Salsa is a syncretic dance genre from Cuba, as the meeting point of European and African popular culture. It later spread to Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean islands. Salsa is essentially Cuban with deep Afro-Cuban beats, and additional musical influences from Son, Guaguancó, Rumba.
Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms, line dancing (suelta), and Rueda de Casino where groups of couples exchange partners in a circle. Salsa can be improvised or performed with a set routine.
Salsa is popular throughout Latin America, and also in the United States, Spain, Japan, Portugal, France, Eastern Europe and Italy.
The basic step of all styles of salsa involves three weight changes (or steps) in each four-beat measure. The beat on which one does not step might contain a tap or kick, or weight transfer may simply continue with the actual step not occurring until the next beat, some individuals may insert an actual pause. The option chosen depends upon individual choice and upon the specific style being danced. One of the steps is a "break step" a little bit longer than the other two. Different styles of Salsa are often differentiated by the direction and timing of the break step ("on 1" or "on 2" for example). After 6 weight changes in 8 beats, the basic step cycle is complete. While dancing, the basic step can be modified significantly as part of the improvisation and stylings of the people dancing.
As a salsa dancer changes weight the upper body remains level and nearly unaffected by the weight changes. Caught in the middle are the hips which end up moving quite a bit—the famous "Cuban hip movement."
The arms are used to communicate the lead in either open or closed position. In open position the two dancers hold one or both hands, especially for moves that involve turns, or putting arms behind the back, or moving around each other. In closed position, the leader puts the right hand on the follower's back, while the follower puts the left hand on the leader's shoulder.
In some styles, the dancers remain in a slot (switching places), while in others the dancers circle around each other.