Podcast of interview with author of salsa book

Discussion in 'Websites of Interest' started by lidiap, May 24, 2016.

  1. lidiap

    lidiap Descarga

    This is a podcast of an interview with Juliet McMains, the author of “Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Exploring the History of Salsa Dancing”, a book that came up several times in discussions on the forum. Some of the topics in the interview will be familiar to us salseros, but maybe someone will be interested in reading the book after listening. It’s a good book.

    maykemtuyet likes this.
  2. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    She comes out with some interesting/intriguing points. As I recall she says the purpose of the above book is to document the history of mambo and salsa dancing - something that definitely needs to be done, and I'm going to have get a copy of the book imported.

    At the same time, her inspiration is to document a previously unrecorded history of dance by locating people who were there back in the day, watching them dance, dancing with them and interviewing them. No matter how well she might analyse styles of dance in her book, very few people today have seen these styles and there is very little film from back in the day, so surely as a dance historian she should have made some film of the people she studied? And if she did, surely such film should be available, if only as an educational resource rather than as a documentary?

    Also I noticed a couple of erroneous factual points. She blamed the decline of mambo on the embargo - it may well have been one of the factors, but there were certainly others as or more significant. Also I can't remember the exact words but she says something about ET2 being the same as son in its basic step, which is a big overstatement.

    Still interesting and props to her for being (afaik) the first person to document mambo and salsa dance!
  3. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    p.s. At around 21 minutes she summarises her book as saying something like the music and dance have become less connected since the rise of the salsa scene, which has had a negative impact on both the music and dance - got to agree with that!
  4. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    And, not true.. Breaking back with one foot, does not make it Son !and, there are no fwd breaks in Son, not to mention foot placements are different .
    I really need to read the book, to give any more comments.
  5. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    She comes across a hell of a lot better in her book (not that I'm saying she comes across badly on the podcast, but it's nothing amazing.) What's funny is how many of the things we have discussed on here over the years get dealt with very thoroughly in her book. (And quite a few points you've made on here Terence also come up via interviews with people from the mambo and old school salsa eras.)

    I got my copy secondhand but like new on Amazon marketplace. I think with postage it came to 17 quid, which was well worth it - now I'm waiting to reread it.
    MAMBO_CEC likes this.
  6. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Thanks for the info. ,,, will see if there is a cheaper copy.
  7. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Just placed an order ..best price was £22 delivered
    DJ Yuca likes this.
  8. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    Its one of the few books on the subject that I thought was pretty good. But yeah, it has its misses as it does its
    hits. With certain conclusions and her analysis on when "Mambo" emerges. I eMailed her that the "Mambo" was
    being produced and danced to in NYC well before the time frame she mentioned and pointed out how discographies
    (with some examples of songs) can help pinpoint when something begins to take root locally. But I never heard back
    from her. I also felt she relied a bit too much on the oral history. Only because a lot of what some of the folks she
    spoke to and quoted were expressing a whole lot of erroneous info they concocted. Mike Terrace in particular.

    BTW-Yuca... There's a good amount of film footage of that era. The problem is that 98% of it isn't necessarily
    representative of what or how they were dancing "on the ground" in the 1950s. There are flashes but its mostly
    performance oriented. All of whom revolve their expression around theatricality. "Mambo Madness" and another
    piece of film that I've seen are among the few that one can honestly say was being done by dancers who were
    dancing as naturally as possible. There was no sound and it was for a brief 15-16 seconds. The rest of the film,
    before and after, was just capturing the environment and personalities mugging for the camera. But pretty much
    what gets done today. No spins. Guy was wearing sun glasses while his female partner had on a jacket that read
    "Club de fans Damiron." They were dancing on 125th Street.
    MAMBO_CEC and DJ Yuca like this.
  9. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    "This crippling event coupled with waning interest in partnered dancing eventually led to its closing in 1966. Although the loss of this iconic venue signaled the end of the mambo era, the music and dance fostered at the Palladium became the backbone of a new music that emerged in the 1970s and a new dance craze that blossomed in the 1990s—salsa."

    I don't know enough about the technical aspects of dance to comment on what she expresses. (You guys are more familiar in that area.) But this sort of analysis in the quote is what's called "Popular Narrative." Which is a talking point that everyone has repeated ad nauseum. All because of a Documentary called "Palladium: Where Mambo Was King," which is what promoted this notion on a wide scale. It really makes no sense once you eliminate the terminology (Mambo, Salsa, etc) and just focus on what people are actually doing on the dance floor. However people were dancing in the 1950s is how they were dancing in the 1980s. Kids in the 1970s are dancing the same way in the 21st century.
    MAMBO_CEC likes this.
  10. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Is the film private footage or publicly available (or formerly publicly available)?
  11. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    It's not commercially available. It's stock footage available only for licensing. Strangely, no one has yet to utilize the scenes I described. Footage has been used in at least 2 documentaries, but its of the street scenes. Not the actual dancing. Nor the stage performances inside of the theater either.
  12. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Let's hope someone uses it in a documentary one day and/or just puts the whole thing on Youtube (or similar).
    MAMBO_CEC and Richie Blondet like this.
  13. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    Everything with value has an "owner." That piece of film is rare. Thus its value. And why a legitimate stock footage house controls its distribution and licenses it out at a pretty high cost so that the beneficiaries receive their due compensation.

    I would prefer that there be a legitimate institution or organization where one could go and watch it and other types of films like it. Where context could be provided. To a certain degree I prefer the content to be scarce and not so easily available. Youtube content has created so many pseudo historians who misinterpret context, details and perpetuate further ignorance as well as confounding reality. Similar to the gripe choreographers have with it in that folks all over the globe can watch a performance, cut and paste the routine, and either use it for a performance or to utilize within a syllabus and launch an endeavor as an instructor. All because of footage. Monkey see, Monkey do. Many folks who've never done any in-depth research are actually doing lectures using the available content. Including musicians. Content = credibility in most people's eyes. But "a fisherman can see another fisherman from afar." And a lot of these folks are vegetarians offering their two cents, if you know what I mean.

    One example of the irresponsibility of content use is the fact that everyone today assumes "Mambo Madness" was filmed at the Palladium. That got perpetuated by folks using the content in their documentaries when discussing the Palladium. They NEVER mention the actual location of the film footage. Its always been used to illustrate the Palladium era of dancers. This goes back to the 1970s when the film was re-introduced to a whole new generation. Even though the very beginning of the film shows the marquee of the ballroom it was filmed in. No matter what, most have it in their minds its the Palladium. People will actually argue with you and attack you for stating otherwise. Even though they've never seen the film in its entirety or showing them that particular frame in the film.

    If society leaned a bit more towards genuine education, there would probably be a whole lot more forthcoming people willing to share their content. But with so many awful documentary productions over the past 25 years revolving around the culture, creating platforms for a select few who further the misconceptions, but wind up being sought out because no one in the general public is familiar with the people from the actual community who loved those eras gone by and can provide their own content in the way of film, photos, etc.

    There's a lot Yuca. In private hands. Personal archives. Which they view no differently as a family photo album. 8mm and 16mm film of dancing during the 1950s and early 1960s. But as most of them contend, someone else winds up conveying the narrative. If you notice, there is never a real dancer from the era being given an opportunity to express their perspectives. The social dancer. Its always the same panel of experts or personalities. Most of whom were not around, were on the periphery or can and should only speak of their own experiences but are conveying a general overview of the era. And their opinion is as valid as anyone else's from the same time frame. They also differ. That's why certain things that make up history is always subjective.
    MAMBO_CEC likes this.

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