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The beat and the rhythm of Salsa, that had gripped the West in the sixties and seventies, is now capturing the imagination of Indians.

While the dance form and music are popular as a source of fun and entertainment all over the world, its practitioners are now presenting it as a wonderful way of keeping physically fit as well. Many fitness enthusiasts -- and youngsters in particular -- are turning to Salsa.

"It is a blend of 'fun and fitness'," says Amanpreet, a New Delhi resident who has been learning Salsa since the last six months. "After taking to this dance, my life has changed. Not only am I physically fit, I also feel mentally more confident," she says.

The term Salsa, which means sauce in Spanish, was used for the first time by a Cuban composer in the song Eechale Salsita in 1937. Later, in the 1960s, Izzy Sanabria brought a lot of rhythms from Cuba and the Caribbean under one roof and chose to name it Salsa.

In India, this dance form was introduced in its original form only in the late nineties. Today, there are many Salsa training centres in New Delhi and Mumbai. Similar training schools are coming up in other metropolitan cities next year.

Shally Sharma, a Salsa teacher who runs a dance school in North Delhi, says, "Salsa is a very easy dance. It can be learnt by anyone, at any age. It is a superb way of maintaining fitness. Even film actors are now including it in their fitness schedule."

Salsa has also emerged as a stress buster in the Western countries. "Since it is basically a party dance with easy yet enjoyable steps, it can help reduce mental stress and depression," says Sharma.

"I dance to the beats of Salsa at least two to three times a week. I have noticed that this always keeps me tension free, in a better frame of mind," says Amanpreet.

"Salsa's popularity is a proof of the effectiveness and beauty of this wonderful dance form," says Sharma.

JustSalsa.com, a website dedicated to this dance form says, 'The beats of the Salsa are infectious. The secret of its popularity is its 'have to move' nature. In other words, you have to dance with the beats."

Salsa has also emerged as a viable career option even in India. "Salsa parties are the new craze. Corporates approach Salsa dancers for performances in their functions; these dancers are in great demand now," says Sharma.