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Salsa Moves, Steps, and Routines for Newbies

14th Sep 2017

Salsa Moves, Steps, and Routines for Newbies

So you want to take your first step into the sexy world of Salsa. Salsa is easily one of the best known dance styles in all the world. 

Maybe you are going to visit a Latin American country shortly and want to be able to join in when you attend one of the bars or clubs. Or maybe you saw a video of a latin dance like the one below from the famous show 'Dancing with the Stars', and you are just dying to try it out yourself.

Whatever the reason, it may seem that those tantalising Salsa moves are just too difficult to try. The people who can Salsa seem to do it with ease, and without even trying. They slide and shimmy across the dance floor, their bodies moving with every beat of the music. They even look the part with their stunning Salsa dance costumes

But the truth is that every single Salsa dancer whether they dance for fun or even competitively will have felt intimidated at the beginning. If you watch Salsa for the first time, or have never tried it before, it looks overly complicated because you are seeing all the dance moves together at once. 

In reality, Salsa is a fun and easy dance to learn that really only has a few basic steps which you build on as your skill and confidence grows. This is great news because it means once you know the steps, and with a little confidence, you can do a professional looking Salsa. 

Keep reading the easy steps below and you will be Salsa-ing round your house in no time. 

The 1,2,3 Step

For all those people who hate maths, there's bad news: to Salsa you need to learn how to count. But the good news is that the basic principle behind Salsa is the 1,2,3 followed by a pause, repeated twice, so you only need to be able to count to 8. One of the basic Salsa steps is pictured below. As you can see in the steps below this instruction comes with the pause being the first and the 5th beat, but it can also be the fourth and the eight. Both are fine and follow the same basic pattern. 

The place of the pause is not as important as the pause itself for one reason. Most latin music will have a 4/4 beat, so as the Salsa step is only 3 count, you need that pause for the fourth beat to make it fit to the music. 

This may sound technical because you are only reading it. If you count it out loud, the beat would sound 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 and this is repeated indefinitely. With Salsa you could count it as 1-2-3-pause-5-6-7-pause with every beat given the same length. 

As mentioned above there are different ways to teach Salsa steps, but by far the one that Salsa teachers use the most is the 1-2-3- 5-6-7- step, with the pauses being on the fourth and the eighth beat. 

The 4/4 beat heard in Salsa is the most common tempo of music and if you count it out loud in most songs you will hear the 4/4 beat in action. Next time you listen to a song, see if you can count out the beat out loud for practice.

Basic Routines

Now hopefully you have practiced out loud your 1,2,3 step to music, it's time to talk about a few basic Salsa routines.

Take a look at the video below to show you three basic Salsa routines. 

https://youtu.be/wXSgWktFRWQ

https://youtu.be/wXSgWktFRWQ

1. Basic in Place

The first is the basic in place. You remain on the spot, and tap your right toe on the floor, then left, then right again, then pause. You can see in the video that they even count out loud as they dance to begin with. In the 4/4 beat of the music this would be right-left-right-pause right-left-right-pause, in the 1,2,3, 5,6,7, pattern mentioned above. 

2. Forward Basic

The forward basic is probably the most iconic Salsa dance move, and the one that you will most associate with Salsa. It is the steps lined out in the top photo, or in the picture below. 

If you compare the two pictures you can see that the only difference is which beat the pause is on. The chances are that whichever technique you get taught by your very first dance teacher is the one that will stay with you forever. I personally prefer the one where the beat is on the fourth and eighth counts as I can concentrate on the dance steps first. 

3. Side Basic

The side basic is similar to the forward basic, but instead of putting the left foot forward, you put it to the side. The right foot still takes a step in place and then the left first returns to the middle. 

There are many other dance videos on the internet to show some more dance moves and it only starts with the feet. Salsa uses the whole body to move together, so once you have those basic steps and routines down you want to start loosening up and brining in the hips and the arms. 

Go and Enjoy Salsa

Reading about doing Salsa online was never going to make you be a Salsa dancer. But one of the wonderful things about Salsa, especially compared to most other dances, is how little room it takes up when dancing. You can easily get a small half a meter square and practice all the steps above with ease. One of the main concepts of Salsa is that the whole body is moving together with the rhythm. It is not about how big or grandiose the movements are which is why you can even Salsa professionally on the spot. 

The old saying may be true: that it takes two to tango. But that isn't the case with Salsa as it is just as good danced by itself as it is in a pair. But there is only so many times you can Salsa by yourself in your kitchen. Salsa is a wonderful group activity. If you are lucky enough to live in a country that has live latin bars with dancing, go down to one and practice there. If not, there are Salsa dance lessons in nearly every town. 

Salsa is fun and exciting and exhilarating. And we haven't even mentioned the costumes. Look at this gorgeous red sequin salsa dress

As a total Salsa newbie you might not be quite confident enough to wear something like that yet, but even just looking at that dress you can just feel the rhythm of the latin music pumping through your veins. 

Now that you are 'learning Salsa' (which you have been doing just by reading this article) you can now say that you need to do some research, and what better way to do that then to go on holiday to somewhere like Mexico. 

Or if you don't fancy sipping on cold beers by the beach in the morning, then Salsa-ing all night, why not attend a world-famous cabaret show or a tantalising burlesque show

The steps above will only open the door to the world of Salsa, and you may want to know more hints and tips on how to improve. If you have done enough reading for the day, you can always put on one of the best dance movies of all time to inspire you onto that dance floor.