Entertainment

A-Z-U-C-A-R! Here’s A Quick History Lesson About Salsa And Its Growth Around The World

If you want to dance to impress (and have a great time overall) at any party you’re at, salsa dancing is the way to go. We’re breaking down the history of this revered form of music and dancing, from its Cuban roots to its greatest performers, including la reina herself—Celia Cruz—and how cities from New York to Miami are still keeping the dance form alive.

Salsa is more than just a music genre, it is a dance style that is unique to its origin.

Salsa’s roots started out on the eastern side of Cuba, taking its musical cue from Son cubano and mambo. As well, the drum rhythms and dance moves from Afro-Cuban dance and music shaped the musical style. Not to be forgotten are elements of Spanish flamenco guitar which was brought to Cuba by troubadours and were incorporated into the son style.

During the 1950s, a style of salsa called rueda de casino emerged around Cuba.

Other names for the style are rueda or casino rueda. Dancers move about in pairs or solo, and dance movements are called out with phrases such as “dame una” (give me one) or “exhibela” (show her off.) The dance was made at members-only clubs on the island, called casino deportivos.  

The musical style of salsa started to make its way from Cuba to the U.S. around the same decade rueda de casino was developed.

????????Rueda de casino o rueda cubana es un círculo de parejas que bailan salsa cubana y donde las mujeres van cambiando de pareja. Todos bailan con todos. Hay un cantante que nombra las figuras y todos los miembros las hacen al mismo tiempo. Mínimo son necesarias dos parejas y el máximo no tiene límite. Al ser un círculo, desde arriba parece un periscopio, no os parece? Esto es parte de la coreo Agua pa Yemayá que hicimos con nuestro grupo Aché???????? ???????? Rueda de casino oder Rueda cubana ist ein Kreis von Paaren, die kubanische Salsa tanzen und wo die Frauen die Männer wechsel. Alle tanzen mit allen. Es gibt einen "Cantante" oder Sänger, der die Figuren singt und alle machen diese Figuren gleichzeit. Man braucht mindestens 2 Paare und der Maximum ist unbegrenz. Es ist ein Kreis und deswegen sieht von oben wie ein Periskop, glaubt ihr nicht? Das ist ein Teil von der Coreo Agua pa Yemayá die wir mit unserer Gruppe Aché gemcaht haben.???????? ➡️➡️Follow us in Facebook: Ricard & Laia Salsa ???????? #aguapayemayá #ruedadecasino #ruedacubana #definiciónruedacubana #dame #rueda #salsa #salsacubana #coreo #desdearriba #salsabayern #salsawürzburg #salsainwürzburg #wasistruedadecasino #ricardylaia #tanzen #würzburgdieneuesalsahauptstadt #würzburg mit @anna.kordumanova @martinakouratoraki

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Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians started to settle in New York City and salsa music continued to adapt, along with more and more bands forming. Elements of salsa music also began to appear in the music of more mainstream American artists as well.

As salsa began garnering more attention as a musical style, Celia Cruz became synonymous with the genre.

Dubbed the Queen of Salsa, Cruz released over 60 salsa albums during her almost 50-year career.

Cruz’s infectious personality and strong vocals endeared her to fans in the U.S. and all around the world.

And a lot of her salsa hits are still played in salsa clubs around the world.

Cruz’s lucky break came in Cuba when the lead singer of the Sonora Matancera left the group.

She made a name with Sonora, even meeting her husband, Pedro Knight, who was a trumpet player with the group. She appeared in films, recorded music and performed across Latin America with the band, but was forbidden to return to Cuba once Fidel Castro took control. Cruz became a U.S. citizen in 1961 and worked with record labels in the U.S. to start making her mark, and in the 1970s, her fame started taking off after “Quimbará” appeared on the Celia y Johnny album in 1974.

Cruz’s career spanned decades, with hits including “Cucula”, “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” and the classic that is played everywhere from bodas to quinceañeras, “La Vida Es Un Carnaval.”

As for the actual style of salsa dancing, that too started to ride a wave of popularity. Besides the Cuban style of salsa, there is the Afro-Latino style (popular in Caribbean countries), Cali-style of salsa danced in Colombia, LA style, and New York style. The Afro-Latino style has some African instruments accompanying shimmies, leg work, body isolations acrobatics and lifts.

Cali-style is fast, like rapido fast. The footwork includes quick steps and skipped motions.

Cali-style salsa began in the 1930s when musicians started experimenting with American styles of music like jazz, mambo, konga, guaguanco.

LA style is danced in a line and the forward-backward step is a #majorkey for this dance.

It is clearly a very different take on the global phenomenon of salsa.

New York style is danced in a “flat figure 8” and is danced on the second beat. Also, if you are trying to keep up by being the “follower,” know that in New York style, the follower is the one that takes the first step.

If you want to go out and try dance moves for yourself, hit up La Descarga in Los Angeles, Ball & Chain in Miami and Guantanamera or Club Cache in NYC.


READ: This Isn’t Your Mama’s Cumbia: The Eclectic History Of Latin America’s Classic Music Genre

Do you like dancing salsa? What’s your favorite song to dance to? Let us know in the comments and share this post with your friends if you learned something new!

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Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

Culture

Here Are 9 Salsas From Across Latin America That You’ll Carry In Your Bag Every Day Of The Week

I guarantee that since Beyonce’s hit anthem ‘Formation’ hit the airwaves, we’ve all been wanting to channel our inner Bey and carry some hot sauce in our bags. But which one would you choose?  

Whether you prefer sweet and sour, ranch, spicy, or mild, when it comes to options, the possibilities are endless!

A sauce’s beauty is that every country has its famous creation that usually accompanies their traditional dishes. Every Latin American country has its mouth-watering sauce that was created using recipes passed down from ancestors.

AJILIMOJILI

In Puerto Rico, this sauce is quite popular because of its ají dulce flavor – a mix of sweet and sour notes. The green salsa is the Caribbean’s version of hot sauce and is added to recipes, such as seafood and boiled vegetables.

VALENTINA

Few of us don’t know about the magic that is Valentina. Pour that sauce all over your papas, pizza, jicama, elotes, and so much more. And it’s great because it’s available in a variety of heat levels so everyone can enjoy. 

TIÁ LUPITA HABANERO SAUCE

This Habanero Hot Sauce is an original family recipe of the brand and combines just the right amount of heat with each fruit’s natural sweetness. It is handmade in small batches, using only habanero peppers, dates, mangos, and spices. All ingredients are sourced from local farms and are non-GMO and gluten-free certified.

The sauce can be used as a condiment with breakfast burritos, eggs, sandwiches, tacos, pulled pork, steak, chicken, fish, quesadillas, and more.

CHIMICHURRI

Chimichurri is mostly tied to Argentina, even though other countries also serve the herb-based salsa. To achieve the perfect chimichurri, mix parsley, oregano, garlic, onion, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Pair with meat cuts like churrasco and watch the magic happen.

CHIRMOL

In Central America, chismol or chirmol is made of tomatoes, onion, peppers and other ingredients. It’s similar to pico de gallo and is used in a variety of dishes.

RICANTE

Sauce, dressing, dip, marinade… Ricante does it all and with no sugar or salt added and with just the right amount of approachable spice. Ricante is not only Non-GMO, Gluten-Free, and Keto Friendly, but tiá approved!

Ricante launched with five incredibly unique hot sauces, marrying non-traditional essences like apples, mangos, carrots, and habaneros.

SALSA ROSA

Pastas are enjoyed all across Latin America, especially in Argentina and Uruguay, which pair the dishes with salsa rosa, a tomato-based sauce mixed with heavy cream. Together, they create a pink paste that blankets a variety of pasta dishes.

TACTICAL TACOS

Wait, so not all taco bases are citrus?! Tactical Tacos knows how to do taco sauce right with their notes of orange, lime, and cilantro to start your bite out just right, followed up with a perfect hint of Jalapeno and Cayenne pepper in the background. That’s just their mild sauce, Snafu. The Fire Fight and Ghost Protocol give you a similar ride with the citrus kick but with a much bigger spice hit for those that are brave enough to try it out!

MOLE

Mole is a spicy-and-sweet sauce made from chocolate that translates. The dark brown sauce gets its heat from chiles, but also has a touch of sweetness from the cacao, almonds, and peanuts often added. The sauce is topped with sesame seeds.

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9 Films, Docs and Series About Latinas to Watch Before Women’s History Month Comes to an End

Fierce

9 Films, Docs and Series About Latinas to Watch Before Women’s History Month Comes to an End

Whether you want to celebrate Women’s History Month with a movie night or appreciate media about powerful mujeres year-round, you’re probably looking for a few films, documentaries or TV series to add to your streaming queue right now. Regrettably (and shamefully), most of the lists cropping on entertainment news sites don’t feature projects made for, by or about Latinas. With that in mind, we’ve put together some titles centering narratives about Latina trailblazers and heroines from Latin American and U.S. history. So clear your weekend cal and purchase all of your fave movie theater snacks, because you can watch (most of) these films, documentaries and series right from your computer screen.

1. Dolores

If you’re looking for documentaries about Latina heroines, start with Dolores, the 2017 film about the life and activism of Chicana labor union activist Dolores Huerta. The doc, executive produced by Carlos Santana and Benjamin Bratt, and directed by Bratt’s brother, Peter, delves into how the 90-year-old co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later named the United Farm Workers), her famous “Sí se puede” rallying cry and her role in the women’s rights movement. Including interviews with Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and more, Dolores celebrates the history and ongoing activism of one of the country’s most critical civil rights leaders. Watch Dolores on Amazon Prime.

2. Isabel: The Intimate Story Of Isabel Allende

Isabel: The Intimate Story Of Isabel Allende, a three-part docuseries about the famed Chilean author and feminist, is one of the most exciting new drops. The HBO Max series, directed by Rodrigo Bazaes, premiered on March 12, just in time for Women’s History Month. Like all good biopics, Isabel reveals the person behind the icon, portraying Allende’s path from a young woman fighting her way into a male-dominated industry to the most-read Spanish-language author of all time. As the niece of assassinated Chilean President Salvador Allende, the series also gets political, bringing light to her life under the regime of General Augusto Pinochet as well as her own feminist activism. Watch Isabel on HBO Max.

3. Knock Down the House

Knock Down the House portrays the political rise of a Latina icon in the making: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While the 2019 documentary by Rachel Lears revolves around the 2018 congressional primary campaigns of four progressive women, Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Swearengin, the Puerto Rican now-congresswoman is the only one who wins her race (though Bush won in the next election cycle) and thus much of the film focuses on her story. A first-time candidate with a passion for social justice, a degree in international relations and economics, and a job in bartending, the doc shows how a regular, degular, shmegular girl from the Bronx unseated one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress with a progressive platform and a focus on community. Watch Knock Down the House on Netflix.

4. Lorena: Light-Footed Woman

In 2017, María Lorena Ramírez’s name made international headlines when the young woman defeated 500 other runners from 12 different countries at the Ultra Trail Cerro Rojo in Puebla, Mexico. Ramírez didn’t just stand out because of her speed but also because she ran without professional gear. Instead, she donned the traditional clothes of the Tarahumara, Indigenous people in Chihuahua, Mexico, including a floral skirt and a pair of huaraches. Capturing the world’s attention, Ramírez became the focus of the 2019 documentary Lorena: Light-Footed Woman, which was directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo. The short doc beautifully tells the tale of a young woman’s athletic training in the mountains where she grew up to become a celebrated long-distance runner while staying true to her culture and traditions. Lorena: Light-Footed Woman is streaming on Netflix.

5. Berta Didn’t Die, She Multiplied!

In Honduras, the most dangerous country in the world for land defenders, Berta Cáceres’ life was taken because of her commitment to the environmental justice struggle. Back in the Central American country, Berta’s assassination hasn’t been forgotten and neither has her fight. The 2017 short doc Berta Didn’t Die, She Multiplied!, directed by Sam Vinal, shows how her work lives on among Indigenous Lenca and Afro-Indigenous Garifuna people of Honduras, who continue to struggle against capitalism, patriarchy, racism and homophobia, for our land and our water. Watch Berta Didn’t Die, She Multiplied! on Vimeo.

6. Celia

Celia reveals the story of one of the most powerful voices and greatest icons of Latin music, Afro-Cubana salsera Celia Cruz. The Spanish-language novela, produced by Fox Telecolombia for RCN Televisión and Telemundo, starts at the beginning, when Cruz was an aspiring singer in Havana, and takes viewers through to her time joining La Sonora Matancera, leaving her homeland with her would-be husband Pedro Knight and gaining massive superstardom as the “Queen of Salsa.” Watch Celia on AppleTV+.

7. Beauties of the Night

In the first half of the 20th century, showgirls dominated the entertainment scene in Latin America. Their glamorous looks and luxe performances were enjoyed by audiences of all ages and genders. But around the 1970s, as VHS pornos took off, these scantily clad talents started to lose work and, as a result, their lucrative incomes. Oftentimes, these women came from low-income backgrounds and didn’t have a formal education, forcing many of the vedettes to also feel like they’ve lost their sense of purpose and impelling some to take on work they didn’t feel good about in order to stay afloat in the industry. In Beauties of the Night, directed by María José Cuevas, we see some of Mexico and South America’s leading showgirls, Olga Breeskin, Lyn May, Rossy Mendoza, Wanda Seux and Princesa Yamal, and how their lives transformed as the work they were once famous for lost its reverence. Watch Beauties of the Night on Netflix.

8. Frida

The 2002 biographical drama film Frida shares the professional and private life of one of the most famous woman artists of all time, Frida Kahlo. Directed by Julie Taymor and starring Salma Hayek, the Academy Award-nominated film touches on many aspects of the late Mexican artist and feminist’s life, from her life-altering accident in 1922 and her tumultuous relationship with muralist Diego Rivera to her bisexual identity, political affiliations and, of course, her time-defying art and self portraits. Watch Frida on Amazon Prime.

9. Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It


With a career spanning 70 years, Rita Moreno is one of the most famous and beloved actresses of all time. The only Latina to have won all four major annual U.S. entertainment awards, an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony, her own life is certainly worthy of a film; and in 2021, director Mariem Pérez Riera gave the Puerto Rican star what she deserves with Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. The documentary, which premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival on January 29, 2021, features interviews with Moreno, Eva Longoria, Gloria Estefan, Normal Lear, Whoopi Goldberg and more. More than just a celebration of all the barriers Moreno broke, the film also delves into her personal life, including the racism she endured on her road to stardom, the sexual violence she experienced in Hollywood, her struggle with mental health and suicidal ideation and her fight for multidimensional roles for people of color. While Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It isn’t streaming yet, it is set to air on PBS’ American Masters later this year.

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