Salsa: Basic Steps
Only The Beginning
In Britain those leading begin with weight on the right leg stepping
onto the left; and those following begin with weight on the left leg
stepping onto the right. Practice starting each basic obeying your
gender convention. Stop and start repeatedly.
- Step Transitions:
Leads usually change from one basic to another when they are about
to step with their left leg; Followers usually change from one basic
to another when they are about to step with their right leg. Select
two basics e.g. sidetoside and latin basic; and
obeying gender convention, dance an even number of one basic then
change to the other for an even number. Start with eight repetitions,
then six, then four, and lastly two repetitions. Practice until you
are completely fluent in changing between all the basics.
Dancing the steps facing only in one direction isn't healthy; it makes
you a little wooden and does not reflect what's required under real
dance conditions. Try performing each basic gradually changing the
way you're facing by rotating to your right. Aim to have completed
a full revolution after sixteen times, then eight, then four. After
that, practise it turning to your left.
Dancing one half of one basic, followed by one half of another e.g.
the forward part of the Latin basic and right half of the cucaracha
(verbal cue: forwardandclose,sideandclose).
This changes the way you perceive each basic, into smaller and more
Sticking only to your natural convention can make you a lop-sided
dancer. You may be required to change on your "other" foot;
due to a unusually constructed turn combination, or if the music is
played in phrases of an odd number of bars. Practise this by dancing
an odd number of repetitions of two or more basics.
- Beat Discipline:
Make sure that every basic (or string of basics) that you dance is
on time i.e. that you always start on beat one and pause on
beat four. When you can do that then try dancing your basics starting
on beat three, pausing on two; beat two pausing on one; beat four
pausing on three. Fluency with this exercise ensures you can keep
an even beat, also dancing on other beats sometimes suits particular
Practice starting each basic with each partner obeying their respective
gender convention: leads begin with weight on right leg stepping onto
left; followers begin with weight on left leg stepping onto right.
Stop and start repeatedly.
- Step Transitions,
As with the step transition practice described in the solo section,
but partnered. Practice until you are completely fluent in changing
between all the basics.
Perform each basic gradually changing the way the partnership is facing
by rotating to the right. Aim to have completed a full revolution
after sixteen times, then eight. After that, practise it turning to
- Split Basics,
Unlike the solo practice, this one involves the lead partner performing
one basic while leading the following partner to perform a different
basic. The most versatile combination is the lead executing the cucaracha
while the follower executes the turning basic. Experiment to see which
other combinations are possible and usable.