How to salsa dance beginners

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 »

How To Dance Salsa For Beginners: Free Online Classes

Getting Started With The Salsa Basics

Once inside the course choose PARTNER WORK and select the ABSOLUTE BEGINNER LEVEL.

Here’s what you’ll learn…

Learn from 3X Canadian Salsa Champs and World Salsa Summit Medalists, Patrick and Scarlet.

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Part I: Beginner Salsa Steps

Lesson 1: Side Basic, Front-Back Basic & Closed Hold

We’ll get you moving with some basic steps and show you how to begin connecting with your partner in the classic closed hold. It’s an exciting beginning!

Lesson 2: Back Basic, Cumbia Basic & Open Hold

After this set of basic steps you’ll have a solid idea of how to move in different directions all while keeping time with salsa music.

Lesson 3: Putting Your Basics Together

Here we bring all your basics together so you can play around and get used to switching between them.

Lesson 4: A Tip for Your Basics

We can’t reveal all of our secrets here now can we?

Part II: Beginner Salsa Turns

Lesson 5: Basic Right Turn & 5 Turn Pattern

The right turn is the first turn you learn in salsa and it’s the foundation for learning double turns. In this lesson you’ll learn 5 handhold variations for the right turn so you can drill it and get it in your muscle memory.

Lesson 6: Cross Body Lead

Although it’s a move within itself, soon you’ll use the cross body lead (CBL) to bridge moves together. It’s essential to linear “night club style” salsa and it’s the foundation for many moves – be sure to perfect it over time.

Lesson 7: Change of Place

The Change of Place uses your Cumbia Basic to switch places with your partner. The more comfortable you are with it the better. In the Experienced Beginner series, you’ll learn more moves that that are based on the Change of Place.

Part III: Beginner Salsa Combinations

Lesson 8: Four Basics with Cross Body Leads

In this pattern, we challenge you to use your Cross Body Lead to transition between your four basics. Once you get it down, you can switch up the order in any way you like.

Lesson 9: Five Turn Pattern with Cross Body Leads

It’s time to insert the Cross Body Lead into your five turn pattern. Adding in cross body leads helps break things up, making your dancing feel more interesting, dynamic and spontaneous.

Lesson 10: Change of Place with Cross Body Leads

As you’re starting to see, the Cross Body lead is a great way to transition in and out of the different moves you do, including the Change of Place. Once you’re comfortable using the CBL to bridge moves together, then we can increase the difficulty.

+ Try the full course with over 300+ lessons for all levels

Salsa Timing for Beginners

There are two core concepts that differentiate salsa from other latin dances: timing and rhythm.

Salsa timing refers to the counts, or beats, of the music that you step on and salsa rhythm refers to the body movement you create between each step.

Types of Salsa Timing

1. Basic salsa timing

The counts of music you step on are 1-2-3, 5-6-7.

It takes 8 beats to do your basic step but notice how there is no step on 4 or 8?

That’s because the rhythm of the movement is quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow. Counts 4 and 8 are used to draw out your body movement and create the “slow” parts of the rhythm.

Using counts 1-2-3, 5-6-7 you can dance salsa in a couple ways…

2. What is dancing “On 1”?

When someone says “I dance salsa On 1” it means they start dancing on the first beat of the bar of music – “the 1” – the first count.

When dancing On 1 you start dancing on the 1, and your break steps (steps used to change directions) are on the 1 and the 5.

[1]-2-3, [5]-6-7

Dancing On 1 is the most common salsa timing used around the world, but it still depends where you live. Ask around to other dancers or studios what’s most common timing in your area.

3. What is dancing “On 2”?

When someone says “I dance salsa On 2” it means they start dancing on the second beat of the bar of music – “the 2” – the second count.

When dancing On 2 you start dancing on the 2, and your break steps are the 2 and the 6.

1-[2]-3, 5-[6]-7

It’s important to know there are various ways of dancing On 2, but the most common way, popularized by Eddie Torres in New York, is what we’ve just told you: step on counts 1-2-3, 5-6-7 with break steps on 2 and 6.

Dancing salsa On 2 is often called “mambo” because it has roots in the original mambo dance which was danced on 2.

4. Is the style of dancing On 1 different than dancing On 2?

Let’s make a distinction…

There’s a difference between Timing and Style:

Timing refers to which counts of music you step on.

Style is a visual aesthetic that you give your dancing.

If you dance on 1 or on 2 you can dance the exact same way and do all the same moves, you just change where your steps are with respect to the 8 count of music.

Learn more about The Difference Between Dancing Salsa On 1 and On 2 here.

In our online Salsa Course, all lessons are taught on 1 and on 2 timing so you can choose which ever you like, or learn both!

The different styles of salsa is another topic entirely.

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Salsa for beginners at Sierra Maestra

Salsa lessons are a great way to unload your head and body after a hard day's work, relax, learn something new and meet new people! And among other things, he will also learn how to dance cool.

Salsa can be danced by everyone without restrictions - there are no concepts of age, physique, social status, physical fitness in it. Yes, salsa - it is! For all!

Many now have the following diagnosis: mired in a routine, the fire in their eyes and soul begins to fade. If this is about you, you need to help yourself urgently!

Why is salsa loved all over the world?

  • Club latina, like all social dances, is first of all fun and excitement! And a very good emotional discharge after a working day.
  • Salseros life is bright and interesting, full of hot parties and trips! In Moscow, there are many clubs, discos where you can come, dance and have fun. Also in Moscow, several major events are held annually, which attract salseros from other cities.
  • This is very good for your health. By dancing at least 2 times a week, you will stay in good physical shape, because movement is life!
  • Salsa incredibly improves your non-verbal communication skills. Why?
  • Because in the dance the partner must completely control the dance, follow the partner, think of what movement to do next, and give impulses that are understandable to the partner. Men, your ability to move beautifully is a huge plus in the eyes of girls! Moreover, the gender imbalance in classes and discos is so great that you will not lack attention from girls.
  • In girls, salsa develops a special, "cat" plasticity of the body. At first glance, the role of a partner is much easier - you need to be able to feel your partner and respond to his impulses in time, decorate the dance. However, it is not easy to be able to trust a stranger.

If you've never trained before, apply for a beginner salsa group. If you have experience - we will select a group for you to continue!

Sign up

Salsa lessons from scratch in our school are as follows:


Needed to warm up your muscles and prepare them for work. In the beginner classes, the warm-up is very easy and lasts for 5-10 minutes, then the warm-up becomes more difficult and becomes more like a mini-isolation lesson, which just helps in developing your plasticity and enriches your dance with beautiful body movements.

Part of the solo

Here we go through the movements that we will use both in pair dancing and in solo dancing (after all, even though salsa and pair dance, it must have solo sections). Is this a mandatory part, and why is it important?

As a rule, beginners in salsa, and in other dances, seldom ever practiced any other dances, and come from scratch. And everyone has a nuance with coordination, with moving the body in space in different directions at different speeds. The solo part helps you a lot to learn how to move to the rhythm, to be able to make different movements and turns. Also on the solo part, we analyze the plasticity of the basic step in salsa

Pair part

Everything is simple here - we get into pairs and start learning pair interaction in salsa and various movements. This is where the magic begins)))

Effective salsa training for beginners:

We have talented and very experienced teachers who have been teaching for years and know exactly how to lead you to a good result in dancing.

Our modern techniques will help you learn to dance in no time. We do not promise you a month, or two, or three. Everyone has a different speed of mastering new information, but with the help of our methods, you will assimilate material at the highest limit of your speed.

We have small groups of up to 15 people and we practice an individual approach. At each lesson, we necessarily analyze the nuances and possible errors in the execution of movements, which allows students to better master the material.

We have comfortable halls! Ground floor with windows, air conditioners, mirrors. Of course, with locker rooms, a toilet, a cooler and Wi-Fi. Be sure to tea with sweets, which is nice.

A bit about salsa

Salsa (lat. Salsa) is a pair dance from Latin America - the cradle of carefree fun, incendiary rhythms, passionate machos and sultry beauties. Once you enter the world called salsa, you will fall in love with it once and for all!

Salsa dance is expressive, varied and rich in improvisation, it can be both romantic and very energetic! This is a dance-game, a dance-flirt. No wonder they say that salsa is a small life. Indeed, every time you will live a new life, always different, full of unique emotions and sensations! Music forms the mood of the dance, immersing you in an atmosphere of joy and positive!

Like every dance, salsa has its own history. Salsa means “hot sauce” in Spanish, and this perfectly emphasizes the hot and groovy nature of this dance! Since the middle of the 20th century, dance has been spontaneously formed in Latin American discos, and at the moment we have three salsa styles: the New York style, the casino style, and the Los Angeles style. In Moscow, the first 2 styles prevail, and you can learn them at our school!

Do you want to have another life: bright, colorful, where there is no place for worries and problems?

Then call us and take the first step towards it!

I have been wanting to learn how to dance bachata for a long time, I searched the entire Internet, studying the websites of different schools, reading dozens and hundreds of reviews and, in the end, I chose Sierra Maestra! I couldn’t persuade my friends to come with me, so I was terribly nervous when I went to the first lesson, but as soon as I entered the school, I saw friendly and smiling faces and heard music, the excitement went away and never returned) This place definitely has some kind of force field , which does not allow feelings, problems and anxiety to enter the threshold, I am sure many will confirm this, and such an atmosphere is created by the people who work and study here. Professional teachers and brilliant dancers who will find an approach to anyone, will help, prompt and teach more experienced students who will definitely support, don’t even hesitate ???? Plus, the school has a convenient evening schedule and affordable prices, which is important! In short, Sierra Maestra one love❤????

Hello everyone! From childhood I was engaged in SBT-dancing, then it was time for the institute, and honestly SBT was already fed up, if it weren’t for performances at city holidays, I would have left long ago =), I wanted something new, new hobbies came in addition to dancing, and dancing remained only for parties with friends... And somehow a couple of years ago my dance friends told me about the world of bachata and salsa, I caught fire and almost didn’t even come to them in some cool school (apparently this also played a role, now it’s not about no matter how much I regret, I don’t like pathos), but at that time it was not possible. Everything calmed down again, it seemed that everything, I would not return to this topic, but somehow a year ago I accidentally saw a video with salsa on the Internet and realized that this time it would not be possible to get this music out of my head so easily - it’s time for salsa come! Everything began to spin, I began to collect information about schools, styles, etc. Like many here, I was looking for a school at the nearest location to work and a convenient time interval for classes, then I looked for an opportunity to develop, i.e. the presence of multi-level training and, finally, the presence of the style that interests me - NY (on2), although I was ready to turn a blind eye to the latter). And so there were 4 schools on my list! Oddly enough, the choice turned out to be very easy, yes, yes, it happens, everything was decided by the staff, or rather the teachers. After reading the biography of Lena and Bella (at that time I knew which of them would lead my first steps in salsa) and “looking” into their kind eyes in the photo, I realized, or rather felt) that this is the place where it will be good! !! Even just from this photo you understand who your future teacher is, and everything else becomes irrelevant. After the first week, it became clear, what's the week - the first lesson, that this is the school I was looking for: #Great teachers, each with their own pretty teaching style! #Super positive atmosphere among all groups and directions, even more I will say - family. #There is everything you need for dancing - small cozy halls, good sound, two #"salso locker rooms" M/F =) #Flexible payment system and nice bonuses for partners! #Often on weekends there are parties where you can have fun dancing and chatting. What else do you need to have fun? So for those who have never practiced, but really want to, or those who want to try something new in dancing and no matter how old you are and what your experience is, I recommend not being afraid, but coming to this wonderful school! P.S. Guys who from the Moscow region ride electric trains along the Gorky direction - an ideal location (15-20 minutes from the Kursk railway station and you are on the floor)

When I decided to try salsa, I was looking for a suitable place for a long time. There are a lot of schools in Moscow. I took trial classes at several schools. The main criterion for me was the location, a convenient schedule of classes at that time. As a result, I started studying at several schools at once, once a week.

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