Origin: The exact origin is unknown but many believe that Salsa dancing began in New York in the mid-1970s. It has its roots in the earlier Latin dance styles, such as Cha-Cha and Mambo and was also influenced by other swing dance styles. Salsa dance is a combination of different dance styles, just like the sauce, “salsa,” which is a delicious mixture of various ingredients. Salsa is considered the king of Latin dances and is being danced throughout the world.

Music: Salsa is in 4/4 time and sounds more intricate than Merengue and Bachata because of its syncopated rhythm, known as the “Clave” rhythm. For those of you who are interested in learning more about the “Clave” rhythm. Here is a video demonstrating the “Son Clave,” which is often used in Salsa music.

Steps: Salsa basic consists of 3 steps (2 quicks and 1 slow or a pause). You could dance the Salsa “On1” (LA style) or “On2” (NY style); in other words, you can start your first step (breaking step) on the first beat (the strong beat) or the second beat. Footwork in both styles are generally the same however the feelings are quite different. Dancing “On1” appears to be more exciting and flashier while dancing “On2” feels more relaxed and smooth. Below are my tutorials on Salsa Basic and Simple Right Turn in “On1” style.

Characteristics: Intricate music, fast-paced, sharp and exciting turns


Origin: Bachata originated in the rural neighborhoods of Dominican Republic. It has become one of the most popular Latin dances in recent years.

Music: Bachata is also in 4/4 time but has its own distinctive sound. In the early days, it was a guitar music played by peasants and were often slow, sad and romantic. These days, Bachata has gotten more upbeat and incorporated electronic sounds. Some contemporary Bachata Artists and groups include Luis Vargas, Aventura, Prince Royce, Juan Luis Guerra and Xtreme.

Steps: Bachata basics consist of 3 steps and a tap. The chasse basic goes “side-together-side-tap” and can be spiced up with a hip motion or a lift of the leg at the “tap” step. Dancers keep their knees bent throughout to promote hip motion. Bachata can be danced in two-hand hold, open embrace but is often danced in close embrace at nightclubs.

Characteristics: Sensual, intimate, relaxed, hip motion


Origin: Also known as Cha-Cha-Cha, it is a dance style originated in Cuba and became popular in the U.S. in the 50s. Cha-Cha is also a competitive Latin dance style in both American and International ballroom dance competitions.

Music: Cha-Cha is danced in 4/4 time as well. It is often counted as “1-2-3-cha-cha” (a cha is 1/2 beat) or 1-2-3-4-&. This dance style can be danced to authentic Cuban music as well as Latin Pop and Latin Rock.

Steps: The basic consists of a rock step and a chasse step, which is a triple step pattern that goes step-together-step. The chasse step in Cha-Cha makes the dance look more intricate, sharp and stylish. Similar to other Latin dances, in Cha-Cha, dancers keep their feet close to the floor and let their hips move freely throughout.

Characteristics: Intricate footwork, sharp action, quick spins, flashy, staccato music

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