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The 5 Best Salsa Classes NYC Dances To - CourseHorse

By Jenny Tobin | Published 7/24/2012

If you’re looking to get your groove on, these New York Salsa dance classes really bring the heat.


In the 1970s, the New York’s club scene learned a whole new flavor of dancing as Salsa took the city by storm. With its roots in the Afro-Cuban dances such as Son & Rumba, Salsa combines a variety of hip shaking, body-weight-shifting moves which can liven up even the deadest of rooms. Today, Salsa is still found in abundance throughout NYC in a variety of bars and clubs, and for those willing to brave the dance floor can be one of the most rewarding ways to spend a night out. Whether you’re just looking for your first taste or are wanting to sharpen up some already refined moves, our list of NYC Salsa classes should have you moving in the right direction.

Tap Dance

Colombian Salsa Level 1

Piel Canela Dance School
Midtown, Manhattan

Founded in 2001, Piel Canela teaches a variety of dance forms from Hip Hop to Flamenco. They also have an incredible dance company & offer a variety of dance-oriented events from fundraisers to dance cruises (yes, dance cruises - sounds awesome, no?). They specialize in Latin dance making them an ideal place to take your first Salsa lesson and have plenty of dates and times to choose from so scheduling certainly won’t be an excuse to not achieve your Salsa dreams. In Colombian Salsa Level 1, one of their most popular classes, you’ll learn what’s called “Cali Style” Salsa, stemming from Cali, Colombia. Cali Style is a foot-focused style of Salsa complete with shuffling, swiveling, kicking, and speedy rotations. While certainly very flashy compared to some of its Salsa cousins, Cali style is a perfectly approachable dance style for total beginners, though thanks to its uniqueness, will also offer some new perspective and tricks for those Salsa dancers who are used to the more traditional On-1 or On-2 Salsa styles.

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Level 1 Salsa (Beginner)

Nieves Latin Dance Studio
Concourse Village, Bronx

One thing we love about Nieves is that they’re in several boroughs, allowing for flexibility if you ever move or want to hit up a class after work on the weekdays but closer to home on the weekend. And of course, there’s good reason for their success, as they’re consistently rated one of the best Latin dance schools in the city. They also have an excellent kids dance program, so you can take your mini-me with you to follow in your footsteps, literally. Their entry-level Salsa class is aptly named “Level 1 Salsa” and gives you a great introduction to the On-2 Salsa style which is your traditional forward/back motion Salsa dance. Aside from basic footwork, they’ll teach you a few fancy tricks with a partner such as spinning, and you’ll generally just get a good feel for the Salsa rhythm and style. You don’t need to bring a partner, though Nieves does recommend having at least some salsa experience before stepping into this class, so it may not be suitable for absolute beginners.

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Tap Dance

Salsa Academy Level 1 & 2

Stepping Out Studios
Flatiron, Manhattan

As far as Salsa is concerned, Stepping Out Studios is one of the most historical studios in NYC, having opened its doors in 1985 and still operating more than 30 years later. Today, they offer a variety of lessons from group classes to master workshops, and their Salsa Academy is one of the most convenient and frequently attended ways to learn Salsa in all of New York. In it, students focus on learning Salsa On-2, starting with the basics and working into more advanced moves one class at a time. In each one hour session, you’ll get combinations down, perfect your turning technique, and get working on your “shines” (the Salsa word for solo dancing footwork). This class is perfect for beginners, and students frequently compliment the pacing of the class and friendly instructors.

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Salsa (Open Level)

92nd Street Y
Upper East Side, Manhattan

Anyone living in NYC should be no stranger to the 92nd Street Y. One of the best places to head to for a variety of classes, activities, cultural events, a good workout or of course a swim, it should come as no surprise that 92Y also has one of the most talked about Salsa classes in the city. Though we definitely recommend joining 92Y as a member, you don’t need to be a member to take their classes, and so anyone is free to join this class. Though 92Y does have a strictly beginner Salsa class, the Open Level class is beginner-friendly but also teaches a variety of steps and patterns that might be new for non-beginners. It’s a great option for anyone just looking to get some quality Salsa dancing time while picking up the skills they need to improve. When you’re done, we highly recommend checking out the rest of the 92Y facilities and then taking a stroll around Central Park, or maybe treating yourself to a slice of Lady M cake since we know you worked hard and deserve it.

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Level 2 Salsa (Advanced Beginner)

Nieves Latin Dance Studio
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Another Nieves Studio class, Level 2 Salsa is a great next step for people who are a bit past the beginners' stage. Nieves recommends having at least three months of Salsa On-2 experience, though these classes will last you another nine months or so before you’re ready to move on to their Level 3 class. You’ll spend each class learning new moves and getting used to a variety of Salsa rhythms, moving ever closer to being the expert dancer you can’t wait to show off to the NYC Salsa scene.

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