Learn how to dance salsa for 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 in pairs. Salsa dance school in Moscow

Do you want to learn how to dance salsa beautifully, but don't know where to start? Salsa dance school in Moscow "Dance Liker" will teach you how to dance the most popular of all Latin American dances from scratch in the shortest possible time.

Salsa is a hot Latin American dance that originated in Latin America at 1970s. Translated from Spanish, salsa means "sauce", and as a sauce consisting of several ingredients, salsa includes jazz, danzón, cumbia and the main directions - rumba and Cuban sleep. But, despite so many different styles, learning how to dance salsa is very simple. This is both a piquant and at the same time relaxed dance, so both an adult and a child can learn salsa.

Today, salsa is a whole subculture with a rich history, which has a unique method of revealing oneself as a person. With its help, you can improve the quality of your health, as well as get a lot of positive emotions and pleasant acquaintances. Salsa dance in Moscow is performed in many places, such as bars, clubs or restaurants, as well as in open areas. Due to the fact that salsa and bachata are very similar to each other, they are often danced alternately at events. In our school you can learn both salsa in pairs and bachata.

If you don't know how to learn to dance salsa and where to learn how to dance salsa, but you really want to, then you've come to the right place. Our salsa dance school for adults "Dance Liker" and the salsa dance school for beginners "Dance Liker" conduct salsa training in Moscow in specially equipped halls, where a favorable atmosphere reigns, which, together with professional teachers, will help you to relax and master dance as quickly as possible. skills. Our experienced teachers have been teaching salsa bachata for many years, so we will find an individual approach to everyone. Here you can get training in salsa dancing for beginners or improve your existing level of dancing skills. Salsa and bachata dance school in Moscow "Dance Liker" is waiting for you! Sign up for a trial lesson and get a 50% discount.

Can't visit the training halls of the dance school to learn salsa? Densliker School has a solution! For your convenience, our experienced choreographers have developed online salsa lessons that will allow you to learn how to move beautifully and master one of the most popular Latin American dances from the comfort of your home. In order to start learning salsa online, you only need to apply and choose the right course for learning choreography. After registration, you will have access to detailed video lessons of salsa, as well as feedback from teachers.

Salsa dance groups in our studio are divided into several levels:
initial initial +
Average Advanced

initial -ized -high

This level means that everyone comes to classes for the first time and study "from scratch". It will be comfortable even for those who have not previously had any dance, music and other skills.

In the Salsa dance class we will:
- analyze the main rhythm;
- learn to hear music;
- learn the basics and basic figures of Salsa.

Each lesson in the group "Salsa beginner level" will begin with the study and analysis of rhythm, as the basis and an integral part of any dance. Even if you had problems with a sense of rhythm before joining us, after a few lessons at our school you will begin to feel it and move to the beat of the music.

Salsa music is bright and ambiguous. It contains various shades of emotionality and sensuality. In the "Salsa Beginners" group, we teach our students to recognize them in order to subsequently make their body move organically, filling every musical sound with the beauty of dance.

Basics of Salsa
You need to start learning how to dance correctly. This is a rule to which there are no exceptions. The basics of Salsa include: basic steps, technique for performing basic elements, interaction in pairs.
Further progress in learning Salsa depends on how you master them. Rest assured! The teachers of our school will help you and create for you with their attentive and professional approach comfortable conditions, atmospheric lessons and a friendly team in your group!

If you are wondering: “Will I be able to attend dance parties and salsatecs after completing my training in the Salsa Beginners group?” , then we will answer YES. After mastering the basic figures of Salsa, you will be able to dance to any music, and not only Latin American. You will begin to enjoy dancing. But let's not get ahead of ourselves! To speed up the development of the material covered in the classroom, our teachers advise everyone to attend dance practices and dance a lot at parties. DANCELIKER school regularly holds dance events and invites you to participate in them!

At this level, we analyze more complex and interesting figures, with the addition of footwork, chips and playing music, learn to control our body harmoniously and plastically, work out the movements of the shoulders, body, hips and feet.

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