What is LA-Style Salsa?
LA-style salsa is the style of salsa dancing popularized in Los Angeles and is one of the most popular forms of salsa dancing in the world. It is danced in the slot, similar to New York-style salsa but is distinguished for being danced on1 rather than on2.
Originally, LA-style salsa had a reputation for being showy with flashy moves and big tricks, and was popularized by the Vazquez Brothers (Luiz Vazquez, Francisco Vazquez, and Johny Vazquez) who were exemplars of that style.
However, more recently, people have come to use the term “LA-style” salsa synonymously with “on1 salsa”, referring to the timing of the dance rather than a particular dance style.
LA-Style Salsa vs New York-Style Salsa
Originally, the term LA-style salsa was coined to differentiate it from the other main style of salsa, New York-style salsa. Both styles are linear dances which are danced in the slot, rather than in a circular fashion like with Cuban or Colombian styles of salsa.
However, in LA-style salsa dancers take their break step on the first count of the measure (on count 1), which is why it is also referred to as on1 salsa, vs on2 for New York-style.
Technically dancers also break on1 in both Cuban and Colombian styles of dancing, but when salsa dancers say that they dance on1, they are usually referring to LA-style salsa dancing.
On1 salsa dancing is often considered a good style for beginners to learn since the on1 timing is typically easier for new dancers to pickup than on2 salsa timing. This is likely one of the reasons why on1 salsa dancing is the most popular form of salsa dancing in the world.
On2 dancing is often preferred to on1 by more experienced dancers, especially at international salsa events and congresses because it more closely aligns to the clave and tumbao, two common rhythms found in salsa music. However, most on2 dancers also know how to dance on1, so overall LA-style salsa is one of the most veratile styles of salsa to learn.
LA-Style Salsa vs Cuban
LA-style salsa and Cuban salsa are both danced on1, and share a few common moves, such as the cross-body lead. As such, experienced dancers of one style can often follow dancers of the other, although there are enough differences that this can be difficult.
Cuban salsa is danced in a circular fashion with the dancers going around each other while in LA-style salsa dancers go back and forth along a slot, exchanging places, and the feel and momentum of the lead can be quite different.
Additionally, Cuban salsa often incorporates a lot of hand tricks and Afro-Cuban movements, although these are increasingly being incorporated into LA-style salsa as well.