Originally from Cuba, Salsa is generally performed with partners, with some solo and group styles gaining in popularity. Salsa continues to evolve, and different styles are associated with specific geographic areas. Characteristics that set each region apart include diversified foot patterns, turns and figures, and the attitude in which the dance is performed.
Los Angeles Style
Strongly influenced by the basic mambo step, swing and Argentine tango. Part of the uniqueness of this style is that the dancer emphasizes the first beat and combines two elements to the dance: the forward backward basic and the cross-body lead. This style is very technical and requires intense dips, flips, jumps, splits and spins. The dance is showy, theatrical and sensuous.
New York Style
This style originated in the 1960s when Cuban dissidents introduced the mambo to the area. The style eventually evolved to combine mambo with New York jazz and swing. Percussion instruments play an important role in this type of dance, with the second beat being emphasized rather than the first. The intensity of this style is emphasized in the timing of the moves and its use of body waves, free style and shimmying. New York salsa is mostly confined to the east coast of North America, Puerto Rico and Central America.
Cuban style salsa (also known as 'Casino') is danced in a circular motion comprised of different patterns of arm and body movements, including double hand holds. This style is danced on either the upbeat--beats two, four, six and eight, or the downbeat-- beats one, three, five and seven. A major element of this type of salsa are the adjustments that each dancer must acquiesce to the other in order to perform the many turn patterns of the dance. The percussion segment of the dance breaks the partners into solo acts, allowing the partners to allure each other with sexual gyrations without physical touch. Casino salsa originated with a combination of the Cuban Son partner dance and movements from the Afro-Cuban Rhumba.
Rueda de Casino
Rueda de Casino (also known as 'Salsa Rueda' or the 'Casino Wheel Dance') originated in Havana, Cuba in the 1950s. This style of salsa positions dancers in a circle and follows moves called out by one person. Swapping partners is a common part of this dance. Rueda de Miami (known as 'Miami-style') evolved from the original Rueda de Casino and is a more formal style that incorporates moves from both Rueda de Cuba and Los Angeles style salsa.
Cali Salsa Style
Cali, Columbia is known as the 'World's Salsa Capital', as salsa is the most popular style of dance at their parties and nightclubs. In this type of salsa, dancers move from side to side, focusing on endless foot movement. The upper body remains stiff, and there are no turns involved in the dance. Simple spinning is only done by the female dancer.