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Frequently Asked Questions

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Basic structure of the Salsa Method

The Salsa Method makes it easy to learn and remember salsa turn patterns in linear styles of salsa by breaking them down into 4 very simple elements. Never again will you watch a cool routine and WISH you could remember it!! All you need to look for are the hand holds, the direction where the dancers are facing in relation to each other, the actions that they perform and the postions they end up in. Sounds complicated? Read on - it is surprisingly simple and soon becomes satisfyingly intuitive! We also introduce a shorthand for recording the figures so you can go back to them whenever you need to. For more about the shorthand click on The Salsa Language.

Hand holds

Imagine that you are in a salsa class and your instructor starts demonstrating the first turn pattern of the evening. He says: "‘In normal hold the guy leads a right turn…’ etc. This is where the turn pattern starts and remembering the hand hold will help you to lead and remember what comes next. For example, in a crossed hold the leader will be able to lead a reverse but not a normal hammerlock, etc.


In salsa styles danced on the slot, the way the dancers are orientated on the line and the direction that they are facing is an important part of the dance. Are the dancers facing each other along the line? Hhas the leader stopped the follower with her back to him? Or, are the dancers facing the opposite directions? In the ‘on line’ salsa, the dancers can be positioned facing along the line of dance or facing perpendicular to the line of dance. In addition, they can be facing a) each other, b) the same direction or c) the opposite directions from each other. Here are three examples that visually demonstrate some of these points.

Example 1. In NY or LA salsa the dancers dance on the line. This figure shows an example where the dancers are facing each other along the line. From the top view you can see the line on the dance-floor..


Example 2. The dancers here are facing the same direction along the line.


Example 3. In this example the dancers are perpendicular to the line and are facing the opposite direction from each other.

All possible ‘Directions’ and their detailed descriptions are provided in The Salsa Dictionary.

Actions and Positions

So when do we get to the moves? Because this is the part that we really want to remember! Well, we describe the moves as ‘Actions’ after which the dancers end up in certain ‘Positions’ and The Salsa Dictionary lists and explains many (if not all) possible actions and positions used in salsa with the shorthand to record them for future reference. You don't need to worry about how to get into the position, just remember the position itself. This is because you can achieve the same position via different actions or the same position can be the end point of different actions. Thus, if we remember all possible actions and all possible positions we can put them together while we are learning salsa figures and so crate an infinite number of variations!

Information contained in The Salsa Dictionary:

  • Names of basic salsa elements, which include Hand holds, Directions, Actions and Positions;
    • A written description of each element;
    • A visual example, which allows you to view each element;
    • A symbol (or code) for each element taken from our Salsa Language. Knowing these symbols will allow you to write down descriptions of salsa figures. If you would like to learn how to use symbols to write down salsa figures, please refer to our The Salsa Language manual.

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