Salsa dancing is a dancing style that originated in Latin American communities and became highly common in the region and even in the United States.

This genre is characterized by its distinguishable upbeat rhythm and many other elements. For instance, it includes bell patterns, the son clave, and the rumba clave which are the most common bell patterns in salsa music.

It is characterized by being a combination of many other different genres like mambo, bolero, merengue, cumbia, rumba, Brazilian samba, and bossa nova.

In this article you will learn how this form of dance became common in the US, when it happened, what are the different types of dances, and much more.

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Every form of dance has its challenges and dancers take their time learning to perfect each movement of their body to master the dance moves. Foto de Rainier Ridao en Unsplash

Salsa dancing is very common in Latin America, especially in cities with high Latino populations. For instance, it's not the same looking for a salsa club, ballroom, or even classes in Idaho as it is in New York or Puerto Rico.

However, there are plenty of cities where salsa is very common in America. For instance, New York City is one of the cities in the world where salsa originated.

Salsa was born in the early 1900s in Cuba, however, it got developed and popularized almost 50 years later in New York City in the 1960s due to the high Cuban population that relocated to America.

This is why many people argue that history shows that salsa was born on American soil which is why it is popular in many cities in the United States. However, keep in mind that this does not mean that salsa isn't Latin American.

Other cities and states where salsa dancing is common in the US are:

  • Los Angeles, California
  • Houston, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Dallas, Texas
  • El Paso, Texas
  • San Diego, California
  • San Jose, California

If you live in a city where salsa dancing is not that common and you wish to learn how to dance we recommend you search for online tutors right here on Superprof. The beauty of online tutoring is that your tutor can be in Miami, Puerto Rico, or Colombia, and they still could give you classes through video.

Salsa music and salsa dancing were common in the Latin American region, especially in Cuba and Puerto Rico, during the 1910s. However, it truly became common and started to cross frontiers when Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians in New York started to popularize it.

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You will learn to dance in every Latino club to all of the beats and at every social event if you take dancing lessons with a private tutor. Foto de Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

From then it started to spread and become common in the rest of the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. People always assume that Miami is the place where it was mostly popularized, however, Miami was not the main city for salsa dancing.

In 1964 the record label called Fania Records became famous for producing one salsa hit after another. Dancers across the country would play and dance their singles in every club and dancing class.

Many of the artists who signed with this label are now regarded as legends of salsa, particularly the team of ''Fania All-Stars''. This group included celebrities such as Celia Cruz, Héctor Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, and Rubén Blades, among others.

Fania Records worked on producing the original beat and rhythm brought by Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Colombians to the US. They edited the beat and the rhythm in a way that made it catchy and easily accepted by the Latino community in the US. This is when salsa started to popularize in the US.

Salsa originated from combining different musical elements, rhythms, and styles. It took a while for this musical style to spread and become known. Once it became known the music started to absorb influences from other local Cuban music and American jazz as it continued to evolve.

Salsa music is original to Latin American cultures, however, it has big African, indigenous, and European influences. Many other dances —like bachata, mambo, cha, jazz, casino, son, tango, and cumbia— have similar African, indigenous, and European influences.

Today, salsa is one of the most common dances of the Latino culture due to its catchy beat and basic steps. It is danced at almost every social event and it is known as the best Latino music.

What are the different salsa styles?

There are a bunch of different salsa styles because this is a music genre that developed in many different places at the same time. This is why salsa has other influences and origins.

There is New York style, Cuban style, LA style, Colombian style, Rueda or Casino, and more. Keep in mind that the styles in salsa don't mean that those are the only places where salsa is created or danced. Salsa is very common across the entire continent and especially in countries and cities like Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Miami, and more.

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The best way of learning to dance is by taking some basic dancing courses with a private tutor that you can find right here on Superprof. Foto de Yan Berthemy on Unsplash

Below, you will find a list of the different salsa styles and a brief description of each one:

  • New York style - as you learned, New York was the city where salsa developed and became popular in the US and it has its salsa moves and steps. This is known as the "linear salsa" because it is danced in a line.
  • Cuban style - Like all the other styles, the Cuban salsa style is characterized by its rhythm, footwork, and moves.
  • LA style is similar to the New York type because it is danced in a linear form but is also known as the easier type to learn.
  • Colombian Style - this type is very famous in the country but it is hardly danced anywhere else because of its complex dance moves.
  • Rueda or Casino - this is yet another form that was born in Cuba, however, it is different because people who are all coupled up dance in a giant circle, rather than individually.

Salsa is such a big part of the Latino culture that it is hard to define a single way of dancing it. It is also a genre that is constantly evolving and growing.

Today, salsa is becoming more globalized and we are seeing how it is evolving into having more languages included in the songs. One of the components of salsa is that it is accompanied by lyrics sung in Spanish. However, today, more languages like English and French are being introduced into the genre.

The difference between Salsa and Cumbia

Salsa and cumbia are two of the most common Latino forms of dance in Colombia —there are also bachata, mambo, son, casino, cha, tango, reggaeton, Torres, and more.

History shows that the Latino community continues to love this genre regardless of location, age, or group they belong. If you are Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Colombian, or Cuban, chances are you grew up moving your body to the beats of salsa music.

However, there are many other genres that Latinos love to dance to, and sometimes it is common for people to mix one genre with another.

Dancing in a couple
Most salsa music has lyrics in Spanish but with time and globalization, more artists are taking the best of the genre and mixing it with other languages. Foto de Scott Broome on Unsplash

Cumbia is another common genre danced all across Colombia. his is one of the most representative rhythms of the country and the source of inspiration for many of Colombia's popular music.

This dancing style has been part of the country's history and now it is gaining international recognition due to the work of bands like Bomba Estereo.

Cumbia was created on Colombia's Caribbean coast where the African population used to inhabit. It was a courtship dance that quickly evolved when it merged some European and indigenous dance moves and instruments.

Cumbia is a type of dance that is mostly danced at night with couples of dancers dancing around the musicians. Men dance in zig-zag steps around the women, and women make one shuffling step after another step.

Continue to our article to learn more about the differences and similarities between cumbia and salsa.

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