An all together saucy kind of dance

Have you seen them move their hips? CHARLES KWIZERA discovers what the Salsa cultural music group are up to
Learning some new moves at Torero Café (Photo/C.Kwizera)
Learning some new moves at Torero Café (Photo/C.Kwizera)

Have you seen them move their hips? CHARLES KWIZERA discovers what the Salsa cultural music group are up to

Salsa is a fusion of informal dance styles having roots mostly in the Caribbean countries and Latin and North America.

The dance originated through the mixture of Mambo, Danzón, Guaguancó, and Cuban son, and other typical Cuban dance forms. Salsa is danced to Salsa music. There is a strong African influence in the music as well as the dance.

Salsa is usually a partner dance, although there are recognised solo steps and some forms are danced in groups of couples, with frequent exchanges of partner (Rueda de Casino). Improvisation and social dancing are important elements of Salsa but it appears as a performance dance too.

The name “Salsa” is a Spanish word for sauce, connoting (in American Spanish) a spicy flavor. The Salsa aesthetic is more flirtatious and sensuous than its ancestor, Cuban Son. Salsa also suggests a “mixture” of ingredients, though this meaning is not found in most stories of the term’s origin. 

The music is a diverse and predominantly Latin American Caribbean genre that is popular across Latin America and among Latinos abroad. Salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations; the term can be used to describe mostly any form of popular Cuban-derived genre, such as chachachá and mambo.

Most specifically, however, salsa refers to a particular style developed in the 1960s and ‘70s by Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to the New York City area, and stylistic descendants like 1980s salsa romantic.

Apparently, there are Salsa classes going in at Torero Café every Thursdays at 7:30. So I decided to visit and probe more.
According to Joe, an instructor, Learning Salsa dance depends on how much interest the learner has and the pace at which the learner is ready to grasp.

“It takes at least ten sessions of training in order for some one to be able to dance to Salsa music,” says Christian, another instructor at Torero Café, but he is quick to add that you can never completely learn Salsa as every day has a new thing to learn.

There are many different styles of Salsa dance popular today. Each style represents the cultural preferences of dancers. You can be sure that Salsa dancers from other cities, neighborhoods, or other times, dance differently.

Each Salsa dance style has its own distinct characteristics. The names of the styles are based on the people or geographic area that popularized them. Also, Salsa can be danced while accenting different beats in the music

The style is now practiced throughout Latin America, and abroad. Salsa’s closest relatives are Cuban mambo and the son orchestras of the early 20th century, as well as Latin jazz.

Salsa is essentially Cuban in stylistic origin, though it is also a hybrid of Puerto Rican and other Latin styles mixed with pop, jazz, rock, and R&B.

According to Ed Morales, while music author Peter Manuel called it the “most popular dance (music) among Puerto Rican and Cuban communities, (and in) Central and South America”, and “one of the most dynamic and significant pan-American musical phenomena of the 1970s and 1980s”.

Modern salsa remains a dance-oriented genre and is closely associated with a style of salsa dancing.

Salsa bands play a wide variety of songs, including pieces based on plenas and bombas, cumbia, vallenato and merengue; most songs, however, are modern versions of the Cuban son.

Like the son, salsa songs begin with a songlike section followed by a montuno break with call-and-response vocals, instrumental breaks and jazzy solos. In the United States, the music of a salsa club is a mix of salsa, merengue, cha-cha-cha, cumbia, and bachata, whether sourced from a live band or a DJ. Some salsa clubs also add reggae ton to the mix due to its popularity with youth.

For those of you who have been dreaming of dancing to salsa music can check in at Torero Cafe every Thursday. A session costs Frw3,000.