Both Son & Cha-cha-cha dance timing was always with the break "on 2". Thus the "chassé" (triple step) should correspond to the rhythm of the Conga Drum and be danced on beats 4, and 1. The Conga drum is also widely acknowledged as the main instrument of Cha-cha-cha as well as Salsa. As people become more aware of the rhythms of instruments used in any music, their dancing improves. Good dancing is the visual accompaniment of music. Percussion instruments (drums, cowbell, triangle etc.) determine the rhythm of the tune. A good dancer concentrates mostly on this rhythm rather than the melody of a tune to correctly interpret how to dance to a particular tune.
There seems to be some confusion over the timing of Cha-cha-cha so the following is designed to clarify the difference between the various styles. If you thought that it was correct to dance by counting 1, 2 Cha-cha-cha, then you have been misled. If your teacher taught you that timing, then you have wasted your time, effort & money even if that teacher is qualified &/or well established! Some qualifications don’t seem to count for anything nowadays!
There were no Salsa clubs until the 1970’s. Until then there were Mambo clubs. People needed a break from Mambo which is relatively fast dance, so Cha-cha-cha was danced in these clubs alongside the Mambo. Eddy Torres said that, in the New York Palladium era, they would normally play 2 or 3 Mambos, then a Cha-cha-cha, then a few more Mambos & another Cha-cha-cha, and an occasional Merengue too.
The video clip below shows this original Cuban style being performed.
The International style (modern ballroom) technique of Cha-cha-cha, like other ballroom dances, is a result of gradual evolution, and in many respects the technique differs significantly from the earlier days. I.e. correct International style technique is with the knees kept straight rather than bent. The stance & hold is also different. Also, the International Style diverged from the technique of the American Style Cha-cha-cha as can be seen in the video clips below.Even the best Cuban salsa dancers widely acknowledge that if you want to see good Cha-cha-cha performance, watch a ballroom dancer. This is why BestSalsa are showing what we consider to be the best first. The video clip below shows a stunning International style Cha-cha-cha routine by the present professional World Latin Dance Champions Michael Malitowski & Joanna Leunis.
The video clip below shows another awesome International style Cha-cha-cha routine by Donnie Burns & Gaynor Fairweather. This couple were 14-time World Professional Latin champions: this is by some way the record for this title. They were also eleven times International Latin American Dance Champions, and this is also a record.
Here is an equally brilliant video clip showing an International style Cha-cha-cha routine by Bryan Watson & Carmen Vincelj.
The following clip shows the basic step & its correct timing. Note that Men step forwards on beat 2 whilst Ladies step back for Ladies in International style or for men in New York Style.
The following clip shows the basic step & demonstrates International styling. Note that although Len Goodman does not explain the correct timing as in the above clip, the man actually steps forwards on beat 2 whilst lady steps back in when the music is played.