Salsa Dance Styles – Salsa On1

Salsa is a social dance. Dance enthusiasts usually gather in ballrooms, bars, night clubs and other places, especially when there is a fiesta. Salsa dancers are very passionate, forming communities and hosting events where they can share their common love for this exotic dance style.

Although there are several styles of Salsa, the most prominent are Salsa On1 and Salsa On2 (New York Style) Salsa. The music is the same, so is the rhythm for these two styles. The basic rhythm directs the dancers to take three steps within the music’s four beats. Eight beats complete one full Salsa step sequence. One of the differences between the two is in syncopation. Rhythm for On1 Salsa is identified as quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. For Salsa New York Style, the rhythm is depicted as quick, quick, quick, pause, quick, quick, quick, pause.

Dancing On1

In On1, dancers start to move on the first beat, hence the name. It incorporates many elements, with some taken from stage dances, while others were sourced from dances from North America. Latin ballroom, Tango Argentina, Swing and Latin Hustle are just some of the major influences that shaped Salsa On1 style.

This style is distinct for its employment of acrobatics. It also focuses on theatrical and sensuous movements. It likewise requires two elements – cross-body lead and forward and backward step. The leader moves forward on the first count and moves on the second and third beats to the right and does a 90-degree counterclockwise turn to face left. The movement opens the slot. From this point the follower moves forward on counts 5 and 6 and makes a turn on counts 7 and 8. For his part, the leader makes another 90-degree counterclockwise turn, moves forward a bit before coming back to the open slot. In the full sequence of 8 beats, the leader and follower transferred positions.

The development of On1 Salsa style in its early stages was attributed to several dancers, including Francisco Vasquez, Joe Cassini, Laura Canellias and Albert Torres. The On1 Salsa style of today is a product of the innovation of Janette and Johnny Valenzuela, Josie Neglia, Rogelio Moreno, Joby Martinez, Liz Lira, Edie Lewis, Abel Peña, Christian Oviedo and Alex Da Silva.


Timing is very important for Latin dances. Like Salsa On2, the Salsa On1 leader and the follower each has their own step sequence to follow. The two styles may look quite similar but professional Salsa dancers can tell the differences easily. The differences can be seen in the musical variations, the frame or hold, the timing, the attitude or tone, the footwork and in the portrayal of sensuality.

For the male dancer, who is usually the leader, the basic timing is like this:

From the starting position with feet together, you brake forward with your left foot. “Break”  is a quick forward movement of the foot that’s placed in front followed by rocking back on the back foot. Follow this by stepping back your left foot and putting it close to your right foot. Shift the weight from your left foot to your right foot then break back with your right. Rock forward on your left foot then bring the right foot close to the left and like before, shift weight from the left foot to the right foot.

The follower, in most cases the female dancer, does the leader’s movements in reverse. Therefore from the starting position with feet together, the follower steps back with her right foot and rocks forward with the left, before stepping forward with the right to keep both foot parallel to one another. After shifting the weight from left to right foot, the follower steps forward with her left foot then rocks back with her right. She then steps back with the left to bring her feet close together, then shifts her weight from right foot to left foot. These eight steps complete one full sequence.

Salsa On1 Styling

Just like the Salsa style that’s popular in New York, Salsa On1 is a linear dance. But it is a more flashy style of dancing, incorporating plenty of arm styling, flips and dips. It employs various technically-challenging and explosive movements that amaze audiences. The male dancer in the Salsa version that many dancers in LA prefer usually works in spins, splits, flips, drops, jumps and tricks during a performance. As the dancers both start on the first beat, which is easier to distinguish, the entire sequence looks fast and powerful. Shines are likewise important in Salsa On1, which incorporates other dance styles, such as ballroom, hip hop and jazz.

Overall, On1 Style Salsa aims for the “wow’ factor. It’s known for its speed, intricate and acrobatic movements of the body and complex footwork. It employs showy theatrics and a more sensual composition. This version of Salsa is easier for beginners to learn since the sequence for leader and follower begins on the first beat. Moreover, the first beat is easier to recognize because is it very prominent.

Whatever style of Salsa you want to learn, what’s important is to learn it thoroughly. Likewise do  not forget to enjoy and have fun while dancing.


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