Salsa – the dance, just like the sauce – can be full of ingredients, hot and spicy, sweet and zesty, complex or straightforward. A mix of many Hispanic musical styles like Cha cha cha, Són, Rhumba, Són Montuno, Guaracha, Mambo, Danzón, Guguanco, Cubop, Guajira, Charanga, Cumbia, Plena, Bomba, Festejo, Merengue and others, Salsa was created by New York’s Puerto Rican population in the 1970s and has grown to become an integral part of the Latin American identity – and perhaps the one dance that non-Latins strive to master.
Like many dances in Latin America, each country, and even each region within a country, has its own Salsa style, rhythm, pacing and timing. For example, Cali, Colombia has been called the “Salsa Capital of the World” not only for its numerous international Salsa championships and the fact that Salsa is the music of choice at most parties, but also for its unique style that propels the dance with rapid stepping and complex footwork.
Miami, with its large Cuban population, has developed a style that combines Cuban Salsa with New York and LA moves that see the dancers keeping their upper bodies still in a relaxed pose while carrying out intricate footwork.
Meanwhile, Salsa Rueda, or casino de rueda, a style also with Cuban roots, has seen Salsa evolve from a partner dance to one that is danced by a large group in a circle. Moves are called out by a leader and all the dancers execute it in unison.
These are just a few basic examples of the different Salsa styles that can be enjoyed and learned throughout the world.
Among the world’s most popular Salsa musicians of different styles are Celia Cruz, Willie Colón, Eddie Palmeiri, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Ruben Blades, Jimmy Bosch, Fruko y Sus Tesos, Marc Anthony, Joe Arroyo y La Verdad, Sonora Carruseles, Latin Brothers, La India and Group Niche.
Salsa has grown into such a phenomenon that lessons can be found in most major cities throughout the world. While traveling in the following Latin America cities on business or pleasure, why not take some time to learn a few steps at the popular places listed?
The very popular Thursday night Salsa and Latin dance party kicks off with free Salsa lessons taught by two of Colombia’s best teachers. Students learn the basic steps and combinations and have plenty of practice time before the doors open to the public and the Salsa rumba goes until at least 3:00 in the morning.
Carrera 14 A No. 83 – 56
Buenos Aires, Argentina
This club and school is billed as the most important place for Caribbean music in Buenos Aires, teaching a variety of Latin dances, but Salsa rules. Classes are held seven days a week at different night time hours, making it convenient to find one to fit into busy schedules.
Mexico City, Mexico
Academia de Baile Salsafición
Offering all levels of Cuban style Salsa, this academy is open seven days a week in different locations. And the academy also hosts an annual congreso Baila a lo Cubano with live bands, competitions and workshops.
División del Norte #2634
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Escola de Dança e Centro Cultural Jaime Arôxa
Founded by one of Brazil’s most important dancers, the school’s goal is to not only teach students how to dance, but to also transform their lives.
Rua Arnaldo Quintela, 22, Botafago
Tel.: 55 21 2542-2040
San Jose, Costa Rica
With many schools throughout the city, Merecumbé has dominated the Costa Rican Salsa scene since 1991. Contact the specific location for class schedule information.
Academia Latin Mambo
A fun and entertaining space where students learn Cuban and Los Angeles style Salsa in addition to other popular Latin dances.
Rancagua # 0227, Providencia
Tel: (02) 2670382