What kills salsa

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by Burritos, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. Nuyorican

    Nuyorican Son Montuno

    I dance in two different scenes. One is made up mostly of studio trained dancers (LVG, JA’s, etc.). I’m still new to this scene so I can’t say whether the socials were more packed back in the day or not. But LVG was packed on Christmas day. I never danced in Europe so all I know about the international scene is what I read here. But not too far from me, there is also a salsa school that teaches only NY style salsa (no bachata or any other style of dance) and those classes are always packed whenever I have been there.

    The other is made up mostly of vernacular dancers (West Gate Lounge). A lot of the same people from Sabrosuras old Sabor post that shows people dancing @ the Taino Towers dance here. I don’t know about other places but this place has always been packed when I have gone there but I think it’s because of the great bands that play here (danced to Roberto Roena and Eddie Palmieri last year).

    Now the younger family members I have asked who still live in PR would rather dance Reggaeton than Salsa. One of the reasons given to me when I asked why was similar to what elanimal also wrote above. They feel they have to take classes (like I do) in order to go out and have a nice time dancing.

    But they have no problem getting down to salsa when it’s a family function.

    So I guess, “what kills salsa” is dependent upon where you live and what scene you belong to?
  2. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    @ 12 hours/day training - The pros in most fields at the top of their food chain and Olympic athletes may not do 12 hours a day :)

    As far the native dancers, I don't think they train at all! Unless they are going to studios.
  3. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    This is very interesting given that it is in Puerto Rico. I wonder what dynamics are at play there.

    - Why do they feel compelled to take classes if they can get down to it at family functions
    - How was dancing outside of family functions say 10 or 20 or 30 years back. When and what caused the perception for a need of classes come about.
    - Puerto Rico being one of the birth places of Salsa (and probably the biggest influence on most popular salsa style out there - linear/slot), is more of an 'influencer' than 'influencee'. That is, it (PR) is less likely to be influenced by outsiders, just as Buenos Aires and Argentines are not influenced by what Americans or Europeans or Asians do with Tango; or Spaniards by Flamenco done by the rest; etc.
    - Then that means the pressure to go to classes has been generated internally within PR by their own salsa enthusiasts.

    On an tangential note. One thing that has been written about the instructors from places like Cuba and Buenos Aires, who go out and teach internationally (mainly in USA and Europe where there is money) is that they concentrate on teaching more showy elements of dance than the musical simple dance which is danced back home. By showy in case of Cuban salsa, I mean more complex patterns/pretzels; and in case of Argentine Tango it is sequences which are mostly good for demonstration and shows rather than crowded milonga (Argentine Tango equivalent of social dancing) dance floor. In case of Argentine Tango, there has been critic from other practitioners of this and healthy debate at times. I don't follow development of Cuban salsa internationally, but I have read something to similar effect. The reasoning is the same - teaching abroad is lucrative for earning a living and flash is what attracts more students.
  4. Live2dance

    Live2dance Shine Officer

    Dancing is not only about feet. It includes the music. If your ear is trained all the time you are awake to hear to latin and salsa rythm and assuming you got the basic body movement then you are on the right track. Add parties, dancing with family and friends and what else do you need. Hear salsa, dance salsa, sleep with salsa and wake-up with salsa! :) Oh the glory days. I could add a lot more to that list!
  5. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    It's also the case when teaching dance tourists within the country
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  6. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    That's not normal for 90% people who dance :) You are talking about exceptions than the norms.
  7. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    True, but does that change what the locals do or feel? It doesn't. At least in case of Buenos Aires (BA) and Tango. As a percentage, a lot more of Tango dancers make pilgrimage to BA, than salsa dancers to Cuba, PR, NY or anywhere else. Also Tango dancers will typically spend at least two weeks to four weeks. I think Tango tourism in terms of time and money spent beats combined salsa tourism. That hasn't changed the BA tango much though. There too I hear younger generation is more attracted to salsa, swing and other dances than Tango.
  8. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    I wasn't there, but I suppose it does affect the local scene as well to some extent. Probably not older generations that used to dance tango before (just like emergence of salsa in my venue didn't change much existing social BR scene), but it makes more local people involved in teaching tourists - the way tourists want/can learn. So dancing of those people change and it is gradually affecting the whole venue
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
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  9. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    I think that's one of the greater conflicts that has existed, though not a reason for any so-called murdering of "Salsa." (Not that you implied this. I'm just merely saying.)

    There's always been two realities or phenomenons revolved around culture. One steeped in tradition where it can translate to becoming 'popular folklore' within that contingent of society that follows that thought process. (What some would regard as "street" for our own communication purposes.). The other as an art-form whose purpose is to study, excel and push the boundaries of the technical structure that one has immersed themselves in via a local or outside instructor or mentor.

    Both of these realities have existed since day 1. Before it was ever called "Salsa." From the era of Danzon to the Son and all its manifestations and by the time the USA and Europe begin to Anglicize it from being exposed to people of color interpreting it, both these "worlds" have marched on and collided at times and continue to do so.

    The way I view it is from a much larger world perspective. There's nothing within a scene itself that causes any drastic change for the worse or for the better. It's got nothing to do with more people taking instruction or lack of music appreciation or any of the other things highlighted throughout this thread. Those "issues" have always existed. Always. The advent of the Congresses is new to the generation that emerged with it. But prior to a "Congress" you have "Balls" which were more competition-oriented and in line with the ballroom culture, but was pretty much mirror image to the current model Salsa Congress. Dance performances, Live Bands and social dancing. In fact, I would say the spirit of competition was greater 50-100 years ago in both the USA and Europe. (I'm sure elsewhere was the same only that we in the USA have a much greater exposure and documentation to U.S. and European history.). There was as much codification then as there is now. What alters or takes a dance scene or community in another direction in contrast to when a person first entered are outside factors. What is taking place in the rest of the world.

    In NYC, as one example and without any exaggeration, we had "Salsa" going 7 nights a week, multiple venues on any given night at any HOUR of the day. Anywhere from 2pm in the afternoon to 2am in the morning, if you wanted to dance, you could make your way to anywhere in the boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. Staten Island usually had weekends going but was pretty dead during the week as I remember it way back when. And this is a "Salsa" dance scenario that featured live music. People have often credited the "Salsa" era as being or starting as a music-based scene to then becoming a predominantly codified dance scene. On that contrary, the timeline I'm referring to is from 1989 to 2001. A twelve year window that wasn't that long ago. This is happening right at the same time that the On2 dance community in NYC is quickly evolving into its very own separate and, I would say, significant scene. It isn't that there wasn't pro-dancers before or instructors who offered classes or workshops on how to learn to break on the "2." It's just that another extension was added to the overall scene where that new dance generation emerged and were more interested in rubbing elbows amongst themselves. Creating their own alternative dance spaces to the nightclub circuit, which many of them felt prohibited their desire to immerse themselves completely and totally into an On2 experience. And, truth be told, that wasn't anything new either because there was an even earlier generation that created similar spaces intended for the like-minded. Its mirror image to the music landscape. While you had big name orchestras are performing at nightclubs like the Copa or Village Gate, there was a whole alternative scene taking place in lofts like Soundscape and The Gallery. Where you heard the music at its most experimental and its most forward and provocative.

    Most On2 technique dancers back then (and still today) couldn't resolve or apply it to Merengue or even some Afro Cuban music other than the more moderate up-tempo Afro Cuban dance music genres (Guaracha, Mambo, Son-Montuno, etc.) Which is what the nightclub DJ offered. As well as the occasional "pop' oriented top 40 hits sandwiched in between. These specific dancers wanted the so-called "Pure Salsa" environment. (A party co-hosted by DJ Elvira Dominguez christened its weekly event with that term). A place where you didn't have to worry about being hit on or deal with anyone inebriated or pawing at you, getting into fights on the dance floors or in the rest rooms, etc. A safe environment, where it was all about dancing uptempo Afro Cuban dance music that complimented the motions, patterns and physical characteristics that were taught in an Eddie Torres class or other brand of instructor workshop. It's not Eddie's or anyone else's fault that a majority didn't grow any further beyond those same specific moves he taught for a specific type of music. But that's what happened to a lot of people.

    Fast forward to 2017 and there has been a grandiose shift in the overall NYC scene. Gone is the same level of live music that once thrived and pumped life into the dance culture of the city. Not because of more kids signing up for dance instruction or not appreciating the music (because they never have and since day one of Arthur Murray opening his studio in 1919.) It has to do with the politics of the city itself. The real estate market, the cost of living expenses, the overall expense undertaken to operate a cabaret, the ability to attain a cabaret license from the city fathers, the general attrition from the community of musicians, dancers that once actively comprised the scene, the migration and, in some cases, immigration of New York dancers to other cities and countries they relocated to, were reasons 1-6 why the "Salsa" landscape in NYC was altered. Most of all, the demise of the music industry and the CD becoming obsolete and now being nothing more than just a preference or option. When it was once THE only option one had. The MP3 is what killed the recording industry and affected the "live" music scene overall. A lot of the nightlife was built around that industry. With CD release parties and DJ's getting their hands on new music. Artists/Musicians being able to show up and sell copies of their CD and make that extra money, apart from what the gig itself paid. What remained consistent and intact was those alternative spaces that began popping up consistently and regularly. Starting with just a handful to about 25 or more by the mid to late Y2K decade. "Live" music continues in NYC thought with less frequency, less spaces to experience and flock to, and less dance promoters. I literally can identify ever single dance promoter in NYC in 2017. I couldn't do that in 1987 or 1997. It was so much. Too much. You could only do so much. Now, you'd be lucky to go anywhere on a Saturday night to experience quality live music. The West Gate Lounge in Yonkers is it. No place else. That's not an opinion, that's just a sad fact. For social dancing, the choices are greater. But if that's not your scene, like it's not mine, my personal "Salsa" universe in a pro-activity (music, dance) is pretty dead. But everyone has their own preferences and perspectives and what one person's ghost town might be, is another person's Valhalla. I'm sure there's people stoked to go to the Abakua Social and Yamulee Social and hit up Salsamania Saturdays, etc. As far as they're concerned, "Salsa" ain't dead. It's just a different "majority" who hang within certain circles if you base it on a generational standpoint. Old times could be found *here*.... the young cats *over there.* Some people gravitate between both worlds. Others, like myself, retreat to their own environments that make them just as happy.
  10. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    Loved your post. That is an expert level analysis of at least how it played out in NYC! Which would more or less mirror with slight variations what is happening elsewhere. I was thinking along the same lines as you wrote - that it are the things related to outside of salsa dancing itself, i.e. manifestation of economic realities in different forms, which are greater contributing factors to the popularity or lack thereof of music and dance. I think historically it can be shown that economic prosperity leads to popularity of music and other art forms in general populace, where as in the times of hardships it gets pushed underground amongst the adherents in pockets or segments of the society.

    One question I had about the impact of online/digital distribution of music. For a thought experiment let's say everything changed as it has but only the MP3 and online/digital distribution didn't take place. That is music distribution in physical form of CDs or similar was still the norm. Do you really think that would have meant more live bands and thriving of live music?
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  11. SnowDancer

    SnowDancer Clave Commander

    Perhaps bands should start scheduling vinyl LP release parties. Vinyl DJ nights seem to be the rage.
  12. Live2dance

    Live2dance Shine Officer

    Because what they dance in family functions is not what studio dancers call salsa.

    Perhaps that old New Year's eve salsa show in the past videos thread can provide an idea.

    Are you sure about that? I suggest reading the spinning mambo into salsa book where two different PRs say that their dancing was strongly influenced by Fred Astaire movies back in the 30-40s. One is Anibal Vazquez and the other is Tito Puente! Do you really honestly believe that a semi-state of the US would not be influenced by the US (at least more than Argentina or Brazil)? And even Argentina, given that most of the couples in last World Tango final in Argentina were Russians, are we to believe that Argentinians will not adapt in order to be able to compete?
  13. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Just one small correction.. AMs first entry into teaching the "public" , was by mail...
  14. Live2dance

    Live2dance Shine Officer

    This is interesting! What exactly do you mean here? That before ET and the on2 style, clubs in NY played salsa and merengue as they did in the UK back in late 90s and early 2000s (and in some cases now too, though bachata came in too)? Or was it just a generalised comment.

    On the rest of the description, it is quite fascinating really, but as you said it is subjective as it is linked primarily to the NY scene and live bands. While I acknowledge their importance to the whole salsa movement, and personally love the energy they transmit, the situation was most probably different in Europe as there was no such tradition of live salsa bands. The only ones I remember in the South East England were those who travelled from Latin America or that formed after the salsa craze started. But I may have missed something here. Nor do I remember any in central France or northern Italy. Most were and are dancing to CDs. But of course I see where you are heading. More copying, means less CDs, means less money for bands and hence a slowly dying music which hence turns towards cheap options (like copying any stupid pop song available - though some were not badly done).

    As one who entered the scene in the UK at late 90s I do remember this window and the effort that also took part in UK to codify salsa (that ended in conflict) in order to oppose the US /NY and BR movement.
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  15. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    U.S. influence is replete in all music cultures within proximity of the North American hemisphere. Including Cuba. Antonio Arcano credited that U.S. impact on Cuban society for why his band pursued to provide a new way of interpreting the Danzon. To get audiences to stick with music from their backyard and not jump on the Paul Whiteman and Tommy Dorsey bandwagon.

    With that said, 9 out of 10 families on the island who don't actively engage in venturing out to social dance or view dance as a craft to develop and hone were and are not being inspired or seeking formal dance education. Its not that they don't recognize it in some manner. They just don't place any importance on it. They don't even recognize the home grown pro dancer much less outside the culture. Within those same narratives of Anibal and TP was also a disdain for the formal training aspects of those North American elements. A common theme among artists in dance and music. TP never finished Juilliard for the same reason other similar artists don't complete their studies. They don't teach the rudiments of Afro Cuban music or dance. They soak up enough to get a grasp of translating what they love and apply that form and substance into the technique's they learned on the formal level. For the sake of being an organized "professional."

    Marc Anthony and India would be the perfect example of artists who, like Anibal and TP, are influenced by North American pop culture but whom sprinkle it within the musical tradition of their culture they express.
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  16. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    The former. Merengue in NYC has been danced to and interpreted musically by musicians from a variety of nationalities going back to the Prohibiton era. Spearheaded primarily by the early record labels such as Columbia and Victor. Who were interested in tapping into another market that was growing and existed in NYC and was sandwiched in between Cuba and Puerto Rico. Its inclusion in recording catalogs, just as Plena and the Son, were economic driven. Merengue was performed at the World's Fair in 1939-'40. Merengue was danced to by the Rockettes in 1947. Nearly every historically significant and relevant artist and ensemble of the era from 1949 to 1993 within the realm of popular music or what we identify as "Salsa," recorded the Merengue genre. Every nightclub, ballroom, theater and cabaret featured Dominican popular music. I was first exposed to Bachata in the 1980s as it was being interpreted in NYC by solo guitarists with vocals and the occasional duet. The dance I remember seeing and doing had less intricate emphasis on footwork, turns or hip gyration on the part of the ladies. Nobody had their thigh in their partner's crotch as is customary now with the Dance festival/Congress generation.

    I would say based on the documentation I've seen that Merengue was neck in neck with the Mambo from being consistently expressed and Merengue lasted far longer than the Cha Cha Cha and Calypso "era's" did. Although both went in opposite directions. Specifically as it relates to NYC. Non-latinos increasingly adopted Mambo or On2 since the 1940s while the Merengue was preserved by the influx of more and more Dominicans immigrating to the United States. Particularly to NYC, where today they have surpassed the Puerto Rican community as the largest Spanish language community in the city.

    My post touched on music in relation to the NY scene, but the factors exist everywhere. The title of this conversation is subjective in and of itself. What kills Salsa. Nothing kills it. Its how one measures the impact of cultural expression. The point of my post was to illustrate how it is the elements outside of Salsa that shape and guide the direction a scene goes in. Female dancers getting married and pregnant and settling down could cause a dance scene to lull. It really has nothing to do with more or less instruction being available. Or that dancers don't appreciate the music as much. Music lovers havehistoricalky been in the minority. It is a niche market. Dance is why the whole world is even hip to Salsa. Its been that way forever. Its why we have DANCING WITH THE STARS and SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE on U.S. TV and not a music instrument playing reality TV show competition.

    Well yes, though not as it applies to Salsa as a music to purchase. This music has never truly been commercial overall in the consumer market in contrast to other forms of popular music. Downloading, burning CDs or not, the record labels had abandoned Salsa's ship long before NAPSTER came along. You don't get the same economic return as you do HipHop, Country, Pop or Rock.

    Again, my post observing the Nyc scene from the era I pointed out to the present was moreso to demonstrate how nothing that manifests within it, be it Commercial Salsa variations of music and dance, poor danve instruction, or anything else deemed non authentic. If anything those are signs of how far its reach has gone.

    Again, its always other factors at work. There is more of this described in this link thar creates a dent in the scene than because a guy with 2 left feet opened up a dance studio and is teaching Salsa. Instruction is a revolving door. People come and go. Someone will always teach this and someobe will always choose to learn formally. Its when the social community presence is absent that you can put a fork in Salsa.

    "Fran Vella-Marrone, chairman of the board’s Police and Public Safety Committee, who recommended that the board vote against the liquor license application, said Café Remy, the recently closed bar-restaurant that formerly occupied the space, had several violations that included selling alcohol to underage drinkers and complaints from neighbors about disorderly patrons making a lot of noise and getting into fights on the street outside the place.

    One brawl that took place last year involved more than 15 patrons, according to Vella-Marrone, who said several police units had to respond to the scene.

    “This location has an adverse history,” Vella-Marrone told the community board.

    At a Police and Public Safety Committee meeting on March 19, residents living on 71st and 72nd Streets, the two side-streets near The Ridge Bar & Grill, presented Vella-Marrone with a petition with more than 100 signatures urging rejection of the liquor license application. Residents told the chairman they are currently in the progress of gathering more signatures.

    Café Remy closed in February and its owner surrendered the bar’s liquor license to the SLA for safekeeping. The café’s closure was due to a violation of Workman’s Compensation regulations, according to Vella-Marrone. "

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  17. Live2dance

    Live2dance Shine Officer

    I totally agree with the first paragraph however it is obvious that the influence would be bigger in an area considered a US "state". Radio, cinema (eventually TV), migrants and occasional travellers would all have resulted in significant two-way influences in the region. However, I think you are exaggerating a bit in the second. In some countries dancing is like going to church, like religion. But I take your point.
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  18. Live2dance

    Live2dance Shine Officer

    Yes, the merengue I remember was also very close (clear body contact) but not vulgar. And salsa was very similar like the New Year's eve event dancing in that link I posted above. But out of curiocity, why do you set a limit at 93?

    Am afraid for Europe, I have to partly agree with you though salsa was also sold as an image not just a dance. The masses flew into it as it was advertised as a simple dance to learn and enjoy (much like what the latinos actually did) which is a far cry from what it is today. And my recent experience in 3 European countries showed that salsa is reduced to less than 50% in regular latin nights, giving place to much simpler (to people's eyes) dance forms (like bachata) which are easier to learn or at least enjoy (dancewise) with the less effort possible.

    But I think that this is what we are trying to say too, however we are making a connection between the absence of the true social community and the trained/BR-like infuence. In my experience in late 90s, young latinos were fully into salsa and merengue. They had no formal training but knew how to dance. They would fill up the club in some cases but would be turned off when the trained ones would show up. The more trained ones appeared the more latinos dissapeared until the few trained ones left could not sustain the place and down the night went. :(
  19. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    Exaggerating? That most who DON'T venture out to nightclubs or "Congresses" don't invest in any formal instruction or revolve their dance expression around a notable dance figure? I'm intrigued. I'd be interested to read why you feel this way. If that is what I have gathered you to mean. If not, could you specify what the 2nd part of my post is you're referring to? Thanks.
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  20. Richie Blondet

    Richie Blondet Shine Officer

    Because the overall discography of Latin American popular music outside of both the Dominican Republic and Dominican diaspora in the U.S. seemed to end recording or including Merengues in their repertoire around that period. The last major Salsa artist that wasn't Dominican to record a Merengue was Eddie Palmieri. In other words, artists who were traditionally Cuban Popular Music based artists (Machito, Puente, El Gran Combo, Celia, etc.) gave Merengue the time of day during that stretch a whole lot more than after the 1990s. Which coincided with the Salsa Romantica movement. I don't think that was a factor as much as it had to do with the actual audiences who made their way to see those artists were into musically and dance-wise, and the artists just obliging them. In fact, today I would say that 99% of "Salsa" acts are consistently interpreting three primary genres of Cuban music. #1. Guaracha, #2. Son Montuno, and #3. Mambo. The days of hearing a typical Salsa band interpret a Bolero, Plena, Merengue, Soca, or any other dance genre, are pretty much gone. Its pretty much 100% Afro Cuban with occasional outside influences coming in thru the arrangement in the voicing of the brass, etc. (Jazz) or during a so!o (Classical). Youtube can help to either bolster or contradict my observation.

    Interesting. The reverse is what happened in the states, although I do know of some cases where what you described went downas well. The nightclub with its own agenda to sell alcohol often catered moreso to the average nightcrawler who consumed alcohol than to that BR or dance studio student looking to practice and avoided alcohol altogether. Certain perks were not afforded to them like guestlists or being comped. Unless they compensated by bringing around people who did drink and help to fulfill the bar quota. But, by and large, in NYC at least, the dance social was the antidote to getting away from those politics and allowing one to focus strictly on dancing and with a specific purpose in mind in relation to dancing.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
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