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Salsa and other Nightclubs Latin Dances: Merengue, Cha-cha, Bachata  
Salsa is quickly becoming the most popular social dance form world-wide. Although variations of Latin Jazz music have been around since the 1940s, salsa music and dance is generally agreed to have developed in New York in the 1960s/70s as syncretization of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and other Latin music and cultural traditions. As it has grown and spread throughout the world, it has become a symbol of pan-Latino culture, uniting displaced peoples around the globe through music and dance. Non-Latinos have increasingly embraced salsa over the past ten years and it now enjoys great popularity among people of all ethnic groups. While salsa styles vary regionally, it is usually characterized by fast footwork, rolling hips, multiple spins, and soft sweeping arm movements.
While salsa is usually the most popular music/dance played at Latin clubs, many play an equal number of merengues, and a smattering of bachata or cha-cha. The Dominican merengue is simpler rhythmically and is therefore easier for many people to learn. It shares much in common with salsa (body movement, step patterns) but is more forgiving because of its simpler structure. Merengue is a great dance for beginners. Romantic bachata is also fairly easy to learn, and a great excuse to get very close to your partner for an entire song. Nightclub cha-cha (which is unfortunately rarely played in Orlando clubs) is usually danced very much like salsa, albeit with a different rhythm.
Salsa and other nightclub Latin dances have much in common with ballroom Latin dances, but there are many key differences. These two forms of "Latin" dance are often represented in opposition to each other-the structured, technical form for competition ballroom dancing vs. the spontaneous and free form for social interactions in salsa clubs. Juliet has spent several years studying differences between these two forms and has developed a means of teaching salsa through a class structure that does not destroy its improvisational character.

  • Orlando Salsa Class Schedule
  • Seattle Salsa Class Schedule
  • Interview with Juliet McMains on

  • Salsa Dancing in Orlando:
    (Where to practice and show off when you're not in class)
      • Wednesdays: Roxy, 740 Bennet Rd., (407) 898-4004
      • Thursdays: Cocobongos
      • Fridays: Cocobongos, Samba Room
      • First Fridays: Roxy, 740 Bennet Rd., (407) 898-4004
      • Saturdays: Samba Room, 7468 Sandlake Rd. (407) 226-0550
      • Every fourth Saturday: Salsa Heat Party at Dance Orlando

      For salsa dance resources on the web, see:
      Contact us: 206-293-6915
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