Dancing the Salsa -- Must Have Music

Colombian Nobel laureate, Gabriel García-Márquez, once said, “Any gathering of more than 2 Colombians is destined to turn into a party.” Party, in this case, means a BAILE (Dance).

In Colombia, grandparents, parents, and children all DANCE TOGETHER, to the same music ,at the same party. Dancing, in general, is so prevalent, that kids milestones in Colombia include:
1- Crawling
2- Walking
3- Playing Soccer
4- Dancing -- 3 and 4 are interchangeable

As a teenager, how well you dance will largely determine how much or how little you socialize. The best dancers have their pick of boyfriends or girlfriends – the worst dancers get the leftovers. So, in Colombia, dancing is a social skill.

I was stunned when we picked up our son – then 22 months – and every time he heard music (which was just about everywhere), he would stop and start to dance. (My husband insists that he was NOT surprised.)

Colombians dance to many forms of music, however, Salsa is one of the most common.
Salsa had its origins in Cuba and was quickly spread by well-known Cuban musicians. Soon, it took root on the neighboring island of Puerto Rico. However, in the 1970’s, it was adopted and perfected by Colombian musicians on the Atlantic Coast and then Cali. There is a recognizable beat that distinguishes Colombian Salsa from all other Salsa music.

Colombia boasts some of the best performers, dancers, and composers of this genre. Even famous Salsa composers and performers from other Caribbean countries often ended up living in Colombia. Furthermore, Cali is recognized as the WORLD CAPITAL OF SALSA, even though it wasn’t invented there. Not surprisingly, the Colombian Ministry of Culture is seeking to name Salsa as an official part of the Colombian Cultural Heritage (Patrimonio Cultural de Colombia).

Though the capital of Salsa is Cali, it is ubiquitous in Colombia. If you ever get on a bus or ride in a taxi in Colombia, you will most likely hear Salsa blasting from the sound system at some point. Salsa and dancing in general are a unifying factor in the culture.

So, what exactly is Salsa. It is derived from Afro-Cuban rhythms – such as Son, Guaguancó, Mambo, etc. It includes horns, drums, and keyboards. The music is contagious and it is nearly impossible to stand still when listening – really give it a try, I dare you! Since it is hard to describe, a song is worth a thousand words. Here are some of my recommendations for ultimate Colombian Salsa – of course the music continues to evolve and there may be other groups that you would like, but here is my beginners guide.

Anything by Grupo Niche, start with CALI PACHANGUERO and CALI AJÍ.

(Note the people sitting are obviously NOT Colombian – the ones dancing are!)


Anything by Fruko y Sus Tesos is great, but my favorites are EL PRESO and CHARANGA CAMPESINA.


Anything by Latin Brothers, try LAS CABAÑUELAS and BUSCANDOTE.

Check out the dance moves on this guy!! Amazing!!

Salsa by Joe Arroyo. This guy invented his own sound called Joe Son. He also sings vallenato and cumbia -- so make sure you get a listen to his Salsa, try POR TI NO MORIRE and REBELIÓN.



Paula e Ivo said…
A nuestra hija Sofia tambien le encanta bailar... le gusta mucho el reggetón. La familia sustituta nos dio un CD con su musica favorita. Pide una y otra vez escucharlo y se pone a bailar.
Por suerte a nosotros tambien nos gusta mucho la musica, nosotros bailamos "salsa" cubana todos los fines de semana con un grupo de amigos.

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