Who Invented the Salsa Dance?

By Cicely A. Richard

Salsa dance was created by Spanish-speaking people living in the Caribbean and North America. Although salsa is a common Latin ballroom dance formed by couples, it can also be done solo or as a line dance. As with many art forms, no one person invented the salsa dance. Different people played a role in molding salsa.

Diverse Ethnic Origins

The person who invented the salsa dance cannot be easily identified, because salsa combines various Latino, European and Afro-Caribbean dances. As far back as the 1700s, these cultural differences formed a distinctly North American music landscape.

1950s

Salsa dance grew out of the popularity of mambo in North America, due to the rise of Cuban and Puerto Rican communities in New York City. These two communities created their distinct versions of salsa dancing and became a part of the New York club scene.

New York Style

The New York style of salsa dancing is the most popular one around, because this is the city of salsa’s origin. Eddie Torres, the King of Mambo Dancing, performed with Tito Puente, the Mambo King, and his mambo influence helped form modern salsa dancing.

Los Angeles Style

The inventor of salsa dance in Los Angeles used the basic concept of the New York style of dance. However, the West Coast influence and Latin ballroom makes LA salsa more dramatic, with dips, spins, drops and complicated turns.

Cuban Style

Cuban salsa, often called casino salsa, included more arm movements than the other two styles. The footwork contains a lot of movements in which dance partners walk around one another and do various intertwining twirls.

Rueda de Casino

Rueda de Casino is a form of salsa dancing invented in Havana, Cuba, in which couples for a circle. One person calls their partner with a series of complicated hand signals. Couples swap partners with other dancers in the circle during the course of the song.

About the Author

Based in Tucson, Ariz., Cicely A. Richard has been writing since 1996. Her articles have been published in the “Arizona Daily Star” newspaper and “ForeWord Magazine.” Richard earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and journalism from Louisiana State University. .