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Cubanasalsa Beginners Course Syllabus


Here's the list of all of the moves covered by the beginners course with translations from Spanish where possible. If you've never been to a Salsa class this isn't going to make much sense to you! It’s here as many course members ask if there is such a list..  Use it to help you remember the move names and what the move entails with footwork and hands etc.  We always teach the correct Spanish names for moves as if you ever dance elsewhere (or Cuba!) it's what they'll use too.


The steps follow the musical beats of 1,2,3  and   5,6,7,  in beginners no steps occur on the ‘4’ and the ‘8’ (unless they are taps), ‘Outside’ means outside of the circle ‘Inside’ means inside of the circle. This beginners course covers all the basics you need, at the end of 6 weeks your feet will be dancing the steps without you thinking about them too much, you'll also be familiar with your positioning in the Rueda (Circle) and leading or following your partner, the beauty of this way of learning Salsa is all of the moves can then be danced individually, one-to-one.



Week 1 and 2. Basic steps in Warm-up


Mambo  Forwards and backwards motion, starting left foot forward on the 1,2,3  and back with the right foot on the 5,6,7 (Guys steps).

Cucaracha (‘Cockroach’) Stepping to the left on the 1,2,3 and right on 5,6,7 (Guys steps), Tip.. do small steps!

Basic back Back on both feet, left foot back on the ‘1’, right foot back on the '5'.

On the spot  Steps are all stepped literally on the spot, later lessons may include a clockwise turn whilst doing this.

Opening out  This is where the left foot goes behind and to the left on the ‘1’ then back to the centre on the 2,3, then right foot behind and to the right on the ‘5’, then back to centre on the 6,7..


Week 3 onwards

'Star into the corners' This is to practice doing the Mambo step whilst turning clockwise, you step forward on the ‘1’ on your left foot and then Mambo (turning clockwise on the 5, forward on the 1) into each of the 4 corners of the room in until you are back facing the front.

Right turn This is where the first three steps are just like a conventional Mambo but on the 5,6,7 you do a quick turn to the right ending up facing where you started, (there’s an easier version of this with half a turn, forward on the 1,2,3, half turn to the right and then repeat to return you facing forwards).

Left turn

With a tap

Crossover Step (Back across together).


Now Couples..


Week1 as couples



Basic back

Opening out


The following weeks as couples:


Cuban Basic (also called ‘Guapea’ which means 'stroll' or 'walk' in Spanish).

Transition from ‘closed hold’ to ‘open hold’


'Moving around the circle' moves

P’ Arriba
(Forwards) Like a Mambo step except the guys feet are moving forwards all the time (women backwards).

Un Tarro (‘The Bull’)  guys lift up their partners arm and walk underneath moving forwards to the next partner.

Coco (‘Guys’) While doing P’Arriba above, guys lift up outside arm and turn to the outside of the circle underneath it (to the right) whilst still moving forwards.

Coquitto (‘Chicks’) While doing P’Arriba above, guys lift up the ladies inside arm and turn them outside the circle (to the right) whilst still moving forwards.

P’ Abacho (Backwards) Like a Mambo step again but the ladies keep moving forwards and the guys backwards, keep the gaps small in the circle!.


Finally these are three moves to get right as you’ll be doing them a lot..

Dile que Si  (‘Tell her yes’) While dancing Cuban Basic as above the guys push ladies back on ‘1’ as normal but on the 2,3 they pull the lady in close to them then both turn clockwise on the 5,6,7 so guys end up facing anti-clockwise and women facing clockwise. You then dance Mambo facing in this ‘opposite’ direction.
Dile que No (‘Tell her no’) Following the move above, on the ‘1’ the guys thrust into the centre of the circle on their left foot and elbow whilst pushing the lady back outside of the circle (the ladies open out their shoulders and step outside the circle with their right foot). On the 2,3, both end up beside each other facing into the circle, then on the 5,6,7 the ladies swap places with the guy, stepping across him with the left foot and ending in the normal position. So it's 'Tell her yes' to face the opposite direction and then 'tell her no' to get back into normal position. In other forms of Salsa this move is known as 'Cross body lead' or 'XBL'.
Dame (‘Give me one’) Pronounced 'Damay', From normal clock-wise facing position the guys move on to the next lady behind them by turning to the right and bringing them around to face them using the ‘Dile que no’ above.


Adios (Goodbye) Like a Dile que Si to start with on the 1,2,3 but guys lift up ladies arm and move clockwise around them onto next partner on the 5,6,7, it's a bit like 'Un Tarro'.


Remember!  Fingertips, Small distances, Contre movmiento (opposite movement) Swapping places, Circular movement, Ladies don't let go of the guy unless he lets go of you!



Improvers moves taught throughout the year:

Enchufle doble
Con Alarde
Con Gancho
Right handed enchufle

Rueda moves
El Fly
El Photo
Principe Bueno
Principe Malo
Adios a la hermana
Adios a la familia

Single moves
El Dedo
Dos Manos Y Casate
‘Figure of eight’
Setenta ('Seventy')
Setenta Complicado
Setenta e Uno
Con dos Manos Y Casate
La Jenny
Siete and all the variations..

plus loads of other mad Rueda.. Tumba Francesca anyone?



Any questions? Email us:   or join   Facebook group 'Cubanasalsa''

Last updated 22nd June 2011   Copyright ©Cubanasalsa 2012

'Cubanasalsa' is a trading name of 'La Zouch' Limited, a UK Private Limited company number: 7471465