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Salsa Steps -The Origins

Updated on September 22, 2009

The Origins of Salsa Steps

While you are dancing your Salsa steps you might wonder where they came from. You might have several ideas already. It's definitely an interesting thing to know about the origins of your hobby. In actual fact it can make it all the more enjoyable to know how it all started, especially because it is a collaboration of so many different cultures.

In broad terms Salsa is a mixture of Afro-Caribbean, Latin and European dances and each dance contributed to its creation. It is quite similar to Mambo, but Salsa steps focus more on the turns and have a side to side movement pattern as opposed to the backwards-forewards of Mambo. The European influences of Salsa consist mostly of Contra-Dance. This dance was invented in France but later on made its way into Spain. When both the French and the Spanish started to colonize the Americas, they took this dance with them. In Cuba this dance mixed with African Rumbas like Guaguanco, Colombia and Yambú, which were brought to Cuba by African slaves. The Cuban people added their own native music to the mixture - the són. Són itself is a mixture between African drumbeats and the Spanish troubadour. However this fusion of different musical styles and dances didn't only happen in Cuba, it happened in other countries, too. Examples are the Dominicanc Republic, Colombia and Puerto Rico. Bands from all of these countries took their music to Mexico City during the height of the Mexican Filmmaking period. A little later a similar movement occured to New York. In both these cities the music changed and evolved again and also became more popular due to more commercial investment. The term Salsa was created in New York by Izzy Sanábria. He wanted to unite the many different styles, which developed in New York, under one name to prevent a fracturing of the market into too many styles. So the term salsa started out as a nickname for music from the Hispanic countries.

You can still hear all the different influences of Salsa today. In today's Salsa music you can hear a base of són, some cumbia and Guaracha influences and the Merengue rhythm in some songs. I hope this article will help you to understand, why there are still so many different styles of Salsa steps around. Even though this can sometimes make it a little difficult to dance with someone who learnt their Salsa steps with a different style, you should appreciate the fact that it is this diversity that created the popularity of Salsa in the first place.

Salsa Pictures

Photograph by Dan Clements
Photograph by Dan Clements
Photograph by Dan Clements
Photograph by Dan Clements
Photograph by José Miguel Serrano
Photograph by José Miguel Serrano

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