History and Development of Salsa: A Timeline

A salsa dancer aspiring to be one of the best should always start from the basics of the discipline itself, particularly with its history and development throughout the various parts of the world. Knowing the roots of salsa can help in understanding the aesthetics, forms, skills that comes with it, and the impact it had in the dance and music industry. This just goes to show that even a dancer does not come from a Latin, Puerto Rican, or Cuban ancestry, it does not mean that he or she cannot perfect the art of salsa dancing.

There has been a lot of debate on where the art of salsa really originated from. Many would argue about how its roots are from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and New York, among others. Technically salsa has roots from all three, but Cuba has the most major contributions to its current form today. The addictive Cuban rhythm spread across countries and started different movements for the art of salsa music and dance. Below is a brief timeline of how Salsa started and developed:

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1898: American soldiers got a liking for Cuban music.

During their stay in Cuba, the U.S. soldiers heard and listened to Cuban music. Their love for the music influenced their taste when they went back to America.

1900s: Cuban musicians started to air their music recordings and these arrived to North America.

American musicians visited Cuba then started their own Latin jazz when they went back to their place. During this time, Cuban music and the Latin jazz boomed in America’s airwaves.

1920s-1930s: The Prohibition in the United States greatly affected the tourist visits in Cuba.

Because alcohol was legal in Cuba, a lot of Americans visited the place thus increased the influence of Cuban music on the people’s taste. Also, Cuban orchestras were visited by American radios for recording. Some Cuban musicians were invited to America to join the bands there. The mambo started during the 1930s.

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1940s: Salsa music was getting more widespread.

Musicians were apparently hired to compose Afro-Caribbean and Flamenco-rooted music for films because of its high demand among the music industry. Cuban musicians and Puerto Ricans majorly influenced the New York music industry. West Africa started to recognize their own music in the famous music craze, because a major population of Cuba came from West Africa.  Also, the conga line dance became famous during this time.

1950s: A huge number of Puerto Ricans migrated to New York thus increasing their influence on the music.

Puerto Rican musicians displayed their utmost talent, passion, and creativity in the Big Apple. The Cubans migrated to Miami instead.

1960s: The term “salsa” was officially coined by the New Yorkers.

A debate within the distinction between salsa and mambo became common. Salsa was molded into something more appropriate for Latin New York.

1970s: Salsa music reached its peak during the decade and branched out into different forms due to the mixture of various Hispanic and Afro-Caribbean influences.

The major dance forms that influenced salsa are the Rhumba, Guaracha, Mambo, Danzon, Son, Cha cha cha, Cumbia, Merengue, and Charanga. Some of the most popular forms of salsa at present are the following: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Casino, Colombian, Rueda de Casino, and Ballroom Salsa.

Appropriate Attire for a Salsa Session

 purple-latinA professional salsa dancer does not just rely on skills and abilities to be an expert—he or she should also be meticulous when it comes to his or her hair, dancing clothes, and shoes. Using the wrong hairstyle, dress, pants, or shoes can overshadow difficultly practiced moves and can even be dangerous during the risky turns and steps. But this doesn’t mean that aesthetics is sacrificed for safety. In salsa dancing, grace and beauty are always as important as functionality.

Without further ado, here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing or buying salsa clothing and shoes:

  1. Confirm what type of salsa dancing it is to be done.

A Salsera or Salsero can engage into various types of salsa dancing: it could be in a class, lesson, club or dance party studio. There are times that an event facilitator or manager would require certain dress codes for the event, especially for beginner classes and salsa clubs. Check them out and see if there is a dress code. If there is one, you would be lucky. Otherwise, read the other tips below.

  1. Be careful with the hairstyle.

Long hair could really look great on a salsa dancer, especially women with beautiful locks, but it is recommended to get the hair out of the way. Dancers can make it slick back but it is better to tie the hair back. There are three main reasons why:

a) sweat from all the vigorous dancing can make the hair stick to the partner or even another dancer’s face;

b) the flowing hair can get the dancers, instructors, or audience distracted from the dance itself; and

c) the hair can get caught up on the dancers’ buttons, in case there are in their clothing.

  1. Minimize and secure accessories.

This does not mean that accessories should be completely unused. Accessories do enhance the aesthetical value of the salsa dancing, but make sure that these would not hinder the performance. The following things should be taken in consideration with regard to accessories:

a) Nails: trimmed near the tip; no fake nails

b) Earrings: should be used with dependable earring backs

c) Watches, Rings, Bracelets, Bangles: completely taken off

d) Hair Accessories: minimized and attached firmly

e) Eyeglasses: could be exchanged with contact lenses; if not, should be with chain

  1. Keep the clothes tight and secure.

This tip would be subjective and relative depending on the Salsero or Salsera’s level and preferences. Listed at the bottom are some reminders on the clothes:

a) Shirts: okay as long as it does not get too sweaty; bring an extra

b) Jackets and Sweaters: keep them closed for security

c) Open backs: can be disturbing when partner touches sweaty back

d) Strapless: assure that it won’t end in wardrobe malfunction

e) Bat Wings: can hinder partner’s hand movement to shoulder blade

f) Skirts and Dresses: should not have awkwardly short length

g) Cuffs (pants): avoid entirely, keep pants slick and tight but still comfortable

h) Shorts: can be used by women during warm seasons, rare for men

  1. Pick the right pair of shoes.

For both men and women, the type of shoes would depend on the season, venue, and sport. The usual sneakers, slip-ons, and flip flops should be avoided in salsa dancing. Rubber-soled shoes are entirely avoided because it can make turning more difficult because of the increased friction. Instead, opt for shoes with leather soles or suede at the bottom. In addition, women should wear low and comfortable heels. Stilettos can harm the dancers in the venue.

  1. Observe appropriate hygiene.

Salsa dancing involves a lot of body contact, especially with hands, shoulders, hips, and thighs. Make sure to take a bath, put some deodorant on, and do some tooth brushing. It would also help to chew minty gum or candy to make sure that there will be no stinky breaths. Applying lotion can be allowed as long as it would not affect the interactions. Also, managing sweat can be easier with extra clean clothes and a towel.

The Studio Is Closed

This is an apology to my group, as there will be a long wait before we can use the studio to practice again. Last week we found out that the place was infested with termites, and to make matters worse the damage done requires repairs that will take time. The city will not allow us to use the building until the repairs are done, and the inspector approves it for use. I’ve spoken to a good friend who works at the best Pest Control Company Southfield, and he informed me that it would take some time before he could allow construction workers into the studio, due to the concentrated amount of pesticides they are using.

Thank you for your patience, but if you would like us to continue lessons and practice, we may be able to do so if someone in the group could suggest or possible offer a temporary place we can do this, even if we reduce the practice and lessons to twice a week that would be helpful. I am also actively looking for a place myself, if you have any suggestions, please contact me via the contact page, as I have forgotten the password to my outlook address, and the laptop it is logged into was left in the studio’s office. What a week this has been!

What To Look For When Choosing a Dance Studio

Falling in love with salsa dancing is easy. You may discover an interest in it during one of your social events in the community. Or from just watching a dancing contest on TV. We know that your first instinct would be to find a school that will teach you the moves. Aside from finding the best dance teachers that can take you under their wings, you need to check the facilities of the dancing school. You will be spending a few hours in the dancing school so do not forget to consider your comfort and safety.

There are several dance studios in Charlotte that you can choose from. You can check on the dance studio’s website then visit those that you like to get the feel of the place. It might be nice in the pictures, but the vibe could be different when you are there already. Here are the basic facilities that you should look for in a dance studio.

Changing Room

I put it on top of the list because this is rarely considered. However, a dance studio with a good changing area spells a difference in your comfort. You would appreciate a dance studio if it provides you a place change your outfits instead of just wearing everything on top of your sweats. Though it may be rare, you also need to ask about pest control. This pest control service will ensure that no rodents or roaches are crawling all over your stuff while you are busy busting your moves on the dance floor. I had an encounter with pests in my old dance studio, so I put this high on my things to consider.

Space

Look for the overall floor area and picture in your head if you can still make big movements even on the most jam-packed day. There’s nothing more irritating than someone moving into your personal space while in you are so into the step. Mind the placing of the pillars in the room, too. It should not be obstructing the dance area.

Mirrors

No, this is not for vanity. It is very useful in learning dance because you can immediately spot if you are not in sync with the rest of the steps. It is also helpful in checking out your other dance mates. You need to observe your movements carefully as you start learning the steps because a good form is crucial in dance.

Floor

There are innovations in flooring systems for dance studios that would protect the feet and joints of the dancers. Your feet will thank you if the dance studio you will choose has sprung floors and a non-slip surface. This particular type of floor is expensive. However, you should be wary of studios that use concrete under the floorboards. The concrete is too hard on your foot, and it could cause you injuries in the long run.

You can talk to dancers going to the dance studio that you are eyeing to get a first-hand feedback on the facilities. Their comments will provide you with insights to help you decide on the best dance studio for you.

Perfect Salsa Music for a Salsa Session

 

Salsa dancing would have never become popular without its partner: salsa music. The genre had more than a century to evolve thus a wide variety of salsa music is available. And thanks to the advancement of technology, salsa music are not just available in live performances, cassette tapes, and compact discs, but also in the Internet. Quality salsa music can be readily available in high quality with a few clicks on the World Wide Web. Here are several salsa music hits, mixes, and collections for the music and dance lovers:

 

#1 The Best Salsa Song for Beginners

 

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We did not name the video itself, but it is really a great song for the new aspiring Salseros and Salseras. The song has a very common salsa melody so the dancer will most probably be familiar with it. In addition, there is an embedded voice over for the counting so an instructor can lessen the talking, and a dancer can practice by him or herself without doing the vocal counting.

 

#2 Twenty-two Salsa Classics Video Hit Mix

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This maybe a collection of average quality of videos, nothing beats the heartfelt and sizzling melodies of the classic salsa songs. The collection includes famous salsa singers Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Gloria Estefan and the others who majorly contributed the popularity of salsa music. To add to that, the songs portray different emotive lyrics and rhythms that salsa dancers can move to.

 

#3 One Hour of Instrumental Latin/Salsa Music

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In case a dancer gets distracted by vocals, this collection of salsa, tango, cha cha and rhumba instrumentals will do the trick. The vibrant melodies of the songs can bring out the energy in any dancer. Also, the video poster listed down the names of the songs in the details part in case you want to check out them separately.

 

#4 The Best of Salsa

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This is another collection of famous salsa songs, but it is more contemporary compared to that of the second video. Discovering the different compositions of salsa hits can bring about more possibilities of being creative with your own mix or routine. Also, this gives you a wider perspective on what kind of salsa music you would prefer to dance to.

 

#5 Mix of Best Salsa Hits of 2016

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The salsa music does not have to be a classic or old one. A lot of musicians compose and perform many salsa hits and this video showcases those composed of recent times. The songs are accompanied by their respective music videos that often include young and professional dancers dancing to the salsa beats. A mix of sexy salsa tradition and millennial elements can be quite an interesting combination, too.

 

There are more of these salsa beats in Youtube and other websites catering to the same genre. Audio recordings in high quality can also be searched on the Internet. Learning the salsa does not stop inside the studio; it could also happen in our own homes using readily available resources like these.