Salsa > Do all the better dancers, do it on2?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by road2graciousness, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. road2graciousness

    road2graciousness New Member

    Well, I guess it depends where about you are? I'm right in the middle of the UK, and most salsa seems to be on1, unless you're in Manchester or Birmingham (which are mostly on2, I think). Here in Sheffield, it's very much on1 ...

    I'm on1 myself, I did lessons on2 for a while, a couple of years back, and it never stuck (it felt kinda wooden and contrived).

    My perception, is that beginners and intermediate level dancers, tend to be on1, while advanced level, experts are tending to be on2. Is that accurate?

  2. tj

    tj New Member

    Uh oh.... here we go again! :rolleyes:

    The On1 vs On2 debate has been likened to a religious war (I think sweavo was the first poster that I remember saying this), in that it tends to get very passionate arguments on both sides, with neither being particularly constructive.

    I will say this, however. IME, in a lot of scenes, I have seen dancers who have been dancing longer, start out as On1, and then switch to On2 after having gotten bored with On1. Then again, there was a semi-beginner last Sunday night who was trying to dance On2 (he told a friend of mine that he dances On2), but he wasn't on any steady count, so there are exceptions.

    I think the general rule goes something like: learn the style that the majority of dancers dance in your scene first, then branch out to the other styles once you're comfortable with that style. It'll only make you a more versatile dancer if you can do many different styles.
  3. DCR

    DCR Member

    My experiance with dancing goes back to the 70's and been dancing every decade religiously. First of all dancing is to have fun. When dancing it did not matter what timing timing I was on. I set my pace to the music and the lady I dance with. On1,2.3 or 4 it does not matter to me. Frankly speaking I don't care of all the technical moves. enjoying yourself and the lady is all that matters.
    No timing is better than the other.
    If one feels that they feel more comfortable dance on a certain timing please give yourself some time just relax and set yourself free. Versitlity is the key to been a good dancer.
    If anyone feels that a timing is better than another. Please find another style of dancing like foxtrot or the waltz and leave salsa to the Salseros.
  4. road2graciousness

    road2graciousness New Member

    Thanks for your comments guys.

    I'm not trying to start a on1 vs on2 war! God no. NO NO NO.

    I guess for me, in my local scene, it's predominatly on1, and I'm happy with that. However, I've been having thoughts of turning to the dark-side (sorry, I mean on2).

    A lot of the (technically) better dance teachers in my area (and cities nearby) are on2. I'm thinking it may help me to spend time on technique, elements or turn-patterns etc. Currently, when I'm dancing, I tend to forget a lot of stuff, and find myself just in the moment, being spontaneous, which I think is great, but ... it's still very important to be grounded in good technique and on some level, know what you're doing (I think).

    I'm gonna stop worrying about it now. I was checking out Magna Gopal on youtube, and figuring all good dancers, everywhere, are on2.
  5. DCR

    DCR Member

    I don't think you are trying to start a war. Just that people don't understand the dance they just undstand what they are taught and what they see on TV. Nobody taught me, just grew up in NYC with the music, the bands and enjoyed it with the ladies I danced with.
    Every generation there will another set of new Salseros and they will interpit the dance in there way but the timing(s) will remain the same.
  6. Stagekat

    Stagekat Member

    In my mind Salsa is On1, Mambo is On2... So they are approached as two different dances...(I've learned that they vary more than just which beat to start on as well) My area is for the most part a Salsa crowd... But I find equally skilled dancers in both.
    So while I understand the debate, I just think that they are two different dances. I just happen to prefer Salsa. :)
  7. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    I think tj hit it when he said to learn what's common to get yourself going, no matter what that is, and then expand later on if you like...!

    Ok road2g, here's my honest thought about your question. IMHO, the percentage of "good" on2 dancers is higher than the percentage of "good" on1 dancers. My belief is that this is because on1 is so much more prevalent. If you are a casual social dancer looking to learn salsa, you don't know that there are many different styles, and with the exception of a few places (like NYC), if you search for salsa lessons and just ask for salsa, 4 times out of 5 you're going to get on1. So that's what you learn. So, the percentage of on1 dancers who just happened upon the style and who are just in it for casual every now and then dancing is likely to be larger than those who are dancing on2. Now, you may begin with casual intentions, and turn out to be a very serious, awesome dancer. But, most who casually seek to learn salsa don't want to become amazing, and most don't put in the time and money it takes to do so.

    Another way of putting it is that if you're dancing on2, it's probably because you sought out that style, whether you're starting from scratch, or coming from another style. Which in the majority of cases of people means that you are more serious about learning, more commited to stick with it, more commited to spend money on it, etc. This translates into faster learning, more passion, and ultimately, better dancing. Remember, these are just generalizations... And don't get me wrong, for either style, on average, the number of "awesome" dancers isn't very large...
  8. Dancelf

    Dancelf Member

    Out of curiosity, is any of the on1 vs on2 debate about musicality?

    In other words, is it ever the case that the con mucho sabor-star on2 dancers are seen dancing on1, or vice versa, because that's what the music is calling for?

    Disclaimer: author is a westie...
  9. squirrel

    squirrel New Member


    I started with Colombian Salsa... did a little Cuban, then on1, now on2. :)

    I think you can find good dancers in all "types of Salsa"... The "really advanced dancers" only know more styles. And this is part of what makes them so good.
  10. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    From the latino musicians-- ALL salsa is mambo-- but not all mambo is salsa
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    NO-- in the states ALL chain schools teach mambo/salsa on 2 from day one , and have done so for 60 plus yrs . .

    the expediency of learning on on 1 is what makes life for me ( and most teachers ) a damn sight easier !--- Spent multi yrs attempting to get people to stay on 2 consistently .

    Is it musically correct ? in most cases- no .It depends on the composition .

    The most important thing to not lose sight of ? -- enjoyment-- dont get too hung up on " clave "-- is it 1-2 or3-- if you are a follower, you,re at the mercy of the leader, so, suggest you hone your skills in more than one timing .
  12. tj

    tj New Member

    Given the above... I think you should take some lessons and see if you like it or not. It should improve your dancing at worst. Get you even more addicted at best. :) ;)
  13. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Yes, I think in many places, when someone takes up salsa dancing, it's more thank likely that the beginner level classes available in the area are mostly taught on1. So people start out by learning on1, and they only become aware of the existence of on2 after dancing for a while. As a result, many people who take up on2 already know how to dance salsa and are not complete beginners. This makes the overall level of on2 dancers higher than on1 in the same area.

    NY and the surrounding areas are an exception to this rule, and I did come across quite a few beginner dancers dancing on2 at the NY congress. Presumably there are plenty of NY dancers who never had a chance to learn on1 at all.
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    it does depend a lot on location ,for sure .
  15. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    No TT, the original poster was talking about NY style on2, which maybe 1 in 100 chain schools teach... not talking about PR/BR mambo, which is different from NY on2.
  16. road2graciousness

    road2graciousness New Member

    I hear a lot of people telling me that on2 is more musically correct, or something (I am probably making that phrase up!), but that it's better for the women, and the timing is good for them to set up for spins and such like.

    Is that correct?

    Previously, when I tried to convert to on2, I found myself dancing in a really wooden way, really having to think hard about what I was doing, and my own timing. It just wasn't fun, not when I'm much more fluid and smooth on1. I guess that'd be a big hurdle for me, to put myself through that 'wooden phase' ... long enough for my on2 to become unforced and natural.

    Does that make sense? I'd be interested to head what experience other leads have had making the trasition, on1 to on2.
  17. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    That is a consensus-- but-- to be truly " musically "correct, then one would be dancing on all beats of the clave .
    2, is closer to that concept, but-- many cubans insist its still 1 .

    Bottom line-- dont get too hung up on timing :headwall: --- there are other things you can devote your time to , whilst honing your skills, in the comfort zone you are use to .

    And-- most important-- just enjoy the ride -- and leave the subleties to the " afficianados "-- other things will follow ( no pun ) in time .
  18. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    imo.. the 'better dancers' do it on all beats.. depending on what the song/music is leaning to and/or depending on what count your partner feels better on..
  19. SalsaTO

    SalsaTO New Member


    I'm a pretty good Salsa dancer who learned way back in 1998. The Toronto scene was what you folks call On1. I stayed with what you call On1.

    I was taught a style that was more sensual, did a lot more from closed position and had no shines... I added some shines to my repetoire, CBLs as they came into the scene, but I have no inclination to change the beat my feet move too. Foundation of any dance comes from the feet. Change the feet, you change the foundation and the dance. Ask any professionally trained dance instructor.

    There are plenty of challenges in On1. If I'm still learning new turn patterns after almost a decade...

    The big thing I've noticed about On2 are all what we used to call 'stop and goes.' I believe the On2 crowd calls them copas? The abrupt stop and change of direction appear to break the flow of what can be a very melodious movement and rhythm...

    Most people learn salsa On1, those who spend a lot of time on the scene may learn what is called Mambo or On2 in Toronto. On2 is not called salsa here. But a lot of them stay On1 and are very very good at it. Many of the performers around town perform On1. And there is one school dedicated to teaching On2 from scratch. They perform On2 as well, and the routines flow well. But you can see the work that went in to make it work. Ditto for Oliver and Luda.

    The two co-exist although sometimes uneasily. I've seen On2 leaders staying On2 trying to dance with On1 followers. It becomes a wrestling match as the On2 lead just does not work with an On1 follow, especially on timing for turns. I've seen a lot of them with On2 timing for their feet and On1 timing for lead and follow. That will lose all of your timing points in a competition...

    I guess it's a matter of whatever floats your boat.
  20. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    People who tell you this are usually on2 snobs so they are somewhat biased. There's a whole gamut of salsa music out there, and some songs strongly suggest on2, some are more suited to on1 and some (like timba) work best for Cuban style, but there are also many many songs that seem to work fine with any of these styles. It's down to your preference as far as I'm concerned.

    For spins it's true that the follower generally gains more time on2. For copas (and as SalsaTO says, NY style dancers seem to love copas), there's *less* time for the follower to execute the direction change on2 compared to on1.

    FYI, I dance on1, on2 and Cuban, I love them all equally, and I've met loads of good dancers in all these styles.

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