Cuban Salsa vs. Line Style Salsa: A Dance of Distinct Flavors

Salsa is an electrifying dance form that originated in the Caribbean and quickly spread across the globe, enchanting audiences and dancers alike with its lively rhythms, quick footwork, and intricate patterns. However, not all Salsa is danced the same way. Depending on where you are or whom you’re dancing with, you might encounter different styles of this popular dance. Two of the most prevalent styles are Cuban Salsa and Line Style Salsa, each with its own unique set of characteristics and historical roots. Let’s delve into the world of Salsa and uncover the distinctions between these two captivating styles.

Historical Background

  • Cuban Salsa: Originating in Cuba, this style is heavily influenced by Cuban Son, a type of music and dance that predates Salsa. It incorporates various elements from other Cuban dances like Rumba and Mambo. Because of its rich Cuban history, this style embodies the essence of Cuba’s vibrant culture and spirit.
  • Line Style Salsa: Also known as Cross-Body or LA/NY style, this form of Salsa developed outside of Cuba, primarily in the United States. Influenced heavily by American jazz, it was popularized in big cities like Los Angeles and New York. Each city lends a little of its flavor to the style, but the basic premise remains: dancing in a linear motion.

Dance Patterns and Movements

  • Cuban Salsa: Also known as Casino, Cuban Salsa is danced in a circular motion. Partners often switch places and employ a variety of turns. The “Rueda de Casino” is a popular group format where several couples dance in a circle, and a leader calls out moves which are then executed by the entire group in unison.
  • Line Style Salsa: As the name suggests, dancers move in a linear pattern, forwards and backwards. The lady typically travels across the lead’s body, which is why it’s also called Cross-Body style. This form is known for its flashy spins, complex turn patterns, and dips.

Connection with the Partner

  • Cuban Salsa: The connection is close and intimate. The steps and movements are more grounded, and there is a focus on achieving a rhythmic connection with the music and one’s partner.
  • Line Style Salsa: There’s a greater emphasis on turn patterns and complex combinations, often requiring a more open hold. This gives the dancers space to execute intricate spins and styling.


  • Cuban Salsa: Cuban style often incorporates Afro-Cuban body movements, which gives it a distinct flavor. The movements are often more playful and involve lots of hip and body motion.
  • Line Style Salsa: Depending on whether it’s LA or NY style, there can be a lot of emphasis on sharp and flashy arm styling, especially for the ladies. LA style is known for its theatricality and high energy, while NY style is more elegant and emphasizes a strong connection to the music.

Music and Rhythmic Interpretation

  • Cuban Salsa: The music for Cuban Salsa is often more polyrhythmic, with multiple layers of beats to which the dancers can respond. This gives the dancers a lot of freedom in their interpretation.
  • Line Style Salsa: The music is usually more straightforward, focusing on the core beat. The dancers emphasize the primary rhythm, which makes it crucial for executing those complex turn patterns and combinations.

In Conclusion

Both Cuban Salsa and Line Style Salsa offer dancers a rich and immersive experience. While they share the same root, their evolution has been shaped by cultural influences, regional preferences, and individual innovations. Whether you’re swaying to the rhythmic beats of Cuban Salsa or getting swept up in the high-energy spins of Line Style, you’re guaranteed a thrilling dance experience. Whichever style you choose, the essence of Salsa — passion, rhythm, and connection — remains undeniably present.