Salsa Timing: 3 tips to help you find the one.


It is no secret that salsa dancing is tricky. The music has a lot of instruments playing that only lead to confusion. Added to this is the sound of a singer singing in Spanish. When all this is heard all together, it simply makes it harder to find the one and to perfect your salsa timing. However, with a few basic tools, you too can find the one on the dance floor. So whether you are taking salsa dance classes in Norfolk or Norway, following the tips will help you perfect your timing.

Tip #1: Find the strong beat.

When you listen to salsa, you will often hear a melody playing throughout the music. But how do you tell which part of the melody occurs on the #1 beat? Well the key is to listen for the strong beat. Even though the melody plays continuously, you will hear one beat that is stronger than the others and therefore stands out a lot more. Most salsa songs have a melody and so by knowing how to listen for the one via the melody, you should find that you can quickly find where each bar starts.

Example: Song with a Melody

Tip #2: Listen for the Conga

The sound of the Conga is so common in salsa songs that some dancers dance solely to the sound of the conga. The Conga sound lands on counts 2 and 6. Therefore, when you are using the conga to find the one, you will need to use the conga the find the speed in order to determine where the 1 would land if it could be heard. For example, when you first hear the conga you may count  2 . . . 6 . . . 2 . . .6. However, once you can hear the speed and rhythm you may count the other numbers eg 2 3 . . 6 7 . . 2 3 . . 6 7 . The aim is to eventually be able to could 1 2 3 . 5 6 7 .  

Example: Song with Conga

Tip #3: Listen for the Clave

Last but not least…the Clave. Who would have thought two sticks could be so important to so many salsa dancers? well these two sticks underpin many salsa songs that we play during dance classes at our salsa club in Swaffham, Norfolk. There are two patterns often played by the clave. One of which is the 2/3 pattern (played in the video above) and the other is the 3/2 pattern. Once you know the pattern that the clave plays, it is easier to know when the pattern repeats. Because it always starts on beat #1, knowing when the clave pattern repeats means knowing where the one is.

Example: Song with clave

Let me know how you get on. Is it easier to hear the one now that you have 3 tricks up your sleeve?