Salsa History

There are many stories related to the origin of the word Salsa. The most commonly accepted theory is that it came from the word “Sauce” which is known as Salsa in Latin American Countries. Just as the sauce is a mixture of different ingredients, salsa is also a mixture of different styles. Some people believe that it got its name because of its spicy and hot connotations. Whatever the reason is but today Salsa is one of the most popular forms of dancing that was originated in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Salsa evolved as a distillation of many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances. It is actually the mixture of Mumbo, Danzn, Guaguanc, Cuban Son and other such Cuban dance forms. The dance form became very popular in New York in mid 1970s.

Salsa involves shifting of weight by stepping along with incorporating arm and shoulder movements and this weight shifts cause the hips to move. Based on the type of steps, foot patterns, timing, turns and body movements, different modern salsa styles have evolved.

Different style of salsa

Many styles of salsa have originated in the modern time and they are mostly named after the geographical areas where they evolved.

  • Colombian/Cali Style
  • Cuban ”Casino” Style
  • Miami-Style Casino
  • Rueda de Casino
  • Los Angeles Style
  • New York Style


One important part of salsa dancing is salsa music and rhythm that is highly influenced by African music. A wide variety of instruments are used in salsa music but the key instrument that provides the timing and rhythm to the salsa song is the conga drum. This dance form is most suitable for dancing ranges from 150 beats per minute to around 250 beats per minutes.

A typical salsa composition is based around the Clave Rhythm, which can be classified into four types. An important instrument is the clave without which the salsa music is incomplete. It is generally played using two wooden sticks (which is known as clave). The main salsa rhythm originates when the two wooden sticks are hit together. Some of the main instruments of salsa music include congas, timbales, piano, tres guitar, bongos, claves, strings, bass, marcas, guiro and cowbell.

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