Salsa, a mixture of Latin musical genre has a primary component in Cuban dance music. It has its roots in Eastern Cuba from the Cuban Son (Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo) and the Afro-Cuban dance like the rumba. The term “salsa” however was created in New York and the Hispanic origin of the dance style was cultivated there. The term “Salsa” includes a musical evolution of various dance styles and musical rhythms including the Rumba, Guaracha, Mambo, ChaChaCha, Son, Danzon, Bomba, Merengue, Cumbia, Festejo, Plena and others. Many have retained their individuality while others became mixed in the creation of the “Salsa”.
Salsa also combines several different cultural genre. It is therefore very difficult to pinpoint one single culture or country that can take the credit for the development of the Salsa dance. In Salsa, music and dancing are closely connected but its main purpose is to dance. There exists an ongoing debate on the exact origins of the dance with many people believing it originated from Cuba. Due to social and political restraints imposed on the people of Puerto Rico and Cuba in the 1930s, many emigrants fled to America, bringing with them their individual music styles. These Caribbean music styles were gradually blended together and eventually the term Salsa was coined in New York.
The late Celia Cruz, popularly known as the “Queen of Salsa” is believed to have said that salsa as a rhythm does not really exist but rather that it is an exclamation for Hispanic music styles such as the Rumba, Bolero, Guaracha, Son, and ChaChaCha. The dance steps are similar to that of the Mambo – a six-step pattern danced over eight music counts, both sharing many similar movements. However, turns are an important feature in Salsa, which differs from the Mambo style. Mambo moves are generally forwards and backwards while Salsa moves tend to be more from side to side.