The word Salsa probably causes you to imagine people dancing and twirling in brightly colored attire to a fast Latin beat. Everyone seems to be familiar of Salsa dancing, but what do we really know about it? From where does this staple of Latin dance originate? Since I was curious, I decided to do a little research on my own.
After browsing through a couple of websites, it appears that there isn’t one single place that Salsa was developed, but that Cuba played the major role in what Salsa is today. It was developed from African, Spanish, and French influences. According to Salsa-Dancing-Addict.com, “The French who fled from Haiti brought the Danzón or the country-dance of England/France to Cuba. This dance began to mix with the African rumbas such as Guaguanco, Colombia and Yambú. Added to this is the Són of the Cuban people, which was a mixture of the Spanish troubadour (sonero) and the African drumbeats. This type of syncretism occurred in other places like the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, albeit not at the same grand level and manner as in Cuba.”
Why exactly is this dance called Salsa? Isn’t that what you put your chips in? Over the years the meaning of the term has become interchangeable, and can refer to adding flavor to music. The music with this particular “flavor”, “spice”, “kick” or what ever you’d like to call it was coined as Salsa music. Salsaroots.com mentions, “The popular usage of the word “salsa” for danceable Latin music began in 1933 when Cuban song composer Ignacio Piñerio wrote the song Échale Salsita.” Échale Salsita means to “spice it up a little.” It’s funny because the song is about American food.
Salsa-Dancing-Addict.com also describes how this “spiced up” type of dance works, “Salsa is danced on music with a recurring eight-beat pattern, i.e. two bars of four beats. Salsa patterns typically use three steps during each four beats, one beat being skipped. However, this skipped beat is often marked by a tap, a kick, a flick, etc. Typically the music involves complicated percussion rhythms and is fast with around 180 beats per minute.”
If you would like to learn more about the Salsa, Pedro Rodriguez is here to help. Our class, Latin Dancing with Pedro, will teach you everything you need to know about Salsa and other popular Latin dances too! For more information visit us at ColumbusStateUniversity.edu/CE or call 706.507.8070.
Bartch, Cathy. “History of Salsa Dancing – The Origins of Salsa Dancing.” Salsa Dancing – The Dance of Intimate Passion and Addiction. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://www.salsa-dancing-addict.com/history-of-salsa.html>.
Salazar, Max. “Salsa Origins.” SalsaRoots.com – The Essential Guide to the History of Salsa Music and Dance. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://salsaroots.com/salsaorigins.htm>.