Salsa dancing is a dance style associated with the salsa style of music now popular worldwide. Salsa music has its origins sometime in the 1950s to 1970s, with the truly distinct salsa style coming out of New York in the 1970s. The music fuses a number of Cuban styles, particularly the son, but also draws from a number of other Latin American musical styles.
Salsa dancing is done on eight-beat music, with dancers moving on three beats, pausing for one beat, dancing for three beats, and pausing for one beat. The movement style is left-right-left-pause, then right-left-right-pause. During the pause in most dances some sort of flourish is utilized, be it a stomp of the foot, casting out the hand or kicking the lower leg. This style of dancing is mostly a stationary dance, with little movement around the dance floor. Instead, dancers rely on the subtle movement of their legs and upper bodies to convey the energy of the dance.
In addition to the partnered movements of salsa dancing, dancers may integrate solo breaks known as shines into their routines. These are a way for salsa dancers to take a breather from an exhausting routine, or to gather themselves if their rhythm is broken. Shines involve lots of ornate movements and demonstrations of the body, and are intended as a way for a dancer to show off their full talent. While shines are in theory improvisational, there are many standard shines which dancers learn and can fall back on.
If a dancer begins salsa dancing on the first beat of the phrase (left-right-left-pause), the style is known as on one. If the dancers begin their movement on the second beat of the phrase (pause-left-right-left), the style is known as on two. While proponents of a certain style have reasons for believing one is better than the other, ultimately it comes down to a matter of personal preference.
In addition to the basic stylistic variations of on one and on two, there are a number of major schools of salsa dancing style. The main on one styles are LA style, Colombian style and Cuban style. The main on two styles are ballroom mamba, en clave and palladium two. Eddie Torres style combines the on one and on two styles by using the starting and pausing points of on one style, but having the body switch position where it would normally switch in the on two style.
Salsa dancing is incredibly popular throughout Latin America and the United States, and is gaining popularity in Europe and elsewhere. Many clubs specialize in salsa music and most towns offer classes in salsa dancing. While not the easiest dance form, because of its high tempo, is it not particularly difficult, and dancers of all skill levels should be able to gain proficiency within a matter of months.