Ashley McKenna

Dance Instructor, Dancer, Singer, Actress, Party DJ

Private Lessons, Classes, Party DJ

Performer

          Salsa "On 1" Vs. "On 2"
My humble opinion, and explanation.
"On1" is also known as L.A. Style
"On2" is also known as Mambo, and N.Y. Club Style Salsa
  First understand that both are acceptable, and fun!
Both are danced to the 123, 567 counts. With holds on     the 4, & 8 counts of music!
Both styles start with the Man using the Left foot, and the Lady using the Right.
  So what's the difference? The difference is where the man chooses to place that Left foot.

  If he starts the dance by stepping forward on the first beat of music he is dancing "On1".
  If he does a step in place, (or slightly back) with the Left foot on the first beat of music he is dancing "On2". Why? Because he has changed the placement of the rock step back, to the 2 beat of music. Hence the name "On2".
     
       Thoroughly confused? Let me explain.
"On1" basic Man's part
Left foot forward "On 1" (also calling it a Rock step, or Break step)
Right foot back on 2
Left foot together on 3
Hold 4 (both feet together holding on the floor)
Right foot back on 5 (also calling it a Rock step, or Break step)
Left foot forward on 6
Right foot together on 7
Hold 8 (both feet together holding on the floor)

 "On2" basic Man's part
Left foot steps down in place on 1
Right foot back "On 2" (also calling it a Rock step, or Break step)
Left foot forward on 3
Hold 4 (feet are not together on this hold)
Right foot together on 5
Left foot forward on 6 (also calling it a Rock step, or Break step)
Right foot back on 7
Hold 8 (feet are not together on this hold)

 So the difference is where you place the rock step, or break action. Instead of "breaking" on the 1st and 5th beats as in "On1" Style. "On 2" dancers "break" their movement, or "rock step" on the 2nd and 6th beats of the measure. Calling it "breaking On 2", or "dancing On 2".

Other differences are where the leads occur. "On 1" dancers use the 3 & 7 beats of music to initiate turns for the lady, and cross body leads.

Where as in the "On 2" timing uses the strongest beats in the rhythm (the 1st and 5th beats), to initiate turns for the lady, and cross body leads. 

In other words, the 1 and 5 downbeats are what drive the "On 2" dancer.

For Cha Cha dancers the pattern is exactly the same as that of "On 2", aka "Mambo" (except for the split beat of the Cha Cha in the middle of the whole beats) 

Most of New York, and Puerto Rico's top professionals only dance the "On2" style. As they feel that the music is better interpreted by placing the break actions to fit the 2 beat of the Clave.

You choose for yourself which you prefer, but you can only do that if you learn both!

 By Ashley "Angel" McKenna - Cosalda Dance Company