Salsa For Beginners – Discover An Easy Tutorial That Guarantees Results

1. Is it easy for beginners to learn salsa?

Salsa is very easy to learn; a bit like driving a car. And just like when you handle the automobile, you need to know what are the key codes that will allow you to master this dance technique. Unfortunately, most salsa dance teachers show you one aspect and deliberately leave some others on the side, because they know deep down, they don’t understand these aspects. For example, no amounts of salsa dance poses will help you if I don’t teach you how to understand salsa rhythm. And no matter how long you spend learning these steps; you won’t become a great dancer unless I tell you about body movements and why it is important. Therefore, it’s easy to learn salsa even for beginners, but you must keep these 3 factors close to your radar: 

1.1. Do I understand the rhythm of the song?

One of the key complaints of people who learn salsa is that they cannot hear the beat. By beat, they either mean the clave or conga as taught by their teachers. I made a series of 5 videos that teach dancers how to recognise the clave in salsa and why they should first start by listening to Cuban rumba. 

🇨🇺 Don’t overlook the rhythm of Cuban rumba

I know a lot of people will overlook the rumba aspect because all they think about is “I only want to learn salsa”. But listening in itself is a skill. There are people in this world whose only job is to listen to sound. So, it’s important to recognise that you must spend a considerable amount of time listening to music in a structured way if you want to dance on beat. And the reason why, even after many years, plenty of dancers cannot dance on beat, is because they only train their ears for few minutes when their teacher put on the record that play “1,2,3-5,6,7”. Use the 5 levels I have produced and you will see results. I guarantee it.

🇨🇺 Small recap for beginners

– The basic salsa steps are made of 2 measures of 4 beats each. You therefore have 8 beats on a basic salsa step. And a salsa song is a continuous “looping” of these two measures.

– Typically, on a basic step you will hear the clave 5 times (either 2/3 or 3/2 which means the number of times the clave appears on each measure).

Salsa for beginners with the clave rhythm

1.2. Do I have mastery over my body?

The second element you need to consider is how “malleable” is your body. You might think “well I am stiff, therefore there is no hope”. You would be wrong to think that way. And point number 3 about practice will make that clear. If you understand what exercises you should do to help you get a softer body (which in turn will allow you to execute the movement more fluidly), in no time you will have a real salsa body. In my tutorial about body isolation, I go over the key movements you should work on in order to get a body that will allow you to fully enjoy your salsa moves. By the way all the videos I recommend are based on my own experience. There are things that did not work and I tossed them out. And I only kept what I saw yielded results.

1.3. Am I willing to practice repeatedly?

This third part is the third important component to consider if you want to see progress in your salsa. Notice that up to now I have not really mentioned about salsa steps. That’s because they only account for 5% of your salsa training. Consider that statement with what regular teachers, who only focus on salsa steps, teach. No wonder why there are so many people who, even after 20 years of salsa dancing, still cannot dance on beat. Or cannot let their body express itself freely. You will realise that in order to have an absolute great time, you don’t need to know that many salsa steps. However, if you are frustrated because you cannot find the rhythm of a song, or cannot move freely, you will never truly enjoy yourself.

2. What are the basic salsa steps for beginners?

The basic steps of salsa for beginners include the following: 

2.1. Most common one

This is the very basic steps of salsa for beginners. It consists of a forward and backward move on beat. It’s important to use the motions of your hips and shoulders when you execute this move. When the men move forward the ladies go back. 

2.2. A classical Son move

I love this step because it matches the clave rhythm perfectly. Therefore, its ideal for beginners who learn salsa. It consists of moving forward (or backward) on a full 8 counts. You can do this move either forward or sideways.

basic salsa moves for beginners

2.3. Basic backward steps

Another great salsa move for beginners that will teach you how to dance salsa properly. This is a great step to learn how to create enough tension in your arms when you want to prepare a partner for turns. As you hold your partner’ hands (forming a W shape with the arms):
–       You move your lead leg backward on the count of (1) 
–       Then to the centre (2,3). 
–       Finally, you repeat the same process with the opposite leg and arm on (5,6,7).

backward salsa steps used for beginners
a

2.4. Basic salsa turns for beginners

Because I know salsa dancers love turns, let’s introduce a simple one. We can first execute the 1st basic step shown earlier. The key to remember is to have one spot you can come back to after you executed the turn(s). If you ever felt dizzy after a turn, it’s because, instead of looking at your partner or a point in front of you, you let your head spin. Avoid this. 

🎶 Men

basic salsa step with turn man

🎶 Ladies

Salsa turn pattern for ladies

2.5. Taps

Speed is an important aspect of salsa. Therefore, let’s introduce a simple step that can help with that. You basically execute in position two “toe/heel” taps on the count of 8. One on your lead leg, one on the other leg. 

basic salsa toe taps for beginners

3. Now in Practice

4. What shoes are good for salsa beginners?

That’s one of the key questions beginners ask when they start salsa. If you read my post on the topic, I go over my best recommendations for both ladies and men. These are based on my own experience and trials as well as those of my partners. below are two great recommendations for both ladies and guys.

4.1. For Men

🎶 Mid-heels for Style

Depending on your size you might want to try mid-heels salsa dance shoes. I used to like high heels because I found them elegant. 
They can be used during dance shows, rehearsals or dance training. Their soles are very convenient for turn patterns. I used mine during many salsa festivals in Shanghai and they were very comfortable and convenient. These types of shoes have another benefit. They can fit with your costumes. Moreover, unlike conventional shoes that might hurt your feet and that are not made for dancing, these shoes are very good.

Click here to visit DanceShoesStore.com

Images of me wearing these shoes during a Salsa Performance in Shanghai China.

Man and lady wearing mid-heels salsa dance shoes during dance performance

🎶 Flat for rehearsal

My absolute favourite salsa dance shoes are the flat ones. I love dancing barefoot when I train and even perform. But sometimes it’s good to have some style and comfort. That’s why I love these flat salsa dance shoes. They allow me to feel the floor better and help me exert the right amount of pressure on any parts of my feet. They also guarantee I will not have much ailments in the future arising from back issues. Therefore, I would advise the first two pairs of shoes for nights out, while I suggest these ones for training purposes. Not everyone loves to dance barefoot. So, they are the closest you can get from the benefit of engaging with the floor without having to make direct contact with your feet to the floor.

Images of me wearing these flat salsa dance shoes during a photo shoot with my dance partner.

dancer with flat salsa dance shoes outside

4.2. For Ladies

For ladies what matter is style, elegance and convenience all at once. Not something that screams “students” all over the place.

🇨🇺 High-heels with colourful Style

Red colour high heels salsa dance shoes for ladies

The first one I suggest mixes elegance and colour. They will be good grip when you dance and not too slippery for your spin. One of the key problems for dancers who engage in turn patterns is that they might not know the whole technique. Especially that of keeping your gaze on one spot and making sure your eyes are the last thing that leave that spot when you engage in a turn. If you add bad shoes to average technique you can have disastrous outcome. I have personally witnessed it. Therefore, I advise on these shoes.

Click here to visit DanceShoesStore.com

🇨🇺 Tan Satin that matches the settings

The second one I would advise are these satin shoes. They will blend perfectly with your clothes and will provide comfort during your turns. They have a nice quality feel into them and most importantly, the heels are not too high and therefore not a future source of back problems.

Click here to visit DanceShoesStore.com

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