salsa dance music rhythm

What is Salsa – Dance & Music?

Q. What is Salsa Dancing & Music?

A. Salsa is a sexy, energetic and fun partner dance. Unlike some partner dances, it is a very sociable dance – you don’t need to have a regular partner. In fact, it is common for salseros to dance with people they have never met before. That’s part of the fun of dancing Salsa. With it’s sociable nature, Salsa has become highly popular, all around the world. Today, you can easily find Salsa clubs wherever you go anywhere in the world.

Q.  What style of Salsa do you teach?

A.  There are 3 main styles:  Crossbody (Modern style), Cuban and Columbian.  We regularly teach Crossbody/modern On1 style,  as its the most popular style around the world.   However in all our clubs, we have dancers from all styles.   Most dancers nowadays know the minor differences, and it is great fun dancing with people from different styles.


Q.  Salsa timing? Check this YouTube for a great in-depth break of Salsa timing.


Q What are the different Styles of Salsa 

Cross Body or LA Style ON 1

L.A. style is danced on 1, in a slot. It is highly influenced by Hollywood and by the swing & mambo dances. L.A. style emphasizes sensuousness, theatricality, and acrobatics.

The two essential elements of this dance are the forward/backward basic as described above, and the cross-body lead. In this pattern, the leader steps forward on 1, steps to the right on 2-3 while turning 90 degrees counter-clockwise (facing to the left). The follower then steps forward on 5-6, and turns on 7-8, while the leader makes another 90 degrees counter-clockwise. After these 8 counts, the leader and follower have exchanged their positions.

Francisco Vazquez, along with his two brothers, Luis and Johnny, are often credited with developing the LA style of salsa. Francisco taught both of his brothers how to dance and all of them went on to become famous worldwide through their unique style of dancing. Francisco Vazquez, along with his brother Johnny, founded “Los Rumberos” Dance Company at the start of their career, which is still the leading dance company in Los Angeles. Luis Vazquez, along with then Joby Vazquez (now Joby Martinez) founded Salsa Brava Dance Company, which was another leading dance company in Los Angeles for many years.

Other people who also helped create L.A. Style as we know it are, Rogelio Moreno, Alex Da Silva, Joby Martinez, Josie Neglia, Cristian Oviedo, Luis ‘Zonik’ Aguilar and many others. Tony Cordero and Robert Menache helped spread the influence of the LA style to Long Beach and Orange County.


New York Style ON 2

New York style emphasises the efficiency of movement, elegance, and body isolations. By focusing on control, timing, and precision of technique, dancers aim for smooth execution of tightly woven complex patterns. In New York City this style is danced strictly On 2, although dancers around the world often integrate elements and repertoire from New York into their dancing On 1.

On 2 timing emphasises the conga drum’s tumbao pattern, and encourages the dancer to listen to percussive elements of the music. An advocate of New York Style considers this to more accurately reflect the Afro-Caribbean ancestry of the music.

On2 with Tumbao Timing:   8&, 2,3…   4&,6,7

On2  (Power 2):    2,3,4 … 6,7,8

Either way, the emphasis is on 2,3 and 6,7,  which way you choose should be guided by the music

Many also refer to this style as “Mambo” since it breaks on beat 2 of the measure, though there are other dance forms with a more legitimate claim to that name. The majority of students who are interested in NY Style On2 are veterans of the world of crossbody On1, and therefore have a habit of stepping on 123 567. Whereas, for the majority of On2 dancers, we appreciate the Congas. Congas (Tumbao pattern) are present in most Salsa bands and play a key role in the rhythm section; along side other instruments such as the timbales, bongos, bass and piano just to name the more common instruments.

In a social setting, New York style is danced more compactly than LA style. The etiquette of New York style is strict about remaining in the “slot” and avoiding travelling.

New York style tends to place a greater emphasis on performing “shines” where dancers separate and dance solo for a time.  New York style dancers are typically very serious about the musicality and timing of their dancing. To satisfy their tastes, “socials” are often held that cater to almost exclusively playing “salsa dura” (lit. “Hard Salsa”. This is mid-to-up-tempo salsa with an emphasis on percussion and band orchestration rather than the vocals.

The longest-running social in New York is the Jimmy Anton social, which is held every first, third and fifth (if there is a fifth) Sunday of the month.

New York Style’s first and most famous champion is popularly held to be Eddie Torres. Eddie Torres has been dancing since 1962 and has been teaching since 1970. Countless figures in the salsa scene have performed with the Eddie Torres dancers, such as Seaon Bristol (a.k.a. Seaon Stylist), Amanda Estilo, Eric Baez, April Genovese de la Rosa, Jai Catalano and many more.

Other important figures in the On2 style are Frankie Martinez, Ismael Otero, Tomas Guererro, Osmar Perrones, Griselle Ponce, Milo, Ana and Joel Masacote, and many others.

While the New York style is the predominant style found in the eastern United States, the style finds favour with professional salsa dancers and salsa teachers the world over. Thus, it can be seen at salsa congresses all around the world.




Cuban-style salsa (“Casino”) can be danced either on the down beat (“a tiempo”) or the upbeat (“a contratiempo”). Beats 1,3,5 and 7 are downbeats and 2,4,6 and 8 are upbeats.

An essential element is the “Cuba step” (also known as Guapea), where the leader does a backward basic on 1-2-3 and a forward basic on 5-6-7. The follower does the same, thereby mirroring the leader’s movement. Another characteristic of this style is that in many patterns the leader and follower circle around each other.

The cross body lead is an essential step in this style too and is referred to as Salida Cubana or as Dile que no in Rueda de Casino Dancing. This move becomes essential in the more complex derivative of Cuban Casino leading to the many moves of Rueda, or wheel dance. Here multiple couples exchange partners and carry out moves synchronized by a caller.



Mambo (also called Palladium and Power 2) is a Latin dance of Cuban origin that corresponds to mambo music. It is rhythmically similar to the slower bolero, though it has a more complex pattern of steps. The saxophone usually sets the syncopated rhythm, while the other brass carries the melody.

In the late 1940s, a musician named Perez Prado came up with the dance for the mambo music and became the first person to market his music as “mambo”. After Havana, Prado moved his music to Mexico, and then New York City. Along the way, his style became increasingly homogenized in order to appeal to mainstream American listeners.


Incognito Dance Company  also teach Online Incognito.Dance  as well as regularly at Wimbledon Salsa & Bachata Club,  Putney Salsa & Bachata Club, Hammersmith Salsa & Bachata Club, Earl’s Court Salsa & Bachata Club



Call 07831 715 368 or email