Latin American Dance Resources

Merengue, Salsa, Salsa Rueda, Salsa Suelta, Cha-Cha-Cha,

Bachata, Cumbia, Tango, Line-Dances, and more

Fall 2022

Salsa and Other Latin Dances

Additional material available to CCSF students on Canvas.

Salsa Rueda - Cuba

Salsa Rueda is danced with couples in a circle formation. The couples change partners frequently by doing moves that are designed to faciltate that. A caller calls out which moves to do next, similar to a caller in Square Dance.

Salsa Suelta - Cuba

Salsa Suelta is danced without partners, danced as a group like line-dancing. A leader calls out which moves to do next, similar to Salsa Rueda. Salsa Suelta routines are also common and do not require a caller. Some of the dance moves are "Salsa Suelta vocabulary" that are well known and other moves are unique to specific choreographers/groups.

Salsa Suelta - Selected Moves

  • Basics

  • Front Crossovers

  • Back Crossovers (AKA 5th Position Break)

  • Side (AKA Cucaracha, Spanish-cockroach)

  • Side, Cross Front

  • Side, Cross Back

  • Travel Side

  • Knees (4 knees travel forward, 4 basics travel backward)

  • Zig-Zag

  • Repeater (4 front crossovers on the same side)

  • Hook Front, Basic to back

  • Hook Front, Hook back

  • Suzie-Q (4 travel forward, 4 basics traveling backward)

  • Double Cross (cross front, open, cross front…do L, R)

  • Mambo #1 (facing forward, face R & L diagonals)

  • Caminando (Spanish - walking)

  • Sencillo (Spanish - simple, easy, straightforward)

          • L cross back

          • R cross back, turn ¼ L- your back faces to R

          • L walk backwards

          • R back basic in place

          • L back crossover and turn ¼ R - to face front

          • Immediately Do Other Side

          • 1. R cross back

          • 2. L cross back, turn ¼ R - your back faces to L

          • 3. R walk backwards

          • 4. L back basic in place

          • 5. R back crossover and turn ¼ L - to face front

Salsa Suelta: Videos to Watch/Study

Cumbia (Colombia)

Repasseado - Portugal

I am including this dance in our class to give some insight into the heritage of the European partner/group dances that have contributed to aspects of Salsa and othe Latin American Dances.

Meaning: "Repassed" What does "repass" mean? How often do you use this word in English? Me? Never! (Similar but different word: "repast", means a meal.) However, it is common usage in Portuguese and Spanish. Here's what the Google dictionary says, which makes sense for the name of this dance:

  • To go past (something) once again."As he repassed the gate a few seconds later, I called out to him."

  • To pass again, especially on the way back. "The courtyard where people pass and repass on errands of their own devising."

  • This could also refer to passing back and forth across the mountains in the region where this dance is done. This is most likely what the meaning of this dance refers to, as it is from an area of mountainous terrain in the north of Portugal.

About the Dance Movement

This dance and music make me so happy! The dance is usually done in a large circle with all dancers, or, in sets of 2 or 4 couples. I reworked this dance during the pandemic so that we can do it safely at home or in groups settings where we need to keepour distance. This version is done solo, in a line dance formation. The steps will fit within what the dancers are doing on various videos, matching the music! Keep it small, according to the space you have available wherever you are dancing right now, and, according to the floor surface…sticky floors? carpet? Try changing your footwear, wearing socks, or going barefoot!

Be sure to scroll down to the video links provided by Jeff Schneider's friend in Portugal. These show dancers doing traditional versions of the dance, in traditional costumes.

Repasseado - Jeanne's Shorthand Notes Describing the Movements

  1. Clap 3 times: feet are together, knees soft

  2. 7 times: start on R moving to R - Walk 1,2,3, hop on 4 (do this 7 times…RLRLRLR…your L foot will be free at the end)

  3. 4 times: Turn(them) or travel (us), rock (start travel/walk/turn on L… walk/easy run LRL, then rock R front, L back, R front. (Notice that in the videos there are some variations in exactly what the dancers do instead of rocking)

  4. Do #1, #2, #3 until end of dance.

Repasseado Videos

Watch and practice.

  1. Trad Mad Dublin Dance - Repasseado

Note: Watch the feet of the man in white.

  1. Kissene Folk - Repasseado

Note: Fun and social...on a grassy surface, imperfect footwork, but it doesn't matter in a social setting!

  1. Gira Sol - Repasseado

Note: Again, on a grassy surface, with folks turning different ways....again, that doesn't matter in a social setting!

Videos: Traditional Versions of Repasseado!

Jeff Schneider is my long-time teaching assistant at CCSF. His Portuguese friend is a folk dancer and he said that this dance is very traditional in the North of Portugal in the region Trás-os-Montes (Links to an external site.). He sent these links for videos and music.

  1. (Links to an external site.)

  2. (Links to an external site.)

  3. (Links to an external site.)


2020 - 2021

Salsa Rueda - Lots of videos to study!

Intermediate/Advanced Level

Online Due to the Pandemic

Salsa Rueda - Cuba

Salsa Rueda is danced with couples in a circle formation. The couples change partners frequently by doing moves that are designed to faciltate that. A caller calls out which moves to do next, similar to a caller in Square Dance. During the pandemic we taught combinations that couples can do without being part of a rueda circle.

Spring 2021

  • February 2021 Zoom

Summer and Fall 2020

Cumbia (Colombia)

Videos & Podcasts: Culture, History, Performances

This is an ongoing project. Suggestions for additions appreciated!

This is the inspiration for a new performance piece we were beginning to work on, pre-Covid 19, at CCSF! (6 minutes)

Listen to the song in the Music (Salsa) section above: Ella Si Va, Eliades Ochoa.

Fresh Air Interview, Terri Gross & Thomas Mann. (33:23 minutes)

Includes: Carlos Santana, Celia Cruz, Chano Pozo & Candido Camero, Daddy Yankee, Fania All-Stars & Johnny Pacheco, Freddy Fender, Gloria & Emilio Estefan, Héctor Lavoe, La India & Marc Anthony, Linda Ronstandt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Los Lobos, Los Tigres del Norte, Machito & Mario Bauza, Rubén Blades, Ricky Martin, Pérez Prado, Ritchie Valens, Selena, Shakira, Tito Puente, Willie Colon.


This is an ongoing project. Suggestions for additions appreciated!

This site has well-written articles on music and dance addressing Bachata, Merengue, Salsa, and Kizomba. Detailed discriptons of how the dictator Trujillo influenced the music, and, therefore, the dance, of the Dominican Republic. Includes videos for learning the basic steps of several dances and an article about female bachata singers.

Salsa, Cuban Salsa, Conga Drums, Hand Percussion. "Dance Papi is the best place on the web to learn salsa, Cuban salsa, conga drums and hand percussion online for free. We’re adding new courses to our videos section soon. Subscribe to our email list and get access to more videos, unique events and the latest news. We can’t wait to meet you on the dance floor."

An extensive and well-done list of articles about music from around the world, often with music and dance videos, and always an invitation to purchase a Rough Guide music subscription or album.

Books: Culture & History

This is an ongoing project. Suggestions for additions appreciated!

Organized in alphabetical order by author's last name.

Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of Butterflies (1994).

Historical fiction novel paying tribute to the real-life Mirabal sisters who were murdered by the Trujillo regime for participating in underground efforts against that regime. Gives insight into what life was like in the Dominican Republic under the cruel dictator Trujillo who ruled from 1930-1961. He promoted Merengue as the national dance.

Alvarez, Julia. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991).

Historical fiction addressing the experiences of a family that has immigrated to the USA from the Dominican Republic. Gives insight into the immigrant experience and into what life was like in the Dominican Republic while Trujillo (who promoted Merengue as the national dance) ruled from 1930-1961.

Mann, Charles. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005, 2006).

Mann, Charles. 1493: Uncovering The World Columbus Discovered (2011).

Pacini Hernandez, Deborah. Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular Music (1995).