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LA Style Salsa Dance: The Essential Guide For Beginners [PDF Guide]

A short guide to LA Style Salsa Dance for Beginners.

The Dance Guru Presenting LA Style Salsa Dance The Essential Guide for Beginners


The purpose of this guide is to give the Beginner LA Style Salsa dancer a brief over view of the first 30 moves or techniques that should be learnt in a clear and logical order which ensure progression from absolute novice to competent beginner.

This guide should be used in conjunction with Salsa lessons from your Instructor, mainly as an aide-memoir or checklist.

We have categorised the Beginners into 4 Levels. Make sure you work through in the correct order.

You will find included:

1) Beginners Checklist of 30 figures (moves)

2) Beginners Checklist of 9 Footwork figures (shines)

3) Beginners Checklist of 6 practice combinations (turn patterns)

We hope you enjoy this guide. If you would prefer to download this post as a handy PDF you can do so from our FREE Social Dancer Membership Area here:

DOWNLOAD: LA Style Salsa Dance: The Essential Guide For Beginners [PDF Guide]

Don’t forget to download your ultimate guide to Salsa Dance. With everything you need to know about The History of Salsa, Types of Salsa Dance, Salsa Music, How to Learn to Salsa Dance, Salsa Dance Steps, What to wear for Salsa Dancing, information on Salsa Dance shoes and the etiquette of Salsa Dance. You cab download from our FREE Social Dancer Membership Area here:

DOWNLOAD: Salsa Dance: A Guide to Almost Everything You Need to Know about Salsa Dancing [PDF Guide]

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The Dance Guru


Essential Salsa Terms

1. CLH – Closed Hold

2. DBLHH – Double Hand Hold

3. OH – Open Hold

4. L to R OH – Leader’s Left hand to Follower’s Right hand Open Hold

5. R to L OH – Leader’s Right to Follower’s Left Open Hold

6. Pointed Gun – Salsa hand connection with Leader’s index finger lightly over Follower’s hooked finger tips

7. CBL – Cross Body Lead

8. COHBTB – Change of Hands behind the back

9. [EXERCISE] – This means practice this particular item

10. [RECAP] – This means it’s something that was mentioned earlier, recap over that item before moving on – this enforces your knowledge and aims to help muscle memory

Beginners Salsa Music Playlists

The Dance Guru has compiled Beginners’ salsa Music playlists to aid with your learning:

Salsa Timing Tracks by The Dance Guru

Beginners Salsa Level 1

Beginners Salsa Level 2

Beginners Salsa Level 3

Beginner Salsa Level 4

100 Top Salsa Dance Tracks by The Dance Guru

Before You Start

1. Understand the origins of Salsa – Read the Guide:

Salsa Dance: The Guide to Almost Everything You Need to Know About Salsa Dancing

2. Understand about Salsa Music & the explanation of Salsa timing

Checkout excellent article on Salsa Music on Wikipedia

Beginners Level 1

Step 1:

1. Check you know the following basics:

a. Back basic

b. Side Basic

c. Cumbia basic

d. Mambo

2. [EXERCISE] Lead / Follow of all 4 basics in closed and double hand hold, transitioning between the 2

Points to note:

a. Weight transfer and moving through the basic step (Mambo)

b. Double Hand hold – point gun hold, Follower’s curved hook, follower’s waist height – L shape connection

c. Closed Hold – connection points, leading from the Follower’s left shoulder (not the joined hands)

Step 2:

1. [RECAP] – Back, Side, Cumbia & Mambo Basics with CLH & DBLHH

2. (DBLHH to L to R OH) - Right Turn for Follower using Leader’s LH to Lead

3. (DBLHH to L to R OH) - Right Turn for Leader

4. (DBLHH) - Right Turn for Leader changing hand behind the back

5. [EXERCISE] – Mambo’s in CLH to R Turns for Follower & Leader

Points to note:

a. Staying in front of the partner

b. Stepping off the line on 1st step of Right Turn (5 for Follower / 1 for Leader)

c. When executing a turn, the Leader should use the opposite hand to the way they are turning to enable to stay closer to the line

Step 3:

1. [RECAP] - Back, Side, Cumbia & Mambo Basics with CLH & DBLHH

2. [RECAP] – Right Turns for Leader & Follower

3. (R to L OH) - Left Turn for Follower

4. (R to L OH) - Left Turn for Leader

5. (DBLHH) - Left Turn for Leader with change of hand behind back

6. [EXERCISE] - Mambo’s in DBLHH to Left Turns for Follower & Leader

7. [EXERCISE] – Left & Right Turns in CLH / DBLHH with Mambos

Points to note:

a. Leader to focus on Follower to keep position

b. In the Left turn the Follower walks around through the 6, 7,8,1 and it flows into the next Mambo

Step 4:

1. [RECAP] – CLH & DBLHH Left & Right Turns for Leader & Follower

2. (R to R OH) – Follower’s Right Turn

3. (L to L OH) – Follower’s Left Turn

4. [EXERCISE] – Leader & follower’s Left and Right Turns with all single hand hold connections

Step 5:

1. [RECAP] – Left & Right Turns for Leader & Follower with all single hand connections & change of hands behind back

2. (DBLHH) – Right turn for Follower

3. (DBLHH) – Left turn for Leader

4. (DBLHH) – Left turn for Follower

5. (DBLHH) – Right turn for Leader

6. [EXERCISE] – Left & Right Turns for Leader & Follower in DBLHH

Points to note:

a. Loose finger tip connection

b. Watch elbows

c. Joined hands remain over the centre of the partnership, so when the Leader turns they make a conscious effort to hold hand higher behind crown of head

d. After turning the Follower with DBLHH the joined hands will be crossed over, the Leader can look at which arm is on top and should turn that direction to unwind the hands

Step 6:

1. [RECAP] – Left & Right Turns for Leader & Follower in OH, CLH, DBLHH

2. (CLH) - Cross Body Lead (CBL)

3. (DBLHH) – CBL

4. (L to R OHH) - CBL

5. (DBLHH to CLH) – Pizza bridge transition & release to DBLHH

6. [EXERCISE] – Mambos into and out of CBL in CLH

7. [EXERCISE] – CBL in CLH to DBLHH on exit, Pizza bridge transition to CLH

8. [EXERCISE] – Any Left or Right Turn before & after a CBL

Beginners Level 2

Step 1:

1. [RECAP] – All Left & Right Turns for Leader & Follower in OH and DBLHH and CBL in CLH

2. (L to R OH) - Leader’s R Turn on 1,2,3 with immediate ladies R Turn on 5,6,7

Points to note:

a. Leader aiming to stay on line in front of Follower whilst turning, although their first step with LF is at 2 o’clock off the line

b. Leader keeps LH high at end of turn, adjusts finger tips into palm of ladies hands and pushes straight away on 5

c. Aiming to draw halo around the Follower’s head

3. (CLH) - Reverse CBL

Points to note:

a. Leader brings follower down his Right side

b. Leader Mambos forward on 1, then comes backwards 2,3,5,6 and turns 180° to Right on 7