Salsa Dancing for Beginners

How to Dance Salsa

Five Parts:

Salsa dancing originated in the 1970s in New York City, influenced by dance styles from Cuba and Puerto Rico. It is a lively, sensual dance that you can perform at parties or dance clubs. Start by learning basic salsa moves like "On1" timing, a right turn, and a cross body lead. Then, practice dancing salsa with a partner. You can also take a salsa class to improve your dance moves and take them to the next level.


Doing "On1" Timing

  1. Place your feet hip-width apart in the neutral position.Your feet should be flat on the floor.
  2. Step your left foot forward in front of you.This is count 1.
    • Salsa dancing has 1-8 counts. Always follow along to salsa music by doing 8 steps at a time.
  3. Step back on your right foot for count 2.Do not raise your right foot. Simply transfer your weight back to your right foot.
  4. Return your left foot back to the neutral position for count 3.Stay still for count 4.
    • Counts 4 and 8 are considered a pause so you will never do a step on these counts.
  5. Step your right foot behind you for count 5.Stay light on your feet as you step backward.
  6. Transfer your weight to your left foot on count 6.Do not lift or raise your left foot as you do this.
  7. Bring your right foot back to the neutral position for count 7.Stay still for count 8.

Part 1 Quiz

How many times do you step with each foot in an 8-count?

Learning a Right Turn

  1. Begin in the neutral position.Step forward with your left foot for count 1.
  2. Turn your right foot around so it points the opposite direction for count 2.Your toes should face away from your left foot.
  3. Use momentum to turn in a clockwise direction for count 3.Raise your left foot and bring it back to the neutral position.
    • After the turn, stay still for count 4.
  4. Place your right foot behind you for count 5.Step back lightly with your foot.
  5. Lean your weight forward on your left foot for count 6.Do not raise your left foot when you lean forward. Keep your feet planted on the ground.
  6. Return to the neutral position for count 7.Stay still for count 8.

Part 2 Quiz

True or False: In a right turn, your right toes will be facing away from your left foot after count 2.

Doing a Cross Body Lead

  1. Start in the neutral position.Step your left foot forward on count 1.
  2. Step your right foot to the right side for count 2.Place it down lightly.
  3. Place your left foot next to your right foot for count 3.Your body should be open to the side and your right and left foot should both be facing the side of the room, parallel to each other.
    • Hold for count 4.
  4. Step in place on your right foot for count 5.Lean your weight on your right foot. Do not raise or lift your foot.
  5. Turn your right foot towards the back of the room on count 6.It should be perpendicular to your left foot.
  6. Place your left foot next to your right foot for count 7.Hold for count 8.
    • Do these steps a few times before you attempt a cross body lead with a partner. Having the steps down will make it easier for you to lead your partner.

Part 3 Quiz

On what count should your right foot be perpendicular to your left?

Doing Salsa with a Partner

  1. Hold your partner in a closed position.In salsa, there is a lead (usually the man) and a follow (usually a woman). If you are leading, take your left hand and hold your partner’s right hand in a loose grip with your thumb on their hand. Place your right hand on your partner’s upper back. Keep a fair amount of space between you and your partner, holding them loosely.
    • Do not grip your partner too tightly or stiffen up your arms or legs as you hold them. Stay relaxed and loose.
    • As the lead, you will start all salsa steps moving forward. As the follow, your partner will begin all steps moving backward.
  2. Do the “On1” step with a partner.Begin in the closed position with your partner. Step your left foot forward and lean to the left for count 1. Your partner will move their right foot backward, leaning with you to the left. Then, put weight into your right foot for count 2. Your partner will put weight on their left foot. Step your left foot backward for count 3. Your partner will step their right foot forward. Stay in neutral position for count 4.
    • Repeat these steps again for count 5, 6, 7, and 8.
    • Make sure you gently guide your partner as you move forward and backward by pushing into their hand and pulling on their back. Your partner should then push gently against you to give some resistance so the movements are balanced and smooth.
  3. Practice the right turn with a partner.Start in the closed position with your left hand gripping your partner’s right hand and your right hand gripping your partner’s left hand. Lift the thumb of your left hand up. Then, draw a “J” shape or a half circle in the air with your left hand. At the top of the circle, open your hand and place two fingers against your partner’s palm. Your partner will then spin to the right and then return to the closed position.
    • Apply pressure with your fingers to your partner’s palm as they spin so they stay balanced.

Part 4 Quiz

As they lead, how do you guide your partner effectively?

Taking Your Salsa to the Next Level

  1. Dance along to salsa music.Practice your basic steps to the beat of salsa music. Look for salsa music online or at your local music store. Listen to the music and count out your steps to the beat so you are dancing in time to the music.
    • Salsa music has an upbeat tempo that accompanies salsa dancing well. Choose music that has a slower tempo first so you can practice and get better. Over time, you can try dancing to salsa music that has a faster tempo.
  2. Watch salsa dancing videos.Salsa is a very visual dance so you may find it helpful to watch seasoned performers do their thing. Look for salsa dancing videos online. Watch how the dancers hold their partner and move together in time to the music.
  3. Enroll in a salsa class.Improve your salsa dancing by taking a class at your local dance studio or community center. You may also be able to find salsa classes at your local Latin community center.
    • Look for a class taught by a seasoned salsa dancer and instructor. Sign up for a class tailored for beginner salsa dancers.
  4. Go to a salsa dance club.There may also be salsa dance clubs in your area where you can go and watch seasoned salsa dancers perform. Study their movements and work with different dance partners to improve your dancing.
    • Check online for salsa dance clubs near you. Many night clubs will have salsa dance nights devoted to salsa dancing.
  5. Enter a salsa dancing competition.To really challenge yourself, consider entering a salsa dancing competition with a partner. Find a local competition or enter a national competition. Work with a partner to create a salsa dance routine to perform for the judges and the crowd at the competition.
    • If you decide to enter into competitions, you may want to invest in dance shoes made for salsa. You can find salsa dance shoes online or at your local dance supply store.

Part 5 Quiz

What should you do if you're dancing to salsa music for the first time?

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Is Salsa famous in all South American countries or only in Cuba and Puerto Rico?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Salsa is famous in countries all over the world; there are many schools that teach Salsa. In Latin American countries (like Cuba and Puerto Rico), Salsa is a big part of their culture, so it is very popular.
  • Question
    What is the movement called when turning your partner?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    That movement is called a "rotation."
  • Question
    What is an inside turn and an outside turn?
    Community Answer
    An inside turn is a turn closest to the center of the room, and an outside turn is towards the outside. It really depends on whether you are on the right or left side of the room.
  • Question
    Why is salsa so fast?
    Community Answer
    It is just the style of dance. It originated in Cuba.
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Quick Summary

If you want to learn to dance salsa, stand with your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, then step your left foot in front of you on count 1. On count 2, shift your weight to your back foot, then return your left foot to its original position on count 3. Pause at count 4, then step back onto your right foot on count 5, shift forward on your left foot on 6, and return your right foot to its original spot on count 7.

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Date: 01.12.2018, 04:42 / Views: 42333