gestures while they move. Dancers take their partners by the waist bringing them close with a bit of flirtation and seduction.
“The academy teaches a lot the Cuban style,” said Ángel de Jesús Sosa Vargas, teacher and owner of the Angel Dance Academy. “Here, I have people of all ages, from young to old. There is no age to learn. People de-stress and have fun dancing here. Another point is that salsa is an aerobic exercise that greatly benefits health.”
“Regularly, what one is looking for is an easier salsa style, so that people can have more confidence and gradually let themselves go on the dance floor,” he said.
(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Carlin Becker.)