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How to Dance the Puerto Rican Salsa

Updated on February 6, 2015
lawdoctorlee profile image

Ms.Treadwell is a licensed attorney and the author of "How Do Hurricane Katrina's Winds Blow: Racism in 21st Century New Orleans."

Salsa: Music of Dance CD


It's Party Time

When I asked my mother, who was born in Puerto Rico, how to Salsa, she told me, "The most important thing is to be in it." "Huh?", you may say. Salsa is all about a party! You have to feel the dance and bring out the party spirit.

There are a number of variations of the Salsa, but here we'll discuss how to dance the Puerto Rican Salsa. That's what I grew up with. I learned it as a little girl, probably from the time I could walk...because at a Puerto Rican party, every one is in it! When that salsa plays, no one is sitting down,especially, the old-timers. The younger ones in the group put on their little tricks and spins and lifts, while the older generation sticks to their smooth basic steps. If you're at a Puerto Rican party you can be sure there will be Salsa music playing over and over again. We love it! Salsa is practically the dance of Puerto Rico.

History of the Salsa

Salsa is Spanish for a spicy sauce; and that describes the dance well. What's most important to know about this dance is that it is SEXY and FAST! The rhythm has all the flavors of Spanish music, African drumbeats, and Afro-Carribean soul. The music is played throughout the Latin world; and, of course, it has migrated to other countries, like the United States in clubs and ballrooms.

Playlist for the Salsa Party

Get the music ready so you can start learning! Music by Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and Johnny Pacheco are classics and are a must have at any Puerto Rican party. Also add:

"No Me Hace Falta" - Victor Manuelle

"Caridad" by Gloria Estefan

"Como Tiembla El Alma" by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico

Below I have added a link from YouTube so you can listen to some music by Tito Puente while you're learning this dance. Hope you enjoy it.

Tito Puente - El Rey de los Timbales

The Steps of the Salsa

The great thing about the salsa is that you can start on the "one" beat or the "two" beat. However, most Puerto Ricans start on the "two" beat.

Basic Step

  1. Start with the left foot and step forward, let the heel rise on the right.
  2. Bring the left foot back to standing position
  3. Step back with the right foot bring it back to the standing position
  4. Continue to the beat of the music

Once you get this basic step you can add movement of the arms, some turns, and for the ladies, there is always a little shimmy going on!

Here is a video that shows the basic steps to the dance, which is great if you are a beginner, or have not the Salsa. Learn how to the salsa and you'll be the life of the party.

Great Video to Show Basic Steps

Tips for a Great Salsa

  1. Dance with a partner
  2. Always have a big smile on your face
  3. "Feel the music"
  4. Use small steps so that you don't lose your balance or your rhythm
  5. Be in a party mood!

By Liza Lugo, J.D.

(c) 2012, Revised 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Ms. Lugo retains exclusive copyright and publishing rights to all of her articles and photos by her located on Hub Pages. Portions of articles or entire content of any of these articles may not be used without the author's express written consent. Persons plagiarizing or using content without authorization may be subject to legal action.

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    • lawdoctorlee profile image

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Margie, thank you for taking the time to read my hub and for your comments. You're right, there is nothing like the Salsa! I love it :-) Thanks for the vote up!

    • Mmargie1966 profile image

      Mmargie1966 6 years ago from Gainesville, GA

      I LOVE THIS! I love to dance and will do so to just about any genre of music, but Salsa is.... SALSA! There's nothing like it.

      I enjoyed reading your hub. Voted up and awesome!


    • lawdoctorlee profile image

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 6 years ago from New York, NY

      Titi, thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for your comments. The salsa does transport you to another world :-) Everyone should try it and enjoy it.

    • profile image

      TITI 6 years ago

      U bet ur'e cookie!!!The Salsa transports me

      to a " ME"world; no one else exist.

      So salsa & you'll experience what Ido.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 6 years ago from New York, NY

      ElGringoSalsero, thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for your comments. Just to set the record straight, I am explaining the way that Puerto Ricans salsa - to give a simple instruction. This hub is not meant to give the impression that Puerto Rico is where the salsa originated. So please don't think that this is in anyway meant to be ethnocentric, which is why I said that this is found throughout the Latin world and has spread. Puerto Rican style is to dance on the two.

    • lawdoctorlee profile image

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 6 years ago from New York, NY

      lord de cross, thank you for taking the time to read this hub and for your comments.

    • ElGringoSalsero profile image

      ElGringoSalsero 6 years ago from Palm City, Florida

      The inadvertant impression is that this dance comes from Puerto Rico. While I am a Puerto Rican wanna be (soy gringo, pero soy boricua en mi alma), I must set the record straight and admit that it began as mambo in Cuba and quickly spread to Puerto Rico. However, there is no doubt that the Puerto Ricans are primarily responsible for the spread of salsa to the United States and around the world. There is so much to be said about salsa, but the unfortunate thing is that most Latinos get caught up in their ethnocentrism when they attempt to tell the story. In my opinion, it is Willie Colon who has explained its history in the most fair manner possible. While I don't want to focus on anything negative, I do feel compelled to correct one serious error. The vast majority of people of Hispanic origin dance salsa on one and not on two. I have taught salsa for more than seven years now and have danced in clubs all throughout Florida and New York City. I can tell you that those who have sought no formal training almost exclusively dance on one. TY for helping to introduce people to salsa, which is my passion and the passion of millions.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 6 years ago

      "Esa negra tiene tumbao" I was taught that you have to look for that "tumnbao" or stepping forward and about to fall and long as you follow the rhytm..! Thanks Lawdoctor! Ipso facto!