The history of salsa dancing begins in pre-revolutionary France under the reign of King Louis XIV (1). King Louis XIV welded his power through dance. Members of the aristocracy and members of the royal family were forced to learn constantly changing dance steps. In order to gain social status the aristocracy had to learn the dance steps from the King's own dance instructor. Being a keen dancer himself, King Louis XIV was able to leverage his control over the aristocracy.
The King favored the minuet and the contredanse. Scholars believe that the contredanse got its name either from the corruption of England's "country dance" or from the way it was danced with a line of women standing "contra" or across from a line of men. Contredanse is a partner dance where the man is standing to the left of the lady. The man leads the lady with his right arm behind her back while holding the lady's left hand with his right.
The next evolution of salsa took place in Spain where contredanse became contradanza. From there both contredanse and contradanza made its way to the Caribean particularly to the island of Hispañola, which consist of Haiti and Dominican Republic and eventually to Cuba. The contradanse arrived in Saint Dominique or what is modern Haiti and contradanza arrived in Havana.