The Sizzling Hot Salsa

A salsa dipIf you were to ask a foodie, they would describe Salsa as a yummy, hot and spicy dip. In Spanish ‘Salsa’ is a generic term for sauce, and it usually comes in a variety of bases; tomato, mango, pineapple, etc. While there’s many explanations as to how the dance got its name, I’m gonna go with someone noticed the many sim
ilarities between the dance and the spicy dip.

The flirty and sexy interplay between the gent and the lady, respectively playing the roles of a masculine enchanter and a sensually dressed seductress, gives Salsa its spice. Much like the dip it has many flavors; with varying musical styles, tempo and movement patterns. The dance itself has many dips too, which we will get to later.

Very much a party dance, Salsa is reflective of the highly gregarious Latin American culture, danced at night clubs, bistros, bars and even outdoors such as beaches. The dance has naturally evolved as an enjoyable social activity, and you would learn it best at such a setting. Once you master the simple basic step patterns, body isolations, and the rhythms it is a case of improving by enjoying it with a partner in a social setting. Compared to other styles of dance the steps are fairly simple, however the artistry of the dance comes from creating chemistry with your partner.

salsa1Presently perhaps the World’s most popular social dance, the Salsa owes its popularity to many Latin American migrants who settled down in the United States. The dance itself and the music we dance to, has Afro-Cuban origins. However many South American regions have their own distinct variation of the dance. Columbians would dance differently to the Cubans, and Puerto Ricans would do it another way altogether. Even within what’s practiced internationally there are different styles, the two most prominent being the New York style and the Los Angeles (LA) style.

I personally prefer and teach the LA style; while retaining the character of salsa, the style brings in strongly defined body rhythms and movements that are both vibrant and sensual. It also borrows from other genres of dance, from tango to hip-hop, giving the dance an assortment of exciting moves.

For a beginner this style is also easier to learn as the dance starts on the first beat of the bar, as opposed to starting on the second beat as in New York style. Starting, or breaking as it’s called in dance lingo, on the two also rules out dancing Salsa to modern Latin pop or hip-hop music, limiting the dance exclusively to authentic salsa / mambo music.

If you were to start learning the Salsa today, you would start with a simple back and forth or side and side foot work, in a relaxed posture. The movement of the feet combined with a relatively still upper body will result in a natural and lateral movement of the hips. As you progress you will build your repertoire with fancier foot and leg work, arm styling, body isolations, turn patterns, shimmies, body rolls, lifts, drops and dips. Now back to dips – in dance when the gent lunges and drops the lady (see the picture) that is called a dip.

So grab your partner, or a friend and hit a salsa joint – a club or a school. In fact you can, in most the cases, just walk in on your own and find friends to dance with. One, Two, Three & Five, Six, Seven – Let’s Salsa! Why are four and eight missing? Well let’s leave a little mystery for today!

This is an article written by DanceRevolt’s Nipuna for the SundayObserver Youth Magazine. The published article can be found here.

dancerevoltThe Sizzling Hot Salsa

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