Salsa dancing is a form of social dance that has little chance of ever going out of style. There is something extraordinarily timeless about this singular marriage of movement and music. It is not only good for your health, but for the soul as well. The history of salsa is a fascinating one. The people who celebrate and teach salsa are just as compelling. Taken as a whole, the history, styles, and people who showcase salsa can prove to be fascinating.
If you are just beginning to learn more about this remarkable form of dance, there are several different things about it that are worth studying.
To begin with, did you know the story of salsa is a fairly recent one? It’s true. Although salsa has a deep, varied array of influences, it really didn’t begin to shape itself into the dance style people around the world love until the mid-1970s.
Not surprisingly, salsa initially hit the scene in New York City.
Salsa Dancing History
Giving salsa a concrete timeline is difficult. Although the dance and music associated with the movements first caught on in New York in the 1970s, the origins of salsa must also consider the numerous influences that shaped it into what people enjoy in the present.
In other words, while the name “salsa” can be traced back to New York City in the 1970s, the movements go back much further. You can look to Cuba in the 1920s for the true beginning of the story of salsa. Cuban dances like Son, Son Montuno, Cha-cha-cha, and Mambo became popular staples of the Caribbean, Latin American, and Latino communities that populated various parts of New York in the 1940s.
Salsa is a product of numerous influences, songs, music styles, movements, cultures, and ideals. While there is a certain measure of controversy over where the term “salsa” originated (some believe it is based on a cry musicians would throw out while playing, but others argue that the name is merely the product of record company marketing), the dance continues to take hold in locales all across the world. To appreciate salsa is to understand that this dance can be expressed in many forms.
One thing that is not controversial about salsa, which demands one leads, while the other follows, would be its popularity. In a general sense, the salsa beat remains fast and varied, no matter where you might be.
Many forms of salsa involve dancers shifting their weight by stepping. At the same time, they will keep their bodies level, as unaffected by the weight distribution change as humanly possible. The way the weight shifts will then cause your hips to move. Movements with your arms and shoulders are common, as well.
Nonetheless, while there are some similarities amongst the various forms of salsa, it is important to understand that the different types of salsa are distinguished from one another for a reason:
- Colombian/Cali style: This style utilizes strong influences from the dances to Caribbean rhythms that appeared before salsa.
- Cuban style/Casino: This style comes from Cuban partner dances.
- Miami-style Casino: This style combines Casino elements with some significant influences from American culture.
- Rueda de Casino: Developed in Havana, this style is characterized by pairs of dancers forming circles.
- L.A. style: Combines Latin Hustle with dance styles like swing, Argentine tango, and even Latin ballroom.
- New York style: There are two things about New York style that are quite interesting. In the first place, New York style is danced on the 2nd beat of the music. In the second place, New York style has the follower stepping forward for the 1st measure of the music, which is something the leader normally does.
Salsa has so much to offer.