History & Roots of Salsa Music & The Dance


A Short Discourse About The History of "SALSA"...
Afro-Cuban music and dances find its roots in the religious ceremonies of the Afro-Cuban religion, which contains among others the entire Yoruba Tradition (rooted in Nigeria - Africa), The Bantu/Congo Tradition (rooted in the Congo area, Africa), and Abakua (sect of men rooted in Nigeria, Africa)
In the Yoruba traditon the dancer is interpreting the saints (Mainly Eleggua, Oggun, Yemaya, Oya, Chango, Babalu Aye, Obatala,…) and their character. The percussion played on Bata drums and especially the chants tell the story for the dance of each Orisha's acting. The Congo tradition characterizes itself by strong percussive beats and strong moves in Palo and in an erotic way in the Makuta...
The sect of the Abakuas founded itself in 1836 in the port of La Habana. It is rooted in Nigerian tradition, but took a unique form in Cuba. Still most of the sacred chants can't be sung in public, but the part of the party after a ceremony can be shown. The singer and a special member of the sect are calling in the dancing Iremes with a strong background in percussion.Every of the 3 religions lends a big part to the entire Salsa culture...   
Salsa Music and Dance originating in Cuba, We can identify to main roots of Salsa, where everything started:                                                
1) The Son is often called the mother of Salsa.. It came from Santiago to La Habana around 1900 and changed during its evolution. Rooted in the Changui it melt together with Danzon and was danced in Ballrooms and on private parties mainly by the black community that created it.
2) The (Cuban) Rumba, which started to manifest itself around 1860 is composed of the expressions: Guaguanco, Yambu and Columbia. The importance of Rumba is mainly, that its creation manifests the moment, where the Afro-Cuban tradition became accessible for a non religious audience and creators...
Rumba has no parts of sacred tradition and is a popular culture The most important effect on it is the basis of the 'Clave' as a rhythmic pattern, aswell as of the two sticks building this instrument, which became the basis for all 3 Rumba expressions and finds its roots in the Abakua rhythms. As the main Son-Bandleaders in La Habana like Ignacio Pineiro where Rumberos they incorporated the 'Clave' into the Son and provided the basis to it..
The song 'Echale Salsita' was composed in 1933 and from then on the word Salsa was used by different protagonists in Cuba as a word to express 'Sabor'.It was a very creative time around 1940, when many Cuban orchestras toured in the entire Latin America and brought their newest movements like Mambo (Perez Prado), Cha-Cha-Cha (Enrique Jorrin) to the world. Cuba was known for its 'Bandas Gigantes' like the one of Benny More in this time.
In the 1950's there was a big movement in Cuba about a dance, called 'Casino'. In the Casinos at the Beach it was practiced mostly by white people, who changed the steps from 'Contratiempo' to 'Tiempo' (Son -> Casino).Casino as a form of dancing is one of the only Cuban dance expressions, that doesn't have its musical identity.
Even so with all its turns it can be identified as the basis for what evolved as Salsadancing in the US and Latin America.
When Cuba was closed out of the international market in the early 1960's the migrants with their most famous representative Celia Cruz didn't stop to play their Cuban music.
Then the name Salsa was already becoming popular and the Cuban Genres were mixed with Jazz and Latin American Genres outside of Cuba. In Cuba, some innovative orchestras went on experimenting and the young generation came up with a new and very explosive form of Salsa, the Timba, which is the most evolved Genre in Cuba today.
Luis Chacon 'Aspirina' integrated as the first bandleader the Bata drums in his orchestra 'Sicmarie' in 1964 and Irakere brought it to popularity.This was the time, when racism was banned by the Cuban revolution and the Afro-Cuban tradition started its way of emancipation. As in the music the dances of Son, Rumba, Timba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Mambo, etc..., lived their evolution during the time but keep up their original basis.                              
When the Cuban product was exported to the US, Salsa became a movement in the world of musicians and dancers.At the same time it started to evolve differently then in Cuba and merged with Swing, and Ballroom dances.Now the big cities like New York, LA and Miami teach their own style.The big hipe of Salsa started in NYC with an orchestra called FANIA and it took the entire world with it on this journey. In the different cities Salsa is danced on 1 and on 2. These derivatives possibly started to become manifested through the influence of 'Tiempo' and 'Contratiempo'.
Rumba is a purely Cuban expression of Music and Dance with a clear structure. It is the first Pop-culture that was started by the Cuban black slaves on the basis of their sacred traditions. Cuban Rumba should not be confounded with the Spanish Rumba (Ballroom Dance) nor with any other type of Rumba (Chile, Columbia, Africa, etc.)!!
The (Cuban) RUMBA is characterized by the constant rhythm of the Claves and they take the function of a rhythmic leader being the basis of the Abakua tradition.The entire Yoruba culture is not building part of the basis of Rumba, but due to its richness in moves, beats and chants it enriched it over time. Rumba is a complex of three different expressions: Guaguanco, Yambu and Columbia (Sometimes 'Jiribilla' is mentioned as a forth expression) 

Slowest Rumba expression with a very elegant cadence in the movement. There is no 'Vacunao' in Yambu. It's most often characterized to be a dance for elder people.Yambu is danced in 'contratiempo' as the Son. (There are differences between La Habana and Matanzas).

Is a very flirtatious dance with a very strong energy. In a macho tradition the man charms and seduces the women and she is standing his attacks. In order to achieve his intentions, he must impress his female partner. The most important movement of the man is the 'Vacunao', with the reaction of the women to save her private parts.In Cuba the emancipation of the women provokes a stronger role in this dance nowadays. The Guaguanco is danced in 'tiempo' and is very open for the integration of other influences.

In the Columbia the singer, the Quinto (improvising Conga) and the dancer interact.The singer is using phrases to push the dancer and the Quinto is interpreting its movements on the dance floor.Columbia is mainly danced by man, who express their ability and athletics.                                                 
The dancer is asking for permission and has to wait his turn to start. The best dancer normally gets in at the end of the song to get on top of everyone.Quite some time ago women started to dance Columbia too and they where criticized by the elders. Even so emancipation is breaking up the macho tradition.The Columbia has a strong influence from the Congo culture but the dance is also getting enriched by Breakdance, Boxing moves etc. Many attributes like stairs, knives, bottles, candles, etc are used to enrich the spectacle.

The Mambo originated in Cuba and attributed to Perez Prado who introduced it at Tropicana night-club in Havana. Perez Prado moved his music to Mexico, and then New York City, along the way, his style became increasingly homogenized in order to appeal to mainstream American listeners and it remained popular throughout the United States and Cuba until the 1960s and still is.!!
Mambo is danced with lots of Cuban hip motions, very relaxed knees and extremely grounded movements. Some of the Ballroom Mambo dancers have influenced this dance with many foreign movements, taking it far away from its roots... (There is no sexy move with the hips in sacred dances in Cuba!!!).. Ahi na ma!!

The Cha-Cha-Cha was created in Cuba in 1954 by a Cuban violinist called Enrique Jorrín. According to Jorrín, the sound made by the shoes of the dancers on the floor sounded like "cha-cha-cha", while they tried to follow the new rhythm.Cha-Cha-Cha lived a big hype all over the world and is integrated in the Latin Ballroom dances.The original Cha-Cha-Cha is danced in 1-2-3-cha-cha, where the conga is indicating the cha-cha on 4...            
It is the same pattern known from the Son and the steps can be interchanged.Dancer around the globe nowadays do the cha-cha where they want in the context of the music and teach it this way but this is in fact a bad copy of the original intention.

The meaning of Salsa is sauce, so it's a big mix of anything that fits the beat and the basis of the dance and music.Salsa became very popular outside of Cuba through protagonists around the world. Due to the absence of the sacred roots which stayed in Cuba the evolution integrated Swing, Jazz, Latin Jazz, Ballett, Bodymoves, Rock, etc. and sometimes the final product presented to the audience at the festivals doesn't have to much to do with the original. Today all shows look quite the same and the big innovation is missing, so people go back to Cuba to learn the entire Afro-Cuban tradition, and specially Rumba.
In Cuba there is a very different evolution happening. In 1959 Irakere started the Timba movement, based on all Cuban Genres like Conga, Rumba, Mambo, Changui, Guaracha, Son, Latin Jazz, etc where principally the percussion indicates the steps and moves. 

The Pop tradition of the Rumba and Conga is enlarged in the Timba. We are talking about an Identity Of The Cuban People. There is no racism inside of it, but the stronger the black power in Cuba gets during its emancipation, the Timba gets stronger and Rumba and the Afro-Cuban tradition have more influence on it.
Ahi na ma...!!: It is beautiful things, that such a big international community is dancing Salsa and listening to its music... Right, everybody can dance, but not everybody should compete, but be open...!! If you plan to represent Salsa on stage, the rich and complex tradition of Cuban music and dance should be respected and the only place to really learn the ingredients of the sauce still is Cuba, even if most of the big Salsa promoters do not respect it and refuse to invite Cuban delegates.
The History and Origin of Others Afro & Caribbean Dances and its Music..
Kizomba it´s an Angolan dance that it´s now worldwide known. But it doesn´t exists only in Angola.. It exists in most of the African countries that speak Portuguese.. If You guys like Dance and Music, than you´will love & enjoy it th..!!
It is said to have been born during the 50s/70s in Luanda - Angola(Africa), after the influence of Caribbean Zouk, Tango, Merengue mixed with Africa own rhythms Semba, Maringa, Kabetula. In its essence, and before all those influences, the style was once known as "Umbigada" or "Lumdum" (a dance in witch the 2 dancers Belly buttom touches eachother) a 15th century portuguese royality dance, danced in pairs very popular in its colonys, forbiden by the Church for being considered an erotic dance, its starts very slowly and it ends with a fast hot turmoil..:-)..!!
Zouk Love Dance is a passionate and romantic rhythm originating from the French-Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Haiti..
Its an elegant and exciting partner dance, and it is hugely popular in France, French-speaking Africa, Brazil, French Polynesia...and more.! 
Zouk means "PARTY" or "FIESTA" in creole and we bring you an authentic taste of the French Caribbean right here in... and Complete with the hottest Compas and kizomba dance music.. Ahi na ma!!                                                                                                                                                           
So if you know how to dance Zouk and Kizomba: don't miss this unique opportunity to show off your moves in an authentic setting in our weekly Classes and Club or Congress/Festival.. Smooth and Elegant International Dance Festival Each Year.                                                                          
If you are amount those who don't know nothing about Kizomba and Zouk; No worries and dont be shy and come try something fresh and exciting and be seduced by the smooth sounds of Zouk & Kizomba music on the dance floor!!!
Keep on dancing and enjoy the great music.. Music and dance have many real benefits in our lives.. its a leisure activity that supersedes age boundaries, physical and psychological health. In addition it can also help to fight obesity in our society. It helps to burn a few calories without even feeling it and it makes your everyday life shine like the sun.. Ahi na ma..;-)..                                                                                                                                            
PS: The greatest thing of all and what I personally love about Dance & The Music, is that it brings all Cultures, Nationalities, Background, Men & Women Together to The dance-floor for a common purpose  "Dancing and Having a Good Time".. ;-) .. See you at The Afro-Cuban Salsa Congress..!!

Thank you for your time in this section of our website and we hope that it was usefully for and you learned something new about the History of Salsa, Latin Dances and Music..Candela..!! Click here to Join us in Facebook ... Thank you - Merci - Gracias...!!

@ 2011 by T.T

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 July 2015 12:43


Which dance is your favourite?

KIZOMBA - 45.9%
TIMBA - 1.5%
SON - 0.5%
SEMBA - 2%
KUDURO - 0.5%

Total votes: 196
The voting for this poll has ended on: 20 Dec 2016 - 09:33

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