Basic Step

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Points to Remember

  • Begin in Home Position, right foot in front of left.
  • Leads start by stepping forward with their left foot.
  • Follow start by stepping backward with their right foot.
  • Start from and return to Home Position.
  • The rhythm is quick-quick-slow.
  • Keep moving through the music, don't pause.
  • Keep your steps small and your feet underneath you.
  • Change your weight with every step, don't tap the foot.
  • Keep on the balls of your feet, your heels don't need to touch the floor.
  • Chest out, shoulders back and knees slightly bent.
  • Don't bounce up and down, keep it smooth.
  • Keep your arms bent at the elbow.
  • Don't look at your feet.


The Basic Step is the first step you need to learn in the dance.  In this lesson you are going to learn the Basic Step, as well as how to time your steps and hold your posture.

Everything starts with the Basic Step, and gaining an good understanding of it is vital to being able to perform more difficult moves. But before we get into the Basic Step, we need to understand the two different roles in Salsa.

Lead & Follow

Salsa is a primarily a partner dance, two people dance together - the Lead and the Follow.  The Lead signals the moves that are going to take place, and it's up to the Follow to respond to the signals they receive from the Lead.  We'll talk more about Lead and Follow when we get onto dancing with a partner, for now we're going to learn the Basic Step without a partner.

Timing of The Steps

Before getting into the actual steps, let's talk about timing your steps. Salsa is danced over eight counts of music.  Put any old music on and try counting the beats: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.  You're going to being stepping on the 1,2,3 and 5,6,7.  Once you've got the beat, step from one foot to the other on the 1,2,3 and 5,6,7.  Leads start by stepping on to your left foot, Follows start by stepping onto you right.

So Leads it's left, right, left, wait, right, left right, wait.  Follows, you'll be stepping right, left, right, wait, left, right, left, wait.  Try and time your steps with the beat in the music.  This is the timing of your steps that you will use throughout our Beginner level, and later on you'll learn to break this timing in higher levels.

Home Position

The Basic Step starts and finishes in Home Position.  To get into Home Position simply move your right foot just in front of your left foot - this is the same for both Leads and Follows.

Stand with your chest out, shoulders back and knees slightly bent.  Bend your arms so that you wrists are at waist height.  It is important to have your weight over your toes, so that your heels are only lightly touching the floor.  You're going to start and finish a lot of moves in Home Position, so try and get comfortable in the position and remember to relax!

The Basic Step

Timing your steps as you did in the timing exercise, Leads are going to step forward with their left foot on count 1.  Then step their right foot in place on count 2 and return their left foot to Home Position on count 3.  On count 5, step your right foot back, step in place with your left foot on count 6, and finally on count 7 - return your right foot to Home Position.

For Follows, the Basic Step is very similar but you start by stepping back with your right foot on count 1.  Then on count 2, step in place with your left foot and on count 3, return your right foot to Home Position.  On count 5, step your left foot forward, step in place on your right foot for count 6, and finally on count 7 return your left foot to Home Position.

Improving Your Basic Step

Perhaps the most important thing to understand at this stage, is that you must change your weight from one foot to the other each time you step.  Don't tap your feet, the weight should be fully transferred with each step so that you could lift your other foot.  This may sounds complex, but it's just like walking really!

You'll notice that on count 4 and count 8, you don't step. Although you're not stepping on these counts, try and keep moving through the counts. So perhaps you can think of the steps as quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow.  It's important to keep moving throughout your Basic Step and maintaining your posture.

Try not to look at your feet, once you've got the steps.  And don't let your head bob about, keep your head on a level and let the movement transfer through your body.

Next we're going to learn the try the Basic Step with a Partner.