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The term Latin dances in the context of social and ballroom dances may be used in two meanings.

The first meaning is to denote dances originated in Latin America. Typically these are Cha cha, Rumba, Samba, Salsa, Mambo, Merengue, Bachata, Cumbia, Bolero. Some dance instructors also include Tango and Argentine tango in this list, although these differ from the rest in their style.

The second, a more formal usage, is the name of a category of International style ballroom dances, also called Latin American dances or International Latin. It consists of the following five dances: Cha cha, Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble, Jive. Notice that the last two dances are not of Latin American origin.

Salsa (dance)

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This article is about dancing; for other uses of Salsa see Salsa.
Salsa dancing.
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Salsa dancing.

Salsa is a partner dance form that corresponds to salsa music, however it is sometimes done solo too. The word is the same as the Spanish word salsa meaning sauce, or in this case flavour or style.

According to testimonials from musicologists and historians of music, the name salsa was gradually accepted among dancers throughout various decades. The very first time the word appeared on the radio was a composition by Ignacio Piñeiro, dedicated to an old African man who sold butifarras (a sausage-like product) in Central Road in Matanzas. It is a song titled Échale salsita, wherein the major refrain and chorus goes "Salsaaaaa! échale salsita, échale salsita." During the early 1950s, commentator and DJ "bigote" Escalona announced danceables with the title: "the following rhythm contains Salsa." Finally, the Spanish-speaking population of the New York area baptized Celia Cruz as the "Queen of Salsa."

Salsa is danced on music with a recurring eight-beat pattern, i.e. two bars of four beats. Salsa patterns typically use three steps during each four beats, one beat being skipped. However, this skipped beat is often marked by a tap, a kick, a flick, etc. Typically the music involves complicated percussion rhythms and is fast with around 180 beats per minute (see salsa music for more).

Salsa is a slot or spot dance, i.e., unlike Foxtrot or Samba, in Salsa a couple does not travel over the dance floor much, but rather occupies a fixed area on the dance floor. In some cases people do the Salsa in solo mode.

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