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Salsa Dance Styles: Exploring the Unique Flavors of New York, Los Angeles, and Cuban Salsa


Salsa dancing has taken the world by storm, captivating the hearts of millions and igniting a passion for movement in people of all ages and backgrounds. With its infectious rhythm and mesmerizing steps, salsa has emerged as one of the most popular dance forms globally. Although it has its roots in Cuban and Puerto Rican dances, salsa has evolved into various regional styles, each with its distinct characteristics. In this article, we will explore the unique flavors of three major salsa styles: New York, Los Angeles, and Cuban Salsa. So, buckle up and let's dive into the vibrant world of salsa dancing with Salsa Dance LA!

1. New York Style Salsa (On2)

Also known as Mambo, New York Style salsa is characterized by its elegant and dynamic movements, which are typically danced "On2." This means that dancers break forward on the second beat of the music, creating a smooth and fluid style that emphasizes musicality and timing.

The origins of New York Style salsa can be traced back to the Palladium Ballroom in New York City during the 1940s and 1950s, where Latin music and dance flourished. Legendary dancers and choreographers such as Eddie Torres and Frankie Martinez further developed and popularized this style.

Key Features of New York Style Salsa:

  • Danced On2, emphasizing the second beat of the music

  • Linear movements, with dancers traveling in a straight line

  • Complex turn patterns and intricate footwork

  • Focus on musicality, timing, and body movement

2. Los Angeles Style Salsa (On1)

Los Angeles Style salsa, also known as LA Style, is characterized by its flashy and energetic moves, making it a favorite among performers and social dancers alike. Danced "On1," LA Style salsa breaks forward on the first beat of the music, giving it a more energetic and lively feel than New York Style.

Developed in the late 1990s by renowned dancers and choreographers such as Johnny Vazquez and Francisco Vazquez, Los Angeles Style salsa incorporates elements from other dance styles like jazz, hip-hop, and ballroom. This fusion of styles gives LA Style salsa its unique flavor and show-stopping flair.

Key Features of Los Angeles Style Salsa:

  • Danced On1, emphasizing the first beat of the music

  • Flamboyant, attention-grabbing moves

  • Cross-body lead patterns and rapid spins

  • Influenced by various dance styles, including jazz, hip-hop, and ballroom

3. Cuban Salsa (Casino)

Cuban Salsa, also known as Casino, is the original style of salsa dancing, rooted in the rich cultural history of Cuba. With its circular movements and rhythmic footwork, Cuban Salsa is known for its playful, energetic, and organic feel.

The Cuban Salsa style originated in the 1950s in Havana's social clubs, where dancers would improvise moves to the rhythm of live Cuban music. Unlike the linear movements of New York and Los Angeles Styles, Cuban Salsa is danced in a circular motion, with partners constantly rotating around each other.

Key Features of Cuban Salsa:

  • Circular movements, with partners rotating around each other

  • Rueda de Casino: a group dance format where dancers switch partners in a circle

  • Incorporates Afro-Cuban body movements and rhythmic footwork

  • Focus on improvisation, playfulness, and musicality


As you can see, salsa dancing is a diverse and dynamic dance form with various styles to suit different tastes and preferences. Whether you're drawn to the elegance of New York Style, the flamboyance of Los Angeles Style, or the organic energy of Cuban Salsa, there's something for everyone in the world of salsa dancing. At Salsa Dance LA, we're passionate about helping you discover your unique style and guiding you on your salsa journey.

No matter your experience level or preferred salsa style, our expert instructors at Salsa Dance LA will provide you with the tools and techniques you need to excel on the dance floor. From mastering the basics to learning advanced turn patterns and styling, our classes cater to dancers of all levels and backgrounds.

Not only will you learn the steps and techniques of your chosen salsa style, but you'll also gain a deeper understanding of the music, history, and culture that underpin this captivating dance form. By immersing yourself in the world of salsa dancing, you'll become part of a vibrant and welcoming community that spans the globe.

So why not take the first step and book a salsa lesson or class with Salsa Dance LA? With our talented instructors and a variety of class options, you'll be well on your way to becoming a confident and skilled salsa dancer. Whether you're looking to make new friends, improve your fitness, or simply have fun, salsa dancing with Salsa Dance LA is the perfect way to spice up your life.

Are you ready to embark on your salsa dancing journey? Join us at Salsa Dance LA and experience the magic, passion, and excitement of this incredible dance form. We can't wait to welcome you to our community and share our love of salsa dancing with you!

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (FAQs)

Q: What is salsa dancing?

A: Salsa is a popular Latin dance that originated in the Caribbean and combines African and European dance elements. It is characterized by its lively rhythm, energetic footwork, and intricate turn patterns.

Q: What are the different styles of salsa dancing?

A: There are several styles of salsa dancing, including New York Style (On2), Los Angeles Style (On1), Cuban Salsa, and Colombian Salsa. Each style has its unique characteristics, techniques, and music.

Q: Is salsa dancing suitable for beginners?

A: Yes, salsa dancing is suitable for beginners. Our experienced instructors at Salsa Dance LA will guide you through the basics and help you build your skills step by step.

Q: How can I choose the right salsa style for me?

A: The best way to choose the right salsa style is to try different classes and see which one feels most comfortable and enjoyable for you. Our instructors at Salsa Dance LA can also help you find the style that suits you best.

Q: What should I wear to a salsa dance class?

A: Wear comfortable clothing that allows for freedom of movement, such as workout clothes or casual attire. For shoes, choose something with a smooth sole that allows for easy turns on the dance floor.

Q: Can I learn salsa dancing even if I don't have a partner?

A: Yes, you can learn salsa dancing without a partner. Our classes at Salsa Dance LA are designed to accommodate both individuals and couples, and we rotate partners during class to ensure everyone has a chance to practice with different people.

Q: How long does it take to become proficient in salsa dancing?

A: The time it takes to become proficient in salsa dancing varies depending on factors such as individual learning pace, frequency of practice, and previous dance experience. With regular lessons and practice, most people can become comfortable with the basics within a few months.

Q: Can I attend salsa dance classes if I have no dance experience?

A: Absolutely! Our beginner classes at Salsa Dance LA are designed for those with little or no dance experience. Our instructors will guide you through the basics and help you build your skills at a comfortable pace.

Q: How can I practice salsa dancing outside of class?

A: You can practice salsa dancing by attending social dance events, watching instructional videos online, or practicing with a partner or on your own at home.

Q: What are the health benefits of salsa dancing?

A: Salsa dancing offers numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, increased flexibility and balance, stress reduction, and increased self-confidence.

Q: How do I sign up for salsa dance classes at Salsa Dance LA?

A: To sign up for salsa dance classes at Salsa Dance LA, visit our website and browse our class offerings. Choose the class that suits your skill level and schedule, and follow the registration instructions.

Q: Are there any age restrictions for salsa dancing classes?

A: Salsa dancing is suitable for people of all ages. At Salsa Dance LA, we welcome students of various age groups, from children to adults. Our classes are designed to cater to different skill levels and age ranges.

Q: Is salsa dancing a good way to meet new people?

A: Absolutely! Salsa dancing is a fun and social activity that attracts people from all walks of life. Attending salsa classes and social dance events is an excellent way to make new friends and expand your social circle.

Q: How can I improve my salsa dancing technique?

A: To improve your salsa dancing technique, it's essential to practice regularly, attend classes, and receive feedback from experienced instructors. At Salsa Dance LA, our instructors provide personalized guidance and support to help you refine your skills and become a more confident dancer.

Q: What should I expect at a salsa dance social event?

A: A salsa dance social event is a gathering of dancers who come together to enjoy music, dancing, and socializing. These events usually feature a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced dancers, and you can expect to dance with different partners throughout the night. Social events are a great way to practice your salsa dancing skills in a relaxed and fun environment.

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