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May 18, 2012

WHAT IS SALSA? - A Brief Introduction

So your new to salsa and your thinking can I really learn this? Let me first of all say anyone who can walk can learn to salsa. It's like learning to ride a bike or learning to swim. It just takes practice. Keep in mind salsa was created by normal everyday people and is danced in clubs, on the street, and in backyards. It's a social dance and a great way to spice up your social life. Going out to a salsa event is so much more fun than staying at home watching TV or playing video games. A salsa party is also way more fun than a regular club party. You don't need lavish amounts of alcohol to enjoy yourself. Just dancing alone is enough to give you a sensational high! Salsa was originally known as "Mambo" which is a African term that means "conversation with the gods". This describes the spiritual experience one can have from dancing.

You can think of salsa as a form of communication but instead of using words, we use visual and physical cues. The leader gives signals and the follower responds to those signals. The signals basically tell the follower to perform some kind of turn. You've seen the guys at the airport who stand on the runway directing airplanes with flags or giant glowsticks. Their called landing signal officers. Their arm movements on the ground informs the pilot what to do with the plane. It's kind of like how a leader directs the follower into different kinds of turns for salsa

Another way I like to think of Salsa is that your basically learning a instrument like the guitar however the instrument your using is not made of wood and strings, it is of flesh and bone. Your body becomes your instrument and just like a musician you'll need to understand the basic structure of music which is tempo, rhythm, and how to count.

There are many different styles of salsa but the two most commonly danced forms salsa are On1 aka LA Style and On2 aka New York Style. There is also Columbian Style and Cuban Style. For this course we will only focus on On2 Salsa. Which style of salsa should you learn? It really depends on what is most common in your area. For example; places like Philadelphia, LA, and Boston mostly dance On1. New York, New Jersey, and South Korea dances almost exclusively On2. Many places such as Salt Lake City Utah, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Toronto, Sydney will have a mix of both On2 and On1 dancers. If you learn one style of salsa it is very easy to apply what you learned to another style. On2 and On1 look very similar to each other.

1. Move in a line
2. Keep the beat
3. Use proper technique

Finally you can think of salsa like a sport and in order to play any sport you have to first learn the rules. Lets take three olympic sports basketball, swimming, and figure skating as examples. Basketball players must dribble the ball in order to travel across the court. Dancers must maintain the beat as they perform their steps. All sports have boundaries. Basketball has courts and olympic swimming requires that swimmers swim in a lane. Salsa dancers must move along a line which we call a track or a slot. Finally figure skaters jump into the air and do their spins but they must do so with the proper technique. Salsa dancers also execute their moves using proper technique but these techniques are simple enough for everyone to learn.

Just keep these 3 basic rules in mind as you progress. All games have rules and salsa is kind of like a game with lots of different players but what makes it possible for all these people to play together is that we all agree to play by a basic set of rules. Now that you know the rules, lets start learning the moves.

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