Salsa from across the street….
A friend of mind wanted to share this article with me whereby salsa, mambo, and even the rhythm called son was being played/formed in other parts of the southern hemisphere at the same time it was being played in Cuba, supposedly, the birthplace of the mambo, son, and son montuno.
was just as many Peruvian, Mexican, Argentinian, Dominican, Spanish/European
and African-American musicians during the 1930s, 40s and 50s playing what
one would describe today as "Salsa, mambo son and son montuno" and doing it
simultaneously during the period when the music was supposedly being created
and developed in a certain location called Cuba.
ORQUESTA DE INGENIERIA
Thanks to Anthony Santiago from the Big Apple (NYC) for sharing this insight.
And now back to the Philly home front….
“Dancing with the stars” (AKA the more experienced (?) dancer and the lack of respect they have for you oh common man)….. see, I’m not talking about the TV show (in which Mario Lopez should have won- in my opinion) but all those “better” dancers (yes, I refuse to use the word “pro” when referring to the more experienced dancer) who apparently believe that they “own” the dance floor. To best understand what I am talking about, let me tell the tale of a 21st century dance experience as shared by a fellow and his girlfriend at a night club in the Philadelphia area (in the northeast to be exact.)
Twas a Sunday night when this took place, a discussion over dancing space, alas, this tale must be told of this young man and his deed ever so bold. Twirling about his partner with ever so much glee, the dance that was shared called salsa between her and him, as he thus explained it to me. A timely mistake he dared to commit by accidentally bumping into another couple on the dance floor. Now being just a dancer having fun with his significant other and having taken just a few salsa dance lessons out of curiosity, well of course, then his “level” of dancing experience sums up to be simply on the “fun” level as I doubt very much if he plans to elevate his dancing skills so that he may go on a world wide tour. Now with a “dancing on the fun level/degree/experience comes the laughter, smiles, jokes and having a good time. Bumping into others is par the course, and saying excuse me or I’m sorry when it happens is just proper dance etiquette or for that matter, proper etiquette as the norm in everyday life.
Unfortunately for this “on the fun “level dancer little did he know that because of his level of dance experience he was being chastised, segregated, and separated from the herd of the more experienced(?) dancer for that Sunday, while spending a night out with his girl, he found out that segregation and apartheid does exist on the dance floor.
As he danced with his partner, he accidentally bumped into another couple and immediately upon the end of the dance apologized to both parties. Again, while dancing he bumped into another couple while dancing as it seemed apparent that the dance floor was quite crowded. And in a third attempt to dance he once more bumped into another couple while turning his partner. Now after apologizing, the young man from the other couple noticed that this gentleman was less experience than he. So he boldly stated that perhaps he and his partner should dance away from the main dance floor as this is where the real experienced dancers like to dance and the main section is practically owed and dominated by the more experienced dancers. So respectfully, the fellow ask that since admission was free, would not he and his partner be allowed to dance anywhere they choose no matter how less experience they had as far as dancing salsa goes. The young man quickly responded with a “we, the better dancers, own the dance floor.” And he continue to mention that he and his fellow wolf pack of dance buddies noticed that this person and his partner where less experienced and in the wrong place because of it. Needless to say, the fellow and his girl continued to dance where they pleased and ignored the stares from the “wolf pack.”
So, we have come to this now, separation and segregation of dance space and who belongs where. I remember the first time that I went to a Jimmy Anton’s Sunday Social with a friend back in 2002, she told me to stay away from a certain corner because that was where the more experienced dancers hung out. And of course I in my fast witty response stated “What, they’re going to beat me up if I hang there?” So here we are in present day and the dance floor has now been blocked off into separate but equal (?) sections.
What lies next, you will have to demonstrate your dancing skill level before entering a social or night club? 21st century thinking with 19th century mentality is what we seem to have.
News flash, this just in: THE WHOLE DANCE FLOOR IS FOR EVERYBODY, NO MATTER WHERE YOU CHOOSE TO DANCE, AND NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU KNOW HOW TO DANCE.
So you think you can dance ….me too, in my own way!
Before the dawn of the studio taught dance lessons, back in the 20th century, you know, the age of big cars, records, cassettes, Night clubs, AM radio and boom boxes, there was such a thing as being taught how to dance salsa by a friend, cousin, brother, sister, neighbor, and even mom or dad. And although the technical terminology as it is presented in the 21st century like cross body lead, Suzie Q, Pancake, Patty cake or whatever other words are made up to “label’ a dance move or function, did not exist back then. And yet, believe it or not, people did still learn how to dance salsa, and indeed learn quite well how to do it. For one thing, this salsa dancing thing has been going on for quite some time, and there is even footage of film from the 1970’s where people were dancing salsa back then, and “heavens to mergatroid” (1970’s terminology- thanks Quick Draw MCGraw ) they were dancing on beat, and oh my gosh, even turning their partner correctly as they saw fit. So how did they survive back then without the dance studios and all the present day terminology? Basically the same way cars survived on leaded gasoline for like 70 years before the government decided they were polluting the air, they just did!
Now, back then if you knew how to dance a little bit more than the girl or if you never danced with her before you politely told her that you were going to make certain moves and use certain body gestures to let her know before the move or turn was coming. Some examples were the raising of a finger, winking of an eye, saying softly but firmly the word “now’ or more common “ahora (which means now in Spanish.) Other body gestures or words were used to let your partner know he was going to turn you or wanted you to do a certain move or step as preparation for his next move during the dance. And if you messed up (either one of the dancing couple) then as you realized that you were dancing for the fun of it, you laughed it off and either you asked if she would dance again with you or moved on to another young lady for the next dance. Ironically 99% of the time, the girl would say: “let’s try this again so I can get it right.” And then start the joy of another dance with you.
The moral of this subject is simply this: Just because I didn’t learn to dance the way you did doesn’t mean I can’t dance. If I gesture with my hands, my eyes, wiggle my ears or raise an elbow, and I politely tell you before hand what my body gesture inclines, and what I would like for you to do or be prepared to do before we start dancing. Am I teaching you, yes I am, how, simply put, if you never have danced with me before, then it is only polite that I take 30 seconds to explain what I would like to do and the means to communicate with you during the dance so that you understand when to do it.
In this age of the “I Robot salsa dancers” where this new generation has learned to dance just like Tom, Dick and Jane and then again like Tom, Dick and Jane and then once more the cycle repeats itself in what seems like a mass production of duplicates, individuality has become a thing of the past. Where once there was “I” the salsa dancer, has now seen the “I” turn into a “we” the salsa dancer. The dance studios have taught well, churning out salsa dancers in droves over the last few years. Teaching technique, style, flare, grace and ah yes a sense of pyramid philosophy, for the more you learn, the higher up you go experience wise as a dancer. Yes, everything is offered and taught so you may dance salsa. But if your shadow and my shadow project so close to each other then our individual shadows become as one and our self identity is lost as well. So then if I dance as you dance and you as I, where do we differ? We don’t.
Interesting thought: a friend of mine checked out a dance lesson/workshop not that long ago just out of curiosity. After taking the “warm up” class, one of the instructors told her that she would get the best lesson out of an intermediate class. Surprised to hear this, she went on and took the class but after a bit, the instructor took notice of her exquisite footwork, which was far above the class participants, and advised her to take the advanced class. Now once in the advanced class, she not only demonstrated superior footwork, but as her partner (one of the instructors) turned her, he noticed her motion was flawless and in perfect timing. He asked why she was at the workshop, and for that matter, was she a pro, or had she been taught before at a studio or dance school? She stated that she had no professional lessons but was in fact taught to dance by her older sister back around 1973 when she was 10 years old in their living room on 7th Street just above Norris St in North Philly. She never went out dancing much as a teenager, but never let her self forget how to dance even after college, marriage, two children and a career.
Needless to say, the dance instructor received quite a few pointers from my friend. He stated that her dancing “on 2” was best he had even seen and still didn’t understand why she went to the workshop. She stated that she learned to dance mambo for fun and was just curious to see how and why people signed up for classes as she had learned from her older sister. “So why doesn’t anybody’s family teach their relatives how to dance anymore?” She asked him, and of course he didn’t have an answer. Why did you call it dancing “on2”? “My sister called it mambo and I called it salsa and so not to fight with her over it, I just called it mambo so she’d leave me alone. The young instructor was taken on a mini ride through family history and given his own dance lesson. He told her that it was pleasure to have danced with her, and more so, given an education about life and family. He laughed as he stated that she should have charged him for teaching him some dance moves. My friend just stated, “Get connected with your family, because I’ll bet you that you’ll find an uncle or aunt somewhere out there that dances really great, we all have one.”
So much for placing a “level” of experience on a salsa dancer, after all, aren’t we good enough for ourselves and someone else as well, I think so.
To the lost treasure of individualism, of being unique and using hand gestures, body signals and etc, you are still long for.
Still, someone out there dares to drink tap water, use a bar of soap, and dance like they want to, and not like everyone else.
Thought to live by: Taking dance lessons is great, learning to dance by an instructor is awesome, becoming an individual once you’ve learned how to dance is an achievement in itself. Seek individuality, be yourself, and not just like them.
Changing of the guard…..and the arsenal of weapons
Seems like more and more local DJs are reverting back to old school salsa as the main course for their dance party / social events, while Colombian salsa is great, nothing can replace that salsa sound from the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. Music back then was intense, not fast, but intense and this drove the dancers to the dance floor. I see guys playing George Guzman, Orquesta Capri, Hermanos Lopez, Brooklyn Sound, and other groups that were not part of the Fania records empire. And of course Fania icons are played in the mix as well. Don’t get me wrong, some of the newer salsa groups are pretty good , but like I said, I admire the fact that the younger DJs are reaching into the past and playing some of that killer salsa from decades ago.
Speaking of DJs, check out the….
TOP 10 THINGS YOU NEVER SAY TO A DJ
Carlos “Tabaco” Quintana
TABACO Y SUS METALES / TABACO Y SEXTETO
Carlos "Tabaco" Quintana nacido el 15 de septiembre de 1943 (Caracas, Venezuela) y fallecido el 30 de mayo de 1995 (Caracas, Venezuela). Ex integrante del "Sexteto Juventud", fundador del orquesta "Tabaco y sus Metales".
La única biografía disponible sobre Carlos "Tabaco" Quintana es el artículo de Lil Rodríguez que fue tomado en foros (Foro Jazz Mestizo, mayo 2004; Herencia Latina , nov. 2004) :
Había nacido el 15 de septiembre de 1943 y se empezó a formar como músico en las esquinas de San José, (...). La juventud lo llevó de la mano con la salsa brava callejera, la de la rebelión de los trombones de Palmieri y Mon Rivera y del sonido castinglés del sexteto de Joe Cuba. (...)
Y era tan largo que comenzaron a llamarlo "tabaquito", un tabaquito que esperaba que se terminara el día para encontrarse con el sabor musical lejos de la faena de limpiabotas y pregonero.
Nunca olvidó que salía como disparado hacia el 23 de Enero para escuchar los ensayos de un grupo que se estaba formando ahí. Corrían los años y corrían los ensayos mientras tabaquito iba conociendo uno a uno a los integrantes de esa agrupación hasta que en 1963, con veinte años encima, ya su amigo Elio Pacheco lo recomendó a Olinto Medina, el líder de esa banda. Olinto se disponía a ensayar "Guasancó" y el cantante no le llegó al tono. La recomendación de Elio surtió efecto y "Tabaco" hizo lo suyo, muy bien. Así el Sexteto Juventud tuvo nueva voz y algo más, porque Carlos Quintana se pudo pasear por todos los instrumentos de la agrupación.
(...)Poseía un timbre vocal casi mágico. Su voz se parecía asombrosamente a la de Ismael Rivera y ya sabemos lo que eso significaba en momentos en que Maelo era la referencia obligada desde las filas del Combo de Rafael Cortijo.
Con Quintana el Sexteto Juventud tuvo momentos de verdadera gloria porque si bien reflejaba la influencia de Joe Cuba crearon un estilo que sigue sin copia.
Además del arte vocal, Tabaco era un buen compositor, con buena vibra y reciprocidad en el pueblo. Todos los meses de septiembre iba a tocarle a los presos, en el día de Las Mercedes. Sentía lo que sentía un cautivo y por ello compuso "La Cárcel" (Qué malo es estar/ estar entre rejas/ y qué soledad/ qué soledad se siente...).
Junto a este tema dio a conocer "Mi calvario", pieza que se convirtió en todo un clásico. (Quisiera saber/ cuál fue la causa/ de nuestro olvido...).
Y así, entre grabación y toques, Tabaco, en el Sexteto Juventud, vio llegar a José Natividad Martínez, Naty, el flautista y amigo. Naty le vendió la idea de los metales a Quintana y éste, comprando, surgió de pronto con "Tabaco y sus metales" y grabó el tema de Pablo Álvarez "Una sola bandera" que fue un éxito de buenas dimensiones.
También grabaría "Agua de mayo" y su homenaje a los rumberos, "Tuntuneco".
En mayo de 1984 publicamos una entrevista muy rica con Tabaco en el Feriado de El Nacional. Casi enseguida llamaron para localizarlo. Lo invitaban al festival de Managua 84.
Fue la primera vez que salió del país por aire. Se presentó al lado de 30.000 personas junto al Son 14, Amaury Pérez, Pupi Legarreta y Tania Libertad, entre otros. A su regreso me contó que los cubanos estaban asombrados porque pensaban que en Venezuela sólo existía Oscar D’ León, y que casi se desmaya cuando Daniel Ortega se le acercó para pedirle un autógrafo, y que tocó el cielo cuando Adalberto Álvarez y el Son 14 subieron con él a la tarima para cantar "Una sola bandera".
Sus sueños. Tenía dos: Grabar un disco en homenaje a Ismael Rivera, y hacer otro con boleros. Una vez en Macuto cantó junto a Ismael Rivera y para los dos fue una experiencia tremenda. En Guarenas, la musical y brava, concretamente en "Menca de Leoni" fue cocinando el sueño. Ayudado por Naty, comenzó a grabar el de Maelo en un disco que el sello Sonográfica no se ocupó de difundir después. No lo pudo concluir pues el cáncer se lo llevó al hospital donde también estaba hospitalizado Joe Ruiz. Ese disco lo concluyó vocalmente Ángel Flores. Tampoco pudo hacer el disco de boleros, él, quien tanto admiraba a Cheo Feliciano y a Tito Rodríguez.
Cuenta Naty que en más de una noche logró sacar a Tabaco del hospital para adelantar el álbum homenaje a Maelo. Sabía que Tabaco quería hacerlo, y complació al amigo, quien además, buscando alivio espiritual a su dolor físico, se fue a Los Teques, donde lo sorprendió la muerte el 30 de mayo de 1995"
- Carla Flores "Musica del mundo 2004" Universidad de Peru
Su discografía :
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Revised; April 10, 2005