Dancing on 2 does not just mean breaking forward on the second beat. It is about how the dancer hears the music. In simple terms, the melody of our music is on 1, but the drumbeat/percussion beat has an accent on 2. When you dance on 2, you are dancing with the conga drum. The 2 dancer breaks forward on the conga’s “slap” stroke, ie. the drum’s accent.


The dancer needs to be able to do the following:

Count the 8 beats of the music.Hear and dance to the Conga “slap” stroke…the drum’s accent and be on clave.

Leaders break forward on beat 6.

Items one and two above are equally important.

Note: It takes time to pick up the drumbeat and clave beat, but one must learn to hear it in order to dance in unison with the music and sounds of a Latin band.


Arguably, the dancer should dance to the music’s drumbeat and the clave beat.

There is more feeling to the dance when you dance to the conga drumbeat and the clave rather than to the melody.

For some reason, it slows the dance down, giving you more time to execute turn patterns.

It provides the dance with a very special “off beat” look that is off beat to the melody but on beat to the drum! This separates the Latin Dance from other couple dances such as the Jive.


There should be only one way to dance salsa, and that is on clave. Dancers should always dance on Clave; just as musicians follow the clave to play their instruments, dancers should follow the clave to dance, but still there are dancers that dance:

By swapping beats???  The dancer may break forward on beat 1, then after a turn pattern, break forward on beat 3.  This style is out of time to the music because the dancer is swapping beats. Furthermore, this style of dancer does not dance to the emphasis of the clave in the music. The music is structured within the clave so that the melody is emphasized on beat 1 (e.g. singer beginning, trumpets coming in) and the drum/percussion beat has an accent on 2.

The “1” dancer, LA Style, is able to count the 8 beats of the music and the leaders consistently break forward on that first beat. The “1” dancer never swaps beats. Musically, the melody is emphasized on beat 1. The “1” dancer is hearing and dancing to this musical emphasis. The LA dancer uses similar turn patterns and footwork (called shines) as the New York salsero. However, the LA dancer is hearing the music very differently. The LA “1” dancer dances to the melody emphasis whilst the New York “2” dancer dances to the drum/percussion beat which has an emphasis on beat 2 which goes within the clave.

The New York “2” Dancer dances with the music’s drum beat (the conga drum in Salsa) which is arguably the true beat of any music. The detailed explanation is above.

The clave dancer is still breaking forward and backward on beats 2 and 6 which is the same as the New York “2” dancer.The New York “2” dancer’s movements are based on listening to the conga “slap” accent, whilst the clave dancer’s movements are based on listening to the 5 beat clave pattern. It is possible to dance on 2 to all of  Salsa music because salsa music is written on clave and the clave is located in all Salsa music. even when there are no clave sticks playing in the background  a dancer can move to that clave beat because you can hear it in all arrangement of salsa music.Article Courtesy of

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