4 beats/measure; 40-55 meas/min
Salsa evolved out of the mambo and other Afro-Carribean
rhythms of the 1950s and 60s, such as rumba, cha, merengue, and more
specialized rhythms like cumbia, guaracha, and Cuban Són and by the
late 1980s and '90s was popular in the United States. Salsa is
sometimes refered to as "son of mambo," but it is a little faster, a
little softer and less crisp -- more flowing; it is more side-to-side and has lots of
turns and spins. Being a fast rhythm, and the steps are small. Salsa
has been called "mambo with spatial restrictions."
Dance with soft knees. Figures are timed with a quick, quick,
slow, as in mambo and rumba, but the action is more like a quick,
quick, quick, hold. During the hold, the dancer should introduce a
little foot action or flourish. In Puerto Rico, a flick is commonly
used. In Cuba, a tap, stamp, or scuff is more typical. You won't have
time for any sort of a real kick. The flourish is a soft extension of
the foot. Keep the upper body still while the hips and feet move -- "quiet top, busy hips." Salsa is that hot dip for your
chips, and the dance is hot, spicy, and passionate.
Figure Name, Roundalab Phase
Level, & Timing
q=quick, 1 beat
s=slow, 2 beats
&=1/2 beat; a=1/4 beat
Steps and Actions That Make Up
Each description focuses on the man,
with the woman's footwork in parenthesis. If a woman's step is not
given, it is the natural opposite or follow of the man's. Help: basic dance
positions and steps,
actions, directions, and abbreviations. Non-standard punctuation: a
comma separates two beats of music, a semi-colon marks the end of a
measure, and a slash (/) indicates a split beat, two things occurring
in a single beat.
Here are some sequences to help
you visualize the figure in context.
|In a facing position, step forward and
across in front (woman back and behind), step back, and then side and
back with a little flick of the trail foot side and fwd (W flicks sd
& fwd too). Step back and cross behind with the trail foot, step
fwd, and step side and fwd with a flick.
||In Coco Jambo by the Cibulas,
they call this a Salsa Box. Part A begins with a cross body;; new
yorker twice;; cross body back to wall;; salsa box;; cucaracha twice;;
|In loose closed, both step back, recover,
close; bk, rec, cl, -; Don't cross behind as in a whisk. Just turn your
hips and then step straight back. The heels should be in line with each
other, the toes turned out.
|In closed position, step fwd, rec, cl, -;
bk, rec cl, -;
|Facing partner step side, rec, cl, -; sd,
rec, cl, -;
|Facing sd, cl, sd, -; sd, cl, sd, -;
|In facing position, step forward on left
and swivel RF 1/2. The woman steps back and crosses behind. Step fwd R,
and the woman will chase. On the slow, step fwd L, swivel RF, and flare
the R CW to face partner. During the second measure, roles are
reversed. Step back and cross behind while the woman steps forward and
swivels RF. Both step fwd. Finally, step sd and fwd with a flick while
the woman steps fwd L, swivels RF, and flares R CW to face partner.
||Shibata's Salsa Cafe begins part A
with a basic;; chase;; to a crossbody w/ inside underarm turn twice;;;;
|Facing, lead hands joined, rock apart,
rising, trail arms up, recover, step side.
Given the fast tempo, we might dance half of a Back
Basic, keeping our weight centered, rather than a "rocking" Open Break.
Generally, we don't want to create significant momentum that must be
|In She's A Lady
by Read we dance a half basic to cross body; open break to natural top
3; open out to cross body; In this dance, the music is slower and we
are dancing 1&2 3&4; rather than QQS; QQS;
|In loose closed, step side R (woman sd L),
cross in front, side, flick;
Sometimes, the man dances this figure with a small cross
behind R, cross in front L, side R, -; a little like a Time Step. If
the sequence is "Open Break woman roll to a Cumbia," he will thereby
progress a little less and not get ahead of the woman's roll.
|Promenade Cumbia with Turn
|In closed wall, turn slightly to semi, and
step side, front, side. In the second measure, he hooks behind opening
his right hip, and she steps fwd, fwd, fwd, turning CW 1/2. End in
closed position facing center.
|In closed position wall, step fwd L, rec
R, step sd L turning LF as the woman steps fwd to an "L position." Step
back continuing to turn LF while the woman steps fwd turning LF. Step
fwd woman fwd turning half LF. Both step side.
||In the Cibulas' Coco Jambo, part A
begins with a cross body;; new yorker twice;; cross body;; salsa box;;
|Cross Body with Inside Underarm Turn
|In loose closed wall, step fwd, recover
turning LF to face line in "L position." Raise lead hands to lead woman
in a LF turn, step back R turning LF while woman steps fwd L turning.
Step fwd L toward center and woman steps fwd R turning to face partner.
Both step side with trail feet and flick, in closed position facing
qqs; qqs; qqs; qqs;
|Begin like a cross body: step forward,
recover, and close, opening the left hip and leading her to free spin
LF 1 & 1/2 in three steps while he steps back, recover, close,
turning LF to closed position center. Finish with a standard cross body
back to wall.
qqs; qqs; qqs; qqs;
|In loose closed, step side, recover, and
cross in front, leading the woman to open out with a XIB, recover,
close. During measure 2, the man fans his free foot during the
"quick-quick" and steps thru on the slow. The woman again opens out
with the same XIB, rec, close. Repeat for measures 3 & 4.
Taps With Turns
qqqq; qqqq; qqqq; qqqq;
|This figure consists of a series of eight
In facing position, no hands joined, step side L (woman
sd R), touch R to L tapping toe, sd R, tap L; turn 1/4 RF (woman 1/4
LF) to a left open position nothing touching and step side L (woman
side R) toward partner (lead shoulders might touch), tap R and raise
trail hands, side R turning 1/4 LF (woman sd L turning 1/4 RF) to face
partner again, tap L; sd L, tap R, turn 1/4 LF (woman RF) to an open
position nothing touching and step side R toward partner (trail
shoulders might touch), tap L and raise lead hands; side L turning 1/4
RF (woman LF) to face partner, tap R, sd R, tap L;
|In low butterfly, rock apart L (woman
apart R), recover R turning RF and raising lead hands, side and forward
L completing a 1/4 RF turn and moving lead arm over woman's head to
wrapped position, -; wheel 3/4 RF fwd R, L, R (woman bk L, R, L), -;
Figure makes one full RF turn for the man. It makes a
1/4 LF turn during the first measure and a 3/4 RF turn during the
second measure for the woman.
|In the Shibatas' Miracle Salsa,
part C begins with an Open Break and woman roll to Cumbia;; Single Taps
with Turns;;;; Open Break and woman roll to Cumbia;; Wrap Around;;
woman roll behind; woman roll across to shadow;