History of Salsa
Salsa is a dance form with origins from the Cuban Son (circa 1920s) and Afro-Cuban dance (specifically Afro-Cuban Rumba (dance)).. It is generally associated with the salsa music style, although it may be danced under other types of music with an 8-count rhythm. Before and around the time of World War II, the music traveled to Mexico City and New York. It was in New York where the term "Salsa" was created. In fact, the use of the word salsa for danceable Latin Music was coined in 1933 when Cuban song composer Ignacio Piñerio wrote the song Échale Salsita. According to the late Alfredo Valdés Sr. the idea occurred to Piñerio after eating food that lacked Cuban spices. According to Valdés, the word served as a type of protest against bland food. It then flourished as a popular nickname for a variety of Hispanic influenced music including the rhumba, Són, Montuno, Guaracha, Mambo, Cha, cha, cha, Merengue, Guajira, Cumbia and others. Increased syncretism in New York occurred of the different sounds. In addition, there was greater investment and promotion of salsa, which generated more commercial music. However, the term did not really take off until the 1960s. One of the early salsa albums was the Cal Tjader Quintet plus 5's Cal Tjader Soul Sauce in which the cover donned a fork on a plate of red beans and chili alongside an opened bottle of Tabasco sauce. Many Mexicans in San Francisco began using the term salsa to describe Tjader's brand of music. Tjader's music spread to other cities including Los Angeles and the East Coast. This was the start of Latin music being aired in different formats on radio stations across the country. It was in 1974 that Fania Records released Larry Harlow's Salsa. Harlow became very popular and his album enjoyed tremendous sales. This really unleashed the term salsa and popularized it. After this, almost all Afro-Cuban rhythms and much of what was deemed exciting in Latin music acquired the term salsa. It also gained notoriety in the anglo-market. In June of 1976, Billboard magazine's issue dedicated to Latin music contained a 24-page supplement called "Salsa explosion." The metamorphosis of salsa to what is heard and danced in clubs today has been a long, slow, and varied process. Not one person or place can be attributed as the founder of salsa. Instead, the dance and music has evolved over time through an elaborate syncretism of different sounds, cultures, and meanings. For example, in much of today's salsa you will hear the base of són and the melodies of Cumbia and Guaracha. You will also hear some old Merengue as well as some old styles mixed with modern beats. Salsa varies from place to place and from one song to the next. The diversity and complexity of the music is what keeps its listeners enticed, as well as delightfully surprised, and its dancers on their toes. This is the beauty of the salsa. In many styles of Salsa dancing, as a dancer changes weight by stepping, the upper body remains level and nearly unaffected by the weight changes. Weight shifts cause the hips to move. Arm and shoulder movements are also incorporated. The Cuban Casino style of Salsa dancing involves significant movement above the waist, with up-and-down shoulder movements and shifting of the ribcage. The arms are used by the "lead" dancer to communicate or signal the "follower," either in "open" or "closed" position. The open position requires the two dancers to hold one or both hands, especially for moves that involve turns, putting arms behind the back, or moving around each other, to name a few examples. In the closed position, the leader puts the right hand on the follower's back, while the follower puts the left hand on the leader's shoulder. In the original Latin America form, the forward/backward motion of Salsa is done in diagonal or sideways with the 3-step weight change intact. In some styles of salsa, such as LA and New York style, the dancers remain in a...
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