Latin Dances - Cuban Family
Salsa started out as a revamped and updated version of mambo, primarily in the Latin communities of New York, in the mid-1970s. Although there was evident influence from the disco style of the time, the steps and the music were not terribly far removed from the mambo that had been so popular in the early 50s.
But something very interesting had happened over the 25 or 30 years between the arrival of mambo and the arrival of salsa. As mambo music had spread through Latin America, dancers in each region had adapted their local dance styles to suit the new music. This resulted in the evolution of many dances, often very different in appearance, and all well-suited to the same kind of music. So by the time salsa re-ignited the popularity of the music, each region had a very well-established dance suited perfectly to it, hence the huge regional differences in dances which are all called salsa.
The happy upshot for dancers is that by the time salsa came along, television meant that dance steps could travel as fast as the music. Particularly in America, the dance became marvellously cross-pollinated with borrowings from the different regional styles, resulting in a flexible and dynamic dance that achieved global popularity.
We teach two styles of salsa: LA style (salsa on 1) and New York style (salsa on 2). They use similar step patterns but with thoroughly different timing. LA style salsa has essentially the same basic step as mambo, although it is shifted to start on the first beat of the bar. NY style has the slow count on a different step of the pattern.
Salsa is usually danced to - well - salsa music. It's a whole genre of its own. There are plenty of other musical styles to which it's possible to dance or adapt salsa (just as other dance styles were adapted all those years ago), but rarely do you see other genres played for salsa dances. Here's a handful of salsa tunes for you to hear.
Willie Chirino los campeones de la salsa
Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe todo tiene su final
Sting fragile (salsa version)
Frankie Negron mi mulata