Have you been asked to dance by someone, immediately followed by the question “Do you dance On1 or On2?”
What?! Isn’t there just one way to dance Salsa? Um, no. Surprising to many, there are actually many ways to dance Salsa. Mainly it depends on your geographic location. Here in the United States, there are two styles of Salsa that are popular…Salsa On1 and Salsa On2.
What does this mean exactly? I’m glad you asked. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, you must understand two things: the break step and timing.
Let’s begin with timing. This is simply being able to coordinate your footwork with appropriate beats in the music. In Salsa dancing, one complete basic step is executed over 8 beats of music or 2 bars of music (each bar contains 4 beats). That’s all you need to know for now.
Next, you must understand the break step. It’s simple. In our basic step, it is the step taken immediately before any direction change. For example, let’s say I step backward with my left foot and then I step forward with my right foot. The backward step I took with my left foot would be considered my break step because I switched direction after that step.
How does timing and the break step fit into dancing Salsa On1 and Salsa On2?
Let’s begin with the leader’s footwork when dancing Salsa On1. The footwork happens on counts 1,2,3 and 5,6,7 of our 8-beat bar. Our holds happen on counts 4 and 8.
The first step is forward on the left foot on count ’1′. Then back with the right foot on count ’2′. The left foot comes together with the right foot on count ’3′ and count ’4′ is a hold. Pop quiz time. Which count did the break step happen on?
If you guessed count ’1′ then you are right! Why? Because it was the step taken immediately before the leader changed direction and stepped backward.
To complete our basic, the leader now steps back with the right foot on count ’5′, forward with the left foot on count ’6′, brings the right foot together in place with his left foot on count ’7′ and holds count ’8′. Again, can you guess which count the break step happened on? If you guessed count ’5′, then you are on fire!
We give Salsa On1 its name based on the count that the first break step of the leader’s basic step happens on. In this case, it would be count ’1′ so we call it Salsa On1.
Let’s now examine Salsa On2…
Just like Salsa On1, we have six steps and two holds in Salsa On2. The counts are the same 1,2,3 and 5,6,7 except now, the footwork pattern has changed. Again from the leader’s perspective…
On count ’1′, the leader steps back with his left foot. On count ’2′, the right foot back passing the left foot. On count 3, the left foot steps forward. You know the drill…which count was did the break step happen on?
If you guessed count ’2′, you should really be out Salsa dancing right now instead of reading this article. You are absolutely right! Why? Because that was the step taken before the forward direction change.
Continuing, the leader now holds count ’4′ then steps forward with his right foot on count ’5′, forward again with his left foot on count ’6′ passing his right foot. And finally he steps back with his right foot on count ’7′ and holds count ’8′. That completes the Salsa basic. Here’s your last chance to wow me. Which count was the break step? If you guessed count ’6′, you pass!
Because the first break step of the leader’s basic step is on count ’2′ we call it Salsa On2 or dancing on2.
Aside from the objective differences between the two styles of Salsa we’ve discussed above, there are also other, more subjective differences. We won’t get into those in this article, but you will find dancers of both styles who swear by one or the other. To each his own.
In my opinion, neither style is technically better than the other. I personally dance more of the On2 style because that is predominant in NYC where I live. If you live in California though, you probably dance more of the On1 style. It comes down to your personal preference, geographic location and the clubs you go to dance. These factors will determine the style of Salsa you should learn, and better yet, why not learn both? Instead of spending your time playing Foxybingo.com and other casual games, you can focus your efforts on becoming a more versatile dancer.
Learn a slick, yet simple Salsa On2 Turn Pattern here: Online Salsa Classes.