The history of salsa dance PDF Print
Tuesday, 19 January 2010 12:46

Before I start telling the story I’ve decided to try to wright, I would like to thank to Loo Yeo, a great man, who wrote a perfect work about the history of salsa. For me it would be impossible to write this work without the materials from Loo. I would also like to thank all the people, who allowed me to use their works devoted to salsa. The complete list of the works and salsa pages used in this work are in the list of sources. Hope you’ll enjou the story;)

Marina Derevyanko


The history of salsa dance
The musical genre known as Salsa has its roots in Cuban music and especially in the Cuban Son. Musically speaking Salsa is a group of Latin rhythmic styles that contain the Clave beat; the five note syncopated rhythmic cell of African origin. The clave beat is infectious, it make the listener "have-to-move". Although there are many African Clave patterns the most popular in what is called Salsa today is the Son Clave.
The first well known recorded use of the word Salsa was in 1937 in the Cuban composer Ignacio Pińeras’ classic Son "Echale Salsaita", which means "spice it up a little", soon became a popular success. Oddly enough it was not referring to music but to the American food that its author was served while on a musical tour in the USA. Max Salazar describes this song as the origin of salsa meaning "danceable Latin music", Ed Morales has described the usage in the same song as a cry from Piñeiro to his band, telling them to increase the tempo to "put the dancers into high gear".
The same time various music writers and historians trace the use of the word salsa to different periods of the 20th century. World music author Sue Steward has claimed that salsa was originally used in music as a "cry of appreciation for a particularly piquant or flashy solo". She cites the first use in this manner to a Venezuelan radio DJ named Phidias Danilo Escalona; Morales claims that later in the 1930s, vocalist Beny Moré would shout salsa during a performance "to acknowledge a musical moment's heat, to express a kind of cultural nationalist sloganeering and to celebrate the 'hotness' or 'spiciness' of Latin American cultures".
The word Salsa as such was used in a recording of the Mambo legend Tito Rodriguez titled "Sabroso Mambo", recorded in New York City on June 28, 1956, He called the Mambo: "Nunca te olvidaras el Mambo porque tiene la Salsa sabroza" ("You will never forget the Mambo because it has the savory Salsa"; loose translation by the author).
But salsa's definition continues to change. It has expanded to include non-Cuban music and dances like Cumbia and Merengue. It has become a symbol of nationhood, political belief, and cultural identity. But what is more fascinating is the rate at which the definition is changing.
The corners of the world are drawing closer. More people from more different countries and cultures are accepting salsa and adopting it for their own, redefining it to suit their needs in the process. It is a phenomenon called transnationalisation. New definitions emerge all the time, join with others, and are reabsorbed in a continuous process. In essence salsa is now a self-redefining term.

1. The history of salsa
1.1 The history of salsa dance.

The story of salsa begins in pre-revolutionary France during the reign of King Louis XIV, where he had established dance as a mechanism of political control. To be in a good level in social standing and to gain favor, the nobility had to know the latest steps that were created by his dance teacher. Dances at court were group activities, possibly to demonstrate agreement with the will of the king. New steps were created very often, leaving the aristocracy with little choice but to leave members of their families at Versailles to learn them.
The king was himself a keen dancer and the jewels of his dance crown were the minuet and the contredanse. Opinion is divided over how the contredanse got its name: some say it was a corruption of the English “country dance” from which it was descended (circa 1710); others think it was because of the way it was danced, with a line of men facing a line of women in “contra” dance.
Some of the dance patterns saw the man standing on the left, the lady to his right, leading with his right arm around her back, while holding the lady's right hand his left. This is likely to be the origin of the close hold found in all contredanse derivatives, where the lead's left and follower's right arm are held upwards and outwards of the partnership; and the lead's right arm around the follower's waist.
From Versailles the contredanse went to the Spanish court where it was called contradanza. Both the contredanse and the contradanza made their way to the Caribbean during the colonisation of the Americas, to the islands of Hispañola and Cuba.
It is important to emphasize that each island was divided into two distinct parts. Hispañola was divided politically between French Saint Domingue (today Haiti) in the west, and Spanish Santo Domingo (today Dominican Republic) in the East. Cuba, which lies to the west of Hispañola, is divided geographically. The Spanish colonial administration was seated in Havana in the west. Eastern Cuba known simply as “Oriente” was more difficult to govern due to the swamp-lands that separated them both.
The contredanse settled in Saint Dominique and the contradanza into Havana. There they met the next phase of Salsa's evolution, the African movement.
As time went by and return from the colonies declined. The local Indians, many killed by Old World diseases, were dying through exhaustion. So slaves were imported here to replenish the workforce.
The European colonial nations operated slave-hunting stations down the western coast of Africa and up part of the east. But it is not true that all who traded in humans were white; the fall of Yoruba  kingdoms saw its subjects sold into slavery by rival tribes. That was how the Yoruba and Bantu  came to Hispañola and Cuba. Both brought their religions and sacred drumming patterns with them.
For political reasons, the Spanish had to demonstrate firm Catholic faith even amongst their slaves. Yorubas had their religious beliefs heavily suppressed but managed to keep them alive by 'twinning' their divinities, Orishas, with Catholic Saints. An example is the pairing of Chango - the god of fire, lust and war, with Santa Barbara, allowing slaves to say to their owners, “Chango is the Yoruba name for Santa Barbara”. This practice, called syncretism, resulted in the Yoruba derived religion Santeria that is practiced today. Syncretic references still abound in salsa, for example in the lyrics of “Que Viva Chango”.
Spanish economic commitments required a highly productive workforce, meaning a long time in the fields for the slaves. A Spanish slave had very little religious and social freedom compared with a French slave. One consequence was increased tension on Hispañola where the disparity of liberty between the blacks of Saint Domingue and Santo Domingo stimulated great unrest. The Spanish came to regard the French as threats to their political and economic power-base. The two colonies engaged in numerous invasions and brutal conflicts, generating an enmity that lasts to this very day.
The violence caused the emigration of French colonists westward to Cuba, introducing and catalyzing the formation of new rhythms in Cuba. Immigrants settled in the Sierra Maestra, a mountain range in Oriente surrounding Santiago de Cuba. The city of Santiago has a reputation for being a birthplace of political, social and musical revolution. The first wave arrived in the late 1700s following a series of slave revolts on Hispañola. They introduced the contradanza criolla, a Creole version of the contredanse containing African elements in its instrumentation and interpretation. One of its most prominent features was the inclusion of a syncopated rhythmic pattern of five beats called the “cinquillo”. The cinquillo would play a major role in Latin music to come. The second wave of fresh immigrants arrived in the 1850s from the Republic of Haiti, contributing to the birth of the Cuban Son.
The Saint Domingue / Haitian contribution to the birth of new Cuban rhythms cannot be fully quantified, but is probably significant since the blacks had more freedom to retain their cultural heritage. It's more than simple coincidence that two important musical developments emerged from Oriente at the same time as arrivals from Hispañola. But conditions in Cuba itself helped to these developments. The farness of Sierra Maestra from Havana allowed the blacks more freedom to practice their customs in the east.
The vocal and drumming tradition is central to the religious and social practices of the African people. A key aspect is the idea of co-operative musicianship, where groups of people are involved in an activity. A fine example is the drumming, where particular patterns are identified with particular divinities.
An individual drummer would play a specific and unique rhythm; and several drummers, called a battery, would play together to produce a polyrhythm. Each part of the polyrhythm can be complex, and drummers play in a highly syncopated environment, so it's easy for them to lose their place. Every drummer is kept on the right track by being aware of how his own pattern fits with a master pattern called the “key”. As long as the key is present, the drummers are synchronized and the polyrhythm holds together. It acts like rhythmic “glue”. The large number of African deities required a large number of polyrhythm; which could be easily achieved by varying the parts of just a few drummers.
African polyrhythm is a key component of salsa, and so follows a “clave”. Common keys are the son clave, rumba clave, samba clave and cua; all descended from the African key. The cinquillo (five beat) and tresillo (three beat) are not claves themselves, but rhythmic motifs that conform to part of a clave.
In an example of polyrhythmic change in salsa, a chachacha can be changed to a pachanga simply by altering the pattern on the congas from “tumbao moderno” (modern rhythm) to “a caballo” (horse gallop). The difference is quite imperceptible, and it is clear why people find Latin rhythms confusing.
Another artefact comes from African ceremonial gatherings where group songs were hinted by individual religious / social leaders. Known in Latin music as coro-pregon (call and response), lead singers and group vocals sing responses to each other in alternation. Non-drummers at these ceremonies would still actively participate by stamping on the ground with their feet, knees flexed to absorb shock. The resulting leverage was used to move the hips in counterpoint. The hip action, though toned down to varying degrees, is easily seen in salsa.
The means of music making in Cuba towards the later half of the 1800s was geographically distinct. Musicians in the East were peripatetic, moving from village to village, rarely having a fixed place to perform. They functioned as important sources of news and retainers of folklore. Their instruments were uncomplicated and portable: guitar; tres - a Cuban guitar with three pairs of strings; marimbula - African thumb piano; botija - ceramic drum derived from olive oil jars; and bongos. The music they played consisted of a rhythmic progression of simple chords, supporting improvised lyrics sung to a clave. These features are in salsa.
Music in the west was much more European, it was graver and arranged more carefully. Musicians benefited from a regular performing base with consistent patronage and venues. The component instruments were costly and delicate compared those of the east, and still resembled those of the French orchestras. It was the retention of orchestral structure, instruments and specialist musicians that would later ease the entry of Jazz into Cuban music. But before then, there is just this little issue of collision and creolisation between European and African music.
The greatest leap in the evolution of music and dance came about with Cuba became colonially independent in terms of cultural identity and economy. What was originally a geographical distinction between Oriente and Western Cuba became a vertical stratification in the capital: with European music being played for the white upper classes and music from Oriente played by the lower black classes. Located in between were the mulatas and mulatos: Creoles or people of mixed ancestry. Here is where the real action was.
The individualisation of dance cobbled the way for the introduction of African movement in contredanse derivatives. A creolisation of dance occurred which was accepted more readily in coloured communities than by the conservative ruling elite. Thus creole dances became identified as a phenomenon of the underclasses, throughout Latin America: son in Cuba; merengue and bachata in the Dominican Republic; tango in Argentina, bomba and plena in Puerto Rico.
Fulgencio Batista was the political strongman of Cuba from 1933-1959. It was his close association with two leading Americans that saw unparalleled levels of US interest in the island state. One was Sumner Welles, US ambassador to Cuba and advisor to President (F.D.) Roosevelt. Through him, Cuba became a beneficiary of Roosevelt's “Good Neighbour” policy, opening the door to huge investments from US companies. The other was Meyer Lansky, a key figure of the organised crime syndicates. Through him, the criminal underworld established a large number of hotels and casinos in Havana turning it into the “Latin Las Vegas”.
American influence and the Vegas connection in particular, brought in acts like Ginger Rogers and Frank Sinatra, introducing the next big movement in the formation of salsa - jazz.
The mambo became a recognised style in its own right, separate from the danzon in the 1940s. An increase in tempo, adoption of Jazz lines, and a shift towards North American brass instrumentation, distinguished the mambo from its predecessor. It soon spread from Havana to Mexico, New York and Los Angeles.
The chachachá was also derived from the nuevo ritmo section of the danzon. Unlike the mambo, it was still interpreted by charanga (flute and violin) bands and remained mid-tempo. The big change was the addition of the conga drum.
The music of both the chachachá and the mambo carries an accent on the second beat. It is particularly audible in the basic rhythm interpreted by the conga, where a slap stroke producing a sharp “crack” sound is played on beat two. Dances to both rhythms begin on the second beat instead of the first because of this.
Both styles swept rapidly across the world, starting a love affair with Latin American music and dance; upon which the popularity of salsa and merengue rests today.
Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba in 1959. A steady deterioration in relations caused the United States to implement a trade embargo on 8th July 1963 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
This had a profound effect on Latin music, which up until then had looked to Cuba to lead the way in the innovation of rhythms. Although the interchange of people and ideas was stifled, the embargo did not prevent new rhythms from getting out. It did diminish Cuba's presence on the world stage.
Article 9 of Cuba's 1976 constitution (reformed 1992) interestingly guarantees each person access to education, arts and sport. There is national funding for musicians and venues. How this has benefited Cuban music, we can only guess at through the words of Cuban conguero Daniel Ponce (1980):
“When the Cubans arrived in New York, they all said 'Yuk! This is old music.' I was expecting to find a stronger Latin scene here; the lyrics, the composition, the feeling are not adventurous.”
Three centres of salsa stepped forward into the light: New York, Miami, and Colombia.
People from New-York carried the salsa rod forward through salsa's lean years. On the surface it may have looked as if Puerto Rican folkloric genres like the plena and bomba had been forsaken for Afro-Cuban ones. With the exception of the plena, which saw a brief burst of popularity in the late 1920s to the early 1930s, the dominant perception as promoted by the large U.S. record firms was that the Cuban method of playing was the only way. This led to a situation where NY people were practising music that was not originally of their cultural context. They defined the New York sound, then and today: cementing the influence of Jazz and R'n'B.
Cubans exiled through the revolution of '59 fled to Florida, less than 100 miles away. The nature of their departure left a number of them embittered and vociferously anti-Castro. Many settle in Miami, in an area now called “Little Havana”. Walking down its main axis of Eighth Street, more famously recognised by its Spanish name “Calle Ocho”, you can hear strains of Salsa all about you. Every March, this place veritably explodes into a kaleidoscope of music and dance: the internationally reknown Calle Ocho Cuban Carnival.
Salsa in Miami is comparatively politicised. The drive behind the carnival and the raising of Miami's profile on the salsa stage comes in no small part from right-wing political activism. To such an extent that artists with faint links to Castro's Cuba are not invited to perform at the carnival. Here, salsa is a symbol of desire: of a Cuba without Castro.
The rise to prominence of Colombian salsa is a story of light and shade. The country's size and geography once harboured entire towns of escaped slaves; no doubt helping to create the base of unique music it has today.
What Fania Records  did for New York, Discos Fuentes did for the whole of Colombia. Unlike in the former which was an island in a non-Latin sea, salsa was free to engulf the cities of Cali, Medellin, Cartagena and Barranquilla. The sheer weight of a whole country as a salsa centre can be felt through its more than fair share of talent and rhythmic innovations.
The story of Puerto Ricans in salsa is one of migration, penetrated with the process of creolisation, and shaped by forces that were not quite under their own control. Unlike in Cuba, circumstances contrived to award Puerto Rico with the dubious honour of having most of its domestic music produced overseas - despite its rich heritage of music-making.
As was already mentioned, after the Cuban revolution NYC become the epicentre of musical developments due to the large number of emigrants, not only from Cuba, but from Puerto Rico as well. It was the major site for the publication of music, a powerhouse of radio broadcasting, home to a large portion of the recording industry, and an early exploiter of U.S. technological advantage. It was thus a unique combination of factors which turned the city into what Ruth Glassner describes as, "the virtual headquarters for an evolving Caribbean sound largely produced by Cuban and Puerto Rican migrants". It retains much of this status to this day.
But Puerto Ricans were not completely obscured by their playing of Cuban music, nor were they fully eclipsed by the great Cuban names of Socarrás and Bauzá for example. Some of their countrymen did make it to the fore, like Augusto Coen, Tito Puente, and Manuel "Canario" Jiménez Otero, the latter most famous for popularising the Puerto Rican plena outside the island.
The Puerto Rican surge to the front lines of salsa was facilitated by two things: the lowering costs of music production; and U.S. sanctions against Cuba in 1962. When vinyl pressing and electronic recording became more economical, they created conditions suitable for the establishment of independent record labels, and favoured the small ensemble over the larger orchestras. While large record companies categorised much of their Caribbean music as 'Cuban' to appeal to the mass market, independents could afford to target specific demographic groups; such as Puerto Ricans at home and abroad with music written, arranged and played by the people of NY. And now that everything didn't have to be recorded all at once, a small ensemble of multi-instrumentalists could produce a big sound at a fraction of the cost.
The remarkable events that transpired between the United States and Cuba, of which the Missile Crisis  was one, caused a deterioration of public goodwill. However audiences stateside still demanded Cuban music, no matter what the name. With Cuban music cut off at the source, a vacuum started to form into which flowed music as played by Puerto Ricans - what was eventually to be called salsa. The impact of these tensions was to strip away the 'Cuban' marketing veneer surrounding Latin music in NYC, exposing a superstructure of Puerto Rican musicians who had been playing it all along.

1.2 The disputes about the real origins of salsa.

A cursory listening of the music, to its percussion, rhythm and harmonic progression would identify it as being structurally Cuban. And if it were to be judged on that basis alone, then there would be little grounds for argument. However if we hold to the idea that music can also be a multifaceted symbol of identity, and then we’ll have to listen more intently?
Cuban music is itself a product of creolisation, its multilayered and polyrhythmic structure easily accommodates the embedding of cultural motifs. Puerto Ricans are often described as outsiders to Afro-Cuban folklore, but that did not prevent them from incorporating artefacts in the music they played which would resonate with their countrymen.
If we try to study the Puerto Rican music deeply, we come to recognise that Puerto Ricans did not avoid their indigenous for Cuban forms. They were the archetypal complete musicians who could play anything. They took whichever forms they had to and made it their own by adding the cuatro here, a vocal motif there, singing songs that everyone would dance to but using themes that were uniquely relevant to their compatriots. If we listen closely, we can hear it in salsa.
There are fewer topics that cause more impassioned debate than the origin of salsa. Everyone claims that their version is accurate because salsa is a part of them, that they own it.
Intercourse between Europeans, Africans and Native Indians naturally created a significant presence of Creoles in the Caribbean. At first these people existed in a cultural limbo: unaccepted by the white ruling elite for having impure blood; and distancing themselves from the black slaves due to the abject conditions the Africans suffered.
Salsa also symbolises the dream of Latin American unity: the optimism in Simon Bolivar's  vision of a Gran Colombia - a single nation of a united people; the reality of a Latin America suffering from fragmentation, persistent lawlessness, economic difficulties, political instability; the frustration of a potential unrealised. Ruben Blades  alludes to this dream in a brief comment on his live album with Son del Solar. Salsa is an indicator of the great things Latin Americans are capable of. It is the musical identity of Gran Colombia.
The European Spanish are willing to claim ownership of salsa in the face of non-Latins through the tenuous link of sharing a similar language. But the Latin Americans would consider the Spanish as having no such right, given their past differences.
The use of salsa as a symbol of national identity can be attributed to two main factors: a loss of national sovereignty due to U.S. intervention, and the relative inability of U.S. troops to dance.
Whereas the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 sought to limit European influence in the Americas, the Roosevelt Corollary to the doctrine (1904) sought to justify U.S. intervention throughout the Western Hemisphere. This led to a number of U.S. military invasions throughout the Caribbean basin to protect its political and economic interests. Latin Americans adopted their music and dance as a form of cultural resistance. For example, the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic (1916-24) generated much resentment, causing the Dominicans to adopt the Cibaeño variant of the merengue as part of their defence.
Merengue is perhaps the most extreme example of music and dance as national identity, because of the extent to which it was employed. Six years later, the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo based his entire presidential campaign on the merengue, and promoted it ceaselessly throughout his time in power.
“'Save Havana for mañana” is the slogan of the Miami Cuban who can't or won't go back to Castro's revolutionary Cuba. They are fiercely aggressive in the protection of “their”music, which they perceive as predating the revolution, and symbolic of the good things before Castro. To them, revolutionary Cuba has no right of ownership, and they maintain an anti-collaborative posture to deny any hint of legitimacy.
In contrast, salsa - like the potent image of Che Guevarra , has been adopted by socialist movements abroad. Socialist Cuba possesses a variety of properties that make it a marketing dream: strong records in health, education, and culture; oppression by a foreign “imperialist” government; and subversion by militant right-wing groups. Salsa's origin as music of the underclasses, and its rise to dominance implied through the removal of class structure, make it the ideal tool in promoting socialist ideology.
But nowhere is the issue of ownership more polarised than between Cubans and people from NY. For the Nuyorican, salsa is a term made by them; a music kept alive by them when Cuba lost momentum. It was through their efforts: the music labels of Fania Records; the radio stations and clubs; and the live performances that kept salsa going.

2. The styles of salsa.
2.1. Salsa LA style and salsa New-York style.
The Salsa LA style, also known as Salsa “On One”, is much influenced by Hollywood and by the swing & mambo dances. It is the flashiest style, and it is considered "more show than dance" by many.
The focus in the Salsa Los Angeles style is not so much on the complicated arm movements which are often used in the basic Cuban style. Additionally, the LA style turn patterns are normally "in-line", as opposed to "circular" in the Cuban style.
The LA style dancers of today have refined it to produce a distinctive range of turn patterns. There are two essential elements of this dance, the forward/backward basic, and the cross-body lead. In this pattern, the leader steps forward on 1, steps to the right on 2-3 while turning 90 degrees counter-clockwise (facing to the left). The follower then steps forward on 5-6, and turns on 7-8, while the leader makes another 90 degrees counter-clockwise. After these 8 counts, the leader and follower have exchanged their positions.
Francisco Vazquez, along with his two brothers, Luis and Johnny, are often credited with developing the salsa LA style. Other people who also helped create LA Style are Rogelio Moreno, Alex Da Silva, Joby Martinez, Cristian Oviedo, Liz Lira, Josie Neglia, Abel Pena and many others. Tony Cordero and Robert Menache helped spread the influence of the LA style to other parts of the U.S. and in the word.
Compared to LA Style, the salsa New York style is a more elegant interpretation that leverages the momentum of the dancers to create a flowing and intricate series of turns and spins where control, timing, precision and technique are emphasized over flash, acrobatics and showmanship.
The Salsa New York style is danced strictly "On 2". The clave and the tombao of the conga are the instruments on which this dance style is based on. Many also refer to this style as "Mambo style", which similarly breaks on the second and sixth beats of every eight-beat phrase. The New York style is typically danced more compactly than the LA style, as New York style dancers almost religiously stay in their "space" and generally take up less space on the dance floor. New York style also tends to place a greater emphasis on performing "shines" where dancers separate and dance solo for a while.
Salsa New York style dancers are typically very serious about the musicality and timing of their dancing. To satisfy their tastes, "socials" are often held that cater to almost exclusively playing "salsa dura" (i.e. mid-to-up-tempo salsa which has an emphasis on percussion and band orchestration over the vocals, literally translating to "hard salsa"). The longest-running social in New York is the Jimmy Anton social, which is held every first, third and fifth (if there is a fifth) Sunday of the month.
New York Style's first and most famous champion is unquestionably "The Mambo King" Eddie Torres. Eddie Torres has been dancing since 1962 and has been teaching since 1970. Countless leaders in the salsa scene have performed with the Eddie Torres dancers, such as Seaon Bristol, Amanda Estilo, Eric Baez, April Genovese de la Rosa and many more.
Other important leaders in the “On 2” style are Frankie Martinez, Ismael Otero, Tomas Guererro, Osmar Perrones, Griselle Ponce, and many others.
While the salsa New York style is the predominant style found in the eastern United States, the style is danced all across America and has in fact spread around the world to Japan, Korea, India, Israel, Germany, Holland, Canada, Hawaii, Poland, Romania, UK, Czech Republic and more. 
2.3. Salsa Cuban style and the other styles of salsa.
Salsa Cuban style
Salsa Cuban style is mainly danced in Cuba and Miami, but is also popular in Europe and China.
Salsa Cuban style can be danced either “On One” or "contratiempo". The latter is often referred to as “On Two”. An essential element is the "cuba step" (also known as Guapea), where the leader does a backward basic on 1-2-3 and a forward basic on 5-6-7. The follower does the same, thereby mirroring the leader's movement. Another characteristic of this style is that in many patterns the leader and follower circle around each other.
Rueda de Casino
In Cuba, the salsa dance goes by the name of Casino, which comes from the so called 'Rueda de Casino' (Casino Wheel), a formation made up of several couples which, guided by a "leader", make figures and exchange partners. The leader calls out different names such as enchufla or 70, which corresponds to a certain dance pattern. All other dancers immediately respond by performing that particular dance pattern.
The Rueda is like a typical dance of suburbs, where each suburb has its favourite "leader", its private turns and sequences, as well as other aspects that differentiate it from the Rueda’s of other suburbs or areas. On festive days or at Carnaval in Cuba it is common for one Rueda to challenge another, and the Rueda with the least mistakes and greatest fluidity and grace is the winner.
The name, Rueda de Casino has its own history. After 1959, Gambling Casinos were closed. Later some of them reopened as dancing halls. At the beginning, people kept calling the dancing halls casinos and, as a result the type of dance done there was called Casino or Rueda de Casino.
Salsa Colombian Style
Salsa Colombian style is a very popular dance style in South and Latin America characterized by dancers who remain very close, move from side to side in a circular pattern, and use little or no back to forward foot movement. The steps of this style often involve going back to centre or back then to the side. For this reason, the Colombian style is different than mambo, where the feet go forward to back. The Colombian style emphasizes fancy footwork with a still upper body. Along with Cuban and LA Style, the Colombian Style is an “On One Style”. Salsa Colombian style has four beats with a break on the fourth where a flourish of the feat or a hand clap is often performed. The Colombian style features very little spinning and absolutely no turning. Any spins that do take place are done by the female and are never very complex.

Salsa Filipina (Ronda Manila)
Ronda de Salsa, also known as "Ronda Manila" or simply "Ronda," is a group dance inspired by Rueda de Casino. The dance was invented at the "Instituto Social Asiático" to add and energize the re-envigorated pro Filipino-Hispanic (Hispano Filipino) culture movement through a fusion of a local Hispanic dance called Fandango and a popular modern dance, Salsa, which for decades has been making waves in other Hispanic countries.
Ronda was inspired by the Rueda, but it is composed of very easy steps and consists of only 5 major combinations. Pairs of dancers form a circle (Rueda in Spanish), with dance moves called out by one person. Many of the moves involve rapidly swapping partners.
Ronda tells a story, like many dances here in the Philippines, and this makes Ronda unique from Rueda. Also, it is a combination of Filipino folk dances and Casino. This makes it easier for Filipinos to dance Casino.
The five simple basic combinations or combo, are: Gising, Pule, Patria, Lakambini and Dolorosa.
Gising in Tagalog, the language spoken in the Philippines, means "wake-up".The Gising ronda is a combination of steps which tell of a people being called to wake up. Pule ronda imitates an act of prayer and tells of a people deeply rooted in their tradition. Patria ronda mimics an act of camaraderie and tells of a people searching for solidarity. Lakambini shows reverence toward nature and tells of a people being ecologically conscious. Dolorosa tells of life's ambivalent reality and therefore calls for vigilance.
While the meaning of the dance may contain serious themes, the joviality that the dance elicits compensates for the somber motif. Designed to be a community dance, the five steps serve as the basic combinations and each community that dances the ronda is encouraged to develop new rondas or combinations that tells about the unique character of their group.
The dance is also meant to be a social icebreaker during community gatherings. Other new combinations have been introduced by different groups such as the Antonio ronda (by El Grupo Filipino de Salsa) and Accompania ronda (by Instituto Social Asiático employees).
The Havana Manila Salsa group started to popularize this dance and are going out of their way to reach the masses. Sooner or later, people will be accepting both salsa and Rueda de Casino as a re-appropriated Filipino dance. Of course, the group will always look back to Cuba, since many of the hispanic dances in the Philippines come from there, such as the "Habañera Capiceña" and msongs such as "Habanera Filipina."
At present, the Instituto Social Asiático, with the cooperation of Grupo Filipino de Salsa and international and local supporters have been promoting Ronda by providing free salsa lessons in the schools and in local communities.
Twice a year, groups which have contributed to the growth of the ronda celebrate and share their unique contributions through a Salsa Festival. The dates of the Salsa Festivals are November 26, May 6, 2006, and December 2 of each year.

It could be said that "salsa" is primarily a commercial tag for contemporary Latin pop music that connotes a feeling that sums up the variety of redefined and reinterpreted styles at its roots. It encompasses a broad range of musical genres, instrumental combinations and cultural influences, ranging from Cuban son montuno, Puerto Rican bomba and plena, Dominican merengue, Cuban Yoruba ritual music and Afro-American jazz and rhythm and blues.
Most music critics claim that despite these musical roots, what we know recognize as salsa today, originated in New York City nightclubs in the years following World War II, an evolution of the era's big band tradition. The first great salsa musician was Tito Puente, who, after a stint with the U.S. Navy, studied percussion at New York's Juilliard School of Music. One critic said that the music is what results when the sounds of big band jazz meet African-Caribbean rhythms. Others critics say that salsa is a combination of fast Latin music that embraces the rumba, mambo, cha-cha-cha, and merengue.
However, salsa is not just evolved from traditional Puerto Rican or Cuban music. Many jazz artists began interacting with Cuban music as far back as the early    1900's. Another important antecedent of salsa is the mambo.
Another major component of salsa is the ritual music associated with the practice of santeria, including their use of "bata" drums.
Thus, new styles keep evolving from a constant process of fusion with cycles of revival and incorporation of folk traditions into the mainstream of popular    Latin    dance     music.
Apart from the discussion of its roots, an important element in the initial excitement and subsequent spread of salsa must be the role of the Fania record company, and the huge success of the salsa band it formed and sponsored, the Fania All Stars. The All Stars included many of the founding figures of salsa: Larry Harlow, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Roberto Roena, Willie Colón, Pete "El Conde" Rodríguez, Ismael Miranda and Héctor LaVoe. It can be said that the All Stars was a veritable foundry of salsa pioneers with a disproportionate influence over the salsa music that the public heard, and its spread world-wide.
So as we see, salsa is a mix of different cultures, music, histories, may be that’s why it is so close to each person, who likes it.


1.    Loo Yeo. A History of Salsa [online]. Available at: < http://>
2.    Alba, Luis. Tracing the Origins of Salsa Music [online]. [quoted 27.03.2009]. Available at:  <>.
3.    Bailyn, Evan. Roots and History of salsa [online]. [quoted 29.03.2009]. Available at: < >.
4.    Feuerstein, Alan. Mambo Legends Cuban Pete and Millie Architects of Excitement [online]. [quoted 27.03.2009]. Available at: < >.
5.    Lamadrid, J. Fernando.  The Roots of New York Mambo On-2 [online]. [quoted 27.03.2009]. Available at: < >.
6.    Lechner, Ernesto. The Rise of Salsa [online]. [quoted 1.04.2009]. Available at: <>.
7.    Perez Sanjurjo, Elena. Historia de la Música Cubana [online]. [quoted 27.03.2009]. Available at: < >.
8.    Pretell, Jaime Andrés. A look at the origin of Salsa [online]. [quoted 3.04.2009]. Available at: <>.
9.    Rosen, Jody. The Return of Fania, the Record Company That Made Salsa Hot [online]. June 4, 2006. [New York]: NY Times, 2006 - .[quoted 3.04.2009]. Available at: <>.
10.    Salazar, Max. "What Is This Thing Called Salsa? [online]. [quoted 27.03.2009]. Available at: <>.
11.    Sanabria, Izzy. What is Salsa? [online]. [quoted 1.04.2009]. Available at: <>.
12.    Sierra, Jerry A. Over 500 Years of Cuban History [online]. [quoted 3.04.2009]. Available at: <>.
13.    Torres, Eileen. Sslsa: A Brief History [online]. [quoted 3.04.2009]. Available at: <>.
14.    Washburne, Christopher.Clave: The African Roots of Salsa [online]. [quoted 27.03.2009]. Available at: <>.

Web pages
1. - Salsa Pages
2. - Salsa blog of Loo Yeo
3. - American Memory Library of Congress
4. - Salsa pages
5. – NY Times online
6. – on-line encyclopedia
7. - on-line encyclopedia
8.  - The Timetable History of Cuba by J.A.Sierra
9. – Salsa pages
10. - Salsa pages
11. - Salsa pages
12. - Salsa pages
13. - Salsa pages
14. - Salsa pages
15. - Salsa pages
16. - Salsa pages
17. - Salsa pages
18. - Salsa pages
19. - Salsa pages


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