Salsa Dance

You should not confuse it with a tasty dip for tortilla chips. Salsa is a dance and music style. It has Caribbean and African roots and has been popular all over Latin America and in most Latino communities in the USA for decades.

Nevertheless, the Salsa dance style is gaining more and more popularity in both Asia and Europe nowadays. You might have already seen it somewhere or even tried it. If you did, you got an unforgettable experience and possibly would like to continue with us. “Hips Don’t Lie” offers you both entertainment acts for hire and Salsa classes. We also want you to know more about this amazing dance style, so you will get a lot of Salsa dance information from our team.


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      So, what is Salsa dancing? You can easily recognize its rhythm because it is sensual and catchy. They say it is easy to learn though mastering this dance requires much time and effort. Only a few academies in the world teach this dance, and it is different levels of difficulty. You can also enjoy or take part in worldwide competitions, such as the World Salsa Open and the World Salsa Championship.

      Salsa Dance Origins and History

      Salsa dance originated in Eastern Cuba in the early 1900s. Musical rhythms from some other styles were combined in it. The main styles that account for its birth are Cuban Son and Afro-Cuban Rumba. They used a variety of musical instruments to create the specific basic rhythm that would become known as Salsa later.

      The Salsa dance history continued when that new rhythm reached Havana only after almost 50 years of practicing in other parts of Cuba. In the capital, the dance was mixed with the elements of other Cuban music and dance styles, as well as with American jazz. When the Cuban Revolution broke out, many musicians emigrated to the United States. New York City became the center for them because it had a big Hispanic community. It was a perfect environment for the rhythm’s further development, so we got what we know as the Salsa dance style due to them. El Barrio, also well-known as Spanish Harlem, housed many prominent musicians and Salsa dancers.

      salsa dancing

      In 1964, the history of Salsa dance went on when the American musician Johnny Pacheco and Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci set up a record label, known now as Fania Records. It extended rapidly by producing multiple hits. Many legends of Salsa have signed with the label. Such celebrities as Cheo Feliciano, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, and Hector Lavoe, belonged to the brand’s clients among many others.

      Fania Records is famous for editing Cuban rhythms and adding catchier sounds to them to create the best Salsa dance performance. Such music became immensely popular and widely accepted by the New York Latin market. It was due to Fania that the name “Salsa” appeared together with the Salsa dance description, created specifically for enhancing sales.

      In fact, Salsa music involves different Caribbean rhythms and musical instruments that create that unique sound. Salsa dance is a combination of styles mixed and adapted to the tastes of various localities. That produced different local Salsa styles, for example, New York style, Salsa Casino (or Cuban style), Rueda de Casino, Salsa Casino in Miami style, Cali style or Colombian Salsa, and Afro-Latino style.

      This variety of cultures added a lot to a vast diversity of Salsa types, with their specific sets of instruments. The percussion instruments used regionally involve timbales, bongos, cowbells, congas, and maracas. Other instruments, like a piano, violin, bass, solo, and electric guitars, are used here, too. There are also brass instruments used for Salsa music, such as the flute, trombone, saxophone, and trumpet. Hispanic communities from all over the world picked up the style and promoted it everywhere worldwide. You can see the Salsa dance pictures from different styles on our site.

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      Salsa Dancing Rhythm and Routines

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      The Salsa dance facts about the rhythm and routines are very interesting. Eight-beat music is the basis of Salsa dancing. Dancers move on three beats and make a pause for one beat. Then, they continue moving left-right-left first and then, right-left-right. The pause is usually used for some additional flourishing like foot stomps, kicks, and abrupt hand movements. In general, the style is stationary. You do not have to move much around the floor. The energy of the dance is expressed via leg and upper body movements.

      The movements are partnered, though dancers may have solo breaks known as shines. These pauses serve for taking a breath if a dancer is exhausted or for catching the rhythm if they are out of it. Shines consist of various ornate movements and body demonstrations. Dancers can show their true talent via them. Moreover, shines provides a lot of opportunities for improvisation because initially, Salsa dance means many of them. Though, there are standard routine shines that you have to learn and perform to transfer the ingenuine Salsa dance meaning.

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      You can encounter different Salsa styles. The difference is in moving on the first beat (known as “on one”) or on the second beat (“on two”). Some Salsa dancers strongly believe that their choice of rhythm is better and more accurate. However, both rhythmic patterns are correct, and it is only a matter of individual preference that can be taken into account.

      Apart from these stylistic patterns, there is a variety of schools worldwide. Salsa dance explained and practiced in them looks different. Some of them, like LA, Colombian, and Cuban styles, are based on an “on-one” pattern. Others, like ballroom Mamba, en clave, and palladium, are “on-two” styles. The style introduced by Eddie Torres combines the “on one” and “on two” rhythmic patterns. A dancer starts and pauses “on one” here but switches the body ‘on two.’

      Salsa dancing has gained immense popularity worldwide, starting in Latin America and the United States and spreading far beyond it to Europe and elsewhere.

      Canadian dance companies, clubs, and studios also experience a greater interest in Salsa dance acts for hire, so “Hips Don’t Lie” boasts the best Salsa dance troupe in Toronto and GTA, as well as Salsa classes with experienced and professional instructors.

      Salsa is not the easiest dance style due to its high tempo. Though, it is so enjoyable and lively that most dancers of all skill levels manage to gain perfect mastery within several months. You can always find the best Salsa dance group near me at our studio.

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      Different Styles and Types of Salsa Dancing and What Differentiates Them

      If you are a newbie to the Salsa style, you may not notice the difference in movements and rhythmic patterns between different Salsa dance groups coming from various parts of the world. Some of them can also switch from one type to the other while dancing. However, if you know how to dance one variation of Salsa, you may find it difficult to dance it with a different technique. That is why you will never encounter an accurate Salsa dance definition. “Hips Don’t Lie” one of the outstanding Salsa dance companies in Canada will provide you with more options and a deep understanding of this amazing dancing style.

      Therefore, Salsa originated as a combination of Afro-Cuban, Cha-Cha-Cha, Mambo, and Son music. Nevertheless, it started spreading around the world and acquired the features ingenuine to the place it was performed in. The process lasted over decades, so now we have pretty different types of Salsa dance popularized by the representatives of a specific region or famous dancers coming from different countries.

      Los Angeles Style (Salsa On One)

      This type is well-known on the West Coast of the USA and in many parts of Europe. This type of Salsa dance in Toronto also enjoys popularity. It started in the 1990s and is considered the most modern type among many Salsa forms. Albert Torres, Rogelio Moreno, and The Vaquez Brothers are the pioneers of it.

      LA-style Salsa has elements from Latin Hustle, Latin ballroom, and Colombian Salsa. Hustle, Tango, and Swing have influenced the dance a lot. The emphasis is made on fast spins, shine steps, and complex footwork. It is danced in a line or slot. You should do the first steps on the first count, and flashiness is the main feature here. You can even combine hip-hop and jazz moves with ballroom dance and acrobatics to be entertaining and spectacular to the audience.

      salsa dance style 3

      New York Style (Salsa On Two)

      This style is also known as nightclub-style Salsa. Though, this type is not very popular worldwide. It originated in the 1960s in New York City. Eddie Torrez did a lot to popularize the ‘on two’ Salsa style. Since then, every Salsa dance company in New York has been practicing it.

      For dancers Salsa on two is more compact than others, and they remain closer to each other. You will not see much moving in a sandbox area with all those spins and turns. Instead, dancers emphasize precision, footwork, timing, and body isolation. They can separate to do shines or individual footwork patterns. These movements are inspired by New York tap and swing.

      The New York Salsa type seems smoother than the LA style, more controlled, graceful, and elegant, so it can create the best Salsa dance performance ever.

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      Cuban Style Salsa Dancing (Casino)

      This type is popular in Latin America and Europe, as well as it is a part of Salsa dancing in Toronto and overall Canada. It started in Cuba in the 1950s. The local Salsa dance group could perform it barefoot on Cuban rhythms. It borrows many elements from Cha-Cha-Cha, Cuban Son, Guaracha, and Danzon.

      The most common moves are hip and pulsing body actions that came from Mambo, Rumba, Afro-Cuban, and Reggaeton. The main characteristic of this type is a more relaxed and casual atmosphere without strict rules. The footwork is simple, while arm movements are complex. The moves are spontaneous and freestyle, so this type is perfect for social dancing if you are interested in Salsa dance near me.

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      Salsa Rueda de Casino Social Dancing

      Such Salsa dances are also called simply Salsa Rueda. It is a variation of the Cuban style, and “Rueda” is a Spanish word that means “a wheel” or “a circle.” It is a group dance version. So, two or more couples make a big circle and perform as Salsa dance groups. A caller is involved here who shouts out the names of moves to perform. Couples can switch partners while dancing. Dancers should be very accurate and speedy to ensure a smooth dance flow. This type is fast-paced and very energetic, and it is often performed in social gatherings. Salsa Rueda is considered a part of Cuban culture.

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      Miami Style (Miami Casino or Classico)

      This variation evolved from Cuban Salsa. It started in the 1960s when the first Cuban immigrants came to Florida. They incorporated American-influenced moves into their dance, so the meaning of Salsa dance changed a bit. Though, the most essential elements of the Cuban style were preserved. This dance is also performed in a circle, though the style is more relaxed and flamboyant. It involves more interconnected arm movement patterns, with a flexible upper body, and more advanced steps. Footwork differentiates this type a lot. It is more complicated, with the characteristic diagonal back steps. Cross-body lead variations are also common here. They allow for longer movement sequences.

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      Colombian Salsa on the Dance Floor (Cali Style)

      This type originated from the Cumbia dance. It is widely performed in Colombia, especially in Cali. They even have a dance festival there entirely dedicated to this dance - the Salsa al Parque. This version is also quite popular across the whole of Latin America. The dance is traditionally performed to Cumbia music with its distinctive sounds of the accordion. The Cumbia dance is a Colombian folk dance characterized by rapid and intricate footwork, with a rigid upper body and occasional athletic tricks and lifts. The dance floors are usually crowded, so dancers keep their partners very close. It also helps cope with the fast beats.

      salsa dance style 8

      Salsa Choke

      This style also comes from Colombia. It originated on its Pacific Coast, in Tumaco. The global fame of this variation began with the Colombian national soccer team who showcased this style in 2014. The Spanish word ‘choke’ means ‘to bump,’ so the overall meaning of it is ‘salsa bump.’ The standard bump and grind dancing is mixed here with traditional Salsa movements.

      Salsa Choke is a form of group line dancing where performers dance solo. This Salsa dance performance is very interesting. One leader shows the steps and other people in a line follow them. The dance is performed to Salsa Choke music featuring a blend of reggeaton, salsa, and different urban beats like electronica and house.

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      Puerto Rican Salsa

      This type originates from Danza. It is a kind of ballroom dance, popular in southern Puerto Rico. The Puerto Ricans who came to New York in the 1950s became the pioneers of this style. Felipe Polanco made this type of Salsa famous across the United States.

      The style features clean lines and deliberate partner work. The focus is made on traveling combinations, styling, and elegance of every movement. Individual shines are also allowed with intricate footwork and shimmies as common parts of the technique. The routine also emphasizes the female Salsa dancer with her flamboyant arm movements.

      salsa dance style 10

      Competitive Salsa Dance Style (Cabaret)

      What is Salsa dance for competitions? It derives from other Salsa types, using different elements depending on the events. Therefore, the overall timing, characteristics, and steps can differ a lot. It is not a social dance, so it is well-structured and more rigid. It also includes a lot of flashy moves like flips, dips, lifts, and various athletic tricks.

      There are several well-known Salsa competitions held internationally. They are the World Salsa Open, the World Salsa Summit, the WSF World Salsa Championships, and many others where famous Salsa dance teams show their best skills and mastery.

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      Is Salsa a Mexican dance?
      Salsa can also be considered a Mexican dance since it is Latin American. Though, its deep roots lie elsewhere, including Cuba and Puerto Rico. Its extensive musical background also originated in these countries.

      Where did Salsa dance originate?
      Salsa originated in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Colombia, but it actually developed within the Latino communities of New York. It blends several Caribbean dance genres, such as Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, Mambo Cumbia, Festejo, and some others.

      What is the purpose of Salsa dancing?
      All types of Salsa have a strong emphasis on sensuousness and dramatic presentation. It means that this dance is aimed at impressions. LA Salsa dancers even sing while dancing. The other features include acrobatics, teasing, and spinning.

      What are the characteristics of Salsa dance?
      Salsa dancing has such characteristics as break steps and spins, drops, performances, show-stopping, and solo moves called shines. Salsa music blends a complicated rhythm with the sounds of horns, percussion sections, including cowbells and timbals, as well as romantic lyrics.

      “Hips Don’t Lie” is a prominent Salsa dance company with well-established traditions and one of the most talented Salsa dance troupes for hire near me. We can also offer a vast choice of other dancing styles and techniques to enjoy and order from us. Or you can order performances that blend five different styles for your special occasion or celebration.
      Call us and you will enjoy every moment spent in our beautiful world of dancing and music.

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