Salsa Music and Dancing

Salsa Dancing

Salsa music is influenced by many different rhythms and music styles from different countries. It takes it origins from Africa. In the 1800’s it was influenced with Cuban “son” – a mix of Spanish music, the African drumbeat and the beat of the clave but when many US citizens moved to Cuba in the early 1900’s, the brass bands which followed contributed brass to the Cuban percussion enhancing the music further.

During the Cuban migration to America during the late 1950’s Latin music developed out of Miami and New York where the influx of Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants merged these Latin styles and sounds with American influences such as the 1940’s Jazz.

‘Salsa’ is an umbrella term created in the 60’s and 70’s to describe this Latin music and the music now has worldwide influences.

Salsa dance uses many steps borrowed from different dances. The salsa rhythm is danced over 8 beats and is mainly a ‘couple’ dance where the man leads and the lady will follow. The dancing can be fast but everyone can add their own style. Its fun and sociable and people are friendly.

Salsa Dancing Lessons

Lessons are split into four levels: Beginners, Improvers, Intermediates  and Advanced where advertised, and we rotate our teachers so that you can learn different styles. We are very lucky to have some great teachers who give up their time to pass on their knowledge so a big thanks goes out to them all.

You will notice that some of our teachers are more cuban dancers others dance more crossbody style so you will see a mixture. Everyone at salsa dances differently and teachers will teach differently so you might see some variations between styles, dancing and teaching methods but as they say, variety is the spice of life!

We would encourage you to build up your dancing ability by practicing after the lessons. Regardless of what level you are please make sure you are ready for the next level. You need to dance your routines in the freestyle dancing afterwards before you consider moving up a level, dont try to “run before you can walk”, it takes a long time to progress in Salsa, pace yourself.

Lesson Structure

Lessons are split into different ability levels, each running for an hour.  All classes rotate partners throughout the lesson to help you improve your salsa faster and get to know each other!

In Beginners you will also find that more advanced dancers regularly join in with the beginners class to help reinforce the leading and following that is taught in the lesson which is fantastic and we appreciate this greatly. People are approachable and are often happy to go over the routines in freestyle after each lesson.

Absolute Beginners & Beginner (Level 1)

A beginners lesson will introduce you to the dance, break down the basic footwork for Salsa, followed by partner work where a simple routine is taught to reinforce footwork and introduce leading (for the men) and following (for the ladies).

There is no set syllabus at beginner level however we aim to introduce the following within the Beginners classes. Remember – some of you will be absolute beginners where this is your first attempt to learn Salsa, have fun and enjoy it. We go over similar steps and routines each week in the Beginners class and it will become easier in the subsequent lessons that you attend at this level, you are not expected to pick everything up on your first lesson, come along and give it a try:

Solo and partner footwork (to include Basic step, Side step, Open step, Back step, Salsa step)

A basic routine in partner formation (to include the above + Basic turn, Basic spin, Cross body, Solo turns)

Leading and following (to include hand grips, changing of hand holds, hand and arm positioning, preparation & partner awareness)

Co-ordinating footwork with upper body movement (leading & following)

Timing, tempo & interpreting & understanding how to dance to the music

We recommend that you attempt at least 4 classes at beginner level before you join the improvers lesson where we concentrate on developing our footwork further, applying more complex routines and introducing styling.

There is no set duration to remain in a class, however we recommend that you feel comfortable with all moves taught at your level before you move on to the next level. You will benefit from reinforcing footwork and partner work to the speed of the music before you move up the levels.

Improvers (Level 2)

Dont move up before you are ready. We recommend that you are familiar and confident with the fundamental Beginners footwork and routine patterns before you move to the Improvers class and can dance these to a quicker tempo of music. This class builds on the foundation level introducing a longer, more complex and broader routine combination. The focus at this level is on leading the lady into the relevant moves and increasing your repertoire of moves. At this level the man needs to demonstrate obvious and crisp leading as well as foot positioning. The lady must be willing to follow the man’s lead. There will also be less stationary moves and an encouragement to begin to utilise the dance space.  You need to build these routines up to the speed of the music in the freestyle sessions before you consider the Intermediate class.

Intermediates (Level 3)

This lesson covers a more technically challenging structured routine which is faster paced to the previous classes and can include styling, spins and turns, and more progressive routine patterns and combinations. You must be more confident with timing and tempo of salsa music, being able to dance to faster music and have an appreciation of good leading and following.

Advanced (Level 4)

This lesson presumes you have a good repertoire of moves & sequences at intermediate level and that you are confident with timing and dance with ease to the salsa music in the club after the lessons. The class covers more advanced and technically challenging combinations including multiple spins and turns, and intricate routine patterns. Precise leading and confident following becomes fundamental with these complex routines to enable the moves to be executed successfully.

Salsa History and Culture

Developed in the 1960s by Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrants, Salsa was first established in New York City. Today, we can enjoy salsa in London, Miami, Seoul, Bangkok, Toronto, and many other places around the world. Because salsa is open to improvisation, different dancers from different cultures with their own unique styles, can all perform the dance in a similar, fluid motion. No two people are alike and therefore no two dancers are alike either. Some can feel the music and know when to move, while others must be told and take a more strict approach to learning when to start or turn. Still, people all over the world love to learn and teach Salsa.

Salsa Dancing for your health and social life

This expressive dance is very healthy for your physical and mental health. While freeing your mind of any stress, you’re also freeing your body of any calories. Dancing salsa is equivalent to bike riding or swimming, when it comes to cardio workouts. Many therapists recommend salsa for people who have trouble expressing themselves, or feel depressed. The dance floor is a place of comfort and assurance, and you are in control. After spending some time in Salsa clubs I was pleasantly surprised to see people drinking water instead of alcohol. This addictive method of working out without even knowing it makes you feel and want to be healthy. Salsa dancers usually like being active, hydrating on water, and eating healthy.

Social Salsa Dancing

Salsa helps build new relationships and make old ones stronger. Couples become more intimate and self-esteem rises. People are high on energy and confidence and therefore feel more comfortable interacting with others. You’ll feel good in this learning environment where everyone is at equal levels of ability and the only person anyone’s judging is themselves. Not only are the classes a great place of interaction but as there are frequent excursions to salsa clubs and extra workshops, you’re always meeting new people.

Salsa Facts

  • Salsa lessons are a great form of cardiovascular exercise
  • Salsa lessons help with weight loss
  • Salsa lessons relieve stress
  • Salsa lessons help you release toxins via sweating
  • Salsa lessons may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Salsa lessons can lead to a reduced heart rate over time
  • Salsa lessons are a great way for creative self expression
  • Salsa lessons promote good posture, grace and style
  • Salsa lesson helps to find new friends
  • Salsa lessons keep you young and youthful looking
  • Salsa classes help to improve you social life
  • Salsa classes are great way to spark a romance
  • Salsa classes are a great way to increase a sense of belonging
  • Salsa classes are high energy, exciting and fun
  • Salsa classes can simply change yor life for the better

Salsa dancing shoes

Some of you may feel that it is time to go for a new pair of dance shoes. I mean, this is totally something you feel!

If you’ve started feeling that even though you have the techniques, your turns are messed up because your feet literally swim in your shoes, or because you can’t rely on those strapless high heels, or because your shoe’s sole sticks to the floor, that’s the time for you to buy real dancing shoes.

There are two main categories of salsa appropriate dancing shoes: Casual and Formal.

Casual dance shoes

You want to wear these shoes for your classes, practices, and causal club nights.

Formal dance shoes

These are the flashier, shinier shoes you wear at clubs. Many students use the same pair of shoes in the class as well. Previously you could only find formal shoes in open toe Latin models but now you can find them in various models even in boots.