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A Brief History of Salsa Dancing

(Once you've read this, scroll down for extra salsa Information)!

We have music playlists for practice and fun and lots of other awesome salsa tidbits!

Salsa Music, and Salsa Dancing are popular all over the world. From tiny venues hidden deep in the

rural jungles, to huge Salsa nightclubs celebrating Salsa in cities great and small. Here the music is played,

and Salsa dancers rule the night. The dance patterns and movements vary widely from club to club,

city to city, but the same sexy, rhythmic movement unifies them all, and also a love of the music we all refer to as "Salsa".

The origins of this exciting and provocative partner dance form go back all the way to the African continent;

when men and women who had been torn from their homeland to serve as slaves in the New World, brought the music

and style of body movement to the Caribbean and parts of Latin America such as Cuba, Colombia, and Puerto Rico.

The movement was strong and sensual, often closely tied to the old religion of Santeria, or the worship of

older African deities called "Orichas". We now refer to these traditional dance forms as "Afro-Cuban Rumba".

In places like Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, Rumba was mixed with French

and English country-dances, and what we know as Salsa began to take shape. The music and dance continued

evolving and changing, and took on many different names and titles: Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, Bachata, Cumbia,

Danzon, Merengue were just a few. When these forms of music and dancing came to the US early in the 20th

Century, they quickly gained popularity. The word "Mambo", meaning "conversation with the Gods", was used as a

song title by Cuban composer Orestes Lopez, and the dance associated with it became popular at New York's

Park Plaza Ballroom then later at the Palladium. Although the basic steps and patterns were not formalized until

much later, the infectious melodies and sophisticated rhythms of Salsa, made their mark from Brooklyn to Miami

(or from Miami to Brooklyn). The early "Salsa" bands were Big Band ensembles, headed by legendary

names like Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, and Machito. During the 70's these large groups gave way to a newer sound,

spearheaded by a record Label called Fania, where artists such as Hector Lavoe brought a grittier modern sound to the table,

and also the brought the term "Salsa" from the diverse, spicy Latin American food. Since then, many dance forms have

contributed to what we know as Salsa; Ballroom, Jazz, Tap, Hustle, West Coast Swing, and even Hip Hop.

Today Salsa Dancing can be loosely separated into three distinct and popular styles: "On 2" Salsa dancing-

also known as "New York Style", “On1”- sometimes called "LA Style" and "Cuban Salsa", associated with

"Casino", and "Casino Rueda". Dancing Salsa "On 2", started when a young Puerto Rican dancer living in New York

began studying music theory and decided that the dance should follow the "tumbao", a conca rhythm

punctuated by sharp slap on the 2 and 6 beats. Dancing Salsa "On 2", has been around for a long time, and is very popular.

Visually, “On2” often has a distinctive look and feel. The movements are small and precise, with

sophisticated use of redirection and syncopation. Hearing the "2" side of the beat requires focus, and produces

very musical dancers. An example of On2 dancing can be seen here: Dancing Salsa “On1” is certainly the

most common kind of Salsa Dancing, possibly because it is a little easier than“On2.”  Latin tunes are often

complex, with numerous instruments interlocking at once and finding the beat is not always easy. Since most pop

melodies focus attention to downbeats, (1, 3, 5, 7), it is often easiest to "find the 1", by listening to the

melodic instruments, such as vocals, horns and piano. Salsa Dancing “On1” is a great way to start out.

The basic pattern of dancing on1 has the Lead stepping forward with his left foot on the 1st beat of the music,

and back on the 5. The Follow does the opposite, stepping backward on the 1 and forward on the five.

Dancers in Los Angeles such as the Vasquez brothers helped to coin the term "LA Style" often characterized by

long powerful steps, and many fancy, flashy patterns and tricks. It should be noted however, that not all “On1”

dancers use this extravagant "LA Style". Two  examples of Salsa "LA Style" can be seen here and here.

Dancing Salsa “Cuban Style” is also called "Casino", or "Casino Rueda". It is distinctly different from

both On 1 and On2 in that it flows in circular patterns, rather than the "in line" back and forth approach that both Salsa On1 and

Salsa On2 share. The body posture of “Cuban Style” Salsa Dancing is slightly leaned forward, and there is a somewhat

abrupt feeling to the steps, which bring the dancers side to side and around each other. A form of Salsa

music called "Timba" is often associated with “Cuban Style”. People in Cuba often use the term "Casino" to

describe Salsa dancing, and "Casino Rueda" when it is danced in a group. When danced in a circle Casino Rueda

uses a "caller";a person who calls out each next move, and the Follows move around from Lead, to Lead in a

circle. An example to watch can be seen here. There are obviously more than just these three styles of Salsa Dancing.

Many more are constantly evolving as Salsa dance competitions become popular around the globe.

Competition fosters the desire to refine, define and create new structure. Fresh and innovative interpretations

of salsa spring up everywhere, from Sydney to Bombay, from Cali Colombia to San Francisco. Whether we’re

dancing salsa On 1, On 2 or Cuban, Salsa is here to stay, creating tight knit communities and connecting dancers

from all cultures and demographics. Whoever we are, we all share at least one thing in common: are all Kings

and Queens on the dance floor.

Thanks for reading,



And a little more Salsa Information!



Our students often ask us “what Salsa music should I practice to” What

movies should I watch Etc.This is a difficult question to answer because

there are so many salsa artists to choose from! We have our own personal

salsa music play list which we use at our salsa dance events The SCT Part

Play list, these songs are a mixture of Salsa, Bachata Cha Cha, and Zouk,

once you’ve checked these wonderful songs out, scroll down to see some

other salsa musicians, movies and dancers:

SCT Salsa Party Play list!


Tito Rodríguez Estoy Como Nunca Latin


Africando,  Sama Thiel (moliendo Cafe)

El Día de Mi Suerte ,

Marc Anthony,  El Cantante

Todo Tiene Su Final

Marc Anthony ,  El Cantante

Vocales De Amor

Joan Soriano, Vocales De Amor

Barco a la Deriva

Marc Anthony,  Marc Anthony - Libre

Te Va Mal

Óptimo , Óptimo FDL Pop Latino

Maria Maria

Santana, Supernatural


Eddie Palmieri's La Perfecta Orchestra, Sugar Daddy Latin 100


Massimo Scalic, Salsauk Festival 2004

Vocales De Amor

Joe Veras

Que Pasara Manana

Joan Soriano, Vocales De Amor

See full size image


Willie Colón,

Sin Tu Amor No Soy Feliz

Joan Soriano, Vocales De Amor

Bajo Con Tumbao

Eddie Palmieri,  Maestros del Sabor Vol 1 Salsa


Marc Anthony,  El Cantante


La India,  Song Bird



Joe Cuba, Salsa y Bembé

Acabo De Llegar

El Negro Bembon


Chico O'Farrill Joe Cuba

Bueno Y Pico

Wuelfo, El Sonido de la

La Vida Es Un Carnaval

Celia Cruz


Perez Prado, Fiesta Latina (Bacardi)

El Shing-A-Ling

Poncho Sanchez, Putumayo Presents - ¡Salsa!




Eddie Palmieri


El Gran Combo

El Sonero Del Barrio

Los Soneros Del Barrio, Martin Arroyo, Frankie Ruiz

Otro dia sin ti

Joe veras

Dejame LLorar

Johm Martinez Con El Alma Fria

Chango Ta' Beni

Machito Enciclopedia De La Salsa Vol. 03


Adolescent's Orchestra Salsa Favourites V1 Latin



Dime Si Te Gusto

Aventura Generation Next

Asi Es La Humanidad

Orquesta Revolucion

Avisale A Mi Contrario

Orquesta Tabaco Y Ron Salsa De Verdá

Ay Valeria!

Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca, Putumayo Presents - ¡Salsa!

Ay Mami


El Gran Combo - La Muerte

El Gran Combo

Ladron De Tu Amor

L Ramirez & R De La Paz Exitos

Aqui Al Que Baila Gana

Mixed Salsauk Festival 2004

Sonido Bestial

Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz Un Sonido Bestial Salsa y Tropical

El Matatán

Teodoro Reyes The Rough Guide To Merengue & Bachata

Dame Un Poco Mas

Adolescentes   Persona Ideal

La Palomilla

Joe Cuba  Best For Boys 2

Yo Vine Pa'Ver

Joe Cuba


Joe Cuba Sextet

Joe Veras - Me decidi

Joe veras

Amor En La Arena

Johnny Pacheco, Pete Rodriguez Viva Sa(Disc


Marc Anthony



Orese Vilato

Salsa Masters - Best Of

See full size image

Adelante Siempre Voy

Ray Barretto Salsa Caliente En N.Y.

Amor Pa' Que

Rubén Blades Salsa Caliente De Nu York

Amor A Medio Tiempo

como olvidar

Ciego de Amor (Featuring Anthony Santos)

Aventura & Anthony Santos God's Project Salsa y Tropical

La Vida Es Un Carnaval

Celia Cruz

Brinda Por Mi

Cheo Feliciano Salsa Caliente de Nu York!

Que Problema

Joe Cuba & Cheo Feliciano

El Titere

L Ramirez & R De La Paz Exitos

El Musico

Ray Olan y su Sason Sugar On Sunday

Si Tu Carino No Esta

Aqui Esta La Bachata Aqui Esta La Bachata


Conjunto La Realidad (Canta: Ivan Rivera) Asi Es Mi Tierra

Bailemos Otra Vez

José Alberto "El Canario" Mis Mejores Canciones

Hoja En Blanco

Monchy & Alexandra

Aprende a Querer

Spanish Harlem Orchestra Un Gran Dia En El Barrio (2002)

Algun Dia

Tito Allen Salsa Masters - Best Of

Una Mujer Como Tu

Aqui Esta La Bachata Aqui Esta La Bachata

El Preso

Fruko Y sus Tesos Salsa Favourites V1

Al Mana

Joe Arroyo Salsa/Joe Arroyo/30 Pegaditas De Oro

Que Va

Joe Cuba Salsa y Bembé

Mujer Divina

Joe cuba

Calma Tu Llanto

Brooklyn Sounds Libre-Free

Ave Maria Morena

Joe Cuba y Cheo Feliciano Joe & Cheo Compilation

Discúlpeme Señora

José Alberto "El Canario" Mis Mejores Canciones

Como Fue Capaz

Kevin Caballo Salsa 2001 Vol. 4

Africando - Yay Boy

Putumayo World Music Afro-Latino

No Te Puedo Perdonar

Luis Miguel Del Amargue

Mi Bajo Y Yo

Oscar D'León El Verdadero

Gracias Señor

Sonora Ponceña Back to the Road

Maestro De Rumbero

The Spanish Harlem Orchestra Across 110Th Street



The following songs and singers are all well known in the salsa community.


No Me Hace Falta" - Victor Manuelle

Andy Montañez - Casi te envidio

See full size image

Celia Cruz - Qumbara

Cuco Valoy - Juliana

DLG - La quiero a morir

Eddie Palmieri - Vámonos Pal Monte

Eddie Santiago - Lluvia

Eddie Santiago - Sobredosis

Edgar Joel - Hasta el Sol de hoy

El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico - Brujería

El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico - Me liberé

Fania All Stars - Descarga Fania

Frankie Negrón - Comerte a Besos

Fruko y sus Tesos - El Preso

Gilberto Santa Rosa - La Conciencia

Gilberto Santa Rosa - Que nadie me diga

Grupo Niche - Cali Pachanguero

Grupo Niche - De Amor ya no se muere

Grupo Niche - Sin Sentim

Grupo Niche - Una Aventura

Hansel y Raúl - María Teresa y Danilo

Hector Lavoe - El Cantante

Hector Lavoe - Llegó la Banda

Hector Lavoe - Mi Gente

Hector Lavoe - Todopoderoso

Hector Rey - Te propongo

Henry Fiol - Picoteando por ahí

India - Vivir Lo Nuestro

Ismael Rivera - Caras Lindas

Jerry Rivera - Casi un hechizo

Jerry Rivera - Que hay de malo

Joe Arroyo - La Noche

Joe Arroyo - La Rebelión

Johny Rivera - No vale la pena enamorarse

Johny Rivera - Por eso está conmigo

Jose Alberto El Canario - Bailemos otra vez

Lalo Rodríguez - Devórame otra vez

Larry Harlow - La Cartera

Latin Brothers - Buscándote

Latin Brothers - Las Caleñas son como las flores

Latin Brothers - Sobre Las Olas

Los Adolescentes - Aquel Lugar

Los Adolescentes - Arrepentida

Los Adolescentes - Clase Social

Los Adolescentes - Hoy aprendí

Los Adolescentes - Persona Ideal

Luis Enrique - Así es la Vida

Luis Enrique - Mi Mundo

Maelo Ruiz - Te va a doler

Mark Anthony - Te conozco bien

Mark Anthony - Y hubo alguien

Melcochita - Mi Madre

Mickey Taveraz - A pesar del tiempo

Nino Segarra - Porque té amo

Orquesta Guayacán - Invierno en Primavera

Orquesta Guayacán - Oiga mire vea

Orquesta La Sabrosura - Quédate conmigo

Orquesta La Sabrosura - Tu amigo o tu amante

Orquesta La Solución - La Rueda

Oscar de León - Llorarás

Paquito Guzmán - 25 Rosas en Vivo

Puerto Rican Power - Juguete de nadie

Raulin Rosendo - Uno se cura

Rey Ruiz - Creo en al amor

Rey Ruiz - Mi Media Mitad

Rey Ruiz - No me acostumbro

Richie Ray - Sonido Bestial

Rubén Blades - Decisiones

Rubén Blades - Pedro Navaja

Salsa Kids - Déjame un beso

Salsa Kids - La magia de tus quince años

Salserín - Una Fan Enamorada

Sonora Carruseles - Micaela

Tito Gómez - Página de Amor

Tito Nieves - Fabricando fantasías

Tito Rojas - Condéname a tu amor

Tommy Olivencia - Lobo Domesticado

Tommy Olivencia - No me tires la primera piedra

Tony Vega - Esa Mujer

Victor Manuelle - Apiádate de mí

Victor Manuelle - He tratado

Willie Colón - El Gran Varón

Willie Colón - Gitana

Willie Colón - Idilio

Willie Colón - Oh que será

Willy Chirino - Los Campeones de la Salsa

And here are some well known dancers. . .

Alex Da Silva

Ana Hovanessian

Edie Lewis

Francisco Vasquez

Josie Neglia

Liz Lira

Mario Hazarika

April Genovese

David Stein

Eddie Torres


Ismael Otero

Juan Matos

Nelson Flores

Olivia Dasso

Shaka Brown

Felipe Polanco

Jayson Molina

Famous Salsa Dance Couples:

Jai and Candy

Victor and Burju

Some well known Salsa dance teams:

Caribbean Soul


Los Rumberos

Salsa Y Control

Salsa Brava


Salsa Movies: These movies are not all necessarily about salsa, some are

simply focused on LatinDancing or Ballroom Dancing (Take the Lead,

Strictly Ballroom), some are about the Salsa scene (Born Romantic) in

particular part of the world, and some, (like Dirty Dancing Havana Nights)

are only ostensibly about salsa. But most of them have a few wonderful

dance sequences, watch them for the dancing, not the story line! To see

truly great Salsa dancing, we suggest you check out a Salsa Congress, or a

Salsa Dance club . But just for fun, you might want to check out a few of

these films as well!

Salsa (1988

Starring: Robby Rosa, Rodney Harvey Director: Boaz Davidson Rating: PG (Parental

Dance with Me (1998)

Starring: Vanessa Williams, Chayanne Director: Randa Haines Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested) Format:

Shall We Dance?  (2004, we also suggest the original Japanese version).

Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez Director: Peter Chelsom

Black Orpheus: (1959)

Starring: Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn Director: Marcel Camus

Born Romantic:  (2000)  British film directed by David Kane.

Strictly Ballroom (1993)

Starring: Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice Director: Baz Luhrmann

Take the Lead (2006)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown Director: Liz Friedlander

Dirty Dancing (1987) Starring: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze Director: Emile Ardolino

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

Famous Salsa artists: You’ve probably heard of a few of them. . .

Marc Anthony

Tito Puente

Hector Lavoe

Celia Cruz

Jerry Rivera

Willie Colon

Frankie Ruiz

Victor Manuelle

Fania All-Stars


Israel "Cachao" Lopez

Tito Nieves

Eddie Santiago

Ruben Blades

El Gran Combo De Puerto Rico

Cheo Feliciano

Mongo Santamaria

Oscar D'Leon


Los Van Van

Tito Rojas

Eddie Palmieri

Joe Arroyo


Ray Barretto

La Sonora Carruseles

Johnny Pacheco

Lalo Rodriguez

Andy Montanez

Jose Alberto "El Canario"

Johnny Rivera

Nestor Torres

Daniel Santos

La Sonora Matancera

Ismael Rivera

Tony Vega

Luis Enrique

Salsa Passion

Ismael Miranda

Michael Stuart



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