How To Dance Salsa On2
There is no right or wrong way of dancing salsa. The most important thing is to be able to enjoy dancing Salsa with your dance partner. Listen to the salsa beat, pick a style, and throw down!
But given the fact that some people dance On 1 and other people dance On 2, it’s important to dance well in both styles. In Salsa congresses, I have noticed how certain dancers only dance with a specific few dancers of the same style. Let’s not limit ourselves to dancing on only one style.
So how do you dance On 2?
In musical terms, assuming an 8 beat measure (or 2 repeating 4-beat measures), the simple answer is trivial: On 1 you break on the first salsa beat, On 2 you break on the second salsa beat. This is the I-don’t-feel-like-explaining-it or I-really-don’t-know-the-answer answer. But the real answer has various layers in depth.
Succinct and Complete Answer:
If we expand a bit more, the answer can be contained in the following diagrams.
One measure of salsa is danced on 8 beats.
| 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 |
This 8-beat rhythmic pattern repeats throughout any given song.
| 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 | 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 | 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 | 1 2 3 4 | 5 6 7 8 …
You actually only step on the 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7th salsa beats. The 4th and 8th are pauses in the step.
| 1 2 3 pause | 5 6 7 pause | 1 2 3 pause | 5 6 7 pause |
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You can break down any song in this manner. The ability to listen to the salsa beat and being able to count the salsa beats is very important. I will make another post regarding this. In the meanwhile, let us assume that we have this ability. So let’s move on to the dance steps.
Men’s and Women’s Basic Salsa Step
Update (May 30th, 2008):
I have posted a new video of Jai Catalano explaining How to Dance On2. The video is an excerpt of the ESPN 2007 World Salsa Championships. Men’s and women’s basic step.
Excerpt: from SalsaNewYork.com
ON 2 Basic Step – In our basic step, the man’s left foot goes back and the woman’s right foot goes forward on the 1st beat of this so-called 8 beat measure or bar. We step with our feet on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th, 6th, and 7th beats of the measure . We do not step on the 4th and 8th beats. We actually “break” our movement, in other words we change body direction, on the 2nd and 6th beats of the measure. We call it “breaking on 2”, or “dancing on 2”, or “bailando en dos”. This is mambo, danced forward and back, in a line or slot, not side to side or in a circle or square. You can see this step precisely demonstrated and broken down into its separate elements in the Eddie Torres Teaches Salsa videos.
Our basic step is as follows:
1st beat of the measure – The man steps back with his left foot. The woman steps forward with her right foot.
2nd beat of the measure – The man steps farther back with his right foot, then changes direction, starting to lean forward with his body = “breaks forward on 2”. The woman steps farther forward with her left foot, then changes direction, starting to lean back with her body = “breaking back on 2”.
3rd beat of the measure – The man steps in place with his left foot, while his body is moving forward. The woman steps in place with her right foot, while her body is moving backward.
4th beat of the measure – No steps.
5th beat of the measure – The man steps forward with his right foot, in front of his left foot. The woman steps backward with her left foot, behind her right foot.
6th beat of the measure – The man steps farther forward with his left foot, then changes direction, starting to lean backward with his body = “breaks back on 6”. The woman steps farther back with her right foot, then changes direction, starting to lean forward = “breaks forward on 6”.
7th beat of the measure – The man steps in place with his right foot, while his body is moving backward. The woman steps in place with her left foot, while her body is moving forward.
8th beat of the measure – No steps.
Technically, it is proper to start the dance in the following way: You walk onto the dance floor with your partner, set up the standard partner position frame, and then begin on the 6th beat of the measure, with the man stepping forward with his left foot and the woman stepping back with her right. On the 7th beat, the couple changes direction, with the man rocking back onto his right foot and the woman rocking forward onto her left foot. They then go right into the basic step pattern which is maintained through the rest of the song: the man’s left foot goes back and the woman’s right foot goes forward on the 1st beat of the measure, and the pattern continues as described above in detail. Although this is technically the proper way to start, most New York dancers simply begin on the 1st beat of the measure as described above, sometimes not even setting up the partner position first.
Update (May 30th, 2008):
I have posted a new video that explains How to Dance On2, men’s and women’s basic step.