Salsa Dance Questions

What Salsa Style Should I Learn?

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Written by Robson Hayashida
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The main Salsa styles:

Salsa has its origins in Cuba but it has become so popular that new styles  have emerged at other parts of the world. There are mainly 2 Salsa styles which are danced around the world and also in Hong Kong:

  1. The Cuban style (also known as Casino) – The couple is gearing around each other, there is not a fixed line. There are a lot of “knots” with the hands.
  2. The Los Angeles (L.A) style (In line style) – The couple is staying on an imaginary straight line (very convenient for shows).

Both styles use the same basic steps and the same rhythm and one can relatively easily switch between the styles.

Here you can watch an example of a Cuban couple dancing Cuban Style:

And here is an example of Los Angeles Style (In line style):

Which Style should I learn, the Cuban style or the L.A style ?

First you should realize, that these two styles are not that different, they are both salsa and they are both danced on the same rhythm. In a salsa club such as Rula Bula, Deja Vu or Rude Bar, you can see both styles being danced during the same song, although there are songs which are more suited to each of the styles.
Many girls are able to dance both salsa styles and that is because they are frecuently invited to dance by boys from the two styles and so they get the experience of both of them (because girls don’t need to lead…).
For boys it is more difficult to manage both salsa styles but some can do it. Especially those ones who have taken lessons as dance schools like Dance With Style by Javed Rasool.
The style you will choose to learn will depend a lot on what is being offered in the Salsa school in your town. Here in Hong Kong, Dance With Style offers classes in all major salsa styles available in the market. You can begin with one and switch later to the other if it attracts you more.
The Cuban style is more casual, sexy and relaxed, the L.A style is more structured and mechanical in the movements. Both styles are beautiful.
For girls, the L.A style is more demanding, because they need to do “Lady Style” and there are also fast spins.

The Basic Salsa Set

What I will tell you now won’t mean a lot to you, unless you particpate in a real lesson but here it is:
The basic Salsa set (which repeats itself and is coordinated with the music) is composed of 8 bits. The first 3 bits we do steps, the 4 is a pause without stepping, the 5,6,7 we do steps, the 8 is a pause. That’s it, now you know Salsa.

A Rueda

Rueda, (which means a wheel in Spanish) is when  several couples form a circle and dance Salsa while there is a “leader” telling which preset combination to perform.
At the Rueda, the style is the Cuban one.

Rueda video:

Shines steps (also referred as footwork)

Salsa is a couple dance, but there are also “Shines” steps in which the couple separates for a while and each perform individual moves. You can practice Shines steps alone, at your home in front of the mirror.

Video with shines steps:

The Salsa New York style

Less popular worldwide than the Cuban or L.A styles.
The “New York style “, is danced with the first step on the second bit of the rhythm instead of on the first bit. To the inexperienced dancer it looks exactly like the L.A style.

The Colombian Salsa style

Popular in Colombia and especially in Cali city, the “Salsa capital” of Colombia.
It is characterized with (very) fast movements of the foot, including cha-cha-cha steps.

Video with Salsa Colombian Style:

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About the author

Robson Hayashida

Robson Hayashida has been dancing salsa since 1996 and has been organizing salsa events since 2000. Robson has danced salsa in over 38 countries and has taken part in many other dancing events, such as forró, zouk, merengue, samba, pagode, axé and more.

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