Dance2Learn’s main focus is fund-raising through the promotion of Latin dance. With the recent advent of “Strictly Come Dancing”, the nation has seen these dances dragged kicking and screaming into mainstream Britain. But should dance be categorised as a “sport”? Something to be judged? What happened to the art, the pleasure and not least, the gentle interaction? Dance2Learn aims to redress some of this balance by, in Douglas Adams fashion, writing “DON’T PANIC” in big, friendly letters at the top of your dance card. Dance should bring people together, not set them against each other with inter-personal politics. Interested? Then let’s start with: What is this thing called Salsa?
Have you ever wondered what the word "Salsa" means or its history? It is not something easily defined, as it didn’t stem from one specific place or person. Instead, it’s a combination of multiple roots and cultures as well as the creativity of many different persons. In general, Salsa evolved as a distillation of many Latin, West African and Caribbean dances.
While it’s definitely more than just Cuban, a large part of the dance originated on the island. The French who fled from Haiti brought the Danzón or the country-dance of England/France to Cuba. This dance began to mix with the African rhumbas such as Guaguanco, Colombia and Yambú. Added to this is the Són of the Cuban people, which was a mixture of the Spanish troubadour (sonero) and the African drumbeats. This type of syncretism, or union of opposites, occurred in other places like the Dominican Republic (where we get one of our favourite dances the “Bachata”), Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
The metamorphosis of salsa to what is heard and danced today has been a long, slow, and varied process. Not one person or place can be attributed as the founder of salsa. Instead, the dance and music has evolved over time through an elaborate mix of different sounds, cultures, beliefs and meanings. For example, in much of today’s salsa you will hear the base of són and the melodies of Cumbia and Guaracha. You will also hear some old Merengue as well as some old styles mixed with modern beats. Salsa varies from place to place and from one song to the next. The diversity and complexity of the music is what keeps its listeners enticed, as well as delightfully surprised (and its dancers on their toes). This is the beauty of the salsa.