How to salsa dance solo for beginners

How to Salsa Dance | The 2023 New Dancer’s Guide

Lively, elegant and creative, salsa dancing is one of the past 100 years’ most popular dance creations, inspiring thousands to learn how to salsa dance themselves.

This partner dance has an off-beat pattern and plenty of style, but beginners are just a few basic steps away from salsa dancing like professionals.

You can learn how to salsa dance with the help of our informative beginners' guide, which covers everything from a quick history of the dance to detailed instructions of the basic salsa steps and everything in between!

Jump to Section

  • Learn How to Dance Salsa
  • Salsa Dance Music
  • Salsa Dance Styles
  • Five Basic Steps of Salsa
  • How to Salsa Dance With a Partner
  • How to Salsa Dance Solo

Learn How to Dance Salsa

Is it Hard to Learn How to Salsa Dance?

The difficulty of learning how to salsa dance depends on your previous dance experience or natural flair for dance. But even for complete beginners, the salsa is easy enough to learn with just a bit of practice.

Try a Salsa Dance Class

To learn how to salsa dance with the help of a professional instructor, consider signing up for an interactive dance class near you. There are salsa dance classes across the nation from dance classes in Colorado Springs and dance classes in Denver to dance classes in Las Vegas. 

Taking a dance class is the perfect opportunity to learn how to dance salsa with the help of an expert. Alternatively, learn salsa from the comfort of your home with a live instructor by signing up for online dance classes. 

via Canva

Salsa Dance Music

The History of Salsa Music

Understanding the origin of salsa music is a key aspect of learning how to salsa dance. Salsa music and the dance known as the salsa originated in New York city clubs in the 1950s and grew to the height of its popularity in the 1960s, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Salsa music merges African, Cuban, Puerto Rican and other Latin American musical traditions to create an energetic and syncopated style. 

Salsa Music Instruments

The unique sound of salsa music is based on the clave, a percussion instrument consisting of two sticks made of wood. The clave keeps the off-beat rhythm of the dance and the rest of the band plays with the clave. Salsa music often features trumpet, tres and drums, evidence of salsa’s jazz and big band influences. 

Salsa Dance Styles

New York Style

The dance itself was born in New York City to accompany salsa music. This style of salsa is called the New York style. It is a linear dance where the following dancer leads rather than the lead dancer, and it's a great style for beginners learning how to salsa dance for the first time.

Los Angeles Style

There is a Los Angeles style of salsa that is also a linear dance, but in this style, the lead dancer leads the dance.  

Circular Style

Additionally, there is a circular style of salsa in which dancers circle around one another rather than dance linearly with one another. Cuban and Colombian salsa dances follow this circular style. Learn how to salsa dance to all three styles to become a true salsa-dancing star!

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Five Basic Steps of Salsa

The salsa dance has five main steps founded on the basic front-to-back step pattern. When you first learn how to salsa dance, practicing this front-to-back step pattern is key to mastering the dance. 

When dancing salsa, there is a lead dancer and a follow dancer. The basic salsa steps for the lead dancer are as easy as 1, 2, 3 — front, center, front — and 5, 6, 7 — back, center, back. For the follow dancer, these steps are reversed: back, center, back, then center, front, center. 

But what are the steps to salsa dance, exactly?

1. Basic Salsa Step

  • Begin with your feet together.
  • On beat one, step forward with your left foot.
  • On beat two, shift your weight to your right foot.
  • On beat three, step your left foot to center again.
  • Beat four is a pause.
  • On beat five, step back with your right foot.
  • On beat six, shift your weight to center.
  • On beat seven, step your right foot to center again.
  • Beat eight is another pause.
  • Repeat these steps until you’ve mastered how to do the basic salsa dance steps!

Tip: As you practice how to salsa dance, keep your hips and arms loose. This is a fluid dance that moves with the music — let your body sway with the rhythm. 

2. Basic Salsa Side Step 

The side basic step is similar to the basic step but is done to the side rather than front to back. You will be stepping from side to side in this dance step.  

  • Lead dancers begin with the left foot and follow dancers with the right. 
  • On beat one, step out to the left with the left foot.
  • On beat two, shift weight to your right foot at center.
  • On beat three, step left for back to center.
  • Pause on beat four.
  • On beat five, step out to the right with the right foot.
  • On beat six, shift weight to left foot at center.
  • On beat seven, step right foot back to center.
  • Pause on beat eight. 
  • Repeat these steps and combine the side basic step with the basic step as you practice. via Canva

3. Rotating the Follow Dancer

Rotating the follow dancer in a fun spin will add flair to your basic salsa dance. To do this salsa dance step, the lead dancer spins the follow dancer on count five of the basic dance step. After the spin, the dance continues with the basic salsa dance step.

4. Cross Body Lead

For this salsa dance step, you will need to combine both the basic step and the basic side step.

The lead dancer steps to the side on beat two and rotates their body to be perpendicular to the follow dancer on beat three. The lead dancer then leads the follow dancer across the floor in front of them so that the dancers change positions, all while maintaining the basic step pattern.  

5. Cross Body Lead With Inside Turn

This step combines the cross body lead with a turn. The lead dancer will turn the follow dancer. 

Perform a basic salsa dance step with a cross body lead and then the basic steps with a turn on beat five. Then continue in the basic step.

Tip: Once you have mastered how to salsa dance with the basic salsa dance steps, add personality and flair to the dance with hand and hip movements, or “shines,” when you break free from your partner and perform solo.

Salsa dancing is all about feeling the beat of the music and letting it flow through the body in dance. 

How to Salsa Dance With a Partner

The salsa dance was made to be danced with a partner. To salsa dance with a partner, simply grab a friend and practice the techniques above until you both can dance with ease.

If you’re a beginner salsa dancer, you can learn how to salsa dance with a partner in a dance class or through online videos or articles. 

via Canva

How to Salsa Dance Solo

Perhaps your partner is busy or your social circle isn't as interested in learning how to salsa dance, and you’re wondering “How can I practice salsa dancing alone?”

The answer is simple. Just practice the basic salsa steps solo! 

The key to learning salsa is practice, and practicing how to salsa dance alone is a low-pressure way to do so. As you dance solo, you can practice your counting, your combinations and your turn techniques.

This is also a great time to practice your body movements — the extra flair that brings life to your personal salsa dance style!

If you want to learn how to salsa dance like a pro, taking a salsa dance class near you with a world-class instructor is the most straightforward (and fun!) way to do so. You’ll get a live how-to on salsa dance steps and tips for practicing the steps at home, as well as a lively interactive environment.

For even more creative ideas and inspiration, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!

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How To Dance Salsa Alone As A Beginner – Dancewear Tips

Salsa dance is one of the most popular dances in the World. More and more people are interested to learn this incredible dance but might not have a partner to dance with. It is one of the main reasons why people opt out from learning Salsa dancing. In this article, I will show you how to dance Salsa without a partner. 

This article aims to encourage you to learn Salsa dancing even if you don’t have a dance partner. Not having someone to dance with was my main obstacle to learn Salsa. I quickly realized that I don’t need a dance partner to learn Salsa dance as early as during my first Salsa dance lesson. 

Can You Dance Salsa Without A Partner? 

 Two people typically perform salsa dance, but you can dance Salsa alone. Dancing salsa alone is one of the best ways to get better at it. Salsa dancing is known for its seductive and sensual moves. There are specific techniques that accommodate themselves well to solo dancing. 

To be a good dance partner, you need to know your steps very well. Dancing with your partner well means being able to apply those skills you have learned as a solo dancer.  

Even when you are dancing with a partner, there are steps that you need to perform independently. If you don’t know these steps having a partner will not help you become a better salsa dancer. 

You have the freedom to improve your technique as a solo dancer. Once you improve your technique and body movements, you can work on timing and synchronization with a partner.  

I have taken salsa dance classes as a solo dancer and with a partner. My performance as a dance partner has drastically improved after taking these solo classes. 

Although Salsa is a partner dance, many moves are performed independently. Those independent Salsa steps are called shines. 

Shines is a salsa term that describes the footwork performed when dancing solo. Practicing your footwork helps you sharpen your timing, steps, and technique. The same footwork you learn solo will often appear in your partner’s dance. So more steps you know and get comfortable with, you will feel better about dancing solo and with a partner. You will also learn how to step to different rhythms and not just to the basic timing. This will help you grow your knowledge in the understanding of the salsa dance and your skills overall. 

Here is a fantastic example of Salsa shines for beginners that you can easily practice at home. 

Basic Solo Salsa Steps For Beginners 

Although Salsa is typically danced between two people, some steps and techniques are perfectly suitable for solo dancing. Practice these solo steps until you are confident to bust these moves on the dance floor. 

There are two basics Salsa steps: forward and back and side to the side Salsa steps. 

Basic forward and back Salsa steps
  1. Salsa timing. The timing is Salsa in 1, 2, 3, and pause, and then 5, 6, 7, and pause. It means that you step on the beat 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and pause on the 5th and 8th beat. 
  2. Posture. Stand up straight while keeping perfect posture, but your body should be relaxed and comfortable at the same time.  
  3. The first beat. As a leader, you should step forward on the first beat. Consequently, as a follower, you should step back on the first beat. As a lead, lift your left foot slightly of the floor and step forward. Your left heel should line up with the toes of your right foot. Put the weight on the ball and not the heel of your foot when you step forward. 
  4. 2nd beat. You need to lift your right foot slightly off the ground and put it back at the second beat. Then, transfer the weight to your right foot on the second beat. 
  5. 3rd beat. During the third beat, step back with your left leg and pause for a bit. Your left leg should be behind your right leg. Then, you should pause on the 4th beat before moving onto the next step. 
  6. 5th beat. On the 5th beat, you should step back with your right foot. 
  7. 6th beat. On the 6th beat, you should lift your left foot slightly of the ground and place it initially at the starting position.  
  8. 7th beat. On the 7th beat, step forward with your right foot, so your right foot is in the front of your left foot. 
  9. Pause. You should pause on the 8th beat. After this, you can repeat the basic forward steps until you master them. 

Here is a video explaining basic forward and back steps that you can practice solo. 

Basic side to the side Salsa steps
  1. Posture. Stand straight with perfect posture while keeping your arms slightly bent and keep your feet a bit apart as well.
  2. 1st beat.  On the first beat, step to the right with your right leg. Your feet should be parallel while keeping the weight on the ball of your feet and not the heel. 
  3. 2nd beat. Step right with your left leg on the second beat and cross it slightly behind your right leg. 
  4. 3rd beat. On the third beat, lift your right leg off the ground and put it back in the starting position.  
  5. 4th beat. Pause on the 4th beat. 
  6. 5th beat. On the fifth beat, you should go to the starting position with your left leg. 
  7. 6th beat. On the 6th beat, cross your right leg behind your left leg.
  8. 7th beat. On the 7th beat, slightly raise your left foot off the ground and place it down for the last step. 
  9. 8th beat. On the 8th beat, you pause. Repeat all the steps from start to finish. 

If you are a visual person when it comes to any instructions, here is an excellent video explaining these steps perfectly.


Practice forward and back and side to side steps as much as you can. Once you master them, you are ready for the dance floor. 

What Is Salsa Dance? 

Salsa dance is mainly partnered dance but can be danced solo too. Salsa is an energetic, fun, and sensual dance style that is extremely popular across the World. 

Salsa is a Latin dance that originated in the 1960s and combines Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican dances. It was mainly developed by Dominicans and Puerto Ricans in New York between the ’60s and ’70s.  

Salsa dance social events are mainly held in nightclubs, Latin coffee places, bars, restaurants, ballrooms, or outside during summer. Any larger city or town probably has organized Salsa social events here and then. Your best bet would be to search on the Internet or social media for Latin dance events in your area. 

I found out about Salsa lessons I currently attend through an acquaintance at my gym. Simply mention to people you are interested to learn Salsa dance, and I am sure some people could direct you in the right direction. 

Professional Salsa dancers dance at speeds between 150 bpm and 250 bpm. However, beginner dancers, such as myself, dance at a much slower pace, and there is really no requirement or need to dance that fast. The most important for beginner Salsa dancers is to learn proper steps, moves, and dance techniques. The speed comes last on the priority list.  

The Salsa music is phrased in counts of 8. All of the steps you will be learning will fit into an 8 count. However, 2 of the counts are pauses. You will dance on counts 1,2,3, then pause of 4, and continue to dance on 5,6,7 and pause on 8.

A great thing about Salsa dance is that it will continue to change and grow as people add new techniques, steps, and individual styles that others will love, too. 

There are 6 Salsa dance styles: 

  1. Afro-Latino Salsa Style
  2. Columbian or Cali Salsa Style 
  3. Cuban Or Casino Salsa Style
  4. Miami Salsa Style
  5. La Salsa Style 
  6. New York Salsa Style

Is Salsa Good Dance Style For Beginners? 

Salsa is one of the most popular dances in the World, so it is no surprise that many people are interested in learning this sensual and fun dance. Salsa is a very rewarding dance style to learn and an excellent choice for beginner dancers. 

Any dance can be master with proper instructions, good guidance, and reasonable effort. If you are a beginner, start with easy Salsa moves and then build up from there. 

Can You Learn Salsa Dance At Home?


It is possible to learn basic Salsa dance moves at home by watching Youtube videos and practicing those moves any chance you get. However, you will need lots of motivation, determination, and patience with yourself or your dance partner when learning to dance without proper instructions. 

Dedicate a space in your home for Salsa dancing. It needs to be spacious for those Salsa spins and turns. The last thing you want is to hurt yourself on a piece of furniture. 

It is important to set up a friendly atmosphere, so it is inviting to bust some Salsa moves. You could deem the lights and turn on Salsa music. 

Before you start dancing:

  1. Watch tutorials for Salsa dancing on Youtube.
  2. Pick a specific video you like the most and watch it a few times before attempting to dance.
  3. Once it is engraved in your memory, play the video step by step and practice each step a few times until you master it.
  4. Once you are confident with the first basic steps, move on to the next one.

Once your watch the entire video and practiced each step multiple times, you should attempt to incorporate those steps while dancing throughout the whole song. 

Speaking from personal experience, it is possible learning the basic Salsa moves on your own. I have been dancing Salsa casually for a few years. However, my friend never danced Salsa until this year. And since everything is closed due to Covid, he decided to learn Salsa dancing at home. 

It was challenging to figure out his steps, especially because I am a follower and he is the lead. Still, after some time, we were able to master basic steps and successfully danced throughout an entire song by mixing and matching basic steps. 

However, we will need to have proper Salsa dance lessons for more advanced moves. 

Final Words

I hope that this article has given you encouragement to learn and dance Salsa alone. Basic Salsa steps such as forward and back and side to side are easy to learn, and you can perform these steps without a partner. However, for more advanced steps, you would need a partner. 

Happy Dancing! 

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Salsa Dance Training (Salsa Solo)

Salsa solo is suitable for all ages, so everyone can start training their dancing skills. The main thing is to have a great desire to learn new things, think positively and strive to improve the capabilities of your body.

Difficulty level: For beginners

Trial training

08/23/2021 1731 0 5 min.

Salsa solo group training is aimed at developing plasticity and learning the basic dance movements. They are designed for bright, bold individuals who want to dance without a partner and express their individuality. At each lesson, special exercises are given to develop flexibility, endurance, balance, and also learn the elements of salsa to the appropriate music. nine0054

Solo dance training is needed in order to:

  • learn to dance to Latin American music and conquer any holidays and discos with your skills;
  • to please yourself and loved ones;
  • keep the body in shape;
  • maximize the development of flexibility, plasticity of muscles;
  • straighten your posture;
  • improve mood and learn to think positively;
  • gain self-confidence, become more daring and relaxed. nine0076

Salsa solo is suitable for all ages, so everyone can start practicing their dancing skills. The main thing is to have a great desire to learn new things, think positively and strive to improve the capabilities of your body.
See also: Zumba dance workouts

How to start dancing Salsa Solo

Dance gymnastics, like any workout, should begin with a warm-up, which includes stretching. They warm up the muscles, give them plasticity, thereby protecting them from serious sprains, injuries and even fractures. nine0054

  • For regular workouts, you need to choose the right clothes - that is, those that will be comfortable for you. Salsa solo does not have a strict dress code, so you can train in sweatpants, a skirt or tight leggings.
  • Be sure to have comfortable, suitable footwear. Latin dances are usually performed in shoes. But you can come to class in ballet flats or sneakers to hone your skills with comfort.
nine0002 You need a large mirror to control your every move.
See also: Belly Dance training

The main reasons to start training Salsa solo

To start dancing and fulfill your long-term dream, sometimes one reason is enough - desire. But if you look objectively, there are five main reasons to start going to Salsa solo training from tomorrow:

  1. Training variety
    - Many fitness classes involve repetitive exercises that need to be done many times to get results. By dancing, you can get your body in shape, lose weight without pain and boredom.
  2. Acquisition of a beautiful gait and plasticity of movements
    - Dancing forms the plasticity of muscles, so you will learn to move gracefully, which will cause admiration from others.
  3. Muscle pumping
    - Salsa, like regular fitness training, allows you to tighten problem areas, pump and strengthen muscles, make legs and buttocks elastic, with a beautiful relief. This is a great opportunity to forget about cellulite and excess weight. nine0076
  4. Increasing vitality
    - Dancing gives a lot of positive, good mood, removes negativity from thoughts, makes you feel energetic, cheerful and joyful.
  5. Improvement of posture
    - Posture can tell a lot about a person. It can be used to assess confidence, health, learn about outlook on life and inner mood. A straight back, a straight, proud posture are signs of a successful, positive person.

Salsa Solo Basic Dance Exercises

Here are some Salsa solo exercises:

  1. Exercise “Hip Twist” at the barre
    We put one leg back, after which we bring it into a diagonal with a necessarily bent knee. We return the leg to its original position. To complicate the task, you can put a disc or a sheet of paper or another object on the toe of your free foot. The exercise will teach you to balance, improve coordination of movements.
  2. Latin Square exercise
    - You need to stand in the starting position - feet shoulder-width apart. We draw in the stomach, lower the shoulders. The ribs protrude slightly outwards. We spread our arms to the sides, transfer the weight to one of the legs, which will be the supporting one.
  3. Exercise Circular movements of the hand
    - Perform "eights" with the hands in the position of outstretched arms. We control the position of the shoulders so that they do not fall below and rise above their position. The movements should be as if you are scooping up air. nine0076
  4. Exercise "Mill"
    - Tilt the body forward, rotate with straightened arms in such a way that at the moment of rotation one arm is at the bottom and the other is at the top. At the same time, the head and shoulder girdle also perform turns to the sides.

Recommendations and contraindications for training

Salsa solo training is simply necessary for those who want to tighten their body, make it beautiful, without a drop of excess fat, and for those who have long dreamed of learning how to dance an incendiary solo dance. With the help of training, you can develop plasticity and grace in yourself, make movements more feminine and learn to express feelings through movement.

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