Lady dancing salsa on 1

Best way to dance salsa on 1 NOW – Extra included

1. What is the difference between salsa on 1 and salsa on 2?

In order to answer that question, we need to do a little analysis of the musical patterns of a typical salsa song. Generally speaking, a lyric is made of recurring loops of 2 measures each. These 2 measures are what form the basic salsa steps. Each one of them has 4 beats making it a pattern of 8 beats. So, when you listen to a salsa song, you hear a ‘bunch’ of 8 beats repeated over and over. As a dancer, you need to make sure your steps fall within these 8 beats. That’s why you hear the term “to dance on beat”. It’s like a language that found the perfect system for itself. One might wonder why follow the structure and this is a legitimate question. However, just imagine you going out to a salsa dance party and everyone had his own system and counts. How would partners dance together?

1.1. The key instruments

The main instruments that allow us to count these 8 beats are the clave, and the conga.
The clave is present in many of the dances that made-up salsa, such as son, rumba, mambo, chachacha. Therefore, it’s used as a key gauging tool to count the beats. Furthermore, this instrument is directly connected to the dancer’s feet. This can be seen in dances such as Cuban rumba, where the dancers follow religiously the beats of the clave.

🎶 Rumba clave 3/2

learn how to dance salsa with the help of the clave
Clave for cuban rumba dance

You can see the beats of the clave appears 5 times during these basic steps. In order to dance salsa on 1, the dancer need to make sure his lead leg (the left one for men) will match the first beat each time. On the opposite hand of the spectrum, salsa on 2 will catch the 2nd beat of the measure and the lead leg will be the right one.

2. Where is salsa on 1 from?

Generally speaking, those who dance salsa on 1 are referred to as Los Angeles salsa dancers as the style originated from Los Angeles. On the other hand, those dancing salsa on 2 are called New York style dancers. Salsa itself, came to prominence in the 60’s in New York, following the wave of Latin bands and singers who hit that side of the country with their music. Indeed, groups such as the Fania all-stars took the country by storm with their beautiful and lively rhythms. However, it’s in Cuba that the key dance styles that made up salsa came from. Cuban Dances such as Mambo, Son, Danzon, Rumba are from that Caribbean island. Later, as these forms were exported, they morphed with the culture they encountered. For example, in Cuba, mambo is danced on music, while in NEW YORK the dance style was changed to fit a dance studio mentality of patterns etc…

3. How do you dance salsa on 1?

As I alluded earlier, in order to dance salsa on 1, the dancer must make sure they break on the first beat of the basic salsa step. For men that means starting with the left leg, and ladies the right one. As the man moves forward the lady goes back (that’s on the count of 1,2,3. Then as she moves forward the guy goes back (5,6,7). 

3.1. Why are these numbers counted that way?

It’s because the 4th and 8th beats are silent ones for the dancers. In Cuban salsa, dancers mark these beats with a toe tap, therefore completing 8 steps rather than 6. However, to do so the dancers need to be fast, and completing just 6 steps might be sufficient.

3.2. How to recognise the Rumba clave

There are 2 ways to play the clave in rumba. Either the 2/3 or 3/2.
What these numbers mean is that on a basic rumba sequence which consists of 2 measures of 4 beats each you will hear the clave a number of 5 times.
🎶Rumba clave2/3
On the 1st measure you hear the clave twice on beat 2&3, then 3 times on beat 5 (and “&” in between 6/7 then after 8)
🎶Rumba clave3/2
On the 1st measure you hear the clave 3 times (1, & between 2/3 and & just at the end of the 4th beat). On the second measure you will hear the clave twice on 6 and 7. Check-out the video for a practical explanation of the rhythm. 

Clave pattern to dance salsa on 1
Clave to dance salsa on 1

4. Amazing steps to dance salsa on 1

4.1. Basic of salsa steps

This step is a staple move to dance salsa on 1. 
–       As the man moves forward on 1, the lady goes back. 
–       Then, on the 2nd beat the man initiates the move back to centre with his right leg (2); so that the left leg comes back (3). 
–       He does the same motion but backward and with the right leg (5). He then uses the left leg (6) to bring the right leg to centre.
Lady step
For the lady, this is the exact opposite. As the man goes forward, 
–       she goes back with her right leg (1), 
–       comes back to centre with the help of her left leg (2). 
–       Afterward, as the man goes back she moves forward with her left leg (5), then uses the right one to come back to centre (6,7).

basic salsa steps to know how to dance salsa

4.2. Basic Turn

Turns are some of the most used moves of salsa dance on 1. So, we will visit two turn patterns. The first one will carry on from the first basic step we just saw. 
In order to help you ladies with the task, we will do this basic step fully once, then initiate the turn on the second basic step. 
The guy completes the two basic steps (no turn for him), then helps the lady on the second basic. On the one, as the guy moves forward and the lady back,

▪️ Note

The man lowers his hand in a swinging motion to signal that he will initiate a turn (1,2), then bring both his arm and the girl arm up (3). Then on 5 he creates a circular motion that make the lady turn on her right side. Make sure guys and girls that your elbows are in. This is one of the key way people get injured with elbows hitting the partners face. 

For lady when you turn on 5, keep your eyes on your partner, so that you don’t feel dizzy and can come back to centre properly.

basic turn to dance salsa on 1 for ladies

4.3. Follow-through turn

This is another turning pattern, where the both partners end up in the opposite direction of where they started.

🔵 Man’s turn

As the man initiate the beginning of the basic step; he brings his left leg at a 90° angle to open-up his body and allow the lady to pass. He completes the move by turning his body in the opposite direction to where he started.

man turns on salsa
Basic salsa step with turn man

🔴 Ladies’s turn

For ladies as you execute the first 3 steps of the basic move, you open your shoulder on the 3rd beat. That will allow you to complete the turn perfectly and come back to face your partner. You initiate your turn on the 6th step.

how to dance salsa on 1 : ladies turn

4.4. Follow-through turn

This is another turn that is very similar to the first one we introduced. The only difference is that the man turns too. This can be done by both partners on the same basic step. In which case the man turns on 1, while the lady does it on 5. I have added the extra basic step at the beginning to help with the sequence.

🔵 Man’s turn

basic salsa turn for men
Basic salsa step with turn man

🔴 Ladies’s turn

Salsa turn for ladies

4.5. W pull

In this move, both partners gently pull each other while stepping backward (1). They form a W shape with their arms and use their fingers to bring each other to the centre (5 to 7). As we will see next this move can be used to initiate close quarter turns. 

Pulling move

4.6. Close quarter turn

Unlike the previous two turns, we start in similar fashion as with move number 4. We use the tension formed both by the man and lady pulling back (as they step back), to bring them together. As the man moves backward toward his right (5)with his right foot, the lady moves forward toward her left (5). She then pivots at a 360° angle in position with her right leg (6), then finish in centre (7). 

close quarter turn

5. Discover new, untapped materials

Be the first to check-out all the exciting info I put out on Salsa, Zumba, Bachata and other afro-Cuban dances. I have many thrilling programs that will transform and challenge you. These life-changing and great VIP programs can take you from novice to master in less than 3 months. They are badass and will definitely introduce new muscles to your body.

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