123-567, or 234-678?
THE GREAT DEBATE OF DANCING ON “2”


WHEN BASICS COLLIDE

Ever dance with someone who claims they’re dancing on "2” while you know you’re dancing on "2”...yet it feels like you’re on different beats?

Chances are one of you is dancing 123-567, the ballroom version known as “New York 2,” and the other is doing 234-678 -- which we call Power 2. And guess what? You’re both on “2.”

Dancing on "2" means “breaking,” or changing direction, on the second beat of the music. These counts FOR THE BASIC STEP are both ways of breaking on two: the 123 method teaches you to step-break-step; the 234 teaches you to break-step-step.

Is dancing on "2" the only right way to dance to salsa/mambo music? No! Dancers have all different arguments about clave, upbeats, downbeats, the conga, the cowbell, the dinner bell, and so on. RazzMTazz believes in dancing on whatever number feels right, whether it's one, two, or seventeen.

Dancing "on 2" is technically, however, the only way to dance mambo (or salsa, which is simply the name for the form of mambo we dance today). The dance called "mambo" was created on "2," and is meant to be danced on "2." By breaking on 2, we accentuate the beats that correspond with the clave. That's what mambo was designed to do.

Dancing "on 1" isn't wrong -- there are some phenomenal one dancers (and teams) out there! But what they're dancing isn't mambo. It's not salsa either, though many people call it that. It's another dance, with another name:

If you're dancing the traditional mambo pattern, but breaking on one, you're dancing guaracha. Guaracha is a traditional dance that's danced 123-567; it starts on one and breaks on one.

YOU WANT TO DANCE MAMBO, OR SALSA? YA GOTTA DANCE -- THAT IS, BREAK -- ON "2." OK! That said, you have two basic styles of footwork to choose from.

So which style of dancing on "2" is right? Both! But there are major differences:

234, OR POWER 2

RazzMTazz teaches and dances on Power 2, the original New York salsa style that emerged in the Palladium era. The Mambo Aces pioneered it, and legends like Freddie Rios and George Vascones followed suit. They all swore by the power it gave their movement.

Why do we like Power 2? Because starting on the forward and back breaks allows you to PUSH OFF. It gives you MOVEMENT and MOMENTUM, allowing you to TRAVEL. We break on the balls of our feet, pushing off without bringing our heels down -- this gives us the SPEED and POWER we need to perform our DYNAMIC TURN PATTERNS. And the extra speed allows more time to add STYLE -- a shake, a hip roll, a snap-out, a hook-flick...all the flair that sets us apart from the crowd.

Any other advantages? Power 2 allows us to start on "two." Why is that important? Well, because the action of starting and breaking on "2" accentuates that beat of the music that much more. When you start on "1" to break on "2," the "1" step becomes accented and takes power away from the "2" step. But it's the "2" step, the break, that should be the most expressive.

123 -- BALLROOM 2, or “NEW YORK 2” Many schools in New York are teaching the 123 method, which is the ballroom style developed by commercial dance schools.

Why do they teach Ballroom 2 instead of the Power 2? Well, quite simply, because it’s easier to do.

And why is it easier? Because people have an easier time stepping on “1” than waiting for the “2.” Most people can find “1,” the first beat in the music, but haven’t developed the ear to find “2.” So stepping “one-two” is like a handy cheat for breaking on "2."

So what’s wrong with Ballroom 2? Okay, let’s get something straight: dance is dance, and none of it is wrong!

The 123 style -- which is mambo using guaracha counts -- is a perfectly acceptable and popular style of social dancing. BUT BY STARTING ON ONE, IT DEFEATS THE TRUE PURPOSE OF DANCING ON "2" -- the strong punctuation of the "2" that the music calls for.

The main reason RazzMTazz doesn’t teach 123 is that it creates a weakness in dancers: It restricts movement and results in flat-footed dancing. Why? Because instead of pushing off on the forward and back breaks, you’re rocking onto your whole foot. And that slows you down.

Students who learn on the 123 ballroom count may have trouble keeping up with Power 2 dancers; but people who learn on the RazzMTazz Power 2 can dance with anyone!

Power 2 allows far more style, and, yes, power.

Why limit your dancing? One of the most famous master instructors in New York teaches students on the 123 count. But he and his performers dance on the Power 2. At RazzMTazz we train our students on the same count that our performers use -- because that’s the level we teach them to achieve. We want to bring out the perfomer in everyone.

That’s what RazzMTazz is about -- dancing without limits!