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Autumn’s crisp weather has come to be with the scent of winter’s chill just a shiver away and as we glance back at the summer that was, we look forward to the new changes, the changing of the guard at a familiar house, but speaking of houses, all are anticipating the birth of the New Stardust Ballroom in Bellmawr New Jersey (as the date of the article the grand re-opening date was changed four different times to what now appears to be 12/22/07.) And back across the Delaware River, the salsa night life has shifted gears and at some locals shifted nights to the surprise of many. And what of the most recent Philadelphia Salsa Congress, well, being that it was held at Tierra Colombiana Night Club, and the question remained as to whether it was successful or not?  How long was that longest world salsa line the very next Sunday morning, two ants long, as someone stated? Wow, two questions were answered at the same time. Is this enough already? No, not really, just read these music notes to see what I mean.        


Tick tock goes the clock …places change or close….and yet time still moves on


Yep, time moves on, and some things stay the same and some things move in a whole new direction.


The same:


Brasils still packs them in on Wednesday nights for 10 years in a row with the “every ready battery power” of DJ Rockswell cranking out the high octane salsa tunes.

 The Atrium and La Luna still cover the 1st and 3rd Saturdays and 2nd and 4th Fridays with the hosting of salsa socials on those respective nights.

 Alfie’s is still holding down the fort on Sunday nights with DJ  La Clave and Lyrics is holding its’ own on Thursdays with DJ Miguel Lebron.  And closing in on one year is Tuesday’s Night’s salsa haven, the Reef Caribbean at 3rd and South Sts. with your host: dance instructor & DJ: Joey Figueroa.

 Everything is everything in the above part of the woods, however deeper into the forest trees are being knocked down here and there. Timmberrr!!! There goes another Latin Night….


Not the same:

 Gone is the Sunday social at 18th and Walnut, the Loft has ended its’ run down in south Philly, and other places have fallen by the curbside. Such is the life of a Latin night in the Delaware Valley. New on the block are Salsa Tuesdays at Savannah 18th and Callowhill Sts. Hosted by DJ Jose Rodriguez, The quaint and petite Miami Café at 4th & South had Latin Fridays hosted by DJ Richie Rumbero, but now DJ Rico spins the tunes. Isla Verde flips DJs on Friday nights the way that IHOP flips pancakes so as of this articles release who is to say who is the DJ there,but when we last checked in, it was DJ Spanky holding down the fort. And even yours truly had been draw back into the Latin Night thing this fall every Sunday night at Mangos /Aramingo Ave at Butler St, which we made last just over six weeks. The old Egypt Night Club under a new name did a Latin Night that lasted about 4 weeks. Salsa on the Square moved further up in North Philly to Martha St & Lehigh Ave and calls itself Salsa on the Square II. Although not specializing in salsa, Tierra Colombiana reopened and revamped their awesome night club in the Olney section of Philly and the old El Dorado, just up the street from Tierra Colombiana, reopened after being closed for nearly 8 years as the CopaCubana Night Club. “Times, them there are a changing!” The Rainbow Room opened in North Philly at 5th & Jefferson as the first ever Gay Latin Night Club with various DJs on various nights.

  But for me, the all time shocker is the replacement of Jose Rodriguez as the DJ at North by Northwest after hosting it for 6 years straight. Although, in prior years, rumors flew around that he would be replaced and a few DJs even confessed to me that they were offered the opportunity to take his place, but declined the opportunity to not stir the waters in the Philly Latin DJ community. Still, Jose maintained his post and North by Northwest grew in popularity via media coverage beyond websites and emails(that means  television and newspaper ads to all you 21st century super computer spawned children.) Latin Bands were featured on the second Wednesday of every month and again, North by Northwest stayed very successful. Come now to the summer of 2007,

where Rocklobster announced it was switching its’ very popular Sunday Latin Nights  to Wednesdays, which in itself was a shocker to us all after an 8 year run on Sunday nights, and this in turn would divide the salsa crowd by three as opposed to just by two (between Brasils & North by Northwest.) Instead, the call of the summer night, outdoors atmosphere and Rocklobster itself drew the crowd away from both Brasils & NXNW. So hard was the damage, that NXNW attempted to switch to Tuesday nights to maintain its’ survival. Still this is Philly, and once a house is established, it is kind of hard to break it away from its’ foundation and Tuesday Night’s new house on the block was the Reef Caribbean and it was firm and rooted with a steady dedicated salsa dancing crowd.

  No one knows why Jose Rodriguez was replaced at NXNW, and people can only speculate the reason, however I give credit where credit is due, and Jose Rodriguez did raise a conscious awareness of Latin Music and Latin Music dancing in the Northwest section of the city. NXNW drew people from all neighborhoods far and wide to the Wednesday night hot spot on Germantown Ave for a little salsa,mambo,merengue,cha cha cha, bachata and even a free dance lesson or two. And all this for $5.00 plus live salsa every second Tuesday of the month, how can you not have had a good time here? And no matter what was said about Jose Rodriguez, he was always trying to be the perfect host there, welcoming new patrons and acknowledging faithful clients by playing Latin music to try to cater to everyone’s need and as a DJ myself, even I know that is truly “mission impossible,” because to quote my good friend DJ Sugar Ruiz “you’ll always get some knucklehead who will just have heard something in his car and want you to play it the minute he walks into the social, not to dance to it mind you, but because he just wants to hear it again.”  And that always throws many a DJ for a loop.   To conclude this, I remember after the 8th Floor closed about 5 years ago, having had a 4 year run, Jose told me he was surprised that the 8th Floor closed its’ venture into Latin night. I just reminded him, that in the Latin Night dance arena, nothing last forever and a four year run was pretty good, but now as I look back and remember that conversation, he surpassed that four year run with a six year stint at North by Northwest. Longevity is a true rarity in the Latin dance scene/night club/salsa social atmosphere. I remember people telling me, that dances at the Harbour League, the NJ Aquarium, the Officers’ Club, the Star Dust in Pennsauken and other places that peopled had declared the “Rome” for salsa dancing have since come and gone . I DJ-ed four years straight at the Blue Moon down at 4th & Market in the Bourse and swore up and down that the place would have to be blown up before Latin night would end there, and lo and behold the lease was up and so was the Blue Moon and its’ Latin Thursdays. Time goes on, some things remain the same and some things change. What are you going to do? Just go with the flow and take that cross body lead somewhere else, like you normally do every time a Latin night closes down or adds a wrinkle that you may not like.            



A new, yet old, source to run the race….


 DJ seek all places to find the awesome salsa music that gets you onto the dance floor, the internet, your local record store and even fellow DJs, but now some DJs are finding a new resource for those hot salsa tunes, vinyl LPs. What are those vinyl LPs? Well, for you 21st century internet bred folks, they are the round 12 inch discs that were played on something called a record player, or a little further into later part of the 20th century, a stereo record player. Yep, way before CDs, mini CDs, cassette tapes and even 8 tracks, there were vinyl LPs.  Some DJs are discovering this array of buried treasure by heading to thrift stores, flea markets and last, but truly the greatest of all places to seek these gems of awesome salsa music, the record collectors’ shows, which  are now held yearly in Miami, Florida and New York City, New York in the fall season.  Yes, the hunt is on for those rare treasures, which, by the way, don’t come cheap. You can pay anywhere from $1.00 to $1000.00 for a rare and classic LP.   Are some worth the price? Well that depends on how different you want to sound as compare to DJ Joe Smo’  who gets his music from the DJ record pool, the record stores and maybe even via the internet at places like, and etc, etc.

And yes there are a few CD compilations out there that may have a few of the rare salsa tunes yet to be released with the rest of the songs from their original LP. Having the rare tunes on CD compilations is definitely not the same as finding that treasured LP. I’ve seen compilations of Federico y Su Combo Latino, but many of his rare LPs songs are not on them, like his version of “Oigan Companero” from his LP “Durisimo.”  There are artists like Alfredo Linares, Los Dementes, El Combo Moderno, Porfi Jimenez, Joey Aponte, La Fuerza Latina, La Fuerza Mayor,Enrique Lynch,Tono Castro y La Perfecta De Puerto Rico, Los Afroins, Orquesta Caribe, Wito Velez and about 3000 more who have yet to be recorded onto CD.

  Here is a short list of songs that you may never find in any compilations and are probable, no, without a doubt are some of the “most wickedest tunes” you may not get to hear at any Latin Night Club, Salsa Social or Salsa Congress:


1.     Alfredo Linares – Descarga Linares

2.     Porfi Jimenez- “Ya Tu Veras”  

3.     Porfi Jimenez- El Exocista

4.     GIL Suarez & His Hi-Latins –Melao

5.     Integracion Portena- El Clavel y La Rosa

6.     Coca y Su Exploradores- El Bochinchero

7.     Anibal Lopez- Dictando Catedra

8.     El Combo Moderno-  Guaguanco De Bayamon

9.     Combo Miami Brass – La Prison

10. Grupo ABC –Tambo Rebelde

11. Grupo ABC- 100% Borinquen

12. Conjunto Sensacion- El Cuchifritero 

13. Orquesta Caribe- No Te Voy a Querer

14. Orquesta Borinquen – Mi Guaguanco

15. Orquesta Nater- Hasta El Cuello

16. Tono Castro y La Perfecta De Puerto Rico – Soledad

17. Wito Velez- Danilo

18. La Creacion- Mi Martillo

19. Combo Creacion – Cali Puerto Querido

20. Sexteto Juventud – Sonerito

21. Orquesta Sabor y Control – El Bravo

22. Tentacion Latina – Siempre Voy Pa’lante

23. Orquesta Salsa Suprema- Que Corto Es el Amor

24. Louie Ramirez- El Loco

25. Carmelo Ponce- Te Doy Sabor

26. Javier Vasquez –Dos Amigos

27. Javier Vasquez –Verdadero Son(the version with     Frankie Vasquez on vocals) 

28. Sexteto Fantasia –Estamos En Algo

29. Sexteto Caracas- Rico Guanguanco

30. Wito Gonzalez- Asi Soy Yo

31. Dimension Latina- Crocante Habanero

32. Federico Y Su Combo Latino- Oigan Companeros

33. Bocana Magia- Descarga Bocana

34. Johnny Sedes – Barlovento

35. Combo Los Yogas – Que No Muere El Son

36. Rafael Labasta – Mucho Guaguanco

37. Victor Nunez- Aprende a Bailar La Salsa

38. Chino Y Su Conjunto Melao – La Bamba

39. Socrates Lozado – La Descarga (De Las Estrellas Llego)

40. La Fuerza Latina – La Maldita

41. La Fuerza Latina – Maldita Besos

42. Chico Cervantes – Eres Falsa

43. Los Pachecos -  Contestacion Al Reloj 

44. Pepe Y Su Banda- Falsa

45. Hommy Sanz-  Solito

46. Borinquen Orchestra – Borinquen Mambo

47. Chico Orefriche – Chico’s cha cha

48. La Fuerza Mayor – A Este Que Esta Aqui

49. Chu  Linares- Tres Cosas

50. Joe Cotto – Naguabo Mambo

51. Ray Terrace- En El Barrio

52. La Perfecta- Ese Soy Yo

53. Mon Carrillo- No La Pare

54. Rey Roig- Goudin Goudo 

55. Latin Dimensions- Oiga Senor

56. Ray Santiago – Lluvia

57. Grupo Tres- El Gato

58. Grupo Mango – Para Mi Gente

59. Frankie Nieves- Mondongo

60. Danny Gonzalez- Tremenda Bronca

61. La Protesta De Colombia – Aventurera

62. Los Virtuosos- Los Soneros De Ayer

63. Tabaco y Sus Metales – Sinceridad

64. Joey Aponte – Cuando Yo Muera   

65. Otto Rojas – Descarga Hipica

66. David Cedeno- Pa Las Villas

67. Conjunto Chaney & Menique –Oye Mima

68. QuiQue Rosa-El Mambo Que Te Mando

69. Nati y Su Orquesta – La Enganada

70. Washington y Su Latinos – El Negro y El Indio

71. La Banda De Venezuela – Malambo

72. Latin Blues Band – Oye Mi Guaguanco

73. Don Filemon – Cumba Cumba

74. Manny Corchando -   La Fresa

75. Orquesta Rivera – Esa China

76. Richie Ray – Rico Son

77. Hector Rivera – Rumbero De Ahora

78. Elias Lopes – La Vida

79. Candido – Rico Melao

80. Orquesta Colon – Asi Soy Yo

81. Orquesta Power – Dile A Tite Curet

82. Orquesta Power- Tu Historia

83. Joey Aponte – Angelito

84. Tony Pabon – Querida

85. Orquesta La Nueva – Borinquen

86. Los Kintos –Mi Guaguanco

87. Johnny El Bravo – El Mas Que Habla

88. Wladimir Y Su Constelacion – No Existe El Amor

89. Tempo 74 – Negrura Fina

90. Orquesta Crystal De Houston Texas- Se Baila En El Crystal

91. Quinto Benites- Descarga De Salon

92. Mario Ortiz – Mi China

93. Rafael Dejesus – Soy Candela

94. Joe Madrid – El Jucio

95. Yambu- Moises

96.  Sexteto Armonia – El Dandy

97. Dax Pacem – Dulce

98. Ralphy Santi – Suena El Cuero

99. Orquesta La Amistad de Chuito Y Mendoza – Mundo Negro

   100. Pipo Y Sus Estrellas – La Charanga De Jose



 And before any all knowing DJ out there ask sarcastically the question on everybody’s mind, “But are they all songs that you can dance to?”  And my response would be “Duh, you think?” Why else would I have created a list of songs that you may never hear at a Latin Night Club, Salsa Social or Salsa Congress? Obviously, they would have to be songs that you can dance. It’s a no-brainer!

    I could probable list another 2000- 3000 songs because there are probable 800,000, if not more, recordings of salsa /mambo songs you (and yes, even I) may not get to hear. There are literally thousands and thousands of LPs, which to date, have not been recorded onto CD and that in itself is a big giant WOW. I remember speaking to a friend, a street DJ (as oppose to a radio DJ) who told me that he went on a website of a collector and saw an article in Latin Beat Magazine regarding a record collector /DJ who had literally thousands of LPs that the street DJ never heard of.   That just goes to show you of the untapped resource of hidden salsa/mambo treasures that exist out there.   

 This article is not meant to insult any Salsa DJ out there, but to ignite a fire within the mind of the Salsa DJ so that he/she will look beyond the CDs on the shelves at the music store. Simply put, there is a barely tapped resource of gems that will simply leave the dancers breathless. I know this for a fact because I played most of the music from that list above at both the Philadelphia and New York Salsa Congress this past summer 2007 and had dancers coming up to me asking who was the artist or that other artist because they never heard the song before and were complimenting me on the selections played. But to play the music to receive compliments is not my mission, I would rather “wow” you and see you enjoy the song on the dance floor and hear back from you, because your dance actions speak way louder than words. Besides, my thrill  at the NY Salsa Congress  was when I played “Dos Amigos” by Javier Vasquez /with Frankie Vasquez on vocals and Frankie Vasquez who was there performing that Sunday night with the Frankie Morales Band, came over and asked me where did I buy that recording because he never saw it on CD, and the ditto effect came into play when I played “Salsa Lebron” which featured Frankie Morales on vocals with Orquesta Lebron and Frankie Morales was sitting close by and came over and asked me the same question.

 One fellow record collector who was at the NY Congress told me he was disappointed because he thought he would hear a different array of music as oppose to the same old stuff. Another collector came back from the Stuck On Salsa Cruise, stating the music was great, but again, the same circle of songs are being played over and over.  

 Once again, I am not taking anything away from any DJ out there, because DJs have it hard, as I was reminded. And I am in total agreement with the statement that DJs are the heart, soul and blood of any dance event where they ARE the music source, the music pulse that keeps the event alive. Your good time is solely in their hands by what they bring to the table for you to feast on. The goal of this article as stated earlier is to revamp the thinking ways of a DJ, seek beyond the CD shelves, dig for those hidden treasure and bring a higher level of enjoyment to the dance floor and for the dancers simply by playing music they never heard before and are sure to dance to.  Shovels are being handed at the next record collector’s show, so start digging gentlemen, because there is gold in them there hills!           

 Special shout outs to  Mambo Nik from San Francisco, Ca., DJ Dustin from Norway, Efraim from Cleveland,Ohio, Richard from Allentown, Pa. and Travis from Boston, Mass. - these are all fellow record collectors and salsa purists who know the true value of those many gems that are out there and owners of some of those unearthed treasures!  


That closes this segment of the El Viaje’s Music Notes so as always, support the music, buy the music and dance to the music to your heart’s content. 



David Ortiz



Keeping it all the way real, Latino style.

You can contact David Ortiz at

Copyright © 1999 .  All rights reserved.

Revised; April 10, 2005