The History of Salsa Dancing
Hailing from Cuba, Salsa is a complex and beautiful dance that developed as a result of combining European, African, Latin American, and Caribbean dances and music. Jaime Andrés Pretell has noted that “This syncretism also occurred in smaller degrees and with variations in other countries like the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Puerto Rico, among others.” This combination of many cultures’ forms of dance and music is part of what gives salsa its vivacity and depth.
The dance and music was first called “salsa,” Spanish for sauce, in New York City in the 1970s, and this term often serves as a bit of a catch-all for varieties of Latin music and dancing. One of the key players in the development of Salsa music was Johnny Pacheco of Fania Records, and his commitment to Salsa music also helped spread the dance. Both the musical genre and the dance have gained popularity since the 1970s. Salsa is often a club dance, making it an especially vibrant form of social dance and an important part of the social dancing community.
One of the most popular of the Latin dances, Salsa is a fast-paced and passionate 8-count dance with pauses on the 4 and 8 counts. Salsa includes a range of moves and stylings that also appear in other rhythm dances, such as the cross body lead, hammerlock position, barrel roll turn, and bodyroll. Fast footwork gives this dance its energetic aesthetic, and Cuban motion and strong hip movement gives it its Latin flair.