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History Of Salsa

Is Salsa something you eat, or is it something you dance? Either way, it's hot and spicy.

On this page we'll take a quick peek into the history of Salsa. The dance, not the sauce. This is going to be, frankly, quite difficult, because Salsa is a blend, a fusion of many different dancing styles of Latin and Afro-Caribbean origin.

Generally, Salsa is considered to be of a Cuban origin, although many argue that it's more Puerto Rican than Cuban. The verdict? We'll never know. Its roots can not be easily traced. As said before, Salsa is a fusion of many Afro-Caribbean and Latin dances and has evolved significantly over time.

Why Is Salsa Salsa?

The word Salsa means "sauce" in Spanish language. But how exactly did the Spanish word for sauce get to be associated with the style of dance? Good question.

Apparently it was due to the well-known Cuban composer by the name of Ignacio Pinerio, who in 1930s composed a famous song entitled Echale Salsita, which basically means "spice it up a little". This was the first use of the word "Salsa" for danceable Latin music. Soon afterwards, Salsa became a popular label for several dances of Latin American origins, including Rhumba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Merengue, and others.

Here is Ignacio Pineiro's legendary song Echale Salsita:

As mentioned above, Salsa was hugely influenced by various Latin dances, especially Mambo. Some actually say that they are more or less the same thing. Well, they are different, but they also have many things in common. They certainly share many moves and they both have six steps danced over eight counts of music.

Despite all the similarities they differ in the overall feel. Mambo is more of a walking dance, while Salsa is danced in a circular pattern. Salsa is also more relaxed and social. Here is another little difference - Salsa starts on beat one, while Mambo starts on beat two.

Salsa is mainly based on the Son dancing and different styles of Afro-Caribbean music. Over time it evolved into many different variations. Styles are usually named after the geographic area from which they came.

So today we have Cuban Style, Puerto Rican style, New York Style, Los Angeles Style, Miami Style, Colombian style, and others. Styles differ in many characteristics - they might have different step patterns, timings, moves, dress code, and so on. But whatever the style, Salsa is still Salsa - lively and passionate.

Nowadays, Salsa is among the most popular Latin American dances and still remains one of the primary dances in both Cuba and Puerto Rico. If you didn't know it already, it's also a great dance for beginners, because it's probably one of the easiest dances to learn.

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