Learn It

The first step to learning salsa is figuring out which style of salsa you want to learn. There are four different styles, each focusing on something different and deriving from different sources.

Next, you should figure out how much are you willing to pay for classes? How much time can you commit to it? Why do you want to learn? Do you want to impress everyone with your sophisticated dance moves or do you simply want to be able to move to a salsa beat adequately? Figuring this things out will be key in helping you find a good place to learn salsa that will satisfy your needs.


In Gainesville, the L.A. style is probably the most common one that is taught. It is believed to be the easiest for beginners to pick up. The two most basic moves for this style are the basic step and the cross body lead. This style is very energetic and includes many fast spins and turns. Regardless, this is perhaps the best style to attempt.

The two other widely recognized salsa styles are the Cuban (Casino) style and the New York style. While for L.A. style requires dancers to dance in a slot or line, the Cuban style requires dancing in a circle around your partner, providing more freedom to move.

The New York style is also danced in a line, but the orientation of the line is changes often. Unlike the other two styles that break up moves on one beat, this style breaks them up into two beats. It is often thought to be "dancing in the shape of an asterisk." This might sound confusing to understand until you physically try the different styles.


It is recommended to wear comfortable clothes to classes. The only real rule is do not wear flip flops or backless shoes. For social dancing, men and women can basically wear whatever they please. However, women tend to wear heels and often dresses. There are stores that sell official salsa dancing gear for both men and women. Purchasing dancing shoes is not necessary for beginners, but if salsa is something you see yourself really committing to, getting the proper footwear might be a good idea.

Safety tips

Like most physical activities, salsa dancing can cause you some harm if you don't take some precautions. Make sure to warm up and stretch before engaging in a demanding salsa class. After all, salsa dancing is an aerobic workout. Remember to drink water and take rests whenever you feel necessary. Salsa dancing can be more physically demanding that many might expect. Also, like mentioned under the attire section, do not wear flip flops or backless shoes because they can facilitate injuries.


Heather Matz, instructor with the University of Florida's Gator Salsa Club, teaches the L.A. style basic step and the cross body lead moves. Classes with the club are free, and people of all experience levels are welcomed.

Matz recommends learning a couple of basic steps before trying to learn fancy turns. The L.A. style basic is step is as rudimentary as it gets in the salsa world. Mastering the cross body lead is also an important for beginners to create a solid foundation.

Matz became a salsa instructor less than a year after she learn her first dance step, so she knows a thing or two about learning the craft. She recommends beginner dancers to: