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Salsa Articles

About Salsa

Historically salsa finds its roots in Cuba, where the African rhythms brought there by slaves mixed with various forms of popular Spanish music, which resulted in a number of different styles. The world salsa literally means sauce, and indicates the mixing of various ingredients to obtain a new, rich flavour. Contrary to common belief though, what is today called salsa did not develop in the Caribbean, but in New York, in the 70s, among its rapidly increasing Latino population. From there it spread back to Cuba and Puerto Rico where it was destined to continue its development, producing possibly the best salsa musicians and dancers in the world. This initiated a 2 way cultural exchange between the Caribbean and the States that is still very much alive today.

Quite rapidly salsa spread to Central and South America, mostly in the countries facing the Caribbean sea and as always happens to any form of art and expression of human culture, it differentiated itself in many, at least slightly, different forms. Basically, each Latin country has its own salsa style, almost inevitably defined as the 'only, right and true' form of salsa.

Trying to make sense of dozens of 'only, right and true' styles of salsa, we can broadly state that today there are seven major salsa schools or styles. Two of these are in the Caribbean (Cuba and Puerto Rico), two in central/south America (Costa Rica and Colombia) and three in the States (New York, Los Angeles and Miami). More recently, London is developing what they call 'London Style'. Considering the American schools less 'proper' because they are outside the 'Latin sphere' would be a gross misunderstanding, for two main reasons. Firstly, because of the huge Latin population living in those three cities and secondly because American teachers (often of Latin origin) are today having a huge influence on salseros back in Latin America.

All this gives a clear image of salsa as an international dance which exploded far beyond its original 'Caribbean' borders. Top bands nowadays come from Puerto Rico as well as from Japan, Senegal, France and even Finland. Salsa competitions are at times won by 'western' and even Asian dancers. This is nothing but a natural result of the widespread development of any form of art.

The reason I point this out is that I would like to encourage students to approach salsa with an open mind. Whilst I recommend an understanding of the original cultural background of the dance, and a respect for its core 'Caribbean' style, I also encourage you to feel free to interpret the music according to your own feeling and background, whether this is Australian, Asian or European.

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