Basic Step

The basic step is the foundation of all salsa dance movement. Mastering the basic step will allow you to move quicker & more efficiently and allow you took look more graceful on the dance floor with proper body movement.


1.0 – The Very Basics

  • Salsa music has 8 beats per phrase. The basic is danced on the counts of 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 (we pause and do not step on the 4 or 8)
  • In salsa there are two main timings: On1 & On2. We dance On2.
  • When dancing On2, the left foot steps forward away from the body on 2, and on the 6 the right foot steps back away from the body (opposite for leaders). This is known as the “break step

1.1 – Your Feet

Three main points to keep in mind:

  1. Keep your feet turned out, no “pigeon toes”
  2. Put your weight on the INSIDE ball of your foot. Think the fleshy part below your big toe
  3. Do not put your heel down on the back break, this will cause you to lose balance and slow you down

    Ball of Foot

1.2 – Cuban Motion

  1. The Cuban motion is the characteristic hip motion found in salsa and other Latin dances
  2. The motion of the hips comes from shifting your weight from one foot to the other, and leaning into the hip
  3. Another way to think of it is that you have one leg straight and one leg bent, and then alternate
  4. The movement comes from the weight change, not by moving your butt

1.3 – Cuban Motion & Basic

  1. Step with your feet on the counts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and shift your weight on the up-beats (“and”) along with the 4 and 8 beats
  2. Do not let your heel come down on 6, even when shifting your weight

1.4 – Arm Movement

  1. Arms move naturally and in opposition to your feet. If you are stepping with your left foot, your right arm is up & vice versa, like you are walking
  2. Keep your arms up around the level of your chest/sternum
  3. A good way to practice arm movement is by marching, then going into the basic
  4. Guys keep hands lightly curled (but not clenched), ladies have pretty fingers and break at the wrist

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