Elegance In Dance

Commitment To Excellence

                                                                  Dance Styles

Salsa Social Latin: Salsa, Cha Cha, Merengue, Etc.


Social Latin dancing:  Includes the Salsa, Mambo, Merengue, Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba, and other off shoots originated in places like Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.  These dances have been embraced worldwide. In the 1950"s and 1960"s, New York City became a hub for Latin music and dance.  Latin clubs continue to open and thrive in our city today. Latin culture has widened its appeal through television, film, and theater as well. Latin music has become mainstream with popular performers such as Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Ricky Martin becoming household names. Some typical “flavors” of social Latin you will encounter here at Elegance In Dance and in New York City are as follows:


  • Salsa/Mambo – The most popular Latin dance enjoyable for beginners to the most dedicated salseros. Styles range from a more classic style derived from the dance’s origins in Cuba to a NY-style “on 2".  Another style range is  competitive American Rhythm style. Movement ranges from a simple, sensual basic to the craziest of fast turns and arm movements.

  • Merengue – A simple march like step combines with turn patterns similar to those in salsa/mambo, with lots of room for flirtation along the way.

  • Rumba – A social ballroom dance, sensual and slow, with similarities to American Rhythm. International Latin’s Rumba differs in timing and technique, though it shares social Rumba’s sensuality.

  • Cha Cha – (Also called Cha-Cha-Cha)  This is a social dance which encompasses styles ranging from funky NY street, smoother social ballroom, competitive American Rhythm, competitive International Latin, and even Country Western.

  • Samba – Joyous, with a distinctive “bounce” action.  This social dance is similar to the same dance in International Latin.

  • Bachata – Soulful, sexy, and fun all at once.  The Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic and is danced to music of the same name.

American Style:

“Ballroom dancing”, as we know it today, developed early in the 20th century as jazz music and dances designed for it rose in popularity. At the same time, there was also a drive to popularize dances by making them standardized and thus, teachable and easily learnable.   American Style dances developed through the strong influence of Arthur Murray.  He established a chain of dance studios and formalized dance steps and instruction. American Style is divided into two categories: Smooth and Rhythm.  American Smooth dances come closest to what we often think of as “ballroom dancing” à la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. American Style is danced both socially and competitively in the U.S.


American Smooth:
  • Waltz – Languid, fluid dancing to a slower 1-2-3 rhythm
  • Tango – Dramatic stalking walks with sharp contrasts between slow and sharp movements
  • Viennese Waltz – Flowing waltz danced to a quicker 1-2-3 rhythm than American Waltz
  • Foxtrot – The steps may be different, but think of Astaire and Rogers dancing

 American Rhythm:
  • Cha Cha – Flirtatious and rhythmic, with quick hip movements
  • Rumba – Sensual and smooth, with subtle hip motion
  • Bolero – A cousin to the American Rumba.  It is slower and even more dreamy, with sweeping contrasts between bending and straightening          of the legs.
  • Mambo – Closely related to classic social salsa, but danced on a different beat
  • Swing – Based on East Coast Swing, with some elements from West Coast Swing.  This is an ideal dance for beginners.

International Style:

International Style dancing developed in Europe almost at the same time as the American Style.  It was introduced to the U.S. in the 1960's and was originally labeled English Style.  It is danced competitively around the world, as well as socially (generally outside the U.S.). International Style is divided into two categories which have strict steps and technique: International Standard and International Latin. International Standard also evokes Astaire and Rogers, although partners cannot break out of hold as they can in American Smooth. (Afficionados may also use “Ballroom” or “Modern” to refer to International Standard, which is why Stepping Out uses the more general term “partner dancing.”)


International Standard:
  • Waltz – Fluid, sweeping dancing to a slow 1-2-3 rhythm
  • Tango – Dramatic walks with contrasts between slow stalking and sharp movements of the head and changes of direction
  • Viennese Waltz – Whirling, flowing waltz danced to a quick 1-2-3 rhythm
  • Slow Foxtrot – Elegant, smooth, and continuous movements across the floor
  • Quickstep – Dynamic movement with many patterns including hops, runs and rotations, at a fast tempo

            International Latin
  • Cha Cha – Cheeky and rhythmic, with quick hip movements and syncopation
  • Samba – Lively, joyous, and bouncy, with many changes in rhythm
  • Rumba – Sensuous, smooth, and slow, to better highlight full hip action
  • Paso Doble – A dramatic marching dance that portrays the leader as matador and the follower as the bull or cape
  • Jive – A high energy and uninhibited form of swing, with sharp kicks and flicks