Difference Between Mambo and Salsa

With all the ballroom shows on TV, I know some students are wondering what is the difference between Mambo and Salsa. I found a good description on a website called The Dance Store Online. Here it is…

“What’s the difference between mambo and salsa? This depends completely on how each is defined. If we are talking about club style salsa and club style mambo, the only difference is that salsa can be danced on any beat whereas in mambo, the break step is taken on the second beat of the measure. Thus salsa encompasses mambo. In other words, mambo can be thought of as the special case of salsa where the break step is taken on count 2.

If we are talking about salsa and ballroom mambo, the differences are larger. Ballroom training encourages precise and sharp movement with sudden stops and fast changes of direction. In addition, big arm lines are used in ballroom figures. Ballroom figures normally have precise geometries and usually move in linear or lateral directions. In contrast, salsa is more relaxed, more flowing, and the patterns are more circular. Big arm lines are not used in club style salsa dancing.”

This is a good definition because New York Mambo is very different from Ballroom Mambo. So what you see on shows like Dancing with the Stars is definitely not what you will see when you go to New York to a salsa event. So New York Mambo is a very smooth On 2 salsa and Ballroom Mambo is more formal, bigger and stiffer. Hope that answers the questions!

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