History of Salsa Dance

Salsa Dance Orange

Salsa is a dance that was created fairly recently with the mixture of many different styles and musical techniques that all came together in Cuba, land that was home of the many Latin dances and music styles. After achieving popularity in Cuba, visiting musicians from United States soon became intoxicated with this awesome music and dance style, carrying it back to the states where they kick-started popular age of Latin music domination that never stopped.

Even though modern salsa was born in Cuba, its origins can be traced back to other lands and earlier parts of our history. Basic components of Salsa have been brought together by countless immigrants who came into Latin America searching better life or being brought there against their will (African slaves). By combining Danzón dance of French and Haiti immigrants, Rumbas of African slaves, Són of the Cuban people, troubadour music of Spanish people (mostly Flamenco) and various musical instruments of Africa, Salsa became first performed for the first time during final years of 19th century. It was during that time that visitors to Cuba first became aware of this new musical and dance style, bringing to their home tales of the incredible Latin culture.

Expansion of Salsa to the United States represents one of the most important points in the history of this dance. American soldiers were first who became aware of Salsa during Cuban war of 1898. After that, Cuba was regularly visited by countless famous American jazz musicians who incorporated Latin styles into their performances. By 1909, Cuban musicians started creating their first radio recordings, which quickly found their way to the North America, where they coined the term “Salsa” that described majority of up-beat Latin music that was imported to the US.

Infectious mix of tango, mambo, and flamenco and other dance styles began spreading across Caribbean during 1920s, often with innovations coming from night clubs in never sleeping Havana. As America went through turbulent changes with the age of Prohibition, tremendous influx of American tourists to the Caribbean countries enabled rapid spreading of new musical styles across western hemisphere. In mere years, Cuban salsa music became popular on US radio stations.

Salsa dance entered into peak of its popularity in 1970s when the influx of Dominican and Puerto Rican workers to the continental US. Their new dancing style was popularized with the exploits of the musical stars Johnny Pacheco, Fania All-Stars, Willie Colon and Reuben Blades.

As decades went on, several distinct styles of Salsa appeared. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Los Angeles (“L.A.”) Style
  • New York Style
  • “Casino" style
  • Miami-Style Casino
  • Colombian / Cali style
  • Rueda de Casino
  • Ballroom Salsa