Salsa Timing On2

Having spent many years helping dancers get to grips with dancing Salsa On2 we find that the biggest problem is generally to do with understanding the basic timing and how this relates to music.

The majority of students who are interested in On2 are veterans of the world of crossbody On1, and therefore have a habit of stepping on 123 567. Whereas, for the majority of On2 dancers, we appreciate the Congas. But what does this all mean?

In this article, I will outline the timing system that we teach our students in order to dance On2 in the global scene as it is today.


Congas are present in most Salsa bands and play a key role in the rhythm section; alongside other instruments such as the timbales, bongos, bass and piano just to name the more common instruments.

There are many different rhythms that the musician may play, but the basic rhythm that On2 dancers listen to and hear is the tumbao. This rhythm is played using both hands hitting a note on each half beat but uses the right hand to accent on the following counts:


You can hear a sample of the Conga Tumbao:

So now that we know the rhythm, and what it sounds like, the question is how do we dance to this???


As with On1, there are 6 steps within an eight beat bar. However, when practising your basic steps and timing, we teach two variations. You can choose to dance the first step on the & beat, which gives the following:


or the first step on the 2, 6, which gives the following:


There is compatibility between the two timings as long as you lead clearly on the 2,3 and 6,7, however, there is a difference in the way the step feels, and you can project this feeling onto your partner. I personally dance to the second variation as I feel it gives my partner a smooth ride but I use the first variation if I want to create a more snappy effect if the song has a bit more bite.

Now for an exercise, listen to the Conga Tumbao again and see which style feels nicer to you?


This article covers the basic On2 timing that we have tried, tested and proven through dancing with dancers from around the globe. As with most things, there are many other ways to skin a cat and hence many ways to dance On2.

I hope that this has provided an insightful read and will help you with your Salsa timing On2.

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