“El mundo de Salsa, es un mundo sin fronteras” (Montenegro Rolon 2006). A notion that implies that Salsa music and dance is a world without boundaries in which race nor color play a significant role. Instead, Salsa dance and music is considered to be a unifier- a spectacle that brings people from diverse generations, cultures, socioeconomic and political backgrounds together to a same environment for entertainment (Johnson 2011). In this paper I will document a series of observations on UCSB’s Salsalogy Dance Team in order to provide the reader with evidence that Salsa dance is manifestation that brings diverse individuals together. My first independent research took place during the fall of 2012 in Goleta, CA; home to the UCSB gauchos. To evaluate this project, I conducted participant observation; a widely used anthropological learning method. It was developed by Bronislaw Malinowski in the late nineteenth century. Participant Observation takes place when an observer studies the life of a group by becoming part of that society. It allows the observer to gain a deep familiarity and understanding with the group they are observing (Smith 1997) .Through participant observation, I was able to be an objective observer as I recorded my findings during this project. UCSB’s Salsalogy Dance Team was the place where I conducted my research; a student run organization that allows fellow Gauchos to learn and practice Salsa. It introduces one to basics of musicality, timing, leading and following. Here, one is able to learn the very basic footwork, turns, patterns, proper posture, weight transfer, frame and connections that go along with the dance. The class is given by a male and a female instructor, so that both genders are represented making it easier to demonstrate proper movements while students follow along.
Students of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds attend the dance lessons. These lessons were not biased to a particular race but instead foster freedom of expression in the movements performed , influenced social interaction amongst members and no racial biases were evident within the partner selection processes. These three main factors contribute to making Salsa a global phenomenon that brings these students together.
Examining the interactions between participants within the Salsa Dance Teams explains the freedom of expression among the members. Dance Teams are effective spaces where movements and emotions are continuously being created by bodies through interaction and communication. It is also a space of opportunity for bodies to unite through the process of dance steps and the response to the rhythm of the music. Dance steps are not only the reaction to the music being played but a method for sharing messages, emotions, feelings and a way acquiring a special connection between the individuals involved. The freedom of expression that lies within Salsa’s atmosphere allows members of distinct cultural, socioeconomic and political backgrounds to finally build unity and forget those circumstances that minutes ago made them different. In addition to my role as an observing participant, I was able to conduct interviews with members and instructors. Through these interviews I concluded that they viewed salsa dance as a language of the body; a system of steps and gestures that communicate information and expresses feelings. Here, they could leave behind any kind of oppression and instead focus on the freedom the dance floor provided for them. On the dance floor participants were capable and free of dancing to the beats of the music. It was also a place where individuals left all their past troubles behind and dwell in this beautiful moment being created on the Salsa dance floor.
Not only were these individuals able to demonstrate freedom of expression through movements, but able to engage in social interaction within the members of the Dance Team. Many individuals find it hard to express their feelings and...
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