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What is Salsa?

End of the 1890er, Cuba.

Yet colonial Spain rules over Cuba, im- and exports slaves from Africa, mine workers and farmers from their Spanish homeland and does all else that doesn’t make an occupant a welcome guest.

Since grumping was if only reluctantly accepted, the suffering people were forced to articulate and tell about their sorrow, their dreams and longings in dance and music. Influenced by African, Spanish and pre-colonial Cuban rhythms and tunes the maybe most important rhythm of world history developed: the Son Cubano.

 


Buena Vista Social Club – “Chan Chan”
 

Over time music and dance further evolved, got more diverse and colorful and prospered thanks to the active cultural exchange with the American mainland. New styles like Cha-cha-chá, Bolero and (European) Rumba (technically Bolero Son) formed.

In 1962 the US economic embargo terminated the exchange with the little country in the Caribbean.

In the following years Cuban music from Cuba developed independently from Cuban music in the US. In the US a more Jazz-laden Salsa evolved in many different shapes (New York Style, Mambo Tipico, LA Style, etc.), while the Cubans stayed true to “their” roots for a long time (Salsa Casino, Son Cubano).

There are different opinions about the origins of the name “Salsa”. As a matter of fact it became famous firstly in the US, refused at the time by many Cubans. What was played in the US was nothing but “their” Son to them. To distinct themselves from the commercial aims connected to the name “Salsa”, many Cuban musicians called and still call their music Son, or, to appear more modern, Timba.

Since a couple of years the dynamic Salsa Cubana gathers even in Europe an ever-enlarging fan base. No wonder why since the round danced, energetic style with its characteristic winding figures, the predominantly leading appearance of the man and the influences of modern hip-hop elements, Salsa communicates above all: pure power.

The man who danced Salsa Cubana the original (or better said: old) way didn’t leave his lady-partner almost any freedom to interpret the music her own way. Nowadays most dancers take care about a more equal image. A play between man and woman. Communication, passion, fun and cheerfulness.