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4 beats/measure; 40-55 meas/min

Salsa evolved out of the mambo and other Afro-Carribean rhythms of the 1950s and 60s, such as rumba, cha, merengue, and more specialized rhythms like cumbia, guaracha, and Cuban Són and by the late 1980s and '90s was popular in the United States. Salsa is sometimes refered to as "son of mambo," but it is a little faster, a little softer and less crisp -- more flowing; it is more side-to-side and has lots of turns and spins. Being a fast rhythm, and the steps are small. Salsa has been called "mambo with spatial restrictions."

Dance with soft knees. Figures are timed with a quick, quick, slow, as in mambo and rumba, but the action is more like a quick, quick, quick, hold. During the hold, the dancer should introduce a little foot action or flourish. In Puerto Rico, a flick is commonly used. In Cuba, a tap, stamp, or scuff is more typical. You won't have time for any sort of a real kick. The flourish is a soft extension of the foot. Keep the upper body still while the hips and feet move -- "quiet top, busy hips." Salsa is that hot dip for your chips, and the dance is hot, spicy, and passionate.

Figure Name, Roundalab Phase Level, & Timing

q=quick, 1 beat
s=slow, 2 beats
&=1/2 beat; a=1/4 beat

Steps and Actions That Make Up the Figure

Each description focuses on the man, with the woman's footwork in parenthesis. If a woman's step is not given, it is the natural opposite or follow of the man's. Help: basic dance positions and steps, actions, directions, and abbreviations. Non-standard punctuation: a comma separates two beats of music, a semi-colon marks the end of a measure, and a slash (/) indicates a split beat, two things occurring in a single beat.

Here are some sequences to help you visualize the figure in context.


qqs; qqs;

In a facing position, step forward and across in front (woman back and behind), step back, and then side and back with a little flick of the trail foot side and fwd (W flicks sd & fwd too). Step back and cross behind with the trail foot, step fwd, and step side and fwd with a flick. In Coco Jambo by the Cibulas, they call this a Salsa Box. Part A begins with a cross body;; new yorker twice;; cross body back to wall;; salsa box;; cucaracha twice;;
Back Basic

qqs; qqs;

In loose closed, both step back, recover, close; bk, rec, cl, -; Don't cross behind as in a whisk. Just turn your hips and then step straight back. The heels should be in line with each other, the toes turned out.
Closed Basic

qqs; qqs;

In closed position, step fwd, rec, cl, -; bk, rec cl, -;
Side Basic

qqs; qqs;

Facing partner step side, rec, cl, -; sd, rec, cl, -;
Double Step

qqs; qqs;

Facing sd, cl, sd, -; sd, cl, sd, -;

qqs; qqs;

In facing position, step forward on left and swivel RF 1/2. The woman steps back and crosses behind. Step fwd R, and the woman will chase. On the slow, step fwd L, swivel RF, and flare the R CW to face partner. During the second measure, roles are reversed. Step back and cross behind while the woman steps forward and swivels RF. Both step fwd. Finally, step sd and fwd with a flick while the woman steps fwd L, swivels RF, and flares R CW to face partner. Shibata's Salsa Cafe begins part A with a basic;; chase;; to a crossbody w/ inside underarm turn twice;;;;
Open Break


Facing, lead hands joined, rock apart, rising, trail arms up, recover, step side.

Given the fast tempo, we might dance half of a Back Basic, keeping our weight centered, rather than a "rocking" Open Break. Generally, we don't want to create significant momentum that must be quickly countered.

In She's A Lady by Read we dance a half basic to cross body; open break to natural top 3; open out to cross body; In this dance, the music is slower and we are dancing 1&2 3&4; rather than QQS; QQS;


In loose closed, step side R (woman sd L), cross in front, side, flick;

Sometimes, the man dances this figure with a small cross behind R, cross in front L, side R, -; a little like a Time Step. If the sequence is "Open Break woman roll to a Cumbia," he will thereby progress a little less and not get ahead of the woman's roll.

Promenade Cumbia with Turn

qqs; qqs;

In closed wall, turn slightly to semi, and step side, front, side. In the second measure, he hooks behind opening his right hip, and she steps fwd, fwd, fwd, turning CW 1/2. End in closed position facing center.
Cross Body

qqs; qqs;

In closed position wall, step fwd L, rec R, step sd L turning LF as the woman steps fwd to an "L position." Step back continuing to turn LF while the woman steps fwd turning LF. Step fwd woman fwd turning half LF. Both step side. In the Cibulas' Coco Jambo, part A begins with a cross body;; new yorker twice;; cross body;; salsa box;;
Cross Body with Inside Underarm Turn

qqs; qqs;

In loose closed wall, step fwd, recover turning LF to face line in "L position." Raise lead hands to lead woman in a LF turn, step back R turning LF while woman steps fwd L turning. Step fwd L toward center and woman steps fwd R turning to face partner. Both step side with trail feet and flick, in closed position facing center. repeat
Coca Cola

qqs; qqs; qqs; qqs;

Begin like a cross body: step forward, recover, and close, opening the left hip and leading her to free spin LF 1 & 1/2 in three steps while he steps back, recover, close, turning LF to closed position center. Finish with a standard cross body back to wall.
Man's Fans

qqs; qqs; qqs; qqs;

In loose closed, step side, recover, and cross in front, leading the woman to open out with a XIB, recover, close. During measure 2, the man fans his free foot during the "quick-quick" and steps thru on the slow. The woman again opens out with the same XIB, rec, close. Repeat for measures 3 & 4.
Single Taps With Turns

qqqq; qqqq; qqqq; qqqq;

This figure consists of a series of eight "side-taps."

In facing position, no hands joined, step side L (woman sd R), touch R to L tapping toe, sd R, tap L; turn 1/4 RF (woman 1/4 LF) to a left open position nothing touching and step side L (woman side R) toward partner (lead shoulders might touch), tap R and raise trail hands, side R turning 1/4 LF (woman sd L turning 1/4 RF) to face partner again, tap L; sd L, tap R, turn 1/4 LF (woman RF) to an open position nothing touching and step side R toward partner (trail shoulders might touch), tap L and raise lead hands; side L turning 1/4 RF (woman LF) to face partner, tap R, sd R, tap L;

Wrap Around

qqs; qqs;

In low butterfly, rock apart L (woman apart R), recover R turning RF and raising lead hands, side and forward L completing a 1/4 RF turn and moving lead arm over woman's head to wrapped position, -; wheel 3/4 RF fwd R, L, R (woman bk L, R, L), -;

Figure makes one full RF turn for the man. It makes a 1/4 LF turn during the first measure and a 3/4 RF turn during the second measure for the woman.

In the Shibatas' Miracle Salsa, part C begins with an Open Break and woman roll to Cumbia;; Single Taps with Turns;;;; Open Break and woman roll to Cumbia;; Wrap Around;; woman roll behind; woman roll across to shadow;


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