The Salsa: A Dance Popular in Many Latin Countries

Photo: Reina Busto and Samuel Encarnacion dance a Salsa at the International Show 2002. They are dancing to Yo la Agarro Bajando of Gilberto Santa Rosa.
By Marvin Rodriguez

There are many ways to express your culture or the way you think. One of the many ways that people represent their culture is through music.

In Latin America and in the Caribbean, there are styles of music and many people have different preferences about which is the best. But one of the most popular varieties of music in Latin America and in the Caribbean is Salsa.

There are many popular Latin performers who feel proud to use Salsa to represent their countries. Marc Anthony is a Puerto Rican. El Grupo Niche is a Colombian group which has been representing its country with an exclusive Salsa from Colombia. There are also people who made history in the world of Salsa. Like Tito Puentes and the group Los Adolecentes, who represent a new generation of Salsa.

But how did Salsa start? Many people think that the slaves of African origin in Cuba invented the clave, which is the heartbeat of the Salsa. However many other people think that Salsa was created in New York in the late 1930s when the Cubans brought the clave to the U.S. The word "Salsa" was adopted because of a Cuban song in 1933 called Echale Salsita that was composed by Ignacio Pilerio.

What does Salsa mean to people? For many people Salsa is not just another type of music. For Willie Colon, another Salsa singer, Salsa is like a certain "spirit." For other people it is a kind of music with a mix of many sounds.

For Mrs. Castro sponsor of the Hispanic Club and teacher at Blair H.S., Salsa is part of her life and who she is. "I am from Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico Salsa was the music that people used to hear everywhere. And because it is a Caribbean country, we also have the spirit that makes people to really enjoy Salsa. It is something that I have in my blood," she said.

According to Mrs. Castro, many Salsa musicians have been educated in Puerto Rico. "Puerto Rico is one of the most important countries that Salsa has. It has mostly changed with every generation, and Puerto Rico is the place where many musicians were born, for example Paquito Guzman, Tito Phuentes, Willie Colon, Joe Arroyo, Willie Chirino, and El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, which is recognized as the university of the Salsa," she said.

In other countries, like Venezuela, the world of Salsa is very important too. Oscar de Leon is one of the best musicians and is called the name "El Leon de la Salsa." Oscar de Leon is very much appreciated in Central America, and that is one of the reasons why Salsa is very important for many people, not only for people in the Caribbean. Even though the Salsa is very important in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, it is also important in other Latin countries. "I know a lot of people from El Salvador and Nicaragua who really like Salsa, also Mexicans love Salsa a lot," said Mrs. Castro. "That is very important because music, especially Salsa, has united many people from many places in Latin America."  

 Copyright Silver International Newspaper 2002 (This page was created by Marvin Rodriguez.)