Grasping the building blocks of salsa dancing for men can be broken down into 3 parts:
1) Music and timing
2) Moves and footwork
3) Knowing how to lead
Let's breakdown these 3 parts in more detail.
Music and timing:
Salsa has 8-beats. The first 3 beats are danced to, while the 4th beat is silent. Beats 5,6,7 are then danced to while the 8th beat is also silent. This is one cycle. An assortment of clefts, drums and other instruments are used to signal each beat. For instance, a drum may only be beaten on beats 2 & 6. Being able to recognize the beats in each measure and then being able to step on the beat is one of the most important things a new salsero has to master in order to dance well. Not having a good grasp of this will hinder your progress from a beginner to an intermediate dancer.
Music and timing requires many hours of listening to salsa music and it will eventually "click", you will be able to sub-consciously step to each beat without having to think about which beat you are on.
Moves and footwork:
There are literally a mind-boggling thousands of moves out there for salsa dancing yet only knowing a few of the basic building blocks is all you need to get started. The rest are mostly off-shoots of the basics with a twist. Some of the crucial moves you need to know are:
The basic step
The Cross-body lead
Practice each of these basic moves over and over again until it becomes second nature. You have mastered it when you don't have to think about how to do it as your muscle-memory will take over.
Knowing how to lead:
The final piece of the puzzle. Being a good lead takes more than just taking your partners arm and moving it in position for the next move. It requires a subtle touch, such as signaling what is the next move will be, whether to apply a subtle amount of force or a greater amount of force, positioning yourself in relation to your partner. Each person has a different preference for how to be lead, some prefer a lighter lead, while others prefer to be lead more firmly. Only with extensive practice with different types of partners will you become adapt to figuring out what type of lead your partner prefers.
This is the one part that you won't be able to practice on your own for. You should practice with a wide variety of partners as possible. Knowing each type of partner's habits will let you become a better lead and you won't stonewall yourself into knowing only style of leading.
These are the 3 parts of the building blocks of salsa dancing for men. The key to becoming a great salsero is to focus on these 3 parts separately to learn faster. Practice listening to music beats over and over again, analyzing the beats. Then practice a few basic moves until it is second nature. Next, find a partner and practice a few moves with her until you figure out how to effortlessly lead her. Finally go to the salsa clubs and put it all together.
Have fun and enjoy your new hobby!