This Friday, July 18th, is our second salsa night of the Mixers, Elixirs, & IMAX season – and we are so excited to have Grupo Batacha back this year to set the Museum en fuego with their crazy latin beats!
I know the concept of “Salsa Night” can be intimidating for some people, but please believe me when I say these are our most popular nights at Mixers. Don’t worry about your two left feet because HMNS has brought in an expert that will get you stepping in the right direction. Raul Orlando Edwards brings over 30 years of experience in Salsa, Classical Music, Argentine Tango, African Dances, Ballet, Jazz, and Modern. And here are some reasons why you should get up and get moving…
Jamie: What are the benefits of learning to salsa dance?
Raul: Among the many benefits of learning to salsa dance are:
- The opportunity of social interaction with friends and/or strangers in a non-intimidating atmosphere.
- Exposure to cultural elements found in the music, dance, and people from all over the world.
- An activity that provides a way to remain active for the rest of one’s life.
- If done continuously, a way to lose weight or stay in shape.
J: Where are the best salsa spots in the city?
J: What’s the history of salsa?
R: As we all know, salsa is the reflection of the fusion of cultures, music and dance that spawns over 500 years where African, Spanish (mostly in the form of flamenco and/or gypsy) and European found a common ground in the new world.
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Though a small island in the Caribbean, Cuba was the most important country in the development of salsa and of the majority of other styles in the American continent. Right before the turn of the 20th century, this fusion began to resemble the dances we see today, beginning with the rumba, danzon (Cuba’s national dance), son, mambo, cha-cha-cha and others. When you watch old movies of the 40s through the 60s you can see how many of these dances dominated the famous New York venues such as the Palladium, Copacabana and other legendary night spots.
An important event in the history of the United States and Cuba, the missile crisis of the 1960’s, interrupted this free-flowing exchange of musical ideas between New York and the island of Cuba and it is here that Latinos in New York (predominantly Puerto Ricans) began to experiment with the Cuban music they knew and got from their parents. As we saw in the 60’s and 70’s, people were involved in discovering new things and enjoying themselves and this carried over to Latin music. Nuances from disco, funk, bossa-nova (Brazil), bomba and plena (Puerto Rico), and others were added to the popular Cuban music whose name literally reflected the blend of sounds and styles.
J: Are other Latin dances easier or more difficult than salsa?
R: For the most part, other popular Latin dances such as merengue, bachata, cha-cha-cha and others are easier to dance than salsa. Salsa’s rhythm can be tricky at first but once the ‘beat’ hurdle is passed, it becomes easier and a lot of fun.