How many types of “Salsa” hybrids or forms are there?

Two Left Feet Podcast
5 min readNov 23, 2019


Question by User californiastateuni

Generally, there is the New York-style which I believe is the mainstream in the states, as well as the West coast. This is where we start at 1 and break on 5 and 8 (I believe). But then I’ve been told that there is also the pure Cuban style (where you the two use back steps more). Can anyone categorize or make a list of today’s salsa? Because it sometimes seem pretty broad especially when dance studios are now starting to adapt to certain styles.


User gumercindo1959

You pretty much nailed it — there’s linear/slot and there’s casino/cuban. The former is on1 or on2 (there are different variations of on2 — NYon2, Power2, PRon2, etc.). Casino/Cuban is more rotational than in a slot and has different elements to it.

User fschwiet

salsa caleña is a style from Colombia, notably en Cali that isn’t really danced in all of Colombia. Its danced to faster salsa and involves more footwork. Here is an example:

User reparando

I’m from Barranquilla, another city in Colombia, and our style is somewhat similar but not a lot playing with the feet. It’s a bit more “basic” compared to the Salsa caleña, but it still is the most popular way of dancing salsa in my region and I’d dare say all around Colombia.

User fschwiet

Top of Form A variation of caleña one finds is called Boogaloo, where there are steps similar to in salsa caleña except the dancers are bouncing to the rhythm:

User andrewingram

There are *loads*, but probably fewer are actively danced today than in the 90s because the “congress era” has led to a heavy degree of consolidation. The ones most people think of are:

— ​Cross-body on1 (often called LA Style)

— Cross-body on2 (often called NY Style)

— Casino (Cuban)

— Cali

There have also been on3 and on4 timings, there are still numerous variations of on2 timing. LA and NY style used to be more different than they are to do. In some places the footwork used to be mirrored. Each dance also takes on a slightly different personality in each country. You can subdivide or combine things in numerous different ways. a lot just comes down to where you want to draw the lines.

User curiouscheesecake

In the UK we usually either learn XBody On1 or Cuban style. Besides that I’m just aware of On2. And then there is Cha Cha which what I call super slow On2.

Guess you can count Merengue and Rueda as salsa hybrids too.

User 9Q6v0s7301UpCbU3F50m

There’s also: — salsa choke — I think some people may also now distinguish timba as a distinct evolution from casino and other influences (rumba, regueton, hip hop, etc) — suelta / animaciones — group following a leader

User DramRC

As far as I know New York style has breaks on 5 and 1, and starts the movement on 2 (that’s why it’s called on 2). LA style starts on 1 and has breaks on 4 and 8. Both are, more or less and to the best of my knowledge, linear styles of salsa, although I’m sure there are some differences between both styles regarding shines and what not.

You also have Casino/Cuban salsa, which is usually danced on 1 (although it is flexible) ND has more of a circular pattern. Casino is sometimes (and I think originally) danced in a Rueda (several couples together in a circle) and there are changes of partners and some collective figures. Closely related to Casino you have Son, which is the origin of every type is current salsa, and that is danced usually on 2 (although it can be danced on 1) and is somewhat similar to casino, but with a set of figures or movements of its own and usually slightly different music.

In Colombia (originating from Cali) they dance salsa caleña, which puts a lot of emphasis on the feet movement and is sometimes more acrobatic.

If also heard about Puerto Rican salsa, but I don’t know anything about it, really.

That’s the idea and knowledge I have of the matter; let’s see if somebody else chimes in and we can get a discussion going.

User salil91

I think you mean a pause I stead of a break. The “break” in when you start moving from the neutral position. It’s called On1 or on2 because you break on the 1 and the 2 respectively

User DramRC

Yes, you are right! Sorry about that, I am not too familiar with the terms in English, and I thought “break” referred to “pause” (as in the count where you don’t step) instead of the count where you start. My bad and thanks for correcting me!

User goxxtinho

On the unprofessional salsa note, purely on how average day to day people dance from what I’ve seen or been told: Puerto Rican’s and Americans, Europeans from wherever they’re from, usually take a step forward on one, and a step backwards on 5. Colombians, from wherever they’re from, take a step back on both 1 and 5. Venezuelans, some dance side to side, men moving their left leg left on 1 and right leg right on 5, other Venezuelans dance like Colombia’s. I believe Dominicans, Peruvians, and el Salvadorans also dance like Colombians as well. Old generation Latinos tend to dance in place, the typical neutral position.

Those are typically the four main styles in public day to day salsa, back-forward, back-back, side-side, and in place Of course professionals from certain cities and every nation probably have a special twist in footwork, also there’s probably countless types of styles in sub-salsa styles, for example this one from Cali, check this link:

User J65TeXas

I was born in Cali Columbia, but moved to the US when I was 12. I learned by seeing my cousins, aunts/uncles and friends at family events. I just don’t know about this process of learning salsa by numbers. I took a friend to Colombia for 3 weeks and he came back dancing salsa. This new method of learning it now seems so robotic and everyone has the same moves. Just feel it, go out to a good Salsa club in your area and try it. Just as with anything else, you will start to feel it and dance your life away.



Two Left Feet Podcast

Podcast Where we interview Dancers, Instructors and Performers. Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Brazilian Zouk.