modified: June 17, 2006

Salsa is a Latin dance. While the salsa. no doubt, originated in Central and South America it has been Americanized. Consequently, there are many different ways to do the salsa and in fact there is no agreement on what is the “basic”. The figures have not been standardized and the names used here are our own. We have chosen to use a “cha cha cha” basic, (ladies do natural opposite), instead of a “jive” basic (ladies mirror the man). Salsa motion is more in the knees and ankles; a quiet and still upper body and relatively quiet hips. Hip motion is for cha cha cha and rumba.

Salsa is fast so keep your steps small and your connection tight. The basic rhythm is step, replace, close, hold. Some people count: 1-2-3,  4-5-6. We usually count 1-2-3, 5-6-7 to recognize the hold and the eight beats of music.

Latin frame, double hand hold, single hand hold and no hand hold may all be used.



Lead and details

Amt. of turn (lady)



Man: LF fwd, replace (to RF), close (hold)
RF back, replace (to LF), close (hold)

turn may be used


Side Basic

Man: LF side, then same
RF side, then same

lead the side steps with the hips


Hand to Hand

Man: LF back and right (5th position or Left Open Promenade), replace, close (facing each other). Release RH and bring LF through for steps on other side

1/4 turn on 1 & 3
1/4 turn on 5 & 7


Pivot turn

1st half of hand to hand (to align lady)
M: raise LH, Lady: step, pivot, close

1/2 on 6, 1/4 on 7


Ladies underarm turn

M: LH up on 1-2-3 (either shoulder)
(man turn to face lady)

1/8 on 5, 1/2 on 6
 1/8 on 7


Ladies underarm turns
with Man’s turn

M: LH on Ladies right.
As lady does her turn,
Man steps fwd and around to Right
(instead of going back)

the amount of turn on
5-6-7 for the man can be reduced if he takes a 1/4 turn to the R on 3.


Man’s hand change

1-2-3 fwd, fwd, close to ladies right side
change hands during hold
5-fwd, 6-back, change hands, 7-close

Man: 1/2 between 5-6
Lady turns to face man



1-2-3 M: LH over Ladies L shoulder
5-6-7 Lady: Fwd, back, close.
1-2-3 together, small steps because cuddled
5-6-7 Lady: Fwd, back, close

1/2 on 5s


Double Butterfly

click the link for details



Other figures

Practically any figure you know from the other Latin dances, Jive, cha cha cha, can be used in the Salsa.