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Basic Salsa Steps. We’re talking about the basics!

Master The Basic Salsa Steps. Its Back to Basics!

The basic salsa steps are the most important part of learning the dance. You need to master these moves so that you can build a foundation. When you get to the intermediate level, you will notice that the new moves can be broken down to the fundamentals. So take your time, enjoy, and have fun!


All the steps on this page are for Salsa On1. In this page, we’ll start with the basic hand holds, timing, and the fundamental basic step.

But first, here’s a couple of quick and important rule of thumb:

Don’t be a hunchback…Hey.. You wanna look good and dance fine? Then stand up straight with your chest out. Good posture will help you keep you centered and balanced, especially when you start doing turns. This is extremely important for ladies since its common to do double and triple turns.

You’ll need a good center. Without it you’ll look like a wobbling top when you turn.

Your hands have no thumbs!This rule of thumb (well, you can say no thumbs!) goes for everyone. Pretend that you don’t have any thumbs. Why? Because you’ll never use them in salsa. Of course, there are some exceptions. When you use your thumbs, it makes it difficult or impossible to turn your partner. Not only that.. You may end up hurting them.

Want proof? I’m not going to give you any. If you don’t listen to me now, you’ll find out for yourself later. Then I get to say “I told ya so!”

Ok.. Now on to the juicy stuff.

Basic Hand Holds

I’m sure you just don’t want to be grabbing your partner anywhere! You’ve got a million places to place your hands, but let’s start with the right ones. Shall we?

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a guy, so I’ll tell this from a guy’s perspective.

Basic salsa steps closed position

Closed Position – Let’s get a little closer

This is where you can get close to your partner. Make sure you don’t eat garlic or onions and you smell good before coming in close. Good hygiene and nice smelling breath is essential, so take a shower and chew on some mints 🙂

First things first.. Give your partner a hug! No.. Seriously. Give her a hug.. Nice huh? Ok.. Now take a couple small steps backward while both of you keep your arms like you still have your arms around each other. You should end up with your arms creating something that resembles a circle.

Take your right hand and place it on her left shoulder blade. The girl’s left hand should rest on your right shoulder. Raise your left hand like you are waving “Hi” to someone. Keep it no higher than shoulder level.

Congratulations! In salsa, this is what I’ll call closed position.

Open Position

This one is easy! From the closed position, take your right hand and hold the girl’s left hand. Take your left hand and hold the girl’s right hand. Now, rotate your hands like you’re picking up a bottle (one in each hand). The woman’s hands are palm down with the heel of the hand resting on the guys fingers. Bring both of your hands down to waist level.

Look at your hands. Are they holding her tight? Yes? Now what did I tell you about thumbs? Right. You don’t have any, so don’t use them.

You’ll be using these two positions in your basic salsa steps. Each position creates a different feeling and connection with your woman. A good example of this is when you do the cross body lead. Its one basic salsa step you’ll learn later.

Timing is everything…


Well, its not everything, but it is something you should master too.There are 8 beats to every measure of salsa music. For your basic salsa step, you will move on beats 1,2, and 3, pause on 4, and move again on 5,6, and 7. You pause on 8.Simple, right?

So the way you’ll count in your head is 1.2.3 5.6.7 because these are the beats you move your feet.The hardest part is finding the first beat. Once you feel the music, you shouldn’t have trouble with finding it.

Here’s The Basic StepMans Basic Step Part 1

Now you’re ready for the basic step. Its easier to try it without a partner first. So thow your partner out or toss her aside for now. You can pick her up later.

 For the guys.. you start stepping forward on your left foot on the first beat, step on your right foot in place on the second beat, then step your left foot back to your right foot on the third beat.

Mans Basic Step Part 2
The second half of the basic step is similar to the first part except you’ll step backward on your right foot on the fifth beat, step in place with your left foot on the sixth beat, and step your right foot back to your left foot on the seventh beat.

Click here to see an animation of the Mens Salsa Step.

Womans Basic Step Part 1
The women’s basic salsa step is the same as the guy’s part except her basic step starts on the second half of the guys basic salsa step. Let me try and say that again in case you didn’t get it. The women’s part starts with her stepping backward on her right foot like in the second half of the guy’s basic salsa step.

Womans Basic Step Part 1

Click here to see an animation of the Womens Salsa Step

Now put on your favorite salsa music CD and practice this until you get it.

When you are ready, you can get your woman again and try it with her.

Come back here when you are ready …

Ready already? Excellent! Check out the animation of the combined salsa steps to get an idea of how the both of you will move. When you are ready, get into open position with your dance partner, put on your salsa music again and practice your basic salsa steps until you get the hang of it. You find that everything is a little different once you have someone in front of you.

Remember .. The guy first steps forward on his left foot and the girl first steps backward on her right foot.


Return from Basic Salsa Steps, to Salsa Dance Steps

Return from Basic Salsa Steps, to Salsa Dancing Addict

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