How to dance salsa for dummies

Learn Basic Salsa Steps

The word 'salsa' literally means 'sauce', usually hot and spicy, and that's definitely how you would describe salsa dance – zesty, energetic, passionate and sexy.

  • Basic steps
  • Instructions & Diagrams
  • Video
  • Recommended Video Lessons »

Quick intro

Salsa is a sensual Latin dance, similar to mambo. Both have a pattern of six steps over eight counts of music and they both share many of the same moves.

The great thing about salsa is that just about anyone can learn it. That's why it gained vast popularity in the last few decades and is now danced in nightclubs all over the world. There is a well known saying that is often repeated by dance teachers - if you can walk, you can salsa.

Salsa is the result of combining many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances, a fusion of Cuban, Puerto Rican and African rhythms. The basic rhythm is quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow, using the 1,2,3 and 5,6,7 beats (beats 4 and 8 are skipped). The music is typically around 180 beats per minute, although it can be slower or faster than that.

Basic steps

Salsa is one of the most popular Latin American dances, the main reason being - it's easy to learn. At first glance it might seem difficult, but the truth is quite the opposite - basic salsa steps can be learned with less than 10 minutes of practice.

Only three steps are made for every four beats with one step to each beat and one beat being skipped. The skipped beat is called a tag, a tap, a kick, a flick, or the like. The steps can be from side to side or forward-backward and in circles. When dancing you must keep a straight upper body posture and move your hips as much as possible.

Salsa is danced with partners facing each other. It can be danced in closed or open position. Note that salsa steps are very small. The faster the music, which is usually quite fast, the smaller the steps.

Instructions & Diagrams:

Because Salsa allows for a lot of creative improvisation, many different styles have developed over time. But regardless of different styles the basic steps are essentially the same. As a beginner, you should always start at the beginning.

Basic Steps For Men:

You need to start with both feet together. Remember, practice makes perfect.

  1. Step forward with your left foot (first beat)
  2. Right foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  3. Step backward with your left foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)
  4. Step backward with your right foot (first beat)
  5. Left foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  6. Step forward with your right foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)

Basic Steps For Ladies:

  1. Step backward with your right foot (first beat)
  2. Left foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  3. Step forward with your right foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)
  4. Step forward with your left foot (first beat)
  5. Right foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  6. Step backward with your left foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)


OK, let's see how this is done. In the following video Leon and Kim will show you the fundamental forward & back basic step from all angles. You will also learn the side basic step. Be sure to master this before moving on.

more videos »

Take your time to master these steps and when you're ready for more, check out the recommended video lessons »

7 Salsa Moves for Beginners (The Building Blocks for Everything)

by Robin Campbell

(Dancing on 1 with @johaceta 💃🏽 – not sure what dancing on 1 means? click here)

So many people want to learn salsa, but they just don’t know where to start. The fact every teacher has a different approach and they don’t explain WHY doesn’t help either.

These seven beginner salsa moves are the building blocks for everything in linear style salsa.⁠

Learn them, practice them and read on to understand why they’re so fundamental.

And after if you’d like to learn them, you can try the online Salsa Course completely free for a week here. 

Let’s go!

⁠1. Basic Steps⁠

We show you the five most common salsa basics. Although there are more, nail these ones first. Get comfortable shifting your weight and learning how to lead and follow the transitions between them.

  • Salsa basic on the spot
  • Salsa basic side to side
  • Salsa back basic
  • Salsa back basic (crossing) – often called cumbia basic
  • Salsa basic front to back


2. Right Turn ⁠

The right turn is the first turn you learn and it sets you up for learning the cross body lead outside turns and multiple spins.


3. Left Turn⁠

The left turn is the second turn you’ll learn, so you can turn both ways. This sets you up for cross body lead inside turns. ⁠Check out 7 Salsa Inside Turn Variations for a perfect example of how everything is built on fundamentals.


4. Cross Body Lead⁠

The cross body lead is the foundation or essence of this linear style of salsa. The lead gets off the follow’s line of dance, giving them a clear path to cross in front and arrive at the other side, to switch places.


5. Hesitation / Block / Check ⁠

All three names are interchangeable. When the leader stops or blocks the follow’s movement and sends them back in the direction they came it’s called a block or check. When you do it during a cross body lead it’s also called a hesitation. You’ll use this concept a ton as you advance, to keep things interesting and surprise the follow.


6. New York Walk⁠

The New York walk is a variation of the cross body lead where the follow pivots to the right, instead of the left, to finish the move.


7. Change of Place / Enchufa⁠

The change of place or what is often called “Enchufa” in Cuban salsa, is the simplest way for the lead and follow to switch positions.⁠ There’s lots of fun variations you can do using different handholds. It’s a very common move to use in Cuban and Colombian styles of salsa.



Almost everything in linear salsa is built-off these 7 moves so dedicate time to nailing them!

Want to start learning them now?




And if you’re a fan of instagram, follow us there. A version of this post is below:



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A post shared by Online Salsa & Bachata Courses (@thedancedojo)

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how to dance salsa dance, movements (video in Russian)

Recently, the fashion for a healthy and sporty lifestyle is gaining momentum, including the fashion for dancing. The leader among the latter are the rhythms that came from Latin America: merengue, salsa, bachata. These so-called social dances come from the streets and are available to anyone who wants to, it only takes a little effort to learn a few basic movements. In addition to training various muscle groups, developing flexibility, grace and endurance, dancers get the joy of communication and an incomparable feeling of soul flight. Salsa has no age. Anyone can learn to dance it. Salsa lessons can be taken both in numerous dance schools, and you can learn how to dance salsa at home on your own, as many salsa video lessons for beginners have now been released. Video of salsa dancing for beginners, see below. nine0054

Salsa has its roots in Cuba from cha-cha-cha, rumba, timba and sleep. In its modern form, this style developed around the 1970s. Its immediate predecessor was the mambo, familiar to many from the movie Dirty Dancing. However, it is not necessary to perform all acrobatic figures and take off into the hands of a partner in high support. The basic movements of salsa are quite simple and easy to remember, we dance salsa from the video.

Types and styles

Salsa is divided into the following types and styles:

  • Circuit (includes Cuban casino, Venezuelan rapid and Colombian with acrobatic elements and complex footwork). Cuban casino is the simplest and most convenient in execution. Partners form a circle, within which they make movements and turns. In addition, in a discotheque, where there is not much free space, this version of performance is more convenient.
  • The Venezuelan variation is impulsive, starts on any beat and has a dynamic tempo. The most spectacular is Salsa Cali (caleña), named after the Colombian city of Cali, which hosts annual festivals and is considered the world capital of this dance. The Colombian style is characterized by complex acrobatic stunts, fast foot movements, and a massive staging, with many dancers moving as a single mechanism. nine0067
  • Linear - Los Angeles (LA) and New York (NY) styles. In line styles, partners do not form a circle. They stand in an open position and the girl moves along the line from one partner's hand to the other, while the man turns the body 180 degrees, the so-called cross-body-lead. The pace in linear salsa is very fast, energetic, with abrupt stops, which makes the dance resemble ballroom latina. The difference between LA and NY styles is that in LA they start moving to a strong first beat, as in a casino, and in NY they start moving to a weak second beat. nine0067

However, one should not be shy in front of such diversity, because salsa is a social dance that came from the streets and is based on a dialogue between a man and a woman. The partner leads his lady, showing in the best possible way, and the lady obeys the partner's movements. The most skillful and professional dancers use the minimum set of basic elements, because the main thing in the dance is the soul. Watch the salsa video below.

Where to go to study?

There are many dance studios in Moscow where teachers from Argentina, Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela will teach how to dance salsa and move in other Latin rhythms. Many teachers give lessons in Russian, but even if the bill goes to uno-dos-tres, learning a few words in Spanish is an added bonus to the joy of communication. nine0054

The movements in salsa depend on the style and type of salsa, but the basic basic mambo step is quite simple: step back and forth for one-two-three, pause standing still, and step the other foot back and back for one-two-three. Pause again standing still. The partner can turn one step forward. The main mistake of beginners is that they forget about the pause, since the count is one-two-three, in fact, it is one-two-three-four.

Learn more