From: Mark Balzer <> Subject: salsa-mambo articles As an avid Salsa dancer, I saved some of the better posts on Salsa and Mambo dancing that appeared in and I edited out the off-topic material, so all that's left is the good stuff. Enjoy! Mark ********************************************************************* (I lost the attributions to these first two paragraphs) According to Ron Montez, there is no *fundamental* difference between Mambo and Salsa. Salsa is more of a street dance and tends to be side-to-side and circular in motion. Mambo is more linear and sharper and breaks on the 2 beat. Step wise, both dances are danced into a bent leg, with ball-flat footwork. Salsa, though, moves to the side, crossing behind on the two instead of stepping forward and backward. Salsa is a street dance - it is not formalized! Mainly, there appears to be only one technical difference between Salsa and Mambo: The Feel. Salsa music has more of a "rolling" beat, compared to the Mambo which has a strong "distinct" beat. Thus, the "feel" of Salsa becomes more sensual. There is no need for a definite step, rather more of a gliding through the steps. Salsa thus looses some of the "technical" dance position, allowing for a "closer, relaxed, and sexual" hold. In dancing a mambo, you step-step-step-hold 1; in Salsa, you work through the 1. In other words, glide and don't necessarily worry about being somewhere on a count. But that doesn't mean you should give up the specifics of the dance which make it Salsa. From: (Rahul Dhesi) Newsgroups: Subject: Re: Latin Dance Date: 24 Jun 92 04:38:52 GMT In <> (Carl Hage) writes: >In contrast to what some other people might say, Salsa is the same as >Mambo. It is a newer name for the music, which has the same rhythm as >Mambo, and the steps taught for Salsa are the same as those taught for >Mambo. Some people teach Mambo with the wrong (i.e. not the original >latin) rhythm, breaking on 1 instead of 2, and call it Salsa, or vice >versa. >Latin Ballroom" could be distinguished from "Latino Street Dancing" as >being dances with steps taught in studios, etc. or done in shows. We >usually use the term "Street Dancing" to refer to steps, etc. learned by >watching others in clubs. The "Street Salsa" typically seen in Salsa clubs >looks different than the Salsa taught in studios, which is Mambo steps. Actually salsa vs mambo is an interesting analog to cha cha versus cha cha. As you know, cha cha when done right has a different beat (break on 2) than cha cha when done wrong (break on 1). Regrettably, the dance places teach both sorts of cha cha -- done right or done wrong -- and call them the same thing. This causes much confusion on the the dance floor. It would have been better if cha cha done wrong had been called something else, e.g. ach ach. So, salsa is to mambo what ach ach is to cha cha. What's nice about distinguishing between salsa and mambo -- although the music is essentially the same -- is that the different names warn dancers that the two might be done to a different rhythm. So it's a good thing that they don't teach salsa and call it mambo, and it's a bad thing that they teach ach ach and call it cha cha. The other difference between salsa and mambo is one of atmosphere, both metaphorically, as in ambience, and literally, as in air pollution. Picture a very smokey room with very loud music. Chances are they are doing salsa rather than mambo. -- Rahul Dhesi <dhesi@cirrus.COM> From: (Carl Hage) Newsgroups: Subject: Re: Latin Dance Date: 26 Jun 92 06:31:08 GMT (Rahul Dhesi) writes: : So, salsa is to mambo what ach ach is to cha cha. What's nice about : distinguishing between salsa and mambo -- although the music is : essentially the same -- is that the different names warn dancers that the : two might be done to a different rhythm. No salsa done wrong is to mambo what ach ach is to cha cha, i.e. aslas to salsa. Correct salsa is identical to mambo! The names don't indicate which rhythm, and I've heard people say Salsa breaks on 2 and Mambo breaks on 1, and I've heard the opposite. Of course, in American style competitions, noone would ever dance mambo or cha-cha breaking on 1. Unfortunately, some !%#@ dance teachers seem to think that it is easier to teach people the wrong (simplified in thier mind) rhythm rather than teach students how to hear the Latin beat in authentic Salsa/Mambo or ChaCha. In a Salsa workshop by Ron Montez, he first taught "Street Salsa" which turned out to be a great way to teach breaking on 2 and getting the "feel" of the rhythm without having to think. Unfortunately, they taught breaking on 1 in the classes at that studio and almost all the students had that ingrained, so when he moved on to patterns, he ended up switching to breaking on 1 to avoid confusion. Argghhhh! Newsgroups: From: (Carl Hage) Subject: Re: Untitled mail message gatewayed from Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1993 21:44:26 GMT librainc!aion!doppert@uunet.UU.NET (John Doppert) writes: : does anyone know of the differences : between Mambo and Salsa? Or Salsa and Merengue? : I have heard that Salsa is the mix of latin swing, : hustle (disco), Mambo, Cumbia and Merengue. Is : this true? Salsa is a newer name for Mambo, or more accurately, Salsa is the name of more modern music with the same rhythm as Mambo. There is no difference in the dance steps for Salsa and Mambo. However, the "street" Salsa of today is a somewhat different style than the "street" Mambo of the 1950's. Authentic Mambo/Salsa has steps on beats 2, 3, 4 in a measure with a hold on count 1. Perverted Mambo/Salsa shuffles this 1 beat up withe the hold on 4. If someone breaks on 1 (hold on 4), they are not doing Salsa as the dance was originally developed, and not dancing with the rhythm of authentic Mambo/Salsa music. Merengue is danced like a march in that each beat is a step and the music may be 2/4 instead of 4/4. Lambada music is similar to Merengue and the same song is sometimes played in each style. The tempo for Salsa and Merengue is completely different (slower or faster, depending on how you want to measure it). Salsa is a direct derivative of Mambo, which was developed in Cuba as a mix of Spanish and African music/ryhthm. The precursor to Mambo was called the Rhumba, though it is completely different from what we know of today as Rhumba. All the other latin dances and music (more or less) are derivatives of these. Hustle (of today) was a derivative of Latin Hustle, which is similar in many respects to West Coast Swing. I'm not sure what latin swing is. Salsa isn't a descendent of Hustle and Swing, but Hustle is a descendent of Swing and Salsa. newsgroup: from: ProDnzr@AOL.COM Christine writes: >"Nino DiGiulio" <> writes: >>Can someone please help me understand what the differences are in the >>footwork, timing, and music? >According to Eddie and Maria Torres (NYC Mambo instructors >extraordinaire), salsa is tomato sauce, not a dance. They ought to know >they dance with the King of Mambo, Tito Puente. Mambo is the dance >that originated in Cuba and was brought to the US by immigrants, mostly >in the late 40's and 50's. Mambo is an 8 count dance in which the basic >is comprised of moving straight forward and back, stepping on 1,2,3 and >5,6,7. Then there are variations on the basic and "shines" in which the >partners move apart and do their own thing. (note - mambo is taught as hold 1, step 2,3,4, hold 5, step 6,7,8. see later is this compilation for a discussion of Eddie Torres' ideas on Mambo timing... mab ) >When I have learned salsa, it has been what I would call (no offense >intended) a street dance. I have danced it in Mexico and latino clubs in >the states. The weight is evenly distributed on both feet and, with the >hips swaying, the basic is made up of steps on 1,2,3 (alternating feet) >with 4 being a sort of shuffle or kick step. >Like I said I am no expert. If you haven't studied with Eddie and Maria >- you should. They are the hottest. With all due respect to Tito Puente "El Rey", his line "Salsa is something you eat" is funny but not really valid. No one can tell me that the rock made by Bill Haley and the Comets is even remotely related to that made by Mettallica. Listen to the first Mambos- those played by Perez Prado in the 50's. Play Tony Vega, Orchesta De la Luz, Oscar D'Leon. Tell me they sound anything like Perez Prado. In theory Salsa and Mambo are really the same dance. They are both based on the Clave beat, yet the feel is totally different. A couple of errors I must point out 1) yes Mambo originated in Cuba but it was discovered in Mexico where Perez Prado made it famous. 2) The best dancers dance Mambo on the 2 beat not because the beat is there but because they dance their hips on the 1 and fall into the 2 on a forward beat. 3) While most Cubans dance on 2 , from what I have heard most Puerto Ricans do as well. Those that break on one are usually untrained dancers or what many people call foot dancers. Puerto Rican style looks different from Cuban style with a lowered shoulder into the break while Cuban dancers dance more upright, but otherwise pattern wise they still do the fwd-back Mambo pattern. Where did the term Salsa come from? I read in Latin Beat magazine that Chano Pozo and some of the others used to call out Salsa (which means sauce as in hot sauce) during the really hot jams.Another story is that like a good sauce, they added more and more ingredients from the jazz influence that it mutated the danzon roots) Remember this stuff was called latin jazz in the 40's & 50's. Guys like Dizzy Gillespie, and others were crossing over from the American jazz scene. When the Twist wrecked ballroom dancing in the 60's, the Boogaloo, and the Pachanga, separated the Latin dancing couples. When disco dancing brought partners back together Swing and ballroom each got new life albeit limited. Even today the media views ballroom dancers as Shady Murray Gigolos or the shufflers on Lawrence Welk. Or worse... Remember Strictly Ballroom? When Latin music underwent a resurgence, in the 80's rather than reviving a dead horse, the movers and shakers gave it the term Salsa and the dance caught fire. Every few months ballroom dancing has a resurgence of something, Tango this week, Country Western, the next, swing, the following, then the Lindy, yea yea yea. There's probably 20,000 ballroom dancers in a country with a hundred million. The ballroom people get excited when some columnist in need of a story writes some article about the resurgence of ballroom dancing. Everybody gets excited and says ballroom dancing is coming back and 12 people sign up in a city the size of Los Angeles. Didn't I just see a message in this net that there were 2 dancers in the state of New Hampshire. 6 in Alaska? Oops, I'm digressing. Latin is hot because the sound changed while maintaining its danceability. The rhythm is hypnotic. When you hear the Salsa bands they are usually playing slower than the bands of 10 years ago. Listen to El Gran Combo (the #1 Puerto Rican band for decades) their stuff is really fast. Listen to Niche, Oscar DLeon, Hansel Martinez. They will occasionally play something fast but usually its slower than Mambo. What's the difference step wise? Primarily, which country's style you are doing. Columbians though Salvadorans dance more side to side like an off time Samba whisk which is because of the Cumbia influence. Cubans and Puerto Ricans dance more forward & back which comes from the Mambo influence. All the young Salsa kids in the clubs are doing more nightclub twostep (yes Buddy Schwimmers) version than anything else. Why? Because Salsa is a street dance, the best dancer in a club sets the style, creates the moves and everyone copies them. Having trained in both Mambo and Salsa, I dance Mambo when the music has an edge to it. Mambo steps are cut. By that I mean Mambo has a quick feet-hold feeling while Salsa has a undulating feeling more like an ocean wave. While mambo is a stop in the middle dance, many salsa dancers close feet on the end of the pattern (where most mambo dancers would rock fwd or back). An advanced salsa basic is close, fwd, fwd pause, close back back pause. the feet have much less tone, foot arch, but the feet are much more active because they are always either flicking or dragging the slow. Salsa dancers invariably break on 1 or 3. The more latin they are the more they break on 3. Why? They usually hear it as SQQ, which is because of the dead 2 beat and it doesn't feel any better than dancing on two, its that it is a nation of untrained dancers. (Also if you are dancing SQQ-to dance a slow, you don't do Q,hold2,QQ you would move through the 1landing on 2 which makes it a slow and then do QQ on 34. Yes that puts the feet on 2,3,4) Untrained dancers hear the strong beat on 1 and step on it. I like to tell my students its from stepping on all those cockroaches in NYC and Miami. The newer breed of dancers still use the body but not in the same fashion as one would in Mambo. At times it is obvious that it is from all the hustle, and swing influences that you see the dancing change. Musically it's still Mambo yet mutated. IMHO From: fent@argo (Livio Fent) Subject: Q: Salsa vs. Mambo Date: 21 Nov 1994 21:55:33 GMT Can someone clarify the difference between salsa and mambo? Is the music different? How so? The dances seem to be different. Did the salsa derive from the mambo? It certainly seems that latin night club dancing is almost exclusively salsa and not mambo; however, I understand in the 60's and earlier mambo was not uncommon in the latin clubs. Appreciate any info. From: (Callum Downie) Subject: Re: Q: Salsa vs. Mambo Date: 25 Nov 1994 12:51:40 -0000 I find I do much the same "steps" whether music is current Salsa or Machito/Bauza/Puente, etc, Mambo (but, I've done 95% Salsa the past year, so no matter what the music, I do Salsa steps). I find there's a greater Jazz influence in the latter and that affects the feeling I try to put into it. A cynical approach is Salsa is a PR job from late sixties. One CD, which I don't have to hand, says it started in '67 ('69?) with the appearance of a disk by one of the latin bands entitled Salsa or something like that. From: Icono.Clast@f219.n914.z8.rbbs-net.ORG (Icono Clast) Subject: Q: Salsa vs. Mambo Date: 23 Nov 94 14:32:02 PST Tito Puente, it is said, told Alex DaSilva that "you're the true Mambo King" and he might very well be. He's great and _very_ original and creative. He's maybe not yet thirty so he'll be around for a while. I'm often asked to do a Salsa but I always demur: "Can't do dat". "Yes you can! Just do a Mambo," but I'm not comfortable doing a Mambo to "Salsa" music. What's Salsa music? Well, I think the term came about from the usage of the word "salsa" by the ignorant How'd that happen? As you know, Latin musicians and band leaders often punctuate their music with shouts, Prado-type grunts, and encouraging words such as "!Goza!" "!Alegria!" "!Vascilon!" or "!Vaya!" or "!Suave!" or "!Salsa!". I think that someone mis-understood "salsa" as identifying the music itself and the word became just that. Local Latin clubs play very few Mambos, Rhumbas, Sambas, ChaChas, Pasos Doble, or Tangos. Most stick to 10-15 minute long Merengues and Cumbias and an occasional Pachanga. There are many local dancers who do only Salsa just as many others do only Swing. From: AHGberg@AOL.COM Subject: Mambo is Alive and Well Date: Sun, 27 Nov 1994 05:24:44 GMT When you ask dancers to dance they never ask if you are going to do Mambo or Salsa. It is danced pretty much the same way all over the ballroom floor by Mambo dancers dancing with Salsa dancers. The dance is essentially the same. I learned to dance the Mambo when there was nothing but Mambo (no Salsa) being taught or danced. When I was at the NYC Palladium and learned it from Killler Joe Piro it was called the Mambo. When we walk off the floor my Mambo partners (ten different ones a session) exclaim, "Caliente" or "Hot Stuff". We rarely get into a debate as to what name you call the dance. Although I dance with teachers who claim to teach "Salsa" I think it might boil down to this. Calling something by some other name does not necessarily change what is being done. The "good dancers" dance on the "2". The "nonpurists" dance on the "1" and the "hot" female partners will dance on any beat you choose. I'll tell you one thing, for sure. Dance on the "1" beat with one of the better dancers and she will tell you she is "resting". From: Subject: Re: Q: Salsa vs. Mambo II Date: 28 Nov 94 20:00:46 GMT Organization: Oxford University VAX 6620 In spite of the Salsa/Mambo thread, I'm still confused. I'm in the UK, and have been learning something that's called Salsa (which some would probably call 'street' Salsa) for only a few months, mainly in London. This is what the view from here looks like:In the places I've been, everyone I've danced with, and watched, shuffles/kicks/tap/lifts/pauses on the 4th beat of a bar(measure). This includes the three of the largest Salsa schools in London, and friends from Columbia, Cuba, Curacao, Puerto Rico, Brasil, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Belgium and Spain (all but the Brazilian and Dominican learnt Salsa in their home country, up to 25 years ago). They do have a variety of styles of leg movement, upper body action, and movement around the floor, but are consistent in the shuffle's place in time, and very quick to adapt style! Hmm, that's probably quite enough to find out: a) Whether 'break on 2' means the shuffle/kick was on beat 1? b) Whether that means I'll be a beat ahead of anyone that I dance with who's from the USA, and maybe other places too? c) There's lots of places in London I haven't been, where they dance Salsa differently? d) There's street Mambo all around? Is any help with untangling the history and current state? They seem very convinced that there is a music called Salsa. Or is what the band play and what the people dance two different things? ricardo From: ProDnzr@AOL.COM Subject: Mambo/Salsa Date: Mon, 28 Nov 1994 21:17:58 GMT Simply-much like the famous quote "Cogito-ergo sum." Salsa exists because millions dance it. Mambo exists because musicians play it and many dancers dance it. There is no doubt that Tito Puente is the King of Mambo. As such he is not a fan of the term Salsa. I got tired of swimming upstream by teaching Mambo. When I taught Mambo classes were 5-10 people. When I renamed the classes Salsa we went from 10 to 50 and added two more levels. Although I continuously revise my syllabus to what is current in the clubs we put a tremendous value on polite floorcraft, lead & follow, and rhythmic interpretation. Most club Salsa dancers are doing Swing/hustle wraps and single Swing turns. Who sets the standard in Salsa? The best dancer in the club. If he happens to also know Swing/Latin/Hustle and that influences his dancing, then all the dancers in that club/area also begin to acquire his style. Also to clarify "Mambo" Puerto Ricans typically dance Mambo 1,2,3 holding or kicking on 4. Cubans usually dance 2,3,4 holding on 1. Since this music derives from Afro-CUBAN, I would hazard a guess as to which is most "correct" whatever that means. Regionality means that people who learned something from any great dancer usually assume that it is the first and last word on the subject. Whereas Cubans grew up doing-hearing-dancing Mambo, it was imported to the US where it was bastardized by the Murrays and Astaires for honky consumption. Puerto Ricans have kept it alive in New York, that doesn't mean that it is correct because New York (the capital of Puerto Rico) is bigger than Miami (the capital of Cuba). For the nth time Puerto Ricans dance Cha Cha on 1. Unfortunately the percussion synchopates on TWO AND THREE & FOUR AND ONE, which makes one, two, cha, cha, cha. OUT OF TIME. In Salsa or Mambo while the accented beats are 1 & 3 you can accent those with your feet or you can accent them with your body. Puerto Rican women do feet and shake their skirt, PR guys do feet and a shoulder drop into the break. Cubans do hips and body- so the feet will be different by virtue of what body part you are accenting the music with. While the forward back "basic" of mambo is accepted as the original, latinos don't do patterns as much as they do body action while barely moving and spot turning. The young Salseros version of latin dancing consists of lots of foot swiveling, travelling, and wraps. If you want to see Mambo, find a copy of the history of Latin Music. It is periodically show on PBS type stations with dialogue by Max Salazar the latin historian out of Denver?/ LA?/ Miami? (I've heard him in each of those cities so I'm not sure where his main residence is). This tape shows some pretty good latin dancing. The interesting thing is that it shows people BREAK DANCING ( lay on the ground and spin) in the 40's. Still while the dancing is hot it shows that gymnastic contortions will always be danced by people who want to show off while the rest of the social world dances by. In summation, Mambo and Salsa both exist. Musically they are similar but in dance form they have mutated. As Lindy exists Mambo exists. Salsa and Swing are the new kids on the block and someday we'll be defending their existence as the correct form of the dance vs the new form. Enio From: ProDnzr@AOL.COM Subject: Salsa vs Cumbia Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 09:10:44 GMT asks >Can anyone talk about the differences in Salsa between the different >nationalities? >I always hear that the Cubans do Salsa one way, the Puerto Ricans do >it another way, and people of other different Latin countries have >their own version. I can't seem to tell the difference. > >Furthermore, there is Salsa, then there is Cumbia. I merely see that >Cumbia as a Cuban dance, that can be labeled as a category and >a dance variation to Salsa. I am having trouble understanding the >dance, culture, and history the differences between Salsa and Cumbia. John, Cumbia is not of Cuban origin. If anything it is either Colombian or Venezuelan. It is very popular in Central America as well. Many Cuban musicians hate playing Cumbia they call it circus music. The main difference in Salsa is whether it is danced 1,34 or 123,4. The more Columbian the influence the more likely they are to dance SQQ. From: Subject: salsa, cumbia, etc Date: 16 Dec 1994 08:05:14 GMT salsa is a dance form that was brought into new york from puerto rico. not only was the dance influenced by African movements, but the original texts had african religious texts to them, as well. some people also feel that cuba was the country where salsa originated. the same info applies about african dance, music, and texts if cuba was were it originated and then was brought to new york. once the music-dance genre arrived in NY, it mixed with jazz and this is the music you hear today. most popular salsas are deviod of any kind of religious texts, but the movements, the rhythms and some of the instruments certainly still remain salsa became very popular throughout latin america. it is not uncommon at all to see people from different countries dance it differently. For instance Mexicans may dance it with more of a hop (same for cumbia) This reflects the folkloric mexican dancing style. some people dance with more of a twist in their hips, some take very tiny steps, some take extremely large steps (i am a black american and i was taught that the tiny steps were more refined.) some men start with the right foot while a majority of dancers start with the left and the woman starts with the right. In some countries like Puerto Rico, everyone salsas, whereas in chile and peru, among other countries, it is just a dance of the lower classes. as for cumbias, mexico, central america, colombia, and other countries have variations on the cumbia. if you were to ask me i would tell you that it started at the ecuadorian/colombian border in the mid-20th century when alot of indigenous Kechua people moved north to the lowlands to find work. there were already black people in this area. the music styles mixed easily (the reason is a bit technical and it's 5 to 3 am, so i won't go in depth), but popular cumbia musicians got sponsored by the gov't to tour in other countries and i believe this is how cumbia made it's way around latin america. for the same reason that each country has it's own folk- loric musical flavor, cumbias don't sound the same all over latin america. in general the steps for it are the same, but they stem from steps that are still done by the black population in N ecuador and the coast of colombia. From: (Callum Downie) Subject: Re: Salsa nationalities & Salsa vs Cumbia ? Date: 19 Dec 1994 12:43:50 -0000 John Doppert <doppert@LIBRA.LORAL.COM> wrote: >Furthermore, there is Salsa, then there is >Cumbia. I merely see that Cumbia as a >Cuban dance, that can be labeled as a category and >a dance variation to Salsa. I am having trouble >understanding the dance, culture, and history >the differences between Salsa and Cumbia. Cumbia is different to Salsa. The various Central/Latin American countries have their variants, but it's usually attributed to Colombia. In its traditional form it's a courtship dance. Men in white trousers and shirt, hat and red neckerchief. Women in long fulsome skirts which can be swished about. Now think about those nature programs in which exotic male tropical birds show off to attract the female and you get the basic idea. The female either responds and the couple get together or he is rebuffed and he goes off to chase another :-( Although Salsa steps can be easily fitted to the music. The latter is noticably different with a fairly strong 1-2-3 count. From: (Gilbert Baron) Subject: Re: Cumbia Date: 10 Jan 1995 11:46:36 GMT says... >We're interested in any information on history and culture >of this dance. Would also like to know how to dance it! The first I have seen here about Cumbia. One of my very favorite Rhythms, and this from an anglo Minnesotan. I notice two forms of the music, One is Mexican and played by the Mexican conjuntos and the other from Colombia and played by the larger Orchestras that do the salsa and merengue (also great stuff). I would consider it a kind of two step and a very basic step would be (for the man with woman natural opposite) In place left right left right heel with no weight then right left right left heel with no weight. You can add all of the steps that you would do in Texas two step and three step and the turns including the whips, lariats etc. It is also often done around here as a simple round with all doing a kind of three step around the dance floor in LOD and as a couples in place dance with a three step kind of pattern. From: (Raab/Garrison) Subject: Re: Cumbia Date: 11 Jan 1995 18:55:30 GMT Greatly appreciated your comments on the Cumbia. We've worked out a two step cumbia that is a lot of fun, but what we're after is information about the roots of the dance. We understand this is a Columbian folk dance. We're also interested in the way it is danced in the salons in Columbia. We're interested in the information you offered upon request but we're brand new to the Internet and aren't sure how to request it! Our interest in Cumbia started with our interest in Mexican music.Then we found the following World Circuit recordings available through Sterns Records, NYC: WCD 016 CUMBIA CUMBIA WCD 026 LISANDRO MEZA Sabanero King of Columbia WCD 033 CUMBIA CUMBIA 2 Great music! --- Pete and Candy From: (Callum Downie) Subject: Re: Salsa Dancing, Revisited Date: 16 Jan 1995 10:07:51 -0000 Ronnen Levinson <> wrote: >But, in response to those people who make snyde remarks about ballroom >dancers in salsa clubs, here's an observation: while I enjoyed watching >the salsa dancers, I thought that some of the sharpest dancing was done by >the ballroom/Latin dancers that had come with us. They danced mambo with Since most Salsa dancers are "untrained", I find anyone with some understanding of body control, movement, etc, easier to dance with and lead and be lead by. All of which has been gone into in recent month's postings. This leads to sharp, smooth and interesting dancing. If the dancers can then "let go" and add the "joie de vivre", fantastic. It's this cross-over which is difficult for many. >salsa figures thrown in, and boy did they look good! They weren't dancing >routines, just leading and following people who weren't their regular >partners. But their wonderful Cuban motion, strong connections, and >generally sharp styling looked great. Mambo may be older than salsa, but >it's hardly obsolete! Still not convinced there's any difference worth fussing about. In London, unless you go to one or two specific places (Colombian), there is a no predominant style or community with Cubans, Colombians, Bolivians, Venezualans and numerous Africans and Caribbeans, but no(?) Puerto Ricans. They're all doing Salsa, but it's all quite different. One of the Colombian teachers was in New York over Christmas/New Year and was a bit disappointed in that the footwork he saw was fantastic, as was the breaking from and returning to the rhythm, but the upper body movement was limited, whereas he moves his top half and whole body does a lot. (Thus, he frequently finds ballroom trained dancers much too stiff) He also found their interpretation of the music poor, the different moods in the music, excitement, quiet, sensuality, aggression weren't reflected in variation in the dancing. >Another observation: salsa clubs seem to be victims of their own success >in that their floors get very crowded, making certain figures dangerous or >impossible to execute for lack of space. Same here. I like space and go early and if one other has the same idea, we can have an enjoyable hour. I've yet to work out how people manage to arrive at a club at 11pm/midnight and get up the next day for work. From: (Rebecca Kidd) Subject: Re: Salsa Dancing, Revisited Date: 18 Jan 1995 23:58:09 GMT Ronnen Levinson ( wrote: : But, in response to those people who make snyde remarks about ballroom : dancers in salsa clubs, here's an observation: while I enjoyed watching : the salsa dancers, I thought that some of the sharpest dancing was done by : the ballroom/Latin dancers that had come with us. : Another observation: salsa clubs seem to be victims of their own success : in that their floors get very crowded, making certain figures dangerous or : impossible to execute for lack of space. At a ballroom/Latin party, I : have room to use lots of figures from both mambo and night club two : step in my salsa, which makes the dance much more exciting for me. : Floor space is freedom. I know what Ronnen means about a big crowd making certain figures hard to do. But as I talk to more Latinos about it, it seems that an important part of salsa is that it doesn't take up a lot of space. Everybody looks over their shoulders and keeps the moves sexy and contained. I've had some great dances on a crowded floor, not because the moves were spectacular, but my leader was very inventive in using a small space in entertaining ways. Also, what I like about salsa dancers without ballroom training is the relaxed way they move their bodies and arms, making it the street dance it used to be. I guess this is an old argument: whether to blend all the dances, or try to keep them separate. When I first started dancing salsa two summers ago, it seemed so wonderfully alien to me, that I guess I'm prejudiced about keeping it that way. From: (David Pearson) Subject: salsa discussion Date: Thu, 16 Feb 1995 11:08:04 +0000 Dear Dancers, Following is a short e-conversation about the nature and technique of salsa. ******************************************************** **** START OF 1ST MESSAGE, ME TO RICHARD PAYNE ********* ******************************************************** From: To: It seems to me that the strongest beat is the first of the bar. In the most basic step, we (1) tap the left foot on this beat (men, starting a dance), then (2nd beat) move it back, then (3rd beat) gently stamp the right foot, then (4th) bring back the left foot to the starting position. Then repeat but the other way around, and so on. The more interesting stuff is worked around this basic pattern. Now my teachers (who are generally good at salsa but not actually professional teachers) say that the tap comes on the 4th beat - then they go ahead and start as I described, i.e. on the 1st! OK, here's the question - am I confused about what a bar is, or are they? ******************************************************** **** END OF 1ST MESSAGE, ME TO RICHARD PAYNE *********** ******************************************************** ******************************************************** **** START OF 2ND MESSAGE, RICHARD PAYNE TO ME********** ******************************************************** From: To: >It seems to me that the strongest beat is the first of the bar. >In the most basic step, we (1) tap the left foot on this beat... I haven't tried describing this in words before. Er,maybe I should start by trying to define my '1st Beat'? -- It's very common in Salsa music for a Cowbell to join in at some point, playing a steady rhythm, every other beat. I would say on the 1st and 3rd almost always. Using that reference, the bass often plays on 1, 2.5-ish and 4, 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 . ... B b b B b b frequently leaving out the 1st. 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 . ... b b b b So, I feel '1st beat' where the 1's are. I'm only saying this because with other dance music one can predominantly follow the bass to feel where to put your weight down, but in Salsa that can be misleading, which is what gives it the 'nudging you on' feeling (IMHO!). More thoughts: Firstly about the music; in my London class for beginners they seemed to use music which was unsubtle and obvious. A big feature of that can be a nice clear cowbell. Then that establishes where 'Beat 1' is musically. Then one starts hearing the rest of the percussion, bass, etc., and can learn to pick out beat 1 when the cowbell isn't there. It doesn't matter *how* one happens to count one's footsteps off, or *where* in the step,step,step,tap cycle one reckons the start is, the guys/gals playing the music take what I outlined in that diagram as Beat 1! The bass is a pretty dominant thing, and I know it confused me to start with, so I thought I'd include it. It's probably more common for it to *miss* beat 1 than to play on it, but if you're clapping out the rhythm between two of you or whatever, it easier to include the first beat and then drop it when you get going. There's a few other common percussion features (e.g. shakers, congas) that are usually pretty vital too. The beat comes from the overall feel of the percussion sometimes (helpful huh) when it seems like confusion. Musicians being musicians, they like to toy with these things because it's more interesting for them, swap a rhythm between instruments; just play the in-between beats; drop some of the percussion; and so on, so some music can be a real game to hang on to. [ technical aside: to be more accurate, the classic 'clave' rhythm is a two bar pattern, rather than the one bar pattern that I scribbled, Bar 1 Bar 2 Bar 1 Bar 2 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & w w w w w w w w w w which can be played either BAr 1, BAr 2 or the other way around, I don't know which is more common. The w is because it was, and still is, played on two woodblock-things often called claves. People say the word 'clave' means 'key' (as in 'the basis of the feel' perhaps). Common in African music, maybe came from there originally, where they also have other rhythms called the clave... this is a big can of worms because of the cross-influencing of these many different musics... ] ******************************************************** **** END OF MESSAGE, RICHARD PAYNE TO ME *************** ******************************************************** From: ProDnzr@AOL.COM Subject: Salsa Cha Cha breaking on ? Date: Tue, 2 May 1995 16:07:15 GMT Robinne et al >>>>>RG:In general, extensive discussion of counts, quicks and slows makes ME brain-dead, but I have a question: Okay, so we teach the cha-cha break (i. e. the forward step or back step) on 2, so that the cha-cha-cha (or QQS) footwork comes out in time with the 4&1 in the music. SO, when teaching mambo/salsa to the same group of people, have folks had more luck teaching the break on 1--which is easier for most people to pick out--or breaking on 2, because it's *consistent* with what they've already learned?<<<<<<RG While Mambo music has an edge that makes the trained dancer want to "break on two" much of the current popular Salsa has an undulating softness that lens itself to breaking on 1 or 3. Many songs are borderline so breaking on 1, 2, or 3 is acceptable. Secondly there is no syncopation of the 4 & 1 to deal with which is why the world breaks chah cha on two. Finally the Latin community is evolving. As I've long said there are no Latin dance schools in Latin America. People learn by watching each other and therefore the dance mutates. I could teach break on two `til the cows come home but I'll be teaching a room full of ballroom dancers instead of a room full of Salseros. As the dancers become better they'll become more sophisticated. Right now though the common break is on 1 or 3. As Robinne mentioned in a post back in 94 the local latin dance troupe breaks cha cha on 1. Untrained dancers of any ethnic background often become foot dancers when trying to learn complicated routines. In the original days the Cuban dancers all were body dancers. Enio From: (Mark Anthony Balzer) Subject: Re: Salsa dancing Date: 7 Aug 1995 20:26:53 GMT (Mark E. J. Newman) writes: >Richard Simpson (71203.3131@COMPUSERVE.COM) wrote: >>I thought "salsa" referred to a style of music, and that several >>types of dance step could be enjoyed to salsa - am I wrong? > >No, I believe the term "salsa" was first coined by the dance community >(from the Spanish word for "sauce"). It was later generalized to describe >the music that people salsa to, but fundamentally it's a dance, not a >musical style. The dance is basically just a form of mambo, except that >one commonly breaks on 1, not 2, and there are these days a lot of moves >from hustle and swing thrown in which you will not see the older mambo >dancers doing. I once read an article by Willie Colon in which he stated that Salsa music and dancing are inseparably connected - you cannot have one without the other (just try to sit through a good Salsa and you'll see what he means!) Music_and_dancing is (sing.) one of the foundations of Latin-American culture. Also, a book I recently read claimed that "Salsa" has become the new mass-marketing term which has replaced "latin-music". Mark From: Date: Wed, 9 Aug 1995 11:12:10 -0400 Subject: Re: Salsa dancing Salsa music is a term which covers many regional styles of "latin Mambo music" from Columbian borderline Cumbia Salsa to Cuban Charanga, Puerto Rican Bomba, or New York Latin Jazz. While many including Tito Puente argue that Salsa doesn't exist (that it is really Mambo), listening to Grupo Niche or Guayacan from Columbia will give you Cumbia feel to many of their hits. Listen to Hansel Martinez and many of his albums have more charanga than "salsa". Willi Chirino from Puerto Rico has a Caribbean Samba rhythm in many of his songs while El Gran Combo play more Bombas. In New York Ruben Blades, Ray Barretto, Willi Colon play what they often call Latin Jazz. In Japan Orchesta De La Luz play a hard driving fast Salsa often with Tito Puente sitting in banging on Timbales. Yet the current crop of Salsa romantica superstars like Eddie Santiago, Luis Enrique, Frankie Ruiz, Mark Anthony play a sensual Salsa with an undulating rhythm than the hard edge mambo of the Palladium. Dance wise the New York teachers are currently on a "Salsa on 2" kick while most of the places that I've been teaching at or going to do more of a hustle/single swing influenced Salsa with wraps face loops and lots of spins. It's not far off the Lindy/Lindy Hop/Jitterbug/East Coast Swing separation. Enio Subject: Re: Cumbia From: Bill Harwood <> Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 00:15:17 GMT wrote: > Question from a beginner: What exactly is cumbia? > -- Andrew It is not a novice question. Few outside of the latin comunity will be familiar with cumbia. In New Mexico we danced this dance with a swing like step pattern (side side rock step) but used only one step duration (quick, quick, quick, quick). The steps are choppy a lot like mambo (stop and go). The variations are all of the swing patterns. A lot of women will use all four beats to do an under arm turn. It is basically a street dance so don't wait for it in any ballroom lessons. Take what you know about swing, watch the people who are doing it, grab a cervessa (beer like dos equis or corona or bohemia...) and go for it From: (Callum Downie) Subject: Re: Cumbia Date: 20 Oct 1995 08:48:53 +0100 In article <465sn8$>, <> wrote: > (Dave Fields) writes: >>In the DC area, many of the South/Central American restaurants have Latin >>dance in the late evening/early AM. Most we've been to have a 10% Salsa, >>20% Meringue(sp) and 70% Cumbia mix. > > Question from a beginner: What exactly is cumbia? Originally Colombian. Other countries have versions. It's a folk dance, based on male/female courtship. Women wear long, full skirts, men all in white, red neckerchief and boater-like hat. Men show off (retrained rather than flamboyant) or try to attact the coy women's attention. The basic step is a small L-R-L (or R-L-R) done to a 3 count spread evenly across the bar. There are tunes which are cumbia, but the "chorus" changes to Salsa. Contrast of quieter vs more full blooded and getting caught when it changes back again :-} Here, salsa is by far the most popular. Merengues are much less common, 10-20% and Cumbias even less. Some DJs (not the Colombian ones) will feel as insulted at being asked to play Cumbia as Lambada. (the prejudice is not quite reciprocated by the Portuguese speaking Latins, who will if pressed play Salsa amongst the Sambas) Merengue is much less popular here, the various teachers aren't interested(?) It is used merely as a warm up or simple dance to get people moving, before going onto the "real" thing. Article 22808 (8 more) in From: (Ming MAR) Subject: Re: Salsa timing Date: 21 Nov 1995 19:07:25 GMT (Arie Maaskant) writes: >But I cannot get the feeling with the music at which moment in the music >the kick ( or rest ) takes place. My dancing teacher is a good dancer >but a not so good teacher. In Montreal, most people (as far as I know) start on the first beat. In New York, with a large Puerto Rican population, most people (as far as I know) start on the second beat. So, Montrealers would dance 1-2-3-*-5-6-7-* where * is a pause, tap, kick, or hip movement. New Yorkers would dance *-2-3-4-*-6-7-8. The drum beat in Salsa/Latin jazz is often syncopated which makes it difficult to determine when to start moving. If you try to listen to the bass player, you can often get a better idea of when to move. I also have a difficult time finding the beat in Salsa, so I can sympathize with others who have the same problem. My suggestion is to get a tape or CD of Salsa and listen to it at home with the bass turned up. This should help you get used to finding the rythm in Salsa. From: ProDnzr@AOL.COM Subject: Re: Salsa on 2,3,4 or 3,4,1 Date: Tue, 5 Dec 1995 16:18:08 GMT Dave asks >>I've noticed that, in the nightclubs that my wife and I occassion, most poeple >>seem to dance salsa on 3,4,1. I've seen many posts saying it should be on >>2,3,4. Is this a regional difference? The places we go have many Peruvian, >>Bolivian and Columbian dancers. >>Thanks, Dave, Most of the continental countries dance more cumbia which uses a side to side action which makes them want to start sideways. Since the side action is danced as a slow they naturally get Slow- Quick Quick. Carribean countries dance more of the Cuban style which is forward and back which is predominantly danced 1,2,3 or 2,3,4 (Quick, Quick -Slow) Enio From: Subject: Re: Please enlighten me (was: NC2Step count?) Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 00:14:44 -0400 Charlie Koeppen asks: > Also, is there an alternative to starting salsa with a step >forward on the 2? This I'm not nearly as comfortable with. 80% of the dancers in LA are doing 123 hold 4, or 1hold 2 3,4. Only a fraction are dancing the Mambo timing. I keep hearing this same drivel all over the place. Tito Puente keeps saying that there is no such thing as Salsa that is it's really Mambo. The only problem is that a zillion people are doing something that doesn't exist. If Salsa didn't exist Tito wouldn't be getting 10-20 grand a night to play 1 1/2 sets . I'll explain it again: Latin: accents on 1 & 3 Swing et al: accents on 2 & 4 Body dancers undulate the body on the rhythm. Studio dancers do the rhythm with their feet. When street dancers learn in a club from each other they tend to follow the best "dancer" in the club whether that dancer is dancing correctly or not. If the guy is dancing on 1 pretty soon everybody will dance on 1. That is what has happened to Mambo/Salsa. While there are songs that I only want to dance Mambo to because of the hard edge, there are so many Salsa Romantica type songs that feel terrible to Mambo. This is no different than the debate that raged a while back with "What is Swing?" Latin (Cha Cha, Mambo, Rumba) died in the 60's with the Twist and the (Boogaloo) if it weren't for Salsa, Tito Puente would be home rockin his grandkids on his knee. Enio From: (Dr. Michael M. Cohen) Newsgroups:, Subject: Hustle News.... Date: Thu Oct 03 04:10:57 CDT 1996 HUSTLE DANCE CLUB NEWS LETTER Oct. 1996 Step by Step .... By Ava Apple "Heaven, I'm in heaven... " is what you'll be singing if you get a chance to dance with Angel Figueroa, Co-owner of Stepping Out Dance Studio in New York. A fabulous dancer and teacher, Angel and his partner Maria Torres, were in the Bay Area recently to teach a series of workshops and to compete at the Sapphire Ball where they came in first place in the Rising Star Rhythm category. Besides teaching dance he has worked for the IRS, The Social Security Administration & even waited tables. I had the pleasure of talking with Angel and found that we have similar ideas about teaching. Here are some excerpts from our interview. Ava Apple: What is your nationality? Angel Figueroa: I'm Puerto Rican, born and raised in N.Y.C., in Spanish Harlem. My parents are originally from Puerto Rico... AA: You had previously told me you dance (salsa) quick, quick, slow, but you break on the count of two. AF: If you break on the one or the two it's still quick, quick, slow. Usually if you break on the three you're doing slow, quick, quick. Yes, I can dance on the one, yes, I can dance on the two or the three. Sometimes a particular song, for example, feels better dancing on the one instead of the two or the three and vice versa. AA: That's what I tell my students - listen to the music and decide what count you want to break on. What do you say when people ask "What's the difference between Salsa and Mambo?" AF: Salsa is what you eat with chips and Mambo is what you dance. Salsa is a terminology that was given to latin music in the early 70's. Mambo is the dance, Salsa is the music. I think a lot of people are trying to make it (Salsa) a dance term, and it's not. One of the things that I preach when I teach - is that "Salsa" doesn't mean anything - it's not a dance, that's it. From: (Alan Hu) Subject: Re: Latin Dancing: Why Am I not Finding the Same Beat As My Partner? Date: Sun Oct 13 16:28:17 CDT 1996 <> wrote: > I am enough of a musician to be able to hear the chord changes, and >I can count along with the quarter notes of virtually any latin song. Yet >when I dance with people in the dance class, even people who have been >taking lessons for quite a while, I find that we are often not hitting the >same beat. > Is there something about the percussion that makes people hear >another way of doing a quick-quick-slow other than quarter-quarter-half >note? If so, what is the rhythm that they are hearing? Salsa is commonly danced in three different phase relationships to the musical rhythm: Music Counts: |1 2 3 4|1 2 3 4| ... Steps (A): |Q Q S -|Q Q S -|... Or (B): |- Q Q S|- Q Q S|... Or (C): |S - Q Q|S - Q Q|... (People using a proportional font should switch to a fixed-width font.) I refuse to get into an argument over which of these if the One and Only True Authentic Salsa Count; I'm just stating the fact that these three counts are all commonly danced in various communities. Salsa is a living dance, so it's not surprising that there are variations. --Alan Hu From: Enio & Robert Cordoba <> Subject: Re: Latin Dancing: Why Am I not Finding the Same Beat As My Date: Tue Oct 15 02:57:33 CDT 1996 In a message dated 96-10-14 16:27:32 EDT, you write: << I've been taking salsa lessons >for over a month now, and while my instructor insists that I break on 2, >I find many salsa dancers in social situations here in Milwaukee that do >it on the 1. Is there any national concensus on this? What beats do the >major salsa cities break on? (New York, DC, Miami, LA) >> The answer in LA is 50-50:TaDaaa... ONE or THREE >The simple problem of whether dancers are breaking on the 1 or the 2 can >probably account for a lot of the confusion out there. >In New York City, for instance, for years the ballroom studios all taught >students to break on the 1 in classes they labelled Mambo. Then, some of the >old-timers from the Palladium days, as well as some of the teachers out of >the Latin clubs, began to make their way into the studio systems, where they >began teaching advanced classes and had people switch to breaking on the 2. >No sooner did that start happening than studios started offering separate >Salsa classes to attract a younger crowd, and in those classes students were >again taught to break on the 1. The result can be pretty confusing to anyone >who is not an experienced dancer and can't immediately adjust to what >his/her partner may be doing. >At this point in New York the issue of breaking on the 1 or the 2 has taken >on a certain social significance. People who learned on the 2 from top club >teachers won't deign to dance with studio dancers who break on the 1. Some >people refuse to switch back and forth; others people have no idea there are >two separate ways of dancing. The problem here as I see it is the ostrich mentality of dance teachers and students who believe that they can dictate to the masses. I spent a week in Miami recently observing the best Miami clubs had to offer. Except for the oldtimers the majority were breaking on one. the rest on three. If you go to any latin country and observe street dancers you will be hard pressed to find anybody who breaks on two. As I have stated in numerous articles archived somewhere in the FAQ's or net archives elsewhere, and in the old Dance Action magazines, here is a brief summary. Tito Puente says "Salsa is something you eat" That what the musicians are playing is MAMBO. AEHHHHH! (Annoying buzzer sound) Survey Said: Sorry pal maybe the Latin Jazz musicians are playing Mambo but Listen to Hansel Martinez, Gloria Estefan, Hector Tricoche, Willy Chirino, etc. They are playing Charanga, Montunos, Son, Bombas. Look at the liner notes on Mi Tierra. Listen to the Mambo Kings soundtrack . Play Ran Kan Kan. MAMBO! Kickass Mambo! Ok now play any of the above. Listen for the flute piano &violin of a charanga orchestra. Listen to the montuno rhythms on Gloria Estefan. To break on 2 is to go against the grain of the rhythm. I go out to the LA clubs with the real Mambo Kings. I danced side by side with Bobby Medeiros and Joe Cassini. A guy like Cassini will dance on 2 when they play a Mambo and will either sit out the Salsas or break with the rhythm. A third of the Salsa sound is coming from Venezuela & Colombia with bands like Guyacan, Niche, Oscar D'Leon, Raises, etc. Another third of the sound is coming from Miami like Hansel Martrinez, Willy Chirino, Gloria, Albita,etc, The NY sound with guys like Tito Nieves, Tony Vega, the Ruiz brothers, Cheo, do play a harder edge Mambo sound but then NYers like Mark Anthony & La India go more toward the Miami Sound. A big selling album by any of these bands though tends to have elements from all three sounds. Only the damn dance teachers that don't know their afahitg and teach people the ONE TRUE WAY are the problem. The millions of social dancers out there don't give a hoot about what beat to break on but rather dancing in rhythm. Take a guy , put him in most dance classes for a year and while he will learn to lead will look like a stiff when you throw him out on a dance floor. Bend the knee, Rib cage high, arms up, carriage erect, settle into the hip on 2ehanda, while rolling to the inside edge. PUHLEEEESE. This guy has Paralysis thru analysis. I've seen people walk into a club become a regular and over a few months become quite accomplished dancers who looked natural. Obviously leading techniques are sometimes weak yet, they fit in, they look natural, and are pleasing to look at. I always remind my students that there is no such thing as a latin american dance school in latin america. They learn by osmosis. Finally to help you understand the difference, realize that it is the way that we look at things that makes the break so important to studio dancers and the action to club dancers. Latins undulate the ribcage and hips very often without even moving there feet. We don't consider it dancing unless we move our feet. Latins accent the rhythm in the hips Studio dancers accent with their feet. When you hear these accomplished musicians talk about the feel , that the conga and claves are not right on a beat , don't be afraid of this. The rhythm is hypnotic, remember it has african roots. Try to dance the rhythm without moving your feet and you will soon understand the Latin feel. The hardest thing to understand about Latin is that the 2 is a dead beat in latin. By BREAKING on the two you are trying to dance a strong motion on a weak beat. The original Mambo dancers did not break on the 2 because it was a strong beat but rather as a result of rolling the hip backward on 1 and falling into the 2. The concept of a break came much later than the concept of a body action. The studio dancers bastardized the dance by accenting the break (note the hard arm styling on crossovers) and forgetting the hip on 1 an the return on 3. What do I break on? Depends what they play. In the course of an evening I will dance individual songs on 1. Or 3. Or 2. But only one at a time:-) My suggestion for beginners start on one, then after a few months of learning switch to breaking on the three and see which feels better. Remember that some songs will feel better on 1 than 3. Look around at the good dancers. Watch them pulse not break. Finally watch a live band and try to connect the sounds with the instruments and tap out with your feet, hand, etc. the four beats, then the cowbell, then finally, the clave. I'm sure that if I were in New York I would probably hear a higher percentage of MAmbo, but if you're in a region with a high Central -South American population you'll find a greater Cumbia influence in the music. Whatever just keep dancing! Ahhh I feel better now. >Add to this the individual styles of teachers (some choose to start the dance >by having the man break backward on the left foot on the 1 to get him to the >2; others have him break forward right on the 2 to start the dance), and you >get lots of confusion. We're even at the point where experienced dancers who >learned with different teachers won't dance with one another. pissonem >The only real solution is for good dancers to treat each partner and >situation with tolerance and curiosity. But that's asking a lot of some >dancers. Well said Enio From: (Robert Emmons) Subject: Re: Latin Dancing: Why Am I not Finding the Same Beat As My Partner? Date: Fri Oct 18 07:46:20 CDT 1996 nat <> wrote: >I am able to hear the clave and can determine the direction of clave, >however, I am not certain if one breaks on one if the clave is 3-2; or >breaks on 2 if the clave is 2-3. I am aware that street salsa tends >to break on 1, whereas New York ballroom style (Eddie Torres) tends to >break on 2. Is this a matter of the direction of clave or just >stylistic differences? I've taken at least one group salsa/mambo lesson with: Eddie Torres, Maria Torres (no relation), Angel Rodriguez, Eddie Dorfer, Brian Nash, Bob Sweeney, Michael Terrace, maybe others I can't recall. They *all* teach breaking on two. Some are pretty well known Mambo teachers here in New York. Angel's Mambo is as close to a "street" Mambo as you can get without actually dancing on 120th St. and Third Ave. (Spanish Harlem, NYC). Nobody Mambos like his wife Addie. It's Puerto Rican Mambo at its best, all danced breaking on two. By the way, these are young Hispanics (they prefer Puerto Rican). I've spent several evenings at the Copa Cabana, which is NYC's Mambo capital with the demise of the Palladium. It's loaded with great young (20's) Hispanic Mambo dancers, many of them better than the best teachers I've seen. It's a pleasure to watch, and all danced on the two. So, if I can't find the Mambo beat, how do I know they're on the two? Fair question. Angel told me. Also, I can find the beat in some, but not all Mambos. #37481 (48 more) From: (Robert Emmons) Subject: Re: Latin Dancing: Why Am I not Finding the Same Beat As My Partner? Date: Fri Oct 18 11:50:32 CDT 1996 (Robert Emmons) wrote: >I've taken at least one group salsa/mambo lesson with: Eddie Torres, >Maria Torres (no relation), Angel Rodriguez, Eddie Dorfer, Brian Nash, >Bob Sweeney, Michael Terrace, maybe others I can't recall. They *all* >teach breaking on two. Some are pretty well known Mambo teachers here >in New York. > > Angel's Mambo is as close to a "street" Mambo as you can get without >actually dancing on 120th St. and Third Ave. (Spanish Harlem, NYC). >Nobody Mambos like his wife Addie. It's Puerto Rican Mambo at its >best, all danced breaking on two. By the way, these are young >Hispanics (they prefer Puerto Rican). A couple of other things. Angel Rodriguez will readily tell you that he and Addie are Hispanic, but that they used to be Puerto Ricans from the Bronx. They're not ballroom dancers, although they sometimes teach Cha Cha and Rumba, and they won the Hustle championship at the Harvest Moon Ball. They also perform with their dance company, Ras 'M Taz. They dance at all the Latin clubs in Manhattan, the Bronx, etc. (the Copa, the Latin Quarter, the hole in the wall with a Juke Box). They are the kind of dancers that other young Hispanics emulate. To me, Angel and Addie pretty much define "street" Mambo. They say Mambo and Salsa are the same dance. It is properly danced by, holding one and stepping on two, although there's a hell of a lot of movement in their "hold". It's been danced that way since before Fidel was a small time CIA supported revolutionary in the mountains of Cuba. They readily admit that some good dancers step on the one, but if you really want to do it right, you step on the two. #37473 (56 more) From: Subject: Re: Latin Dancing: Why Am I not Finding the Same Beat As My Partner? Date: Fri Oct 18 08:33:41 CDT 1996 Just to give myself some credibility, I have danced Salsa for about 2 years now. I compete in nightclubs in Toronto and have won 1st place a few times--so I guess I'm an OK Salsa dancer. Just recently my partner & I have started taking Latin Ballroom classes to improve our posture & styling & to learn the other latin dances. As far as I'm concerned, Salsa is a street dance & you can do whatever you want as long as no one gets hurt & that your dancing to the rhythm of the music (not too fast & not too slow). And that's it! Just in case you're curious, here in Toronto, the "norm" is to break on the 1. (Just as Gerard said, we listen to the music, find the 1 and go for it!) My dance partner is latin & he had no idea how to "count" music yet he breaks on the one! "La Salsera" #39862 (2 more) From: Enio Cordoba <> Subject: Cha Cha & Latin Date: Mon Dec 02 14:12:28 CST 1996 Maybe this will help all those who find Salsa and Mambo a difficult rhythm to dance to. This past weekend I spent a few minutes discussing this issue with Robert Royston, US Open & C/W World Champion. First the problem of not being on the same "rhythm" with your partner - SALSA dancers and traditionally Latin dancers are not foot based rhythm dancers but rather body based. That is, the body is right on the the beat with the foot a fraction behind. In competitive dancing where foot speed and precise timing is necessary, comp dancers looked hurried and rushed next to true latin dancers. Look at the stereotypes of Latin culture "manana" as we used to say. Salsa Romantica (or now as they are calling it Salsa Erotica) is the epitome of riding behind the beat. Swing dancers especially like to "jump' on a beat where Slow foxtrot dancers would understand this concept of being in the groove. Terryl has a great way of explaining this concept: Think of a beat as an hour on the clock, if the guy is stepping at one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, etc, the girl is stepping at one fifteen, two fifteen, three fifteen, etc. in basic following. In Salsa the guy is moving the body on one, two, three o'clock while the foot is hitting at one fifteen, two fifteen , etc- therefore the girl is now hitting on one thirty, two thirty, three thirty, etc. As for dancing in clave, I have seen one musician who danced regularly in clave that is hitting precisely on the clave. But the concept of clave is actually the male/female concept (sorry ladies not my interpretation - Terryl thinks the female bar is naturally the strong bar :-)) over two bars. In a latin rhythm there is a strong bar and a soft bar. Non latin dancers tend to want everthing to be neatly packaged into a forward and backward basic which are equal in strength. A latin percussion book I read a few years ago discussed the idea of the male bar and the female bar. The 123 being the male bar, the 567 being the female bar. If you listen to most Salsa even if you don't understand Spanish, listen to the vocal inflection - the first bar being louder more pronounced and the second bar tailing off vocally and or musically. Dancing clave means you move accordingly. Watch street dancers and you see this. You know the funny thing? It's not taught, it's passed as if through osmosis. Like dancing "studio" swing and street swing , until you dance lots with street dancers in ain't the same duck. The same applies to Rumba/Bolero. Cha Cha and Mambo should be the same but I think the influences of competition have changed these to equal forward and back concept which is why street dancers resist the "Mambo" concept nowadays. While you can teach somebody to break on a specific beat, ala the New York scene on the two beat, street dancers left to their own devices will be more musical and less precise. Robinne said it very well last year when she wrote about the over intellectualization of learning to dance. It's why the best rhythm musicians are not drum machines but rather humans. Enio From: (Mark Anthony Balzer) Subject: Re: Counting Cha-Cha Date: 5 Apr 1996 23:36:03 GMT Michael Steffen <> writes: >This is Victor's response to Jacques' response to Victor. >>Jacques Gauthier <gauthier@CAM.ORG> writes: >> >> ...the *leader* has to take a strong step >>on a strong beat. Since the 2 is stronger than the 6, the leader >>has to step forward therre. >> >>It is an empty statement that no matter what you do *somebody* is >>going to rock forward on 2. >> >>> Seems to me that either way one of the two dancers is stuck doing it the >>> "wrong" way around. >> >>Only if you consider the leader's and folower's roles to be equivalent. >> >My thought on this is that I believe that Victor's notion of who should be >making the strong step on the strong beat is exactly backwards. I believe >that the Lady is the supposed to be the point of focus in Ballroom dance and >therefore she should have the greatest opportunity to emphasis the strong >beat with the strong step, not the man. To me the fact that he is leading is >irrelevant, the fact that he is showcasing her is what should matter. >Therefore the man's left-side prep step is perfectly appropriate. IMHO, >which by the way is far more humble than some as I readly admit that I am no >expert and that this is just what makes sense to me. > >My other thought on this (which is, I realize, pretty much beside the point) >is that unless you are competing or doing an exhibition type performance it >really doesn't make a damn bit of difference whether you break forward on 2 >or on 6, and that in fact I believe that a majority of social dancers would >be hard pressed to tell you which beat is a 2 and which one is a 6. >Furthermore, I would venture to guess that if someone where to make a video >tape of a professional couple dancing a routine where he is breaking forward >on 2 and then make another tape of the same couple doing the same routine >where he breaks fwd on 6 you could show those two cuts minus the first >measure to 100 dancers and not 5 of them would notice the difference if they >were not asked to look for it. Even more telling I bet that you could play >30 seconds of each tape for a panel of Ballroom Judges and ask them to place >the two and afterwards not one judge would say that he/she made the decision >based on this difference. Oh well, like I said this is probably beside the >point as it represents a practical consideration in the midst of a >philosophical discussion. First of all, I can't believe I am responding to this... Oh well, I'll bet Robinne can believe it. :-) I just got the Salsa videos that Eddie Torres sells. Eddie the "Mambo King" spends a *lot* of time telling you to break on 2 and 6. He stresses that the Man should break back on 2, and forward on 6. He even has an exercise on his accompanying audio cassette where he just counts the "6,7" over music to train men to start dancing with a forward rock on 6. So evidently, this issue is very important to Eddie Torres. Mark PS - Every teacher I've ever had teaches Mambo 2,3,4, 6,7,8 with man breaking forward on 2. Then starting on 2, the count would be Q,Q,S, Q,Q,S. Eddie Torres teaches it 6,7, 1,2,3, 5,6,7... with the man breaking forward on 6. Then starting on 6, Eddie's count is Q,S,Q, Q,S,Q. (with the dancing foot being off the ground on the 4 and 8) It's funny watching him count 2,3,5 as his dancers try to dance 2,3,4, especially in turns. Why does he count it Q,S,Q ? Is it important to delay the weight change on the slow? I always heard the opposite. What gives? Date: Wed, 4 Dec 96 13:44:17 PST From: Victor Eijkhout <> To: (mark anthony balzer) Subject: Re: Cha Cha & Latin Almost all popular music goes in binary up/down motion. Boom-clap. One bar of building tension, one of releasing. 32 bar AA section, 32 bar BA conclusion. And the first half is mostly the stronger. Now, in clave there is the 3-2 and the 2-3 clave, where the 3 side is called the male bar, or the stronger, but most songs seem to be in 2-3 clave. I'm still piecing together the evidence. Quite clearly some pieces of the puzzle are still missing. Victor. Subject: Eddie Torres Style / His Video >From Date 8 Jan 1997 23:18:24 GMT Newsgroups At last they arrived - the 'Salsa Nighclub Style' Videos (Vol. 1&2). Getting the PAL version sometimes takes its time... I was quite astonished about the 'basic time step' he teaches: Of cause I knew he breaks on 2, but what I didn't know was he takes the pause on 4! At least he explains it this way. When it comes to fluent dancing, neither his dancers nor himself do this - they take the pause on 1 (like I would have expected). So why is this well known teacher teaching a different technique as he is dancing???? I think this is quite confusing and can't imagine how beginners should get that sorted out. Is there anybody else how reconized this strange fact? Is this just an error or is there some theory about this? What do those Eddie-students 'round here say? Klaus Subject: Re: Eddie Torres Style / His Video >From Juan Montoya <> Date Fri, 10 Jan 1997 00:14:16 -0500 Newsgroups wrote: > At last they arrived - the 'Salsa Nighclub Style' Videos (Vol. 1&2). > Getting the PAL version sometimes takes its time... > > I was quite astonished about the 'basic time step' he teaches: Of cause I > knew he breaks on 2, but what I didn't know was he takes the pause on 4! > At least he explains it this way. When it comes to fluent dancing, neither > his dancers nor himself do this - they take the pause on 1 (like I would > have expected). > > So why is this well known teacher teaching a different technique as he is > dancing???? > > I think this is quite confusing and can't imagine how beginners should get > that sorted out. > > Is there anybody else how reconized this strange fact? Is this just an > error or is there some theory about this? > > What do those Eddie-students 'round here say? I took classes with Eddie Torres for over a year, an average of 2-3 times/week, and in my more insane periods, 5 (or more) times in a week. I would still do so if I could afford to, and I would recommend his classes in an instant to anyone who asked. Eddie is one of the best teachers (not one of the best dance teachers, one of the best *teachers*) I have ever had. I believe that this is because his passion is to see his students learn. He does indeed teach and dance "pausing" on the 4 in the "basic step". I put "pausing" in quotes because he actually "steps over" that beat, and there is constant motion. There is another method the basic step which the dancer breaks on 2 and does indeed pause on 1. This is not what Eddie dances, and not what Eddie teaches. There is a company in NYC called "Razz M Tazz" which teaches this style, and it is distinct from Eddie Torres' style. Every now and then, Eddie takes time out in his class to go over the theory of the timing, and he shows the students that there are various different ways to break in the basic step, and that one can break on 1, 2, 3, or 4, all of which involve a "pause" except for his own version of breaking on 2. He shows that one can break on 2 with the pause on the first beat of the measure, and he shows how that is different from what he teaches (which is a small step on 1 and stepping over the 4). Eddie calls his method of breaking on 2 the "Cuban 2". (I think Eddie has a kind of Cuban fetish. If he sees a dancer whom he thinks has particular "sabor", he tells him, "You must have Cuban blood in you!") Eddie Torres also emphasizes that *none* of them is "wrong"; they are just different (although he did say he didn't understand how anyone could break on 3, that it just felt so unnatural -- but if the guy could keep the timing and lead the lady, more power to him!). I don't think that Eddie is such a "stickler" when it comes to "how" to dance salsa or for what is "authentic". I think that he is just most comfortable with "his" own way (although it is true that in his class he will hound you on aesthetic details which really are personal tastes -- but only if he really likes you). He has related to me how he has gone through more than a few phases of styles in his formative years in the clubs -- he once told me that at one point, he dressed himself as a flamenco dancer and experimented with incorporating that into his style, and he refused to let anyone tell him that he wasn't dancing salsa! The nightclubs in NYC are where Eddie got the vast majority of his "training" -- he started teaching salsa in a studio with a friend banging on a conga before he even had any "formal" training (which, as Daniel Robledo [hey, Danny! long time, no see. what's up?] noted, he does have). As for the argument as to who looks the best out there on the floor, at the clubs, I will agree that there are times that you can look out there and say, "That's an Eddie Torres dancer," because s/he looks mechanical, rehearsed, or even choreographed. But, honestly, I don't think that you would ever be able to say that about any of the dancers in Eddie's professional dance group if you saw them on the dance floor in a nightclub (which is not a common sighting, but it does happen). And you might be surprised at how many of the "natural" looking dancers have actually taken classes (not that they learned everything from classes, but that they honed their skills there). By the way, I'm looking for a regular dance partner in the NYC area with whom to enjoy the dance and the music. I'm only 5'4", but (by necessity) I'm comfortable dancing with taller women. Unfortunately (and I do mean unfortunately), I only dance on the "Cuban/Eddie Torres 2". But if you're willing to teach me a different style, I'm willing to learn... Subject: Re: Salsa Dancing: Eddie Torres Style >From Juan Montoya <> Date Fri, 10 Jan 1997 11:18:35 -0500 Newsgroups Africando wrote: > I'm the one who wrote the original post. I was just wondering IF THE > EDDIE TORRES STYLE OF DANCING IS MAINSTREAM IN NEW YORK??? > > Peace, > Bill Smith > Oakland (sunny, nutty, flakey), CA Well, I haven't been out lately, but a few months ago, when I was hitting the clubs regularly, the Eddie Torres style was definitely *not* the mainstream. What *is* the mainstream? I couldn't tell ya. In my honest opinion, I don't think I could say that there is one mainstream style. But I will say this much: at the Copa, El Flamingo, and Latin Quarter (the three main Latin clubs for salsa in Manhattan) you will always find dancers dancing on 2, although on some nights, only a few. But you can always find dancers who dance on 1, who dance on 2, and who dance "side to side" at any of these three clubs. If, however, you go to Sidestreet in the Bronx (really a dancer's club, almost a haven), dancing on 2 (although I wouldn't call it "Eddie Torres" style) is *definitely* the mainstream -- it's almost a requirement. A piece of advice Eddie gives his students is to watch the people on the floor and pick out and ask to dance the ones who dance on 2, because these were the ones that you knew you could dance with without a problem (that is, if you only knew his style, which, unfortunately, is the case for me). Of the people who have taken classes in New York, many of them will tell you that Eddie Torres is the best (as will I, but I've only taken classes with Jimmy Anton, David Melendez, and one other guy whose name I can't remember). Also, from what I gather, Eddie Torres now has the largest following of students in the city. So I don't know if this answers your question satisfactorily, but I hope it helps. - juan Subject: Re: Eddie Torres Style / His Video >From Date 11 Jan 1997 18:05:16 GMT Newsgroups Im Artikel <>, Juan Montoya <> schreibt: >He does indeed teach and dance "pausing" on the 4 in the "basic step". I put >"pausing" in quotes because he actually "steps over" that beat, and there is >constant motion. There is another method the basic step which the dancer >breaks on 2 and does indeed pause on 1. This is not what Eddie dances, and >not what Eddie teaches. It definitely IS what he dances in the video! Do you have the video? Have a look: when he dances, for example in the beginning scene, he does his "pause" clearly on ONE, not on four as he teaches. (There's no step on one, but on four). Even when he demonstrates the 'basic time step' slowly for the first time he "pauses" on ONE. And all his students do, when they dance fluently. They only "pause" on four when they demonstrate the steps very slowly, without any music. In fact I don't remember anyone having the "pause" on four while dancing to music in the whole video! (Well, maybe I missed one...) About "pausing": I think no good dancer does a real pause here, noone stands exactly still (this would look more like a robot than a dancer ;-). It always should be a (more or less) fluent movement. You can even do this breaking on 1, although this sometimes makes me kick or tap on that "pause". To be true, I couldn't believe my own eyes when seeing this difference in what Eddie dances and what he teaches. He's such a well known teacher, I really thought he is the best. Well, it's only a video. I would really like to go and see how his classes are. What a shame NY is on the other side of the atlantic... Klaus Subject: Re: Eddie Torres Style / His Video >From "Daniel Robledo" <> Date 12 Jan 1997 08:59:47 GMT Newsgroups wrote in article <>... > Even when he demonstrates the 'basic time step' slowly for the first time > he "pauses" on ONE. And all his students do, when they dance fluently. > They only "pause" on four when they demonstrate the steps very slowly, > without any music. In fact I don't remember anyone having the "pause" on > four while dancing to music in the whole video! (Well, maybe I missed > one...) Please don't take this too harshly but the whole idea of someone teaching something (for over 20 years) opposite to how he was actually doing it seemed so ludicrous that I had to blow the dust off my copy of the video and see this for myself. Interestingly, I think I can "see" what you were seeing that has led you astray. All the dancers in that video are pros and so they really stylize certain elements of the dance. What I noticed that they were doing was really emphasizing the "two" beat, making it very sharp, quick, and thus, accentuated. Take a look at the video right now before reading on and see if you agree with me on that. Okay, you're back. I'm right, huh? Your eyes were fooling you. Because that two beat was done so fast, so sharp, it SEEMS as if the dancers are pausing on one. It's an illusion they're creating. (This is what professional dancers, after all, are being paid to do.) > About "pausing": I think no good dancer does a real pause here, noone > stands exactly still (this would look more like a robot than a dancer ;-). I have to give you credit here. You're absolutely right on this issue. Your body never stops moving in this dance unless you're purposely creating some dramatic freeze (not within the fundamental structure of the dance which is the basic step!). This advice will clear your mind on this matter altogether: I want you to STOP thinking in terms of pauses. There is no pause anywhere in the so-called "Cuban two." Only accented steps or beats (the two forward for the lady, the six forward for the guy, for example). You should never say "pause on four", rather, say "don't put your foot down (i.e., take a step) on four, walk it over to the next beat." That's more accurate. Here's a little more advice for you from someone who knows: once you get used to this basic, try to minimize the forward and backward motion. Focus more on what your hips, ribcage, shoulders, and hands are doing than what your feet are doing. I've also noticed that the older, more experienced dancers pulse subtly downwards on their two and six adding even more flavor. Also, try to keep your two and six on the ball of your foot while the rest of the steps (1,3,5,7) are flat. This will help you smooth out the counter-body motion. You'll still be dancing on Eddie's basic, but there will be an illusion (yes, that word again!) that it's something different. This will make the style of your basic unique and pleasing to look at. Subject: Re: Eddie Torres Style / His Video >From (Sandeep Kochhar) Date 16 Jan 1997 23:45:33 GMT Newsgroups "Daniel Robledo" <> writes: > Interestingly, I think I can "see" what you were seeing that has led you > astray. All the dancers in that video are pros and so they really stylize > certain elements of the dance. What I noticed that they were doing was > really emphasizing the "two" beat, making it very sharp, quick, and thus, > accentuated. Take a look at the video right now before reading on and see > if you agree with me on that. My 2cents worth... While some of the dancers in the video are quite good, others are quite "slow" and not particularly "sharp" by professional standards. In fact, often their stepping on 2 is off, usually too early, but sometimes late. > This advice will clear your mind on this matter altogether: I want you to > STOP thinking in terms of pauses. There is no pause anywhere in the > so-called "Cuban two." Only accented steps or beats (the two forward for > the lady, the six forward for the guy, for example). You should never say > "pause on four", rather, say "don't put your foot down (i.e., take a step) > on four, walk it over to the next beat." That's more accurate. It also seems strange to me that Eddie talks about starting going back on the same beat, independent of whether the music is in 3-2 or 2-3 clave... any ideas? Subject: Re: Eddie Torres Style / His Video >From "Daniel Robledo" <> Date 18 Jan 1997 08:34:31 GMT Newsgroups Sandeep Kochhar <> wrote: > While some of the dancers in the video are quite good, others > are quite "slow" and not particularly "sharp" by professional > standards. In fact, often their stepping on 2 is off, usually too > early, but sometimes late. Sandeep, Granted: some dancers are not as "professional" as others. Now, take note - I've seen these dancers perform just a few feet away from me and I've danced with both Glenda and Duplessey on various occasions and I have NEVER seen this problem live or felt that I was out of sync with my partner because she was stepping in front of (or behind) the beats. So I guess I've been conditioned by this in my responses to these critiques. In fact, I'm not quite sure what to make of your statements. You seem to be pointing out a problem different from the one Mr. Reiter originally mentioned. Also, you're confusing me. You talk about the dancers being slow yet you see them usually stepping ahead of the two. I don't see how these two ideas can peacefully coexist. Anyway, this is *pure speculation* on my part but looking over the video yet again with as open a mind as possible I think I have a better idea about what I'm seeing. It may be very possible that the post-production phase (i.e., editing, track dubbing & remixing, etc.) was not up to par for what is necessary for a dance instructional video. Overall production values do look decent but this video is definitely nothing to write home about. Multi-million MTV production it is not and I will admit to seeing some moments where the dancers are not precisely dancing on the tumbao. I do see that now. Another idea: we don't know what difficulties the dancers had during the actual shoot. Were they always able to hear the music clearly? Rest assured, though: you will NOT see these problems when you watch these dancers perform live or actually dance with them yourself. You can take my word for it. Finally, I still insist that in many instances, if not all, what you are seeing is the dancers playing with or accentuating the "two" beat. It is acceptable to do things like that (I've already pounded the pulpit about style & individuality in another thread so I'm not going to do it again here). I think that, as someone else pointed out in a separate post, we all need to "lighten up" on these issues (thank God he wasn't just talking about me!). > It also seems strange to me that Eddie talks about starting going > back on the same beat, independent of whether the music is in > 3-2 or 2-3 clave... any ideas? Very interesting point. Now you're talking... Eddie has encouraged the etiquette of starting the dance on the six forward for the guy and with staying on "5-6-7" forward for the guys (men's timing) and "1-2-3" forward for the women (ladies timing). This is just an etiquette, though, and I suspect it's origins are arbitrary. Its purpose is only to keep things simple and predictable for both parties. I also suspect, from some video footage that I have, that the Cuban old-timers did base when they went forward or backward on the clave (I believe usually going forward on the "two" part of the clave. . .but don't quote me on that!), particularly when dancing to the son where the clave is played and heard prominently. In modern salsa, however, the clave is usually not actually played although it's still there working its magic in the background, almost subliminally. If you're good enough to be able to detect which clave a particular track is in, then you may want to base your timing on that. Most contemporary salsa is in 2-3 clave but that still doesn't make this easy. I've gotten better at this over the past year but I'm not a musician so I still make mistakes. At least I have a 50% or better chance of being right! Still, since this is difficult for most people, I would recommend counting beats to place yourself in the music and dance on the "correct" timing depending on your gender. Thanks to the miracle of beat counting, you don't have to be a clave guru to be able to dance to this music. As long as you can feel or find the "one" beat, you will never get lost. Start with one and, obviously, the other numbers will follow. Finally, I would avoid trying to dance on clave with the women that Eddie has trained, especially if you end up on "ladies timing." Many of them are so used to going forward on their "1-2-3" that it feels weird for them when they're not doing that. And they will not be shy about pointing out to you that "you're on the wrong timing!" Subject: Re: Josie & the Snotty Dancers >From "Daniel Robledo" <> Date 23 Jan 1997 06:50:17 GMT Newsgroups SALSA DANZ <> wrote: > In my last post, I mentioned that some places make such a "fuss" about > breaking on the two, because they become so convinced that it is the ONLY > way to dance that they refuse to acknowledge or dance with anyone (even > very talented dancers) who don't break on the two. I'm sorry if you took my tease a little too seriously, Josie. I was only being friendly. Anyway, your anecdote is a perfect example of the snootiness and elitism that is rampant in some circles in the New York scene (and it seems in P.R. as well). I detest that. Obviously, I personally prefer to dance on two. It's the only way where I'm really feeling and enjoying the music. But who the hell am I to say that it is the *only way* or the "true" way for everyone else? >From what I've seen of the Cuban old-timers, the breaking on two started way back with the son (which, as we all know, evolved into mambo and then salsa as the decades passed). I think it's safe to say that this was the original way that people danced to clave and tumbao-based music so the "two" die-hards do have a point. But so what? That was years ago and this is now. I say, the more styles and techniques and timings that are around, the richer the dance is. I only defended Eddie Torres in my first post from a few weeks back as being the BEST TEACHER to learn from in the NYC area (in terms of the quality of the material he teaches & the difficulty of it, which is above & beyond that of the other teachers in the area). I also pointed out from the very beginning that just taking dance classes, even from Eddie, is not automatically going to make you a great dancer. I NEVER said: "take his classes because he teaches the real way to dance salsa." For what it's worth, that lady's remark seems to me to be muddleheaded. Dancing on two is not about being on clave, it has to do with agreeing with the tumbao. Whether it's on clave or not (I haven't analyzed this in depth but I think breaking on one and the two versions of breaking on two are ALL in clave) is only a secondary consideration. It seems that the dancers that have been trained (or just picked up) to break on two, because it's such a small group nowadays, do tend to get defensive about their preferences and are condescending to those who can't handle (or don't do) that timing. As I claimed in my first post, most people feel the odd-numbered beats (what I call the "cowbell beats") a lot stronger than the even-numbered beats (where the accents on the tumbao fall) so they're going to focus on the steady & very prominent pulse of the cowbell (at least when it's being played) as opposed to the syncopated phrase that makes up the tumbao. I would venture to say, that for many people, dancing on two is an "acquired taste." It was for me, anyway, because following the cowbell beats made more sense to me, instinctively. You can hear that from the get-go whereas focusing on what the conga is doing is a little more subtle and requires more than a surface-level understanding of what is going on in the music. I think it's this fact that dancing on two is an acquired ability, something that takes effort, that makes some of those who break on two a little arrogant since they could argue that they are dancing on a higher level than the casual salsero. Still, I've seen some dancers who break on two look like crap on the floor so I guess all that extra effort was for naught. As I said before, it's about how the music makes YOU feel and how you express that on the dancefloor. This is very passionate music so just go with the flow and have fun! >From (Jonhalperi) Date 25 Jan 1997 06:56:32 GMT Newsgroups I am "2" dancer, one of very few in Seattle, WA. I prefer this timing, and I believe that it is, as others have mentioned, an acquired taste, but one that I believe, really allows the dancer to appreciate the fine syncopated quality of the music. When I dance on the downbeat (1 or 3), I'm sorry folks, I just don't feel it. Other dance forms(i.e. Cajun, Swing, African) have strict guidlines about timing and when the feet meet move on which beat. Otherwise the music/dance connection just doesn't make sense. In response to Klaus's post awhile back: I have also seen the discrepency between what Eddie Torres teaches (l,2,3) and how I've seen him dance in New York. Last time I was there I asked his former student and now teacher Jimmy Anton about it and he said that he (Jimmy) teaches the l,2,3 method but dances in fact on "clave", which is a way of following the clave with two steps on the first measure and four on the second. I have been working with this timing in my shines and it is very cool. From: Charles Koeppen <> Newsgroups: Subject: Re: Salsa vs Mambo Question... Date: Fri, 8 Nov 1996 16:58:08 EST Mark Balzer wrote: >SCN User <> wrote: >>Now tell me if I'm right on this, too: >>When you dance on 2, you can start two different ways. The lead can begin >>by moving his right foot on beat 2 (follow's left foot moves at same time). >>Or the lead can begin by moving his left foot on beat 6 (follow's right >>foot moves at same time). > >Sounds like Eddie Torres. If you mean the that Eddie Torres does the front break is on the 6, sort of. But what I've experienced of Eddie Torre's teaching is that he begins with a step on the 1. >Why does he teach the man to dance the left foot's break step on the 6 >(the "2" of the second measure)? Is there some kind of phrasing idea at >work there? I've never heard anyone else teach that. It's just a guess, but I think it's for the convenience of allowing the lead to begin by stepping with his left foot on the 1. Then comes the back break with the right on the 2. Notice that another big difference with the way he teaches it is that the forward and back breaks have a QS rhythm rather than QQ as is usually taught so so that the hold is on 4 and 8 rather than 1 and 5. As far as it having anything to do with phrasing, I don't hear it but sometime in the past on this list there was some discussion about the beginning of the 8 beat phrase being different and that the lead should be taking the more dominant, aggressive, or whatever you want to call it, front break then because of it. If it really does make a difference, I think it's much more subtle than the difference between breaking on 1 or 2, where it's easy to feel the difference. And even with the break on 1 or 2 issue, I don't think one way fits the music better than the other. I think this opinion is supported by the fact that different locales have different preferences. Charlie From: Newsgroups: Subject: Re: Salsa vs Mambo Question... Date: 9 Nov 1996 03:12:02 GMT I am not an expert by any means. However, I think that now (thanks to the lessons I've taken) Instead of having two left feet, I now have one left foot :)) Dancing on two is The Best way to dance both Salsa or Mambo (BTW It is my opinion that although Salsa & Mambo are the same things, I feel that mambo has more of "a sound" that salsa). Dancing on two is also alot easier to apply, and it looks alot smoother. The mens timing is: left short step back(1), right long step back(2), left foot in place step(3). Right foot in the air(4), to right short step forward(5), left long step forward(6), right foot in place step(7). Left foot in the air (8) go to (1). The ladies timing is exactly the samething like the mens timing, however the mens (2) is the ladies (6) and, the mens(6) is the ladies (2). This means that where the men go back on the (1) with the left foot, The ladies go forward on (1) with the right foot. Now HERE is what makes dancing on two so easy. The Slap of the conga always lands on (2) and (6). So like american disco where you follow the thump of the bass and match your feet and your body movement to that thump; you match your (2) and (6) to the conga's (2) and (6). Better Yet!!! if you follow the bongoceros' cowbell or the timbal's cowbell you will hear that the ("Clonk-cli-cli-Clonk-cli-cli-Clonk-Clink(2)-Clonk" ) Clink on both bells lands on either (2) or (6) depending on the arrangement (3-2 Clave or 2-3 Clave.....PLEASE NO FLAMING :)) ). I hope this makes sense. Because the (2) and the (6) are so firm, the dance looks very smooth and It feels very smooth - It Feels comfortable specially after the turn patterns. The people that I've seen dancing on One have (for some wacky reason) an obnoxious kick. It drives me nuts!!! Hey I used to dance that way :) Nestor A. Louis PS - Eddie Torres took 2 hours out of his personal time to explain this to me. He is a Great Guy!!! #21750 (166 more) From: (Mary Kent) Subject: Re: dancing question Date: Wed Aug 20 10:52:01 CDT 1997 "Gerard Farrell" <> wrote: > OK group, this is one that's been puzzling me for a while... > > Let's start with the assumption that most people dancing salsa break on one; > ie; they make a forward or backwards movement on beat one, and tap or do an > air step on or over beat four. I don't want to get into breaking on 2 here > as that's a whole other issue. Assumption #1 may be true in Cuba and in Latin America where they don't actually count beats when they take off dancing. As a matter of fact, they take off on whatever beat the music is on at that moment. Basically, they have not learned how to dance formally and notions of starting on a certain beat are foreign to them. Although I had always danced on the one, I noticed that New Yorkers had a very groovy way of dancing and I saw the best dancers I've ever seen in NY. They break on the two. After that, I signed up for some lessons and leaned how to break on the two. When you take off on the one, you are dancing on the two probably, because you put the accent on beat two. That is what we call breaking on the two. It refers to where you put the accent. I will be putting up on my upcoming website an article I wrote on Salsa Dancing New York Style, which is based on an interview with salsa dance master Eddie Torres. The whole dancing on the two issue is explained there. I will quote a small secion. "Breaking on two meant that of a four beat measure, you stepped forward with the left foot on the second beat and on the second beat second measure you stepped back on the right foot. According to Eddie's mentor, Tito Puente, that's why beat two is so popular, because it compliments the tumbao of the conga and the rhythm section." This still means that (if you are a woman), you step forward with your right foot first. Then you break with your left foot, step back with your right, then you are up in the air on four, landing on beat five with your left foot back, six back with your right foot, then forward with your left foot on seven, eight is in the air. Hope that explains my take on it, but unfortunately it did get us into the "breaking on the two" other issue. You might want to get Eddie's video explaining beats, measure, etc. At least you'll get a clear idea of breaking on the two and you'll know what breaking on the one must look like, by inference. Eddie's dancing techniques combine the street dancing with the techniques of ballroom dancers, who are conscious of what beat they start on. Regards, Mary #21833 (90 more) From: (KlReiter) Subject: Re: dancing question Date: Fri Aug 22 11:42:56 CDT 1997 "Danny" <> wrote: >I would say from what you've described that Theory 4 is most probable. Or >sometimes, the king really has no clothes. The instructors probably don't >mean to intentionally mislead anyone, they're just a little lazy and so >they end up counting the beats in a way that doesn't sound or feel "weird." > That makes things less confusing for the beginners but more puzzling for >people such as you and me, who know that in math & music, 1 does not equal >4. > >So these teachers can dance on one, you've seen them do this with your own >eyes, they just are not explaining it in a way that is technically correct. A quite stupid and confusing thing for so called teachers to do, isn't it ? I teach and was taught beginning on one with the forward step - I don't see anything that should be confusing about this. IMHO teaching something *that* different from what you dance is about the worst a teacher can do. BTW: I prefer to start without the kick / tap. I think the basic rythmn of salsa is much easier to understand and learn without it. If you've got it, then you can add the kick (if you like to). But that leads me to something I allready mentioned some time ago in this group, but nobody wanted to believe (or care?). Regarding Eddie Torre's videos I see him doing exactly the same! Well, he breaks on 2, of course. But he teaches to skip a beat (avoiding the word 'pause') on 4, while he skips the 1 when dancing to music. Look at the opening scene, for example! Oh, yes, a short note to Mary: You said only people in Cuba and South America don't dance on two. Try to find someone who breaks on two in Germany... good look! ;-) (There are some - but extremely few. Pedro Gomez - who started quite a "Salsa Puertorican Style" craze here - gave up teaching on two...) Klaus Reiter #21841 (82 more) From: (Mary Kent) Subject: Re: dancing question Date: Sat Aug 23 00:44:04 CDT 1997 (KlReiter) wrote: > But that leads me to something I allready mentioned some time ago in this > group, but nobody wanted to believe (or care?). Regarding Eddie Torre's > videos I see him doing exactly the same! Well, he breaks on 2, of course. > But he teaches to skip a beat (avoiding the word 'pause') on 4, while he > skips the 1 when dancing to music. Look at the opening scene, for example! With regards to Eddie, I will have to watch the opening scene in his video again. He does always mention while he is teaching that the foot is in the air on the four, in transit, as it is on the eight. We always counted One, two, three,....five six, two three, etc. The reason I learned to break on the two was because the grooviest dancers danced that way. I was not able to figure out what the secret was until it was taught to me. I had to relearn to dance. Now I know both ways, and I normally dance on the one in clubs because dance partners are hard to come by and few people break on the two. The real fancy dancers in NY almost all break on the two. Regards, Mary #22003 (6 more) From: "Danny" <> Subject: Re: dancing question Date: Sat Aug 23 01:11:05 CDT 1997 KlReiter <> wrote: > A quite stupid and confusing thing for so called teachers to do, isn't it? > I teach and was taught beginning on one with the forward step - I don't > see anything that should be confusing about this. IMHO teaching something > *that* different from what you dance is about the worst a teacher can do. Yep. That's why it's important to learn as much as possible from a wide variety of sources (such as this NG). Also, some background or knowledge of music theory can be good. An intro music theory course I took early in my college education was a big help when I started to take these classes. Garbage-in, garbage-out if you follow what I mean... > BTW: I prefer to start without the kick / tap. I think the basic rythmn of > salsa is much easier to understand and learn without it. If you've got it, > then you can add the kick (if you like to). Yes to all your points. However, I forgot to mention that I have seen a number of people dance with a kick/tap both on one and two. Usually, it looks amateurish but actually, it's an authentic way to dance to charanga. It's particularly common amongst the older folks up in the Bronx who still enjoy dancing to this music. The tap, though, is softened out, almost disguised, which gives it a very nice look. > But that leads me to something I allready mentioned some time ago in this > group, but nobody wanted to believe (or care?). Regarding Eddie Torre's > videos I see him doing exactly the same! Well, he breaks on 2, of course. > But he teaches to skip a beat (avoiding the word 'pause') on 4, while he > skips the 1 when dancing to music. Look at the opening scene, forexample! Yikes. Here we go again. I remember responding to you in a tizzy last year over this! With a little more experience, all I can add now is that the more advanced dancers do have a tendency of coming early on the one, because they want to emphasize the forward break beat. It's fun to do this, it feels good, plus, it breaks the monotony of the pattern. I've been taking classes with Delille, who's featured prominently in the video, for over a year now, and I found myself noticing this and doing it more and more over that period. Perhaps Eddie is guilty of oversimplification. But I still think you're exaggerating the problem. Try this: dance 2,3 / 5,6,7,8 (this is what you describe you are seeing) while Eddie is on in the beginning segment. If you are completely in synch with him throughout the demonstration, then you are right. > Oh, yes, a short note to Mary: You said only people in Cuba and South > America don't dance on two. Try to find someone who breaks on two in > Germany... good look! ;-) > (There are some - but extremely few. Pedro Gomez - who started quite a > "Salsa Puertorican Style" craze here - gave up teaching on two...) Let me just add that dancing on two originated from Cuba or so I have been told various times. Whether it's still common there or not I cannot say, since I've never been to Cuba and I have only a few Cuban friends (non-dancers most of them and haven't been to the island in a LONG time as you can imagine). What I can offer as evidence is a Cuban government-made documentary made in the 70s of Ignacio Piniero which I have in VHS format. In two different sones played by a sexteto, two different couples (one in each) demonstrate dancing to the son and throughout most of both pieces, they are CLEARLY dancing on two with this pattern: 1,2,3 / 5,6,7. It seems safe to say that this particular step pattern has been around for a long time, and may even have been quite common way back in the era when the Cuban son was prominent. What's really interesting about this is that most people say the reason dancing on two is the correct or "cool" way is because it's complimentary to the tumbao. Yet there is no conga in a sexteto and in most music that would be called traditional Cuban son. So the mystique that dancing on two seems to have may be more from the longstanding tradition/historical connection that's involved rather than the practical sense of dancing in agreement to percussive elements although, of course, that is true also - dancing 1,2,3 / 5,6,7 agrees well with both clave and tumbao. This stuff brings out the anthropologist in me. Anyone else out there with any leads/ideas on this matter? #22121 (15 more) From: "Danny" <drobledo@spam-no!> Subject: Re: dancing question Date: Tue Sep 02 02:31:53 CDT 1997 Hermangelo Regina <> wrote: > What is breaking on two? I allways thought that dancing on two was > kick/tap on the first beat and dance 2-3-4 and dancing on one was > dancing 1-2-3 -kick/tap on 4, or dance 1- rest on 2- than dance 3-4. There are two ways to dance or break "on two." Bear with me since describing dance steps is a little difficult as opposed to just showing them. The first is as you described above with a kick/tap on one or just stepping over the one beat. I have seen this identified as American or ballroom mambo (I'm not promoting or approving any of these labels mentioned in this post, by the way, I'm just reporting what I've heard/read). Dancing/breaking on one uses the SAME footwork pattern (as you noted) but just moves it over a beat so that the kick/tap or the stepover is on the four. The ballroom instructors simply call this salsa. Then you have what I have seen described as the New York two or the Cuban two. This is the way that most of the freelance teachers in NYC teach the basic step. It is mechanically different (as you will see) from the ballroom mambo which is usually taught in most of the ballroom studios here in NYC. There is a perception amongst the dancers that go out often that because the freelancers learned and earned their reputation from dancing in the clubs (as opposed to instructors affiliated with a ballroom studio who probably had more formal training), their technique is "cooler" and more in touch with reality. Although I have implied that "street dancers" may have less formal training, I am by no means putting them down. In fact, nowadays, I'm sure that the best of them have some background in some other kind of dance whether it be jazz, tap, African, hip-hop, or even ballet. In fact, because of pioneers and mega-talents like Eddie Torres, the "state of the art" in NYC has definitely gone up over the years and just like other genres of dance, it now takes many years of effort and practice (if not formal training) to make it to a level where you can teach salsa/mambo to a lot of people, do shows, choreograph, etc. To sum up, in NYC, there is a healthy ballroom scene and there is a vibrant salsa club scene but there is only a little bit of overlap between those two spheres in terms of the people and the technique/style. So why do the ballroom studios stick to teaching it their way? Tradition and rules. The people the ballroom studios attract are usually not the same as the people that go out salsa dancing a lot so they don't have to compete for the same crowd with the freelancers. Also, all ballroom dance classes, even the basic ones, are taught with the ultimate goal to prepare people for competition and ballroom competitions have very specific rules. If you dance in a ballroom mambo contest and you dance on one or on the Cuban two, even if the audience liked you the best, you won't win because the judges are looking for you to use the traditional ballroom mambo basic: 2-3-4 / 6-7-8. So let me finally answer your questions and describe the New York two. In this version of breaking on two you step over the four and eight beats but instead of stepping forward on one with your left (which would be breaking on one), you take a small step forward with your rt. foot on one and then another slightly longer step forward with your lt. foot on two! You step in place with your rt. on three and then your lt. foot starts to go back on four landing on five. Your rt. foot takes another step back on six and your lt. steps in place on seven. Your rt. foot comes forward on eight landing on one to repeat the pattern. . . The key difference here is that there is no return to center. You are continuously stepping/moving forward and backward. The novice dancers tend to exaggerate that motion but the continuity is supposed to be there. Here are some other differences that I've summed up in this impromptu table: Breaking on Two type: "American/ballroom" "NY/Cuban" 2 - 3 - 4 / 6 - 7- 8 1 - 2 - 3 / 5 - 6 - 7 lt.-rt.-lt. / rt.-lt.-rt. rt.-lt.-rt. / lt.-rt.-lt . 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 / forward - in place - back / forward - forward - in place / 6 7 8 5 6 7 back - in place - forward / back - back - in place Some ballroom mambo instructors encourage "opening" the mambo basic so that you don't return to a center but you will see when you try the NY way to break on two that it's almost impossible to dance it closed. You could try to force your feet to come together on one and five but it will feel very unnatural. There are two key factors, IMHO, that give the Cuban two it's special feeling and differentiate it structurally from the other two timings (ballroom mambo and breaking on one). The first is what I said above about its inherent openness. The second is that the break step is in the middle of the three-step pattern as opposed to the other two timings where it's right in the beginning. Again, I personally think it's these two structural differences that make the Cuban two feel different from the other timings - you get a sense of "gliding through the patterns." "You never stop dancing" was a way another woman recently described it to me. Some of you may be confused out there. "Wait a second," you're thinking, "how can New Yorkers call that breaking on two when I'm stepping on the one beat with my right foot?" Okay, here goes: a break step is when your body changes motion/direction. So whether you dance ballroom or NY-style, you are still using the two beat (and it's counterpart in the second bar, the six beat) to shift from forward to backward or from backward to forward direction. Again, as stated above, a little subtlety is key here to make it look nice. Here's another example: an "open break" is a common step pattern taught by both freelance and ballroom mambo instructors in NYC. It's usually used as a setup step for certain kinds of turns. The "break" mentioned here occurs on the two beat whether you dance on the ballroom or the NY two. Likewise, it occurs on the one when you're breaking on one. When I compare ballroom vs. NY while executing an open break, I still feel a difference even though I know I'm breaking on the same beat. See above paragraphs for why I think this is so. > I learned to dance son by tapping on 1 and dance 2-3-4. I learned it > from a Brazilian teacher her in Holland. Maybe his timing was bad? I believe there is no such thing as bad timing as long as you are dancing in tempo with the music. Some mavens might argue that the NY two is aesthetically superior. I wouldn't go that far but I do think it feels better and is more fun. I don't waste my time putting people down for not dancing on the "hip" timing. > I come from Curacao. Their we dance some old > Cuban Son montunos. Older people dance 1-2-3. Somethimes without the > pause??? Maybe this came because the extensive relations with Cuba in > the days before Castro. In those days many people from Curacao worked > in Cuba. Maybe they brought the style to Curacao. > Hmmmmmmm. . . . #53290 (25 more) From: (Waltz123) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Sun Sep 14 20:08:39 CDT 1997 >I've also seen a basic that has a small kick involved in it. Is this >what ballroom studios sometimes call a "Cuban Basic"? >Or am I confusing this with another dance? I don't think that's a Cuban Basic. What you're seeing is not a different step at all... just the same basic step with a different styling. The 'flick' happens naturally as a result of the loose settling of the hip. Salsa is much more relaxed in its movement than Mambo, with very little foot-pressure. As a result, the foot slides around and sometimes releases from the floor on the Slow count preceding a back step. If you try to manufacture a kick, it wil look extremely unnatural. >I guess at some point, if this list is to be truly complete, I'll have >to add a break-on-the-1 versus break-on-the-2 section. I think >street-syle breaks almost exclusively on the 1. Very good idea. Depending on who you talk to, some will tell you that breaking on 2 has to do with clave, while others will say that it has to do with settling the hip on 1. I tend to subscribe to the second school of thought, myself. What you do on 1 depends on what you feel to be the 'strong' movement. Let's face it: everybody feels 1. 1 is the strong beat, regardless of what bongo is hitting this or that beat. Ballroom Mambo dancers who break on 2 do so not because they 'feel 2', but because they feel 1... as a hip-settling. Salsa dancers, on the other hand, with their relaxed movement, put less emphasis on the hips. So what they feel as the strong movement is the forward (or sometimes the side) step. >My editorial comment: The 1 is the long beat. The 1 is the beat >that musically says, "hold". No beat musically says "Hold". Sometimes the music does, but not the beat. If anything, the 1 says, "Go!" But think about it... if you break on 1, 2, or 3, you are commencing something on 1 in some way. Sincerely ---Jonathan #53291 (24 more) From: (Waltz123) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Sun Sep 14 20:09:13 CDT 1997 Morse writes: > I will greatly apprecitate any information people wish to share >on this subject as well as any suggestions and/or comments people have >about the list. My own observations about Salsa: (I will stay away from subjective comments, such as "Salsa is sloppy" or "Mambo is rigid".) FOOT & HIP ACTION Salsa tends to be much more relaxed in the feet and hips. Movements are smooth and continuous rather that sharp & accented, as in the Mambo. On the Slow count, the Mambo dancer's feet stay in place until the last possible moment. A salsa dancer will move the free foot throughout the slow count, sometimes flicking it forward, but almost always in a smooth way. Salsa hip action can vary depending on the dancer, but most that I've observed do a relaxed cuban-motion, often with an element of swivel involved, and often with both knees slightly bent. (True cuban motion doesn't have swivel in the standing foot, and always has one or both knees straight). When I teach salsa to a clueless beginner, I teach them cuban motion as a jumping-off point, and then get them to relax it, and ultimately add the swivels. MOVEMENT Mambo, like the other ballroom latin dances, is sharp and quick with lots of directional changes, checks, stops & starts, wiggles, and lines. Salsa tends to be more rotational in nature, constantly following the NATURAL progression of this rotation. Not that there aren't checks or changes of direction, but there certainly aren't as many, due to the lack of body-weight conection (see below). When they do exist, they usually happen when partners are moving in opposition, where acheiving connection is easy and NATURAL. (Note: keyword NATURAL) POSITION & CONNECTION For the most part, the Mambo dancer's position is fixed. This gives them more opportunity for quick connections and changes of direction. The arms are not stiff, but resistant for the purpose of the connection. Salsa dancers like to feel their movement in their arms as well as their bodies & feet, and so there is a looseness and softness to the connection. This limits the connection potential, but it's okay because their steps don't rely on it as much. As stated above, the movement tends to follow a natural progression and rotation, and changes of direction can occur when partners move in opposition. CHOREOGRAPHY / STEPS Similar are the basic movemets: the time step, crossbody lead, the basic types of underarm turns, spot turns, and swivels. Salsa moves will include lots more underarm turns, head loops, arm-intertwining type things, rotational ideas. Mambo dancers prefer ballroomy-type steps like crossovers, side breaks, promenade movements, etc. If you are a ballroom dancer who wants to fit into a Salsa crowd, stay away from these types of patterns. Ballroom connections will usually be standard closed or one- or two-hand connections. Salsueros will lead from whatever body part they can get a hold of (well, almost any (c: -- shoulders, arms, midriff, neck, even legs... are all fair game and very typical). I was going to go into a section about style, but this post is way too long as it is. Maybe someone else can tackle that one. ---Jonathan From: **** (Neil) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Mon Sep 15 11:31:17 CDT 1997 The biggest difference between street Salsa and the stuff we do in ballroom studios is in the connection. Street Salsa dancers use only the tethered connection. They never do the compression connection. Many times ballroom dancers go to a bar and claim that the street dancers don't have any connection. That is because they are looking for an "in" connection while the street dancer is looking for an "out" connection. Some other differences between street Salsa and ballroom dancing seem to stem from this difference in connection. The step patterns are designed to be leadable from the street connection. Also, street dancers take walking steps rather than true break steps. Neil Miami, FL #53349 From: (mark balzer) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Tue Sep 16 12:20:06 CDT 1997 Ming Mar <B7AI000@MUSICB.MCGILL.CA> wrote: > (Neil) writes: >>ballroom studios is in the connection. Street Salsa dancers use only >>the tethered connection. > >No. Salsa dancers hold more than just hands. They will also >use a ballroom-like hold (one hand holding partner's hand, other >hand not holding partner's hand). Ming, that's not what Neil meant in his well-written analysis. Think of a rope (tether). You can't push on a rope. ie, you won't see the Salsa analogue of the Jive "American Spin" among the typical street Salsa dancer. Even leading outside UAT's can be a challenge at times. Mark #53385 (21 more) From: **** (Neil) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Wed Sep 17 06:55:33 CDT 1997 mark balzer <> wrote: > You can't push on a rope. That's a good analogy. > ie, you won't see the Salsa analogue of the Jive "American Spin" > among the typical street Salsa dancer. An example of a very common compression connection pattern in studio Salsa would be the open break. It is common for ballroom dancers to start many patterns by pushing off of each other and stepping in a back rock. Street dancers don't do this. They use the cross body lead to put the girl on the boy's left side instead of open facing position. The girls leftward rotation from the cross body lead is absorbed during the tap (remember that is not a fake or foot change). This gives the girl the wind up that the boy uses to turn her to the right with out the back rock. The lead comes from the boy using his wrist to draw a letter 'J'. This doesn't create a sharp turn, but rather a slow, smooth, traveling turn. Neil #53386 (20 more) From: **** (Neil) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Wed Sep 17 06:55:38 CDT 1997 Ming Mar <B7AI000@MUSICB.MCGILL.CA> wrote: > (mark balzer) writes: >>ie, you won't see the Salsa analogue of the >> Jive "American Spin" >among the typical street Salsa dancer. > > One of the Latin bars near McGill Univ. gives free lessons. This bar (Club > 6/49) teaches a figure that is just like the jive American Spin. Around > the corner at another bar (Salsatheque) which charges $10/lesson, they > teach other figures which require compression (as opposed to tension) in > the arm. Obviously, the teachers have some formal education in dance. When I was trying to find someone to teach me Salsa, I found that the street dancers didn't know how to break down their steps and verbalize their technique. The real dance teachers didn't know how to street dance. The bar will always go with the teacher over the dancer. Neil #53339 (10 more) From: (Andy Broomsgrove) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Tue Sep 16 08:05:17 CDT 1997 (Alan Hu) wrote: > So, of the common timings (I've never heard anyone advocate break-on-4 > salsa.), break-on-1 Salsa (which is what I learned and dance :-() is > the hardest to justify aesthetically/musically... > > --Alan Hu I've always taken the view that club salsa dancers are taught to break on 1 because it's usually easier to spot the first beat of the bar and make a big move on it. Bear in mind that (for the most part) club dancers don't learn much formal dance technique, teaching (in my experience) consists mainly of the teachers demonstrating moves for the pupils to copy. Most people get the "1 2 3 Tap" quite quickly, if they were breaking on 2 they'd have to get "2 3 4 Tap" which is not quite so easy to do because you have to spot the second beat of the bar each time, no matter how much it is accentuated when it comes. An accent isn't any real help because you need to start the step on the beat not after you hear the fact that it is an accented beat. Personally I dance break on 1 salsa because that's what everyone else is taught, but I'm also a ballroom dancer and am quite happy to dance break on 2 and would normally in rumba, cha cha and mambo. Mambo is almost the same thing as salsa, of course. Andy #53340 (9 more) From: Jacques Gauthier <> Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Tue Sep 16 08:28:53 CDT 1997 M. Dhesi wrote: > I take it that everybody here disagrees with what some of the studios > say, i.e., "there is no such dance as salsa, there is only mambo done > to salsa music"? Well I for one disagree. I believe it was Tito Puente who first said this. For one thing he was most certainly refering to Street Mambo and not Ballroom Mambo. Secondly, Mambo dancers don't Tap. Most Salsa dancers tap. Thirdly, in some part of the world we have the following: "There is no such dance as Salsa, only Cumbia done to Salsa music". I've seen some Columbians dance Salsa in Montreal and their Salsa has a strong Cumbia flavour. The first place I learned "Salsa" was teaching Cumbia steps. (I've since switched schools and now I only use my "Cumbia-Salsa" when Cumbia is played). There are many ballroom dance clubs these days who play Cumbias and the Twit DJ says they are Mambo. Fourth: Most Salsa dancers call what they dance "Salsa". There are thousands upon thousands of dancers who do so, therefore what they dance is "Salsa". Victor Wrote: >Question: can you dance both salsa and mambo to the same music? >If not, what are the characteristics of mambo vs salsa music? You can dance both to the same music however it will look different. About as different as LIndy Hop looks when compared to East Coast Swing. You can Tango Waltz to vienese waltz music and you can dance Vienese Waltz to Vienese Waltz music. This does not mean that Tango Waltz = Vienese Waltz. Characteristics: Salsa: Has a lot of Merengue hand wraps and turns. The basic step is mostly done with a tap. There are steps that are led by applying the lead on elbows, waist, neck (open posture). There are also some close posture moves.. Looks very smooth. Mambo: Has lots of Cha-cha figures. No tap in basic step. Lead is either in close posture. The beats of the music are more obvious. You hear the (boum boum boum very well). The mambo dance accentuates this. (It dosen't fit with Salsa music but it can be helpful in learning Salsa). #53342 (7 more) From: Jacques Gauthier <> Subject: Salsa technique vs steps: Was: syllabus for Tango Date: Tue Sep 16 09:06:20 CDT 1997 One easy way to seperate the good Salsa Dancer from the bad is endurance. Those who dance with a good technique will not get as tired as those who don't. A good Salsa dancer can dance several hours without a break and just barely work up a sweat. Why does it look so easy when the good dancers Salsa ? Because it is easy when done right. If you feel like you're running to keep up with the beat, you're doing something wrong. There is no "right" way to do the footwork but there are plenty of wrong ways that do not work. For me, a "right" way is a way that works in which you don't have to run. Whether you tap or don't tap, tap within 2 inches of your heel or not is irrelevant. If it's smooth and feels right then it's probably right. You might have noticed that International Rumba is very similar to Mambo. Learning International Rumba can help you dance to slow Salsa. The hip change hip wiggle thing can be replaced by a tap, the Rumba side steps by forward and back steps. Sometimes learning a different dance can help you improve certain techniques. As example, Lindy Hop has helped me improve my Salsa despide the big difference between both dances. The Lindy Hop's & Charleston "bouncing movement" with the heels going up and down I got used to putting my weight on the forward part of my foot more. This greatly helped me in Salsa. Also the Lindy Hop requires a lot more energy. Lindy Hopping has given me a lot more endurance to Salsa. > Now, I feel that is a style issue. Of course, your weight needs > to be in the correct place for beat two (technique), but the exact way > you achieve should be up to you (your style). Si ! > I have taken Salsa lessons with ballroom instructors who insist on a > tap on a specific beat, and that tap must be two inches from the toe > of the other foot and made with the toe of the tapping foot. This is > the same blur of technique and style. Forget the specifics on the tap. There are some who brush, some who tap and some who don't Tap. The technique of tapping is as important as the technique of spitting out mouthwash (ie it dosen't matter how you get it out). These people just want you buying up more lessons. Holding in the Tap can look just as nice as Tapping. The rest of the basic is far more important. > The technique says that I musn't change my weight on that beat, > but my own individual style should say how I achieve this (by > tapping my toe or my heel, or by kicking or by just pausing or > whatever). This is ignoring issues such as taking syncopated steps > which cut across the rhythm. > So, I don't object to being taught technique, but I feel that ballroom > teachers also try and teach style, when they should only be teaching > technique. If you are to learn your Salsa from ballroom teachers, you should go to teachers who can dance club style. If they can't, they are probably teaching you ballroom mambo and giving you "toro mierda" about the tap. Regards, Jacques G. #53348 (1 more) From: (Andy Broomsgrove) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Tue Sep 16 11:39:46 CDT 1997 (Victor Eijkhout) wrote: > Question: can you dance both salsa and mambo to the same music? > If not, what are the characteristics of mambo vs salsa music? > > Victor. Answer basically yes you can dance salsa and mambo to the same music. Somebody had the right of it the other day in my view when they said (something along the lines of) that essentially salsa and mambo are the same dance but there is a slightly different emphasis on the type of steps used between the two, salsa tending to favour various fairly complex under arm turning movements whereas mambo tends to favour more footwork orientated movements, lines etc. Ballroom mambo dancers will always break on 2, whereas club salsa dancers often break on 1, though that doesn't really mean that much in itself. In practice you can certainly put mambo moves straight into salsa and vice versa. Andy #53375 (31 more) From: Enio Cordoba <> Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Tue Sep 16 13:00:41 CDT 1997 wrote: >Enio Cordoba posted a wonderful explanation of this a while back, >the gist of which was roughly: Salsa/Mambo music (and Cha Cha, and >Rhumba, etc.) has a very strong accent on count 1. If you dance with >your feet, you express this accent by taking a strong *step* on count 1, >producing break-on-1 versions of dances. In contrast, if you dance >with your body, you'd express this accent with body styling (e.g. >hip motion) on count 1, and one nice way to do this is to use the >four-and-ONE counts to generate strong hip motion, which produces >the break-on-2 versions of dances. > >If I remember correctly, Enio also observed that many current street salsa >dancers are taking the slow step on count 1, which produces what in >ballroom terminology would be breaking on 3 (or alternatively, breaking >on 1 with the basic redefined as SQQ). This aligns nicely with Andrew's >editorial comment. > >So, of the common timings (I've never heard anyone advocate break-on-4 >salsa.), break-on-1 Salsa (which is what I learned and dance :-() is >the hardest to justify aesthetically/musically... > > --Alan Hu "!@#%$#@&%$&^%*&^)*&*&)*&" (insert sound of computer coming to screeching halt) Thanks for the nice words Alan, but while I said SOME Salsa dancers break on three, the majority break on 1. Musically there are songs that feel better danced on three than one and some songs that feel absolutely horrible if you were trying to dance on the Mambo 2. The current pop sound of Salsa Romantica and Salsa Erotica as it is called, is very different from Mambo as played by El Gran Combo for example. I wouldn't think of daarangas or son montunos all night and then the dj comes in and plays Marc Anthony and Guayacan. Some djs will play E.G.C. and I'll switch to Mambo. Jon @ waltz 123 writes: >A 'Break' is basically just a synonym for a 'Rock Step'. If you dance a >rock step on count 3, then you are breaking on 3. So SQQ timing puts the >break on 3, while QQS timing puts in on 1. Ehhrr, not neccessarily. Eddie Torres break is on on two even though he is dancing QQS (123 And holding 4) I wish the dance community would realize that Latin motion is not created solely in the hips but in the entire body. Bob Medeiros use to kill me when he demonstrated the Ballroom world's idea of latin and described it as watching a cow walking down the road. While you can break down where the hip is on each part of "1 eh and a 2" that is like giving directions to somewhere by saying "turn, right, left, right" and not adding distances as to when to turn. Without the Salsa body pulse or tick you are doing something the latin community laughs at and calls ballroom dancing. As Medeiros use to say no self-respecting Latin male would shake his ass like that unless he was walking on Melrose (local pickup street) Enio #53377 (29 more) From: Enio Cordoba <> Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Tue Sep 16 13:00:50 CDT 1997 >I don't know what the studios are saying, but I do know that traditionalists >like Tito Puente and NYC dance teacher Eddie Torres, who got his start >dancing in Tito Puente's shows, have said for years that mambo is a dance, >salsa is what we put on our food. > >In fact, the NY Daily News last week ran a long story about a new documentary >on Salsa music, and in the story the News took up the issue of whether the >traditionalists even acknowledge the existence of something called salsa. Yeah and there are people living in Europe who say America isn't really there because the world is flat. Look I ran Mambo classes for years and an average of 10 people showed up. Now I'm running six SALSA classes per week and averaging 80-120 people in each class. In Miami there are 1,200 people a night learning Casino Rueda in one club alone. I was there I saw it. Enio #53384 (22 more) From: **** (Neil) Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Wed Sep 17 06:55:28 CDT 1997 Victor Eijkhout <> wrote: > what are the characteristics of mambo vs salsa music? I find Mambo has strong percussion. This lends it to sharp, strong movements in the dance. Salsa has a bass guitar (I'm not a musician so I'm not sure) that plays on the first, third and forth beat of each measure. This instrument fills the entire beat rather than create the short, sharp sound that a drum would make. I think that this is what gives Salsa the softer feel than Mambo. Still, Salseros say they dance to the clave. Neil #53409 (1 more) From: Victor Eijkhout <> Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Wed Sep 17 16:04:53 CDT 1997 (Neil) writes: > Salsa has a bass guitar [..] > that plays on the first, third and forth beat of each measure. Kinda sorta. The 3-side of the clave is | | | X. X. X and the bass (at least in most of the salsa music I hear) plays this, with most of the times the first beat omitted. So, it plays maybe on one, just a tad before 3, and on 4. Victor. #53404 (6 more) From: Enio Cordoba <> Subject: Re: The Ballroom Geek's Guide To Street-Latin Dancing Date: Wed Sep 17 13:20:45 CDT 1997 Smcnyb@AOL.COM wrote: >And the point of both Tito Puento and Eddie Torres is that just because we >call something by a different name and lots of people show up to learn it >doesn't really make it new. My point is it is different. Music is always mutating. Take swing for example. Follow the progression of Swing from the origins of the 20's (or before) through Charleston, Lindy, Swing, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie, BeeBop, Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues, to disco. It is quite easy to see that each of these eras of music had an associated style of dance. In the case of Tito Puente no one is putting him down. It's a case of Mambo musicians wanting to keep playing their own style and hang on to the coattails of the musicians who are playing at the fore front of the newer styles. It's a cash money thing. By saying Salsa doesn't exist that it is really Mambo, then if I am the king of Mambo, then I am the best at the music everyone wants to hear. I love the mambo sound. But if you listen to the Boogaloo era (60's) right before Salsa started to develop that sound is really different from say Guayacan or Grupo Niche (major Columbian Salsa bands) Even Tito's records from the 80's are different from the sound he is playing today. So which is Mambo? His sound last decade or his sound last week? The issue is that even the best Mambo bands are going to the hottest Salsa arrangers like Sergio George. While both Salsa and Mambo are clave based rhythms, Tito for example is playing (if I can label it) New York/Puerto Rican style Mambo. That accounts for 50 % of the "salsa" Top 40 sales charts. The other half of the sales charts are from Salsa Tropical which is Cuban based with influences from Columbia,Venezuela and the D.R. The Tropical sound draws from Charanga, Son Montuno, Guanguaco, and yes Mambo. It is not one rhythm it is several. AND most Salseros can dance to them equally. Which is why I laugh when someone says they went to a Salsa club and found the music all the same. For the hueros among you I recommend you pick up Mi Tierra by Gloria Estefan bnecause in the liner notes she tells you about the different rhythms and plays a song of each. Enio #53649 (95 more) From: (Jason Harrison) Subject: Re: Cumbia for Ballroom Geeks Date: Mon Sep 22 18:43:30 CDT 1997 writes: >4. CUMBIA > a) Music Structure: Somehow different from Salsa. The base line is from a base guitar rather than a drum. But the timing is the same. Cumbia is more rural than Salsa's NYC-Miami-Jazz feel. > b) Basic Step: I've observed a step the looks like the cha-cha-cha >of cha-cha, but instead of a rock step, the cha's are linked by either >a kick, or by a 5th-position without weight change. Is the basic >structure of Cumbia: > side-together-side to the L (L-R-L); > right foot does something w/o weight change; L(tap/kick-2)-R3-L4. Same for the other side. The 2-3-4 is a chasse. The tap/kick can be directly to the side of the other foot, or it can have a bit more style and end up putting the left foot back so that the right foot on three crosses the left then the left foot uncrosses on 4, you shift weight to the left and tap/kick with the right. You can also do this like an open break/new yorker: tap/kick L, and turn to the left 2 L place weight, 3 R step forward past left foot, and 4 L turn back to right. You can turn through 45-90 degrees of turn, and if you're good you can use the chasse to do a three step turn and end up on the correct foot in the correct location to tap and start over again the other direction. > And if this isn't Cumbia, what is it? I've definitely seen this >danced by different people on more than one occasion. This is one of the basic steps Cumbia dancers dance. There are also open breaks, and chasse's in place. Most Cumbia dancers dance with a bit more soft bounce than in Salsa, and also punch lightly with their hands rather than make circles. -Jason #53789 (21 more) From: Jacques Gauthier <> Subject: Re: What is Cumbia ? Date: Thu Sep 25 09:53:42 CDT 1997 > I'm still trying to figure out what the basic step for > Cumbia is. I think it goes something like this: > side-together-side to the L (L-R-L); > right foot does something w/o weight change; > side-toghther-side to the R (R-L-R); > left foot does something w/o weight change; > repeat? What you describe ressembles one of the two Cumbia basic steps I was taught. Also when taking the side steps, the leg pushes in a way that isn't unlike ballroom samba. (The leg pushes in a way that it does when you reach for the cookie jar on the top shelf). At the "together" there is some compression at the legs. (I haven't seen that basic used in Salsa). Analogy with samba: In the Samba's "compasso" going right, the right leg stays on the toes during the compasso. The left leg will "rotate upwards" where the toes connect to the foot and down again. In the Cumbia basic describe above, both legs do like the left leg of the compasso going right. Since names vary what I call "Compasso" is a Samba step that first goes, 1a2a3a4 on the right and 5a6a7a8 on the left. Another Basic Cumbia step I was taught (leader) is like this. L (back) R (goes left crossing in front of L foot) L (side) R (Tap). R (back) L (cross right in font of R foot) R (side) L (tap) repeat. Some Cumbia dancers also dance Salsa this way. > And if this isn't Cumbia, what is it? I've definitely seen this > danced by different people on more than one occasion. Also, I've heard > some people mention that many people will actually dance Cumbia to > Salsa music. Is there actually a distinct musical rhythm that is Cumbia, > or is it just a sub-set of Salsa music? Cumbia is generally slower than Salsa. If you play a Cumbia song faster, it will still sound like Cumbia. My favorite Cumbia artist is "Carlos Vives". There are probably people on this list who can give you a "Cumbia's greatest hits" list. Since it's not often played in Salsa bars in Montreal I haven't danced it much. BTW: Some DJ's in ballroom events will sometimes put on a Cumbia and claim it's Mambo. The two music have a similar beat but Cumbia is not the same as Mambo. Regards, Jacques G. #53813 (9 more) From: (Jason Harrison) Subject: Re: What is Cumbia? Date: Thu Sep 25 16:40:45 CDT 1997 (Waltz123) writes: >As far as I know, Cumbia is a modified Salsa with a back break on both >feet. The slow count is taken sideways. Since a flick usually precedes a >back break, there is a flick on every measure (instead of every other >measure, as in Salsa). Well, Cumbia is more rural and "country" than Salsa's jazzy sound. The base line is from base guitar rather than from the drums, though the cow bell (compania(sp?)) is often played in both Salsa and Cumbia. >The breaks are slightly different in quality... instead of being a real >rock step, it comes out looking a little bit more like a step-cross action. >This may account for what gave you the impression that it was a chasse >movement, or more accurately, side-cross-side. This sounds more like a Columbian Salsa basic. Tap, step to the side, rock, rock. On the first rock the front foot may be moved to add to the side ways motion of the tap and step. >The things about Cumbia is that there is no forward break. This limits it >to some degree, because most underarm turns begin with a lady stepping >forward. Also, the movement is much more of a lateral quality, and the >breaks are taken in opposition from the partner. Underarm turns are done most often in alteration when you don't have forward breaks. When the man breaks back on his left foot, the lady is in position to do a turn to her left. When the turn finishes and the man breaks back on his righ tfoot, he'll begin next a turn to his left. The breaks can be opened up into open-breaks. >It has a sort of a "swing" or "roll" to it, but not in the literal >sense (the eighth notes are still playes straight). The music is more >laid back, and there's a distinct cowbell rhythm. It's more of a non-city style. Think playful and flirtaous more like west coast swing than east coast or lindy. The dancers bounce a bit more through their steps too rather than the smooth gliding non-bounce of salsa. -Jason #53740 (5 more) From: (Waltz123) Subject: RE: The Ballroom Geek's Guide to Street Latin Dancing, 0.1 Date: Wed Sep 24 14:10:17 CDT 1997 Morse writes: >When I see the street-style dancers dance Salsa, the tap >looks very natural. When I try to practice (on my own) and include a tap, >it never feels right. Where exactly is the tap supposed to go? It happens immediately prior to most back breaks and trurning back breaks. Here's what it really is: a subtle brushing action of the releasing of the foot, not a sharp flicking action like in mambo. True, a lot of salsueros tap it a little bit more, but no so much as to take away from the movement. To get this brush to feel right, you need to realease your hip sideways and loosen any foot pressure of the free foot from the floor. The foot should release from it's original position and move inward slightly, the leg rotating outward in a turned-out position. There are further subtleties with the body weight and its role in this action, but I'm too lazy right now to get into it. Besides, it would be so much easier to draw. Don't try so hard to make the tap happen. It will always feel and look unnatural if you force it. The day you feel like you are "allowing" it to happen instead of "getting" it to happen, is the day it really will happen for you. Just some thoughts from the world's most anal (-ytical) whiteboy salsero. Sincerely, Jonathan Atkinson #53834 (29 more) From: Ming Mar <B7AI000@MUSICB.MCGILL.CA> Subject: RE: The Ballroom Geek's Guide to Street Latin Dancing, 0.1 Date: Fri Sep 26 05:22:05 CDT 1997 writes: > When I see the street-style dancers dance Salsa, the tap looks > very natural. When I try to practice (on my own) and include a > tap, it never feels right. Where exactly is the tap supposed to > go? If you're doing a mambo basic and breaking on two, it'll be as follows: Beat Action ==== ====== 1 Tap left foot (in place) 2 Forward break left foot forward 3 Shift weight back to right foot 4 Feet together (move left foot back next to right foot) 5 Tap right foot (in place) 6 Back break move right foot backwards 7 Shift weight back to left foot 8 Feet together (move right foot forward next to left foot) I would recommend that you take some salsa lessons. You can ask the bartender, bouncer, waitress, or coat-check girl if they know where you can get lessons. Maybe they have classes in that bar you were in. I would also recommend that you try different teachers/bars/schools. The more varied your training, the more partners you can lead. > This comment would help me a bit more if I knew exactly what > Cumbia was. This is what I think I've been able to piece together: > > a) Music Structure: Somehow different from Salsa. Salsa has Afro-Cuban roots. Typically, the rhythm section has several members, and they don't play in unison. This leads to a very complex rhythm. Cumbia has Amerindian roots. Cumbia is slower and has a simpler rhythm. In cumbia, you can hear every beat. Cumbia often has woodwinds. Cumbia has a folkloric quality to it.