Salsa: Is a popular dance style to a complex mix of many different rhythms and countries. There are indications the term Salsa was coined by radio jockeys in Puerto Rico as early as the 1960’s. Later associated with a new York sound developed by Puerto Rican musicians. Salsa is considered the national music and dance of Puerto Rico. The music can be differentiated by the beat, which is slower than the one that other countries express, it’s passionate and romantic. The fusion of an Afro-Caribbean beat with enhanced jazz textures results in an aggressive high energy pulse which has become popular everywhere. Many of the patterns are closely related to those of the Mambo, Guaracha, Guaguanco and Cha Cha Cha.
Bachata: The authentic bachata dance is originally from the Dominican Republic, where the music was also born. The original slow style of the 60s was danced in closed embrace, in particular with the bolero. The bachata’s basic steps are moving within a small square (side to side tab, to the left and side to side tab, to the right) are inspired from the bolero steps but is an evolved version of those including a tap and also syncopation (steps in between the beats) depending on the dynamics of the music being played. The hand placement will vary with the dancers position which can be very close to semi close to open.
Merengue: Its simple small steps and characteristic hip swing, complete with graceful arm flourishes make this dance easy to learn and perfect for fast Latin music. The merengue is a popular dance of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. There is an old tale about a famous military General Maringie who was wounded in battle and developed a limp. He got up to dance at a celebration in his honor, and danced dragging his injured leg. All the other men present, rather than embarrass him, danced in a similar way and thus was born the Merengue. Or it might simply have started as a peasant dance in the Dominican Republic by African slaves.
Guajira: This dance came from NY. I was the first to start teaching it in the Tampa Bay Area. It derives from cha cha cha and it’s danced with merengue music allowing the dancers to alternate between the merengue dance and guajira. This makes the merengue more exciting by allowing to use many of the Salsa turns.