What is Salsa & Dance Position

One of the easiest social dances to learn is the salsa. The salsa is a quick, lively dance that is popular in social gatherings, competitions, or even for exercise. If you want to learn the basic steps and rhythm of salsa, here are some tips you can keep in mind when you practice.

What is Salsa?

Salsa is a dance form invented by Spanish-speaking people in South America and the Caribbean. The word salsa is “sauce” in Spanish, and may refer to the flowing, easy-to-follow movements of the dance. Almost anyone can dance to the salsa, which is always accompanied with the spicy and lively beat of salsa music. Like the waltz, tango, and foxtrot, salsa is considered one of the easiest ballroom dances to learn.

Dance Position

Save for a few exceptions, salsa is a partner dance. Some variations of salsa may involve changing partners along the dance floor for certain parts of the dance. Like many Latin American dances, the salsa starts off with a simple starting position:

The man takes the woman’s right wrist with his left hand.
The man puts his right hand on the woman’s back, just above the hip
The woman puts her left hand on the man’s right shoulder.

Basic Steps

The salsa is very popular because it does away with complicated dance steps which are difficult to follow. Salsa relies on breaks and weight shifts over a simple four-step beat, which makes the dance very intuitive and easy to learn. Here are the very easy steps you need to perform when dancing salsa (the steps below refer to the man’s timing; the woman performs the same steps in reverse):
salsa dance

Stand with your feet lined up together.
Break forward with your left foot.
Shift your weight to your right foot.
Step back with your left foot.
Hold your position for one beat.
Break backward with your right foot.
Shift your weight to your left foot.
Step forward with your right foot.


Performing the salsa may look easy, but it’s not a simple matter of stepping forward and rocking back. To bring the dance to a performance level, here are some tips to help you out:

If you have problems following the steps, it’s best to follow the beat of the music. Salsa almost always follows a four-step pattern which you can follow to all eight basic steps of salsa.

Salsa is best danced when you glide your foot along, instead of lifting it up fully.

Salsa is a lively dance, so swing your body – especially your hips – when you perform the steps. You may also want to move your shoulders, knees, and your whole body. The point is to project your performance, but make sure not to exaggerate your movements.

Salsa is an enjoyable dance that you can perform at any gathering or celebration. All you need now is a partner, some good salsa music, and you can dance the heat of the night away.

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