The movements of Salsa have its origins in Cuban Son, Cha Cha, Mambo and other dance forms. The dance, along with the Salsa music, originated in the mid-1970s in New York. Salsa is a fusion of informal Latin American dance styles having roots in the Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Caribbean islands. There is a strong African influence in the music as well as the dance. The basic Salsa rhythm is quick-quick-slow- quick-quick-slow, in other words, 1, 2, 3 – 5, 6, 7. The Cuban Casino style of salsa dancing involves significant movement above the waist, with up-and-down shoulder movements and shifting of the ribcage.
The arms are used by the “lead” dancer to communicate or signal the “follower,” either in “open” or “closed” position. The open position requires the two dancers to hold one or both hands, especially for moves that involve turns, putting arms behind the back, or moving around each other, to name a few examples. In the closed position, the leader puts the right hand on the follower’s back, while the follower puts the left hand on the leader’s shoulder.
Salsa is a partner dance, although there are recognized solo steps and some forms are danced in groups of couples. Salsa is often a social dance, but it is used as a performance dance as well.