What is New York Style salsa?
On 2 salsa is a style of salsa where the dancers take their break step on the second beat of the measure (“on 2”), as opposed to the first beat, as in On1 salsa. Like On1 salsa, on 2 salsa is danced in a slot, as opposed to the more circular style of Cuban or Colombian salsa.
On 2 salsa originated in New York, and is often referred to as “New York Style” salsa. It was popularized by Eddie Torres (featured in the video above), who helped formalize the timing of the dance. On 2 salsa is also sometimes referred to as “mambo”, which is an earlier style of Latin dance that was popular before salsa, and is also danced on the 2nd beat of the measure.
New York style salsa is known for its smooth and elegant turn patterns and footwork sequences, as opposed the flashier LA style.
The timing of on2 salsa can be tricky for beginners to master, so many salsa dancers start off learning on 1 salsa first before transitioning to on 2, although the styles are similar enough that followers can usually be led on 2 even if they normally dance on1. Many experienced dancers prefer dancing on 2 since it can be more musical, and connects well with the clave and tumbao, two common rhythmic patterns found in salsa music.
Salsa On 2 Timing
There are a few variations of the timing of the steps when dancing on 2. The most common method of dancing on 2 follows the standard 123-567 timing of salsa, with the break step happening on beats 2 and 6. This timing is sometimes referred to as “ballroom 2” or “Eddie Torres 2” (ET2).
An alternate timing for dancing salsa on 2 is called “Power 2”, which was popularized by a dance school called Razz M’Tazz in New York. The timing for power 2 goes 234-678, with the break step still happening on 2 and 6, but with a pause on the 1 and 5. This timing comes from Palladium era mambo, and is a popular way to dance on 2 because the steps more closely follow the tumbao rhythm of salsa music.
The third way of dancing salsa on 2 is following the clave. So the timing would be 23-5&8 or 1&4-67 for 2-3 clave or 3-2 clave respectively. This style of dancing is less common, but can make sense when dancing to music with a strong clave beat.