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Today's Salsa CD reviews

Orquesta Borinquen – Pa' Que Tu Lo Sepas

This latest album from Orquesta Borinquen, Pa' Que Tu Lo Sepas, delivers a salsa dancer’s dream from a traditional salsa band in 2018: nice music rooted in the salsa/mambo tradition with ever improving technical skills in both musicianship and sound recording. In other words, the band takes the best of what modernity can offer without compromising its music signature. The result is a variety of salsa (plus a bolero and cha-cha-cha/descarga) which both DJs and dance teachers can offer to both novices and experienced dancers alike. Novices will find themselves at ease with the clear beat and experienced dancers will tune into the brilliant, rich, but never overwhelming, arrangements. Indeed, the arrangements and their executions are impressive, providing the cherry on the cake of this album.

From a dancer’s perspective, the salsa on this CD come with a consistent sound married with diverse aftertastes: ‘romantica’ in ‘Ay Negra’ and ‘Ella Es’, salsa dura in ‘Americano Latino’, ‘Puerto Rican’ in ‘Yo Tengo una Cura‘ and ’Señor Maracas’ and even a feel of timba in ‘Carolina’. There is also a salsa in English on ‘Never Knew I Needed’. If the latter is not your taste, don’t turn the CD off, because a gem is to come. The final track of the CD is a fantastic bolero, as good as any bolero of the golden age, magnificently sung. All their music and more information can be found at

Well done Orquesta Borinquen!

Various artists – El Guaguanco, Origen de la Salsa :

A few years ago there has been a surge of interest among salsa dancers for rumba, and we started to see rumba workshops at main salsa congresses as well as rumba DVDs in the market. Soon after, students realized that making the transition between rumba and salsa, or incorporating the recently learnt rumba movements in salsa, was not trivial. One of the issues, of course, is recognizing the rumba roots in contemporary salsa music. As far as I gather, this CD was meant to achieve roughly this, to show Guaguanco (one of the rumba styles and probably the closest to our modern conception of salsa) in its original form and how it made its way into the more familiar salsa sound.

Whether the aim has been achieved I am not 100% sure, since this collection contains some ‘pure’ rumbas (“Illabo”, “Lamento Esclavo” and “La Gitana” from Los Munequitos De Matanzas), some salsas in which the guaguanco link is obvious (“O Mi Chango” from Mongo Santamaria and “Medley” from Eddie Palmieri) and others where it is no more obvious than in many others salsas, except that guaguanco is the topic of the lyrics.

Said that, this is a cool CD (very cool actually!); the choice of songs is really good, mostly in old Puerto Rican/NY style and if you are not familiar with this sort of music this may be a very good way to get into it, since it covers many of the best artists.

Dance-wise, if you are not into rumba, there is no reason to worry since you can use most tracks anyway: “Guaguanco De Amor” (Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez), “Guaguanco Con Sabor” (Cheche Abreu) and “Guaguanco Pa'l Que Sabe” (Johnny Pacheco) make perfect sons, “Guaguanco Raro” (Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz), “Esto Es El Guaguanco” (Cheo Feliciano), and “Avisale A Mi Contrario” (Roberto Roena) are perfect salsas and “La Vivora” (Bobby Valentin) makes a perfect Cha Cha Cha.

Highly recommended. 5-11-07

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Today's Salsa DVD reviews

Jose Barroso -

Level: Beginner to Advanced

Style: Orisha, rumba/Afro-Cuban

Content: produced by Obakoso Dance Co. A chance to learn African Cuban folkloric dance from master teacher Jose Francisco Barroso as he guides students in the dances of the Orishas (Yoruba deities) from beginner basics to the more advanced movements and characterizations demonstrated by his explosive soloing. All instruction is accompanied by a live group of musicians singing Orisha songs and performing on Batá drums. Detailed instruction and demonstration of the three types of rumba is also included.
To help ground students in the rhythm each dance section begins with counting and stepping in time with the clave (the 5 note pattern & rhythmic foundation of Afro-Cuban music). Includes:
1) Elegbá - opener of doors, trickster, guardian of the crossroads
2) Ogún - represents work and all human effort - he is a symbol for violence, brute force, of raw energy.
3) Oshún - the deity of river waters and the embodiment of love, sensuality, and fertility
4) Yemayá - the deity of ocean waters and the mother of the entire world
5) Shangó - the Orisha of fire, thunder, lightening, and the owner of the sacred batá.
6) Oyá - the Orisha identified with the wind, thunderbolt, and fire.
7) Rumba Yambú - slower dance for couples
8) Rumba Guaguancó - couples dance
9) Rumba Columbia - men's dance

General Comment: Plenty of material in this DVD, no time wasted in chit-chat or purposeless decorations, just 70 full minutes of dancing and music. The instructor takes you along a journey from the Nigerian roots of Afro-Caribbean dance to the better known rumba styles of Yambu, Guaguanco and Columbia, always accompanied by live percussions and chanting. For each dance the steps are first shown at a slow pace with vocal counting over the clave and then demonstrated with a richer percussion ensemble. You should be aware that no actual instruction is included, you can understand the counting and the steps, but the working out of the details is something you have to do yourself. But, really, this is no excuse for not trying, for just when you may think that your genes could be too 'white' to execute such movements, a few students, including a western woman and an Asian guy, show you that is not the case.. a very timely and useful addition to the demonstrations. The gem comes towards the end, with three outstanding demonstrations of solo and couples rumba. The dancers are very good (the instructor and his rumba partner are outstanding) and so are the musicians and the students. A worthwhile addition to your collection, at least to learn about the origins of salsa.

Reviewed by Fabio - Good

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Salsa articles

On2? Which On2? I am writing this post to all experienced salsa dancers out there, and in particular to all salsa instructors. I have a question which hopefully will spark an e-mail exchange from which I may understand a few things which are unclear to me. In order to put this into context, first a few 'facts'.

Fact 1 . Roughly speaking, most people dance salsa either On1, or On2 Modern Mambo (NY style) or On2 Classic Mambo (Puerto Rican style also similar to Cuban contratiempo). Today Modern Mambo is used more frequently than Classic Mambo at congresses and salsa classes around the world.. more...

The Salsa 10 Commandments: 1)You shall not dance out of time, 2) You shall not refuse a dance to a less advanced dancer , 3) You shall respect other dancers on the dance floor more...

Creativity, Style and Salsa: How can I be creative in my dancing? How does SuperMario come up with his incredible moves? Did Eddie Torres invent NY style? What is style? Who creates a style? What does it mean to be creative anyway?

There are no objective answers to the above questions. They all, one way or the other, depend on subjective views on the artistic expression we call salsa, on what we like, and on what we intend by salsa in the first place. But we can still say reasonable things about the matter and make the creative process clearer and possibly easier. What follows are some thoughts of mine, mostly borrowed from my maths background. I am sure all this must have been said already within the art or humanistic literature, and if you are aware of work in this area please let me know, so that I can learn more.

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