August 8, 2003

Dancing on 1 versus Dancing on 2
OR
Salsa versus Mambo

We will post any constructive feedback from our readers.


  The Question
Our Feedback... May 1, 2003 - Rose Knows' response
New!
August 8, 2003 - Rene's response
New!
August 12, 2003 - Dennis' response
 



May 1, 2003 -- Salsa Videos OR Dancing on 1 vs Dancing on 2

Dear Rose, I need some help. Well first let me give you a little background info about myself. I first started trying to learn to Salsa in 1993. I pretty much tried to learn it on my own with absolutely no success. I didn't know anything about the different styles, what was good or even the history. All I knew is I really loved the music and when I saw people dance I wanted to do what they did. I tried to get someone to teach me a couple of times back in 1994 and 1995, but that was a complete disaster. I don't know if that was my lack of commitment or if the woman I had teaching me didn't know what she was doing. Regardless, I still sucked. Over time I learned on my own and became quite good so people told me. Not until last year did I ever consider myself good and now I am actually teaching.

I read up on the history and I can recognize L.A. from Cuban and N.Y. My problem lies with me hearing people talk about on 2 and Mambo. I can find the two beat, because I can count the music, I dance on one. I have searched the internet high and low and cannot find any examples of people dancing on 2 or Mambo. Where can I find an example because everything I have seen is the same thing I am doing with my normal Salsa. The traveling, the side steps, the side to side, and the Cumbia steps are all part of my normal Salsa dancing. Please direct me to a place where I can view an example. Thank you. -- Louis


The Feedback....

Dear Louis, what an interesting question and what you said makes perfect sense as the shines and turn patterns you see people dancing can be exactly the same -- it's just the timing in the lead, the transitions in and out of the turn patterns, and the footwork that may be adjusted to suit what foot you're breaking back on and on what beat. And if you're a teacher, you should know this, and if you don't, then you need to spend the time to study more about dancing on 1 and on 2 and the differences. I strongly suggest exposing yourself to New York City dancers and instructors (as that is where it all started), but there is a growing movement of on 2 dancers in all parts of the World. After taking classes and workshops with various instructors in Toronto and from NYC, you will find the prep that men have to lead into various moves for the women start on a different count. And that could be a long explanation in itself.

In simplest forms, salsa on 1 is breaking on 1 where the man steps with his left foot first on the 1st count, and for the ladies, they break back on 1 with their right foot. In salsa on 2 or mambo on 2, essentially, you break back on the 2nd beat, and there is more than one theory as to how that happens. But the most popular theory is New York's Eddie Torres on 2 style. I won't go into detail on this myself as there are lots of great articles on the net that explains this.

This could be a great article to build on and hopefully other dancers and instructors will write in with their feedback, but here's some great references to see on the net...

Comments

  Go to...
Go to this site for a detailed explanation of how to dance on 2, New York style...

  How to Dance on 2 by SalsaNewYork
From my own site, you can watch these great clips of dancers on 2...
  Frankie and Aisha

Nelson Flores Social Dancing

Frankie Martinez Social Dancing

Kids from Puerto Rico Social Dancing
Go to this site to see some great on2 dancing videoclips... but you will see that most of the patterns may be the same as other cities, except that if you count to the music, you'll see them naturally breaking back on the 2 beat.

  Imambo.tv and click on the Videos section...
Another great site with some great clips of on 2 dancers... Salsaloon.com. Hary Lee used to live in TO and is another lover of salsa dancing and has provided some great clips of dancers on 2...

  Juan Matos Social Dancing

Milton Cobo and Samantha

Jayson Molina from Puerto Rico

Hopefully this will give you a good starting point... and if any other readers know of any great articles on dancing 2 or wish to add their own feedback, please email me... Rose

August 8, 2003 -- Salsa Videos OR Dancing on 1 vs Dancing on 2

Rose, If I didn't know any better I would have been totally confused. Hopefully I don't confuse you and Luis more.

It's not just the lead that is different but also the count that you are breaking on while doing your basic steps.

DANCING "on 1". You are breaking forward (rock rock step) with your left foot on one as the leader and breaking back with your right foot on 1 as the follower.

DANCING "on 2". This is where the leader breaks back with their right foot on "2" and breaks forward with their left foot on "6".
NOTE: When dancing "on 2" most dancers (leaders) still step with their left foot slightly back on 1 and break back with their right foot on "2". Basically they are stepping back twice with their second step (right foot) being the break step or rock rock step.
OTHERS hold the 1 (no stepping) and break back with their right foot on "2" when starting to dance.

The opposite applies for the follower.

Without trying to start some huge debate:
You hear the "on 1" and you feel the "on 2".

Rene Delgado, United Salseros
August 12, 2003 --

Here are two threads that I've posted in the Dance Forums "salsa" forum, attached as Word 6.0 files Mambo v Salsa.doc and Dance Timings.doc. They are designed to clear up widespread misconceptions about latin dance timings based on the claves of rumba (Cuban mambo, cha cha, and son) and the dance timing of salsa (the Bronx circa 1960), which is based on the rhrythmic structure of Puerto Rican plena.Hello Dancers!
Please, bear with me as I make my points of clarification:

[b][QUOTE=Black Sheep]
Salsa sucks when compared to Mambo.

Occasionally I do come across an authentic Mambo dancer . . . But, when I try dancing to the Salsa rhythm, the dance loses the excitement; and it becomes bland, it's like eating a burrito without salsa. [/QUOTE][/b]

Whether or not salsa actually does suck is still somewhat open to question. Having conducted a mambo workshop, I can say for a certainty that anyone who learns the dance timings of rumba (that is to say, dancing on the claves of rumba) will find salsa dance timing a far less satisfying experience. Mambo and its sister form of rumba, the Cuban son, are more elegant, both in look and feel, than salsa. Even today, when I see young Puerto Ricans in the island, good dancers, dancing salsa, I can’t help but think what a shame it is that they will most likely never know mambo, as just a change of dance timing can transform good dancers into extraordinary dance teams.

My introduction to latin dance came on the west coast and, accordingly, the dance timing that I learned first was salsa. Salsa, by the way, is the invention of Puerto Ricans in the Bronx, who, after the withering of Cuban musical influences in New York (late 1950s – early 1960s), dressed the rhythm of plena (pleh-nah), from the musical and dance experience of their culture, in the trappings of Cuban music. Salsa reigns supreme on the west coast, as there is very little Cuban influence there, while the population of Central and South Americans swelled beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of the most popular forms of music and dance in those south of the border areas is cumbia (koom-beeyah). While cumbia is quite different musically from the plena of Puerto Rico, it has the same rhythmic structure and, not surprisingly, the same dance timing. It is no accident that Colombianos and others with cumbia in their musical heritage have taken to salsa like fish take to water.

The rhythms of rumba (rrroom-bah) were imported into Haiti and Cuba in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are based on African traditions of pantheistic ceremony. While African religious ceremonial dances are known, they were performed only by men. Secular or social dancing between men and women was unknown in Africa until that idea was brought there from Europe. The term “rumba”, by the way, comes from the Bantu-Congolese word “lumba”, meaning to “get down” or to affirm. Because Cubans are famous for their confusion over “Ls” and “Rs”, we are left with the term rumba. Cuba, at the turn of the 20th century witnessed the secularization of rumba in the form of the changui (chahn-gwee), a predecessor of the Cuban son (sohn) and other popular forms of Cuban music that we know today, including variations of son known as guajira (wah-hee-rrrah), guaracha (wah-rrrah-chah), and guaguanco (wah-wahn-koh), as well as mambo (mahm-boh) and its cousin, the son montuno (sohn mohn-toon-oh). The changui was the dominion of the lower-class population of former slaves. It emerged as their answer to the Cuban danzon (dahn-sohn), the popular music and dance of the European elite in Cuba. The precursor of the danson, the French contradanza (kohn-tra-dahn-sah), was brought to Cuba in the middle 19th century by French refugees fleeing from the Haitian uprising. The French got it from the English, where it was known simply as the “country dance”. Not being much given to the English language, they heard it as “contradanza” (referring to dancing in opposition or facing each other).

In the first half of the 20th century, Cuba rapidly became a playground for the eastern seaboard of the United States. In the evenings, tourists danced to danzones played in the hotels by musical aggregations known as charangas (chah-rrrahn-gahss). The charanga was composed principally of classical instruments (violin, cello, base violin, piano, flute, clarinet, timbale, and, on occasion, saxophone) played by trained musicians, many of whom also played in the Havana symphony orchestra. By day, these same tourists were charmed by the lively rhythms of street-musician “conjuntos” (kohn-hoon-tohss) playing accordion, tres (trehss – a double-stringed guitar-like instrument tuned in thirds), trumpet, and a panoply of African percussive instruments. As you can imagine, tourists were soon requesting those more up-tempo rhythms for their evening’s entertainment. As a result of that popular social pressure for fusion of the two musical genres, a “montuno” (a sequence of repetitive up-tempo musical riffs cycling on an eight-count pattern) was tacked on at the end of the danzon. That ending musical interlude came to be known as the “mambo”, after the title of a piece composed by Orestes Lopez (the older brother of legendary Cuban bass violinist Israel “Cachao” Lopez) and first aired on Havana radio in 1939. Hence, danzon-mambo was born (although in Cuba it was generally known as danzon-moderno). In time, dancers urged musicians to drop the danzon altogether and to just play the mambo. In the late 1930s – early 1940s, the leading exponent of mambo was the legendary charanga of flautist Antonio Arcano (Ahrrr-kahn-yoh), which he dubbed “La Primera Maravilla del Siglo” (the first marvel of the century), more generally known by Cubans as simply Arcano y sus Maravillas (Arcano and his marvels). And marvelous they were, arguably the greatest assemblage of musicians on the planet – ever. Included in that group were the brothers Lopez, Orestes and Israel. In that same era, the undisputed leader of the conjunto style of music was the legendary band leader, composer, and master of the Cuban tres, Arsenio Rodriguez. He, too, incorporated the montuno into a musical style that he made famous, the son montuno (with the same rhythmic structure as mambo played by a charanga). Because what was happening in New York in the 1940s was big band sound, with its emphasis on horns and percussion, it was the son montuno of Arsenio Rodriguez that exploded onto the latin music and dance scene in that place and time. It is this musical genre that is today known in the United States as mambo. Thus, only the name “mambo” made the 90-mile crossing from Cuba. The original mambo (which I prefer for its amazing rhythmic syncopations) stayed behind.

The four principal latin dance timings are mambo (including son montuno), son (including guaguanco, guajira, and guaracha), salsa, and cha cha. While there are six claves (clah-vehss – drum syncopations based on an eight-count musical refrain composed of two measures of music in 4/4 time) associated with the pantheistic ceremonial music of Africa known generally as rumba, there are only two dance timings that are used for dancing to the popular music that has come to us from that religious ceremonial tradition. In the parlance of ballroom dance, those two dance timings are the “quick quick slow” version of rumba (the dance timing used for dancing to a mambo or to a son montuno) and the “slow quick quick” version of rumba (the dance timing used for dancing to a son, guaguanco, guajira, or guaracha). I like to refer to these two dance timings simply as mambo and son, respectively. The dance timing for cha cha is only a minor variation of mambo dance timing, wherein two quick steps (the “cha cha”) replace the mambo transitions of counts 4 and 8 of the eight-count (two-measure) musical refrain. Those of you who are interested in a detailed explanation of each of the four principal latin dance timings can bring up my thread “Latin Dance Timings” in this forum, or, if you let me know of your interest, I can send to you, as an e-mail attachment, a convenient chart in Word 6.0 format.

[b][QUOTE=Enthusiast]
In one regard, I have to completely disagree with you. Dancing on the 1 beat has developed as a result of changes in the music. Mambo and Salsa are not the same thing. You might want to try searching on the word "Clave" or "Clave rhythm". Salsa has certainly changed, and along with it the dance has changed. Even New York style salsa dancers dance on the one beat. The only difference is they "break" on the 2. They are still pausing on 4. Everywhere you go these days, nearly everybody pauses on 4. [/QUOTE][/b]

Yes, as you can see from the foregoing discussion, mambo and salsa have completely different musical origins, as well as distinct dance timings. I would also point out that the “pause” to which you refer is not really a pause (that is to say, where motion stops), but a transition between musical counts, wherein the foot is moving to step on the musical count immediately following the transition count. This transition is necessitated by the fact that three steps are taken in each four counts of music and it applies to all of the principal latin dance timings except cha cha, in which two quick steps ( the “cha cha”) replace the transition. You are correct in stating that that the transition counts for both salsa and mambo are counts 4 and 8 of the 8-count musical refrain. Again, regardless of dance timing, if the motion of dance is stopped during transition counts, the dance takes on a markedly choppy, awkward and generally unaesthetic appearance. This is most noticeable among novice dancers of salsa, owing to the structure of that particular dance timing.

[b][QUOTE=SDsalsaguy]
I've checked with a friend of mine who was teaching for Arthur Murray’s back in the 1950's and he says that the standard was for Mambo to break on the 2, as in 2-3-4-(hold 1). [/QUOTE][/b]

Yes, Art brought this simplified “two steps in four musical counts” version of mambo from Cuba to New York, either because he did not understand the dance himself, or because he felt that he could not easily teach it to his students (I don’t know which). At any rate, as a club dancer, I have always regarded as tragedy the fact that this completely contrived artifact has been proffered as “mambo” within ballroom dance circles over the past 50 years. I can assure you that Art’s “mambo” has never been seen in Cuba! The real thing (three steps in four musical counts) is, in the parlance of ballroom dance, nothing more (or less) than a high octane version of “quick quick slow” rumba.

[b][QUOTE=MissAlyssa]
I learned Salsa before I learned Mambo so Mambo is difficult for me to follow because of the breaking on the 2. Now I have started to learn my Mambo steps in Salsa rhythm so that I can learn the steps w/o having to think (haha what a shame) and then dance it in Mambo timing when I get the hang of the steps. :] So much controversy over how it's all supposed to be done which doesn't matter unless you are either teaching or competing. [/QUOTE][b/]

I also learned salsa dance timing first. However, I was fortunate to learn mambo from Eddie Torres in New York. I tell salsa-literate newcomers to mambo that their salsa background might put them at a disadvantage, as it is not an uncommon experience to have to “unlearn” salsa in order to learn mambo (I know I did). Anyway, it appears that you are exactly the person I need to translate salsa routines to mambo. -- Dennis


August 12, 2003 -- LATIN DANCE TIMINGS & BASIC STEP PATTERN

Mambo dance timing is based on a version of rumba known to ballroom dancers as “quick quick slow” rumba and is used to dance mambo and son montuno. Son dance timing is based on a version of rumba known to ballroom dancers as “slow quick quick” rumba and is used to dance son, guaguanco, guajira and guaracha. Note that, except for the two “cha cha” steps on counts 4 and 8, the timing and step pattern of cha cha is the same as that of mambo. Note also the convention that in mambo the man starts the dance by shifting his weight to his right foot on count 5, then steps forward with his left foot on count 6. While the basic step patterns shown below can be danced with continuous breaks (in a continuous forward-back 8-count cycle), continuous breaks are no requisite of these dances. The man may continue dancing forward/backward with his partner, space on the dance floor permitting. The same principle applies to dancing to the left and to the right. Nevertheless, he must break the direction of dance on the foot and musical count specified by the dance timing for the dance being done. For example, in mambo he must change from a forward direction to a backward direction of dance on his left foot on count 6 of the music. If he is dancing to the right, he must change to a left direction of dance on his right foot on count 2 of the music, et cetera.


[u]MAMBO:[/u]

[u]COUNT[/u].……[u]MAN[/u]…….[u]WOMAN[/u]
….1………………………..LB………………….…RF
>.2………………………..RB……………….……LF
….3………………………..LI……………….…….RI
….4………………………..RT……………….……LT
….5………………………..RF…………………….LB
>.6………………………..LF…………………….RB
….7………………………..RI…………………….LI…
….8………………………..LT…………………….RT

[u]SON:[/u]

[u]COUNT[/u].……[u]MAN[/u]…….[u]WOMAN[/u]
….1………………………..LB………………….…RF
….2………………………..RT……………….……LT…
>.3………………………..RB…………….……..LF
….4………………………..LI…………….….……RI
….5………………………..RF…………………….LB
….6………………………..LT…………………….RT
>.7………………………..LF…………………….RB
….8………………………..RI…………………….LI

[u]CHA.CHA:[/u]

[u]COUNT[/u].……[u]MAN[/u]…….[u]WOMAN[/u]
….1………………………..LB………………….…RF
>.2………………………..RB……………….……LF
….3………………………..LI……………….…….RI
….4/and………………RF/LF……………….LB/RB
….5………………………..RF…………………….LB
>.6………………………..LF…………………….RB
….7………………………..RI…………………….LI
….8/and……………...LB/RB………………RF/LF
.[u]SALSA:[/u]

[u]COUNT[/u].……[u]MAN[/u]…….[u]WOMAN[/u]
>.1………………………..RB………………….…LF
….2………………………..LI……………….….…RI
….3………………………..RF……………….……LB
….4………………………..LT………………..……RT
>.5………………………..LF…………………….RB
….6………………………..RI…………………….LI
….7………………………..LB…………………….RF
….8………………………..RT…………………….LT

[u]LEGEND[/u]
L.=.LEFT.FOOT
R.=.RIGHT.FOOT
F.=.FORWARD
B.=.BACK
I.=.IN.PLACE
T.=.TRANSITION…(FOOT.IS.MOVING.TO.STEP.ON.THE.FOLLOWING.COUNT).
>..MARKS.BREAK.COUNT,.WHERE.DIRECTION.OF.DANCE.CHA

-- Dennis



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