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If you are new to salsa dancing, or even been dancing for a little while, you might have heard some of your friends talking about dancing 'ON TWO' or dancing 'MAMBO.'

Are you wondering what this means?

Are you wondering why it looks different when some people dance, like the timing is all different?

Salsa On2 is one of the many different variations of this great social dance we call 'Salsa.' In its simplest form 'On2' means dancing so that the break step occurs on the second beat of the bar.

'Woooaahh!' you say. What does all that mean?

Ok chances are that you are dancing salsa On One. Meaning that when you were learning the basic step, you step forward with your left foot on the first beat of the bar, when the teacher is usually counting "One." This is the timing that most salsa schools around the world teach, and it is the basic step for leaders in LA style, most Cuban, Colombian and Casio and style and some Puerto Rican style dancers.

There is an alternative version of the Puerto Rican style of salsa that has been maintained and grown in the New York salsa scene. Most notably by Eddie Torres and many of his most successful students like Adolofo Indacochea, Frankie Martinez, Melissa Rosado, Juan Matos, and the founders of Santo Rico.

In this New York style of salsa, which we also sometimes call modern mambo, the basic step is very, very different. You still step on One, Two, Three - Five, Six, Seven, however the structure of the steps has changed. In particular the step in which you break away from the middle position happens on the two and six, rather than on the one and five.

Advocates of the New York style argue that it suits salsa music better. In truth it suits a particular era of salsa music better. Many of the older salsa recordings from the sixties and seventies have much stronger emphasis on the rhythmical components of the music, unlike the salsa romantica of the eighties and nineties.

In particular the conga pattern that is almost always present in the music features a sharp SLAP sound on the second beat of the bar. So when you make your breaking step hit this slap, there is a sensation of moving in unison with the rhythm of the song. It is undeniable that for the right music dancing on the 'two' like this is very pleasurable.

So, enough of the history and justification.

How do you dance 'On 2?'

I will count through the steps for the leaders. The followers simply switch the first three with the last three steps.

Start: As per usual with your feet reasonably close together and your weight on your right foot.

One: Step on the spot with your left foot and count 'One', making sure your weight is transferred onto the left foot.

Two: Step back with your right foot as you count 'Two', make sure there is no weight on the left foot. (When you dance with music listen for that Conga SLAP sound).

Three: Shift your weight back onto your left foot as you count 'Three.'

Four: Pause. Just like 'Salsa On 1' you hold your position and do not step on the fourth beat.

Five: Bring your right foot back and place it beside your left foot. Shift all of your weight onto your right foot as you count 'Five.'

Six: Step forward with your left leg as you count 'Six.' Be sure your weight has come off your right foot and listen for the Conga SLAP in the music.

Seven: Shift your weight back to your right foot back as you count 'Seven.'

Eight: Pause. As you count 'Eight' you hold your position and do not step.

That will bring you back to the starting position, remember to bring your left foot back and place it beside the right foot as you count the next 'One.'

Luckily your will be stepping on the same feet on the same beats as 'On 1' Salsa. The difference is the structure of basic pattern. It will take a little while before it feels really comfortable, but you will find that very soon you love it.

 
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