Salsa - My New York Adventure

Discussion in 'Member Reviews' started by olamalam, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Not sure this is relevant.?

    After some level of skill people can adjust to different styles. And the better they are the quicker they adjust. That is part of the fun of traveling and dancing - to discover different approaches to similar music. In London there are tons of dancers who dance all styles.

    [Oh, btw. Plenty of girls in On2 socials asked me to dance On1. There goes another myth. ]
  2. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    Sure, if on1 is what those particular girls know better or are good at (just being at an on2party doesn't mean everyone is a good on2 dancer), or, even if they are good on2 dancers and prefer it, if the on2 dancers in that party are not to their liking.

    Many, many times when I am dancing outside of NY (or in NY with visiting leads), if a lead asks me what timing I prefer, and I say on2, and he says something like "Ok I will try, I'm not so good at on2" (translation: he mostly dances on1 and has "converted" some of his moves to on2 by himself, without any on2 classes) I will immediately say, "Let's dance on1". I'd rather have a good on1 dance than a bad on2 one, even though I dislike on1 (in linear salsa).

    I seem to recall your review after your London dance experience was not too enthusiastic :p
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  3. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    It's relative to NYC :D
    And what London has - it's friendly versatility. I'm pretty sure that was in my London review as well.
  4. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Speaking from leader's point of view:

    A completely different topic not related to NY or SF. I always have a gripe that followers these days in USA are not well trained. Either they are not investing enough in training/learning or have gotten too lazy. I have witnessed this in my own scene. For first few years when I started, there were many followers in my local scene who were very good (and that has nothing to do with my perception, because I was a leader). If they occasionally come out once in a blue moon and I get to dance with them, their dancing is still at high level. Most of the followers who have entered in scene in past five or six years, are no where close to their peers from a decade ago. This is true not only in Salsa but also in Tango. It is sentiment that has been shared with me by a number of leads in both scenes.

    After having traveled and danced a bit in Europe (central/eastern Europe), I can say that I have gotten more good dances there than I can get at home. They are technically good, they display some sabor, they can be led, their fundamentals are good. I think it is result of them putting in more effort in their training (which is something I am witnessing first hand). Unfortunately I don't know what is the quality of instructors they have.

    I used to see amazing followers at places like LA congress and SF congress back in the day. These days these congresses are mostly beginners dancing with each other.

    NYC still has number of excellent instructors. No other city can rival that. In fact no other city probably has tenth of what NYC has in terms of opportunities to learn. Also the competition for leaders in NYC is tough. There are so many new leaders. Therefore anyone entering the scene has to up the game. LA had something similar going on when I started dancing. I don't know how it is now. We don't have anyone from LA on this board as regular contributor any more :)
  5. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Was this in NY ? :)
  6. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Of course.
  7. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    They must be visitors :D In all my visits to NYC, I was requested on1 only once ever!
  8. Del Dominguez

    Del Dominguez Changui

    Just someone's personal opinion???
    Now my own opinion: NY is dope AF.
  9. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    No offense but wouldn't you have to actually live in New York City for a lengthy period of time and explore the full spectrum of the entire Salsa dance landscape, before even thinking about comparing dance scenes? I know you advised that there is such depth one could find something to satisfy them. But your opening salvo is that NYC isn't as great as the London Salsa scene.

    You danced with a couple of girls in NYC that you expressed had no musical prowess. But you were still able to gauge their passion for it? That's pretty amazing. ::smile::

    The New Jersey dance scene. Ever pay it a visit? Try that scene if you ever make it back to the NY/NJ/CT area. I'm curious as to what your opinion would be of that crowd and their level of dancing.
    Smejmoon likes this.
  10. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Oh, I don't claim knowing New York scene. It's just that it does not match promotion. Actually in one party they even stopped dancing to talk how great they are. :D

    Do you dance often with strangers, Richie? Much of the magic and skill is into learning your partner as fast as possible. In seconds. Tune into their sense of groove, into their body, style, character. How they feel music and what can you create together right now.
  11. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    That I don't doubt at all. The socials I remember were pretty bourgeois-like. In other words the term "social" was a misnomer. You know how groupies try to get past security to meet their idols? That's the same vibe. Maybe its changed? But if the attitudes by some of the young flock out there today is any indication, I'm sure its the same pie-eating contest of always.

    But my question stands. You went to Socials. That's the only scene in NYC that has something in common with the rest of the world. If you hang in socials and nothing but anyplace else, how radically different would it be in NYC? There's an entire landscape being ignored. One that features live music. One that features the community from which all the important Salsa dance instructors come out of or are indirectly influenced or inspired by. The cultural component that goes beyond just dance. It's a way of life. Of recording artists and dance professionals rubbing elbows with the common folk and gathering at public places with each other. The NYC Salsa reputation or the promotion of it is not based on its socials. Socials, as a dance culture element in NYC, have always been around. But its only since the 1990s that they became go-to alternatives to the nightclubs and ballrooms where the majority of Salseros would always be found. Especially the younger generations. But the real estate culture in NYC has eliminated not just venues, but people from the city who were forced to make their lives elsewhere. What is left are a few sprinkles of the old school crowd, who have to find their own alternative spaces in order to be able to afford being able to dance Salsa. (Thus why one of the most hippest dance events in town at one point was inside of a housing complex in Harlem and not downtown in the bar/scene).... and the Socials. Which are almost always, if not exclusively always, frequented by the same crowd.

    If you say so. I just don't believe in Magic. Or the idea that you can measure a person you never experienced anything before with in a matter of seconds. But don't mind me. I'm sure a lot of folks agree with your POV. I just like to hear both sides. Like those girls you danced with. See their POV. Because it not just one person doing the dancing. And everyone has their own take.
    Smejmoon likes this.
  12. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    That I noticed as well. Everything is very expensive. So where do the students go? Or working class.
  13. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    That's true as well. I measure smiles and do they ask me for another dance. :) Some do, some don't.
  14. Del Dominguez

    Del Dominguez Changui

    Not sure it's fair to damn an entire scene on the strength/weakness of one party. I lived in NYC for a year and just when I left, I felt I had tried enough classes and socials to know there is a depth of talent and skill in NYC. It;'s everywhere....
  15. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Promotion by whom? To best of my recollection, the NY is only promoted by outsiders. I can't remember any NYer promoting their salsa scene. In fact like other things in life, most NYers probably don't give a damn to what the rest think :D [Trump is a flawed but exhibit A]
  16. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Given that San Francisco is a much smaller city area wise (7 by 7 miles roughly), with less than a million people population - this real estate effect is more pronounced and in your face. We have lost almost all the famous and popular clubs/bars weekly dancing spots from some years back. The clubs and bars are being torn down and getting replaced by condos or hip retail stores. Where as before most of the regular social dancing spots were at a bar or a club, now they are in studio spaces rented out for the evening.

    The downside of social dancing in studios is:

    1. Little or no live music (we used to have live music almost every night of the week to dance to at one time)
    2. There is no street traffic. You get to see the same people every time.
    3. It reduces influx of new blood into the scene. When we had dancing in clubs and bars, it is easier for people to just walk in. You get some hooked to dancing. With studio base socials, that pipeline is cut off.
    4. You are dancing with the same people. People have less incentive to improve.
    5. Only the people in the scene are aware of the studio socials. And it can be intimidating for others who are not in the scene.
  17. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    It's the exact same scenario in NYC. I would venture to say its like that every place else in the U.S. Real Estate development usually leads to 1. Luxury Apartment Sales or Rental. 2. Super Mega Retail (Malls, Big Box Stores, etc.)

    The other reality is that a "Salsa" night no longer covers the cost of a venue's operational expense. (If it ever really did, which I personally contend such exclusivity devoted to a specific brand of music/dance never actually managed to and got by via other means.)

    NYC Salsa today is, by and large, a lounge/bar w/ a menu scene, as far as going out dancing is concerned. Nightclubs offering this experience have been phased out for the reason I stated above. Whoever and however "live" Salsa was being financed in the past is no longer taking place. The "new" bands that have filled the void and play for much less monies are what one will experience regularly. But it's a scenario that equals what you describe below regarding the negative effects of a Social Salsa dance studio scene being the predominant event in any city. If you're seeing the same dancers week in and week out at a social, so too does the "live" music scene feature the same bands week-in, week-out, month after month. After awhile, one tends to grow weary. It becomes stale. No matter how good a band might even be. It's human nature to want to be excited to make their way somewhere. NYC is probably a whole lot more exciting "live" music wise to the "Salsa" scene in Vegas. But for a local that is used to variety, it's tough to stick to the "Latin" scene. Even when things were good, I always made my way to the Jazz clubs or the alternative spaces to see new musical collaborations of artists within the HipHop world, R&B Soul and Jazz. There's nothing like that within the Latin scene. It's straight up Salsa or the incredibly boring Latin Jazz classic repertory ensembles, if and when they ever get an opportunity to be given a platform. The bands or artists who are really good and offer new music have no place in the current climate. It's a real quagmire.

    Audience-wise, someone "new" will always come along. I know a young lady who just "discovered" a local Salsa Night that has been active for 10 years now. So now, she's making her way there every week to experience this scene. It's new and fresh... for her. That's pretty much who a party promoter will have to depend upon and hope for. You stick it out long enough to get discovered. You're not going to gain closing up shop. But money doesn't print by itself. And everyone has to live beyond that one night of the week. A lot of promoters who were active on the scene 10 years ago are now "retired."

    What you describe is applicable to the NYC landscape outside of the dance studios as well. My beefs with it all from a consumer standpoint is this:

    1. Too many bands available for hire with minimal places to play during a typical week/weekend.

    My Suggestion to resolve it would be for a promoter or venue to strictly book ONE band or limit the "live" music budget around a handful of bands. Pick 4 to 5 bands and conduct a rotation process. X band every [???]day of the month. Y band every [???] of the month.

    2. Salsa DJ's offer no creativity to their craft whatsoever. They put on a Vinyl record/CD or play a sound file... and that's it. Playing a song can become just as stale as hearing the same band in consistent fashion, as it would be dancing with the same ol', same ol' faces of always. They need to step up their game. Start hiring a couple of percussionists and loop segments of a song to play consistently while these folks are drumming "live." Change the format around. If that's an issue for dancers, that goes into issue #3....

    3. Dancers are too damn conservative. The Salsa dancer today is the Tea Party/GOP/U.S. Nationalist of the Dance world. NO balls whatsoever. EVERYTHING is sliced and diced on technique and being accompanied by what amounts to "practice soundtracks." BTW-If it doesn't apply, let it fly. I am speaking to those whom such a scenario would apply to. This is the reality in NYC. A crowd full of itself and convinced people are just "hating" on them. The same song and dance of always.

    The socials play the same damn songs each and every time. I know this from experience listening to the playlists DJ's who supply music to that particular crowd offer, and from the DJs themselves who play these gigs. What they do is adapt to where the tide is going in. They don't go against it. Doing so means the phone won't ring anymore. Or some person will proclaim you don't know how to DJ. Everything is nice and safe. "Nina y Senora," one or two of the same Wayne Gorbea tracks, "Lloraras," "La Rebelion," "Trucutu," the same less than 2 handfuls of music by the Big 3 (and ignoring the rest of their catalog).... etc. And hey, I LOVE all those tunes. But I'm not married to them either. I LOVE a whole lot of other material. Songs and styles being ignored because the majority want to dance to Mambo... and nothing but. And okay. To each their own. But on top of it, a majority subscribes to a single specific technique. All of which produces a PREDICTABLE pattern. Nothing is exciting if you already know what's coming. Whether its dance, music or the ambiance/vibe in the room. This is why you have people proclaiming a scene isn't that great or different than the scene in their own backyard. That speaks to the formula itself being stagnant. The formula of go to a space, dance to a DJ with one or more people. The End.

    Let's keep it real. The scene in Cuba is going to be radically different than the scene in NYC. It's not even a question of which is better. It's about distinctions. One distinguishing itself from another. If one scene is different than another, that's what's supposed to happen. When you're dancing and getting the exact same vibe in one place as you would in a place you frequent amid the other 365 days of the year, that individual scene is stuck in a formulaic initiative. It's a playbook. It's not culture. Which is ever evolving and manifesting itself in different ways. Stay away from that one party and pursue the distinct experience from what you normally do where one is based in. Those distinct experiences are everywhere. One just has to invest in making the time and effort to find it. If one is cool with the status quo, more power to you. Go with God I say. You're happy and no need to bring anybody 'down' if someone else is miserable with it. What we should avoid is making any type of sweeping declarations, unless it is unchallengeable. The social dance scene in NYC does not exclusively represent the Salsa culture in NYC. Neither does the live music scene in NYC represent the best NYC has to offer. DJ's most definitely fall in this same boat as well. The most creative DJs are not always found at the lounge/bar playing recordings. A lot of factors play into the reality. Money, either the cost of or willingness to overlook it, is at root.
    salsera_alemana, wol, azana and 4 others like this.

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