Salsa & Cha Cha


Salsa and Cha Cha are a closely-related family of Latin dances from Cuba.

Cha Cha, and the precursor to Salsa, called Mambo, first became popular in the United States in the 1950s.

While Cha Cha is pretty much danced in its original form today, Mambo saw further development, evolving into Salsa in the 1970s.


Given that they are so closely related in form (Cha Cha essentially being "Triple Step" Salsa), most variations in one dance can be adapted to the other, simply by replacing a single with a triple, or vice versa. Below, you'll find most figures demoed in Salsa, with the occasional variation also shown in Cha Cha.

S = Salsa          C = Cha Cha

» Basic (S, C)

Spot Turns
» Spot Turn (One Hand) (S, C)
» Spot Turn (Closed Position) (C)
» Dishrag Sunburst (S, C)
» He Goes, She Goes (S)
» Behind-the-Back Hand Change (S)
» Behind-the-Back Hand Change, Spot Turn (S)
» Double Spot Turn (S, C)
» Chained Spot Turns (S)
» Chained Spot Turns, Arch Turn Free Spin (S)
» She Goes, He Goes, She Goes (S)

Turns Down the Tracks
» Inside Turn (S, C)
» Outside Turn (S, C)
» Double Outside Turn (S, C)
» Double Inside Turn (S, C)
» Triple Inside Turn (S)
» Quintuple Inside Turn (C)
» Braced R-in-R Outside Turn (S)
» Braced R-in-R Free Spin (S)
» Braced R-in-R Rollaway (S)
» Braced R-in-R Turn Combo (S)
» Braced R-in-R Double Turn Combo (C)
» Shoulder Catch (S)
» Shoulder Catch, Double Inside Turn (S)
» Double Dishrag (S)
» Dishrag Sunburst (S)
» Goofy Hand Free Spin (S)

Cross-Body Leads
» Cross-Body Lead (S, C)
» Repeated Cross-Body Lead (S)
» Cross-Body Lead, Spot Turn (S)
» Cross-Body Lead, Crossover Break, Spot Turn (S, C)
» Cross-Body Inside Turn (S, C)
» Cross-Body Lead, Texas Tommy (S)
» Cross-Body Dishrag, He Goes, She Goes (S)
» Dishrag, Cross-Body Inside Turn (S)
» Double Cross-Body Inside Turn (S)
» Cross Body Lead to Cradle, Double Outside Turn (S)
» Yo Yo to Cradle with Deney Terrio Exit (S)

Lead's Arch Turn
» Arch Turn Side Pass (S)
» Arch Turn Free Spin (S)
» Arch Turn, Cradle, Double Outside Turn (S)
     » with High Low Exit (S)
     » with Deney Terrio Exit (S)

Two-Handed Figures
» Cradle (In and Out) (S)
» Loop-de-Loops (Chained Inside Turns) (S)
» Matador, Double Inside Turn (S)

Crossed-Handed Figures
» Sombrero (S, C)
» Crossed-Hand Matador (S)
» Crossed-Hand Matador, Cross-Body Lead (S)
» Crossed-Hand Cross-Body Outside Turn (S)
» Crossed-Hand Cross-Body Outside Turn, Arch Turn Free Spin (S)
» Shoulder Catch, Free Spin (S)
» Sweetheart (In and Out) (S)
» Sweetheart (Back and Forth) (S)
» Sweetheart (Back and Forth) with Mixmaster Exit (S)
» Windows (S)
» Windows with Face Loop Exit (S)
» Mixmaster (S)
» Sweetheart, Windows, Mixmaster Combo (S)
» Lead's Face Loop (S)

» Cradle Copa (S)
» Free Copa (S)
» Rainbow Copa (S)
» Double Rainbow Copa (S)
     » with Surprise Reverse Exit (S)

WCS-Inspired Figures
» Whip (S)
» Cradle Whip (S)

Tango-Inspired Figures
» Ochos (S)
» Ochos (Follow's Solo) (S)
» Ochos (Counter Crossing) (S)

Dips and Tricks
» Cross-Body Lead Dip (S)
» Arch Turn Free Spin Dip (S)
» Face-to-Face Side Dip (S)
» Sombrero Neck Roll (S)
» Sombrero Neck Roll Dip (S)
» Sombrero Neck Roll Dip to Free Spin (S)

Break Steps
» Fallaway Breaks (Body Catch) (S, C)
» Fallaway Breaks (Hand Catch) (C)
» Crossover Breaks with Rollaway Exit (C)
» Crossover Breaks with Spot Turn Exit (C)
» Crossover Break to Fallaway Break (S, C)
» Side Breaks (S)

Shine Steps
» The Chase (S, C)
» Spot Turn (S)
» Reverse Spot Turn (S)
» Cross on 3, Turn 5-6-7 (S)
» Cross on 5, Turn 6-7 (S)

Hand Styling
» Mirrored J-Stroke (S)
» Parallel J-Stroke (S)
» Circular Hands (S)

Alternate Timings
» Break on 2 (C)

Salsa Music

Here are a few of our favorite Salsa tunes, arranged by tempo.

Cha Cha Music

Here are a few of our favorite Cha Cha tunes, arranged by tempo.

Related Dances

Salsa Shines

Salsa Shines are fancy footwork variations that can be danced solo within the context of a partner dance.

For a list of more than fifty Salsa Shines, visit our Salsa Shines page.

Latin Waltz

Latin Waltz is Salsa in even 3/4 timing (1-2-3, 4-5-6).

All variations of Salsa work in Latin Waltz, and vice versa.

© 2014-2020 Nick Enge

If you or your community is interested in learning Salsa or Cha Cha, .

For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.

Home     About     Dances     Manuals     Search