Salsa > On1 or On2? Which is more practical to learn?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by wiseman, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. wiseman

    wiseman New Member

    I’m a 24 year old guy that went for dance lessons at this dance studio for a couple of weeks and they taught me the basic steps of the Salsa. I had to leave them and find another studio because they were money hungry and taking advantage of me. So, I found this new studio and went to a beginner Salsa class. It was called “Salsa On2” and I took the group beginner class yesterday. I didn’t know anything about On1 and On2. I just saw Salsa in the name and thought it would be the same. Heh! Well when the class started, I was surprised at how different the style was. After further research today, I found out about this On1 and On2 thing. So, I have a slight hunch that I was learning On1 at the old studio. So that explains the different style. I’m surprised the old studio never had such a thing. They just called it Salsa, lol.

    Ok, now that I discovered the On1 vs. On2 thing and now know the basic steps of both since I went for lessons on both, which should I continue doing? They teach On2 every Wednesday and On1 every Thursday. Which should I start advancing on right now since I’m only a beginner? Which is the most practical to continue learning for now?

    BTW- I live in NY, so it may seem obvious that On2 is best choice, but I want to learn a dance on which I can dance ANYWHERE with ANYONE. So, that’s why I ask this question. Though, of course, I’ll most likely be dancing in NY most of the time.
  2. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member


    Hi wiseman, disiples of either style would call their way to be the best. In another forum actually kind of a religious war broke out about this question.

    A lot say, on1 was easier to begin with for european ears, others claim, it was more difficult then to change from on1 to on2, if you started only with on1.

    So my advise: learn either rhythm from the beginning, you have to master both later on anyway. Some music title require on1, others on2.

    By the way, this is a tool to study salsa rhythms (turn off all instruments but clave, congas and instructor, and you´ll find the core rhythm of salsa). Think you can download an iPhone app of it, too to use every free second of your new dancing life.
    Here´s something really useful to watch At the end of the vid the you can see the different ways of stepping.
  3. wiseman

    wiseman New Member

    Thanks! If weather permits, I'll try the On1 class tonight and judge for myself.
  4. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Thanks, @opendoor for that link. As to original question, my advice is always to learn whatever is prevalent close to where you live. If you learn to lead well and clearly, a good follower will follow whichever you do. A poor follower will have trouble whichever one you lead.

    Also focus on how well you can stay on beat with each. Something I've commonly seen is "on2" leaders that start out breaking on 2, but within a few measures end up breaking on 1.

    You will find religious adherents of both. Pick the one you will get to dance the most.

    I break on 1, myself. I'm not particularly looking for any sort of authenticity, I just want to have fun dancing. If I was in NYC, I'd probably break on 2. From what I have seen, heard, and read, NYC is the only place I know of where breaking on 2 is prevalent, but it was also the home of salsa music in the US.
  5. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    I checked out that youtube video, that was certainly illuminating, followed by several others that generally confirmed what the first one showed.
    When I took a class teaching on2, they had us breaking forward with the left foot on 2, and suggested that if you wanted to play with it, you could break forward with the left foot on 3 or 4 as well.
    I've watched a few instructional videos online, and I must confess that somehow instructors of NY style salsa confuse me. I have to watch them all carefully, and I think I've come to the conclusion that the footwork and the timing is the same for NY style and mambo, except moved up by 5 beats.
  6. MultiFaceted Dancer

    MultiFaceted Dancer Active Member

    Mambo basic is dance on 2 Salsa basic is danced on 1 --Mambo is a Cuban Dance and Perez Prado introduced the dance back in 1943 at the La Tropicanna night club in Havanna. Mambo appeared in the U.S. in New York's Park Plaza Ballroom around 1947.The Mambo crazed died out except for the advanced dancers in Ballroom competition. Most teachers have agreed to it's difficulty to teach being that it breaks on the 2.Eddie Torres(New York Dance Pro) renewed it's popularity and has now become known as the "Mambo King of Latin Dance". Mambo is the Ballroom Competition dance and the steps of Salsa to Mambo are similar but Mambo is more difficult. Since everyone is familiar with the terminology of salsa, it is my best guess that the new studio is teaching Mambo as well as Salsa.
  7. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I've never been sure: is there a difference in timing between ballroom mambo and salsa on2?
  8. TangoRocks

    TangoRocks Member

    I was thinking about the same thing as I followed this thread--although, on further reflection, I think Mambo and Salsa do have rather distinct and different from each other styling/technique; i.e., while you might not be "officially" doing mambo if you start on anything but "2", just starting on "2" and doing salsa doesn't necessarily make it a mambo. Of course, since I prefer mambo to salsa, I haven't really spent too much time actually dancing salsa so anyone who has spent more time dancing BOTH those dances should be able to enlighten us much better. Any volunteers? :)
  9. MultiFaceted Dancer

    MultiFaceted Dancer Active Member

    Mambo has an inside body tick as well as the Rhythm that goes along with the body movement and latin hips. I'm sure the Pro's can explain more in technical terms than I will be able too
  10. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    As to Mambo being a "Cuban" dance. That gets thrown around a lot. Mambo is the American Ballroom interpretation of a cuban dance. Just like Cha cha, Rumba, and Bolero. Just like International Standard Tango is an English adaptation of an Argentine dance.
  11. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    That I know. I know mambo better than I know salsa. I just wonder if salsa on2 is "mambo with different styling" and vice versa?
  12. wiseman

    wiseman New Member

    On2 it is, guys! I went to the On1 class today and there were like only 10 of us there. And most were advanced students, so I was kinda out of place. And that's the only On1 class they have each week. On2 classes are offered everyday and each class has over 20 students. I guess here in NY, everyone prefers On2, so that is what I have to take.

    Thanks for the help, everyone!
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

  15. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member


    Sorry tt for contradicting (you are the boss), but I think it is not helpful to reduce this question to the terms of mambo and salsa.

    First of all salsa is a bundle, a head term with different ingredients. Mambo on the other hand is a distinct style. I would prefer to labell the styles clearly:

    Mambo cubano
    Mambo classico (Palladium)
    NY style (Torres)
    Ballroom Mambo
    Casino cubano
    LA style (Vazquez)
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Wouldnt disagree with your posit.. I was simply trying to make a response that was not too conflicting for the beginner to the genre.. there is enough confusion for the beginner ( i see it in my class work ) and to isolate the 2 styles into different " camps, 2 would be the starting point for any beginner.. TOO much information may give too much confusion.. the " academics " in dance, may debate the differences, but that is of little help to the beginner.. simplicity in teaching is always the key word..

    And, incidentally, Mambo also is a dance with "different " ingredients.. remember , when it first emerged ,it was, in its simplicity, a basic form of " Son ", that evolved into the more frenetic style, due primarily due to the influx of variations from Swing and other lesser known dances of the 20s..

    Its also worth noting, that the clips of old school Mambo are not completely representative of the dance in that era.. not everyone was as " wild " as many of those portrayed on those old clips, on the contrary, there were many more controlled dancers, with a more sophisticated style ( the late Steve Peck heads that list. for e.g. ) on the scene.

    As a matter of interest ,something that is seldom shown, is the "line " dance of guys doing solo work, each one taking a turn to" head "the line.. a common practice... ( theres a clip somewhere on the web, from NY, of a recent similar "line " event )

    Bottom line is....... put any prefix or name to the genre you wish.. its still Mambo with a " twist "..

    PS.. you can also add Cali and Colombian, plus PR styles to that list. among others.. does the word " Fractious " come to mind ?
  17. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Depends where you learn your salsa.
  18. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Both are danced on 1 and 2...( even on 3 for salsa )
  19. Meagan

    Meagan Active Member

    On2 was a good choice!! I'm one of those that thinks its easier to translate on2 to on1 than the other way around :) Have fun!
  20. MultiFaceted Dancer

    MultiFaceted Dancer Active Member

    Dancing on 1 2 or 3 is usually not explained --that changing timing is ok until you become more advanced. Since most instructors feel that dancing on 2 is more difficult as it is for parties to dance mambo on time, I think the studio is trying (wiseman"s) situation to make it comfortable to dance on 2. So that when mambo is introduced officially it will feel comfortable. Most competitions have added the catagory of mambo/salsa because many students as well as instructors don't stay on 2. I think the studio's way of approaching it is a great idea. By not scaring new students into think it was a new dance but just a variation. Just like the timing change for cha cha as in guapacha timing. How many people- instructors-students dance this timing. When do they bother to teach-bronze, silver, gold international? When do you introduce?-My feelings is that if ladies are to supposely follow men which includes all levels then all levels of timing changes and variations should be taught right away. I started at Fred Astaire who started on 1 stayed there 1 1/2 years but after my first two months with them I also attended an old Arthur Murray Studio for group lessons and dance parties as well. They of course started on 2 which was new to me. So my first concern back then was -Was I learning it wrong? -Did I not understand what I was learning? Of course one of the instructors filled me in not to long after I continued to take thier group lessons and parties the difference in styles and starting on 1 or 2. So that made it apparent to me to go to different studios as well who had different backrounds either International Standard Latin American Smooth Rhythm Competitive so I would not miss out on all of the intricacies of lead,follow,styles,timing and styling. Back to 1 2 or 3 or(a 3) yes timing can be adjusted but I believe the purpose of that studio is to make the timing of 2 most comfortable to switch into later mambo or other dances as we are all aware- that it is vital to dance on 2 or to hear the 2.

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