Cuban Style: Cuban Style is the original Salsa style. Everything began in Cuba after all! :) This style is pretty much perfect for social dancing as the moves and turn patterns can be led quite easily even if dancers have been attending classes somewhere else. Cuban Style is a circular style. There is no set direction where dancers must face and no set position on the dance floor where one must stay. As far as timing is concerned, on the 4 and 8 one can tap the floor with one's foot instead of pausing, which creates the effect of dancing faster in comparison to the other styles, where one usually pauses on these beats.
L.A. (Los Angeles) Style: LA is a linear style. This means that men and women remain in the same orientation on the dance floor, dancing on an imaginary line. Sometimes, especially on the 3 and 7, dancers might be facing at right angles to this line but most of the time, both dancers stay on the line. On the 3 and 7, one steps slower than the other steps before continuing to dance at a normal pace on the 1 or 5. The timing is often counted as "Quick, quick, slow". LA Style is danced "on 1", meaning that the steps begin on the 1. While dancing the basic steps, men go forwards with the left foot on the 1 and women go back with the right foot.
Puerto Rican Style: Puerto Rican Style is a bit like LA style with a basic difference - it is danced "on 2". While dancing the basic steps, men go forwards with the left foot on the 2 (instead of 1) and women go back with the right foot. And instead of dancing the steps one usually starts with on 5, one starts on 6 and so on. Usually though, when dancers say they dance "On 2", they are referring to New York Style and not Puerto Rican style.
New York Style (Mambo): The original On 2 Style! Technically speaking though ... On 6! Men go back with their right foot on the 2 while women step with their left foot forwards on that beat. The steps that one would normally dance on 1 for LA Style are danced on 6 for this style. In addition, dancers add a slight syncopation to their steps. This makes New York Style stand out against the other Salsa styles as well. Although one still dances on a "Quick, quick, slow" rhythm, the quicks are danced faster that usual! As a result, one gas more than 2 beats time to dance the "slow" steps. This extra time is used by dancers to successfully execute complicated turns or add extra styling to their moves. This aspect makes this style especially nice to dance to and adds a "smooth" element to the movements. The music, often called "Mambo" is also different to other styles. In Mambo music, heavy percussion and instruments such as Timbales are usually missing and often replaced with more Bass, Trumpets, Piano and so on. If there is percussion in this style of music, it is usually due to the presence of Congas and not Timbales.
Columbian style: Fast moves, lots of steps, lots of energy and heaps of passion! No wonder the Columbians dance groups are often crowned world champions. This style can't be described that well with words. Simply check out the video to get an idea of what it looks like!
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