What is dancing on 2?
Dancing “on 2” is a style of salsa in which your break step (your last forward or backward step of your basic) is done on the 2 and the 6 vs the 1 or the 5. But it is so much more than that! This small shift in timing causes the dance to be danced in a very different way. NY style “on 2” (in which the leaders break back on 2) changes the place of the “slow” (count 4 & 8) within the dance. Instead of the slow being in the middle of the basic, it is now on the ends of your basic. This changes how the dance feels drastically! It allows for more time over the turns because you are now turning during the slow instead of prepping on it. This is very apparent in traveling turns such as inside turn and outside turns.
Instructors frequently teach how to dance “on 2” by counting the break steps (sometimes very loudly) 2 and 6, but the secret to a (relatively) quick transition is to focus on where the slow step is. The whole dance feels different when danced this way and you are much more likely to be aware of your timing and will be much less likely to fall back “on 1” when learning this way. Most leaders don’t step on every count and therefore lose their timing because of a lack of weight transfer. Followers tend to spin and then wait for count one to step back. If leaders focus on where the pause is in moves and transfer weight every count they find that dancing on 2 comes easily! Followers need to understand the difference in spinning technique and timing in order to not fall off time as well. Once that has occurred learning to dance “on 2” is just a matter of practice!
The key is to have an instructor break down the timing in your basic moves and practice that. Then once you know the timing, you can now apply the timing to anything you want. I hope that helps you on your way to learning this amazing style. It will truly make you a much more versatile dancer!