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!

The Top 12 Salsas From Across Latin America, Ranked

Culture

The Top 12 Salsas From Across Latin America, Ranked

Jackie_testet / Instagram

Hot sauce has been a kitchen table staple for Latinos for thousands of years. The Aztecs pretty much invented it. We put it on eggs, on snacks, on meat….you probably have that person in your life who would put it on their finest cardboard and eat it up, the stuff is so popular. Anything that brings vegans and carnivores together at the dinner table deserves to be celebrated. Enjoy this roundup of hot sauces from all over Latin America to try out with your next meal.

1. Mexico: Cholula

Credit: cholulahotsauce/ Instagram

Made in Chapala, Jalisco, the sauce is made with a blend of piquín and arbol chiles. It’s often put up against Tapatio on American restaurant tables in a Coke vs. Pepsi level battle of the condiments. But we know there’s room for both. However, if you’re really dedicated, you might be able to join the Order of Cholula for exclusive offers.

2. Belize: Marie Sharp

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Made in Stann Creek, Belize, Marie Sharp started her line of hot sauces in her kitchen where she experimented with blends of Habanero peppers and jams and jellies made from fruits and vegetables picked from her farm. The brand has long outgrown the kitchen and went international. We stan an entrepeneurial queen.

3. Costa Rica: Banquete Chilero

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This thicker sauce from Costa Rica gets its flavor from habanero peppers and carrots. Some might compare it to an asian sweet and sour sauce.

4. Guatemala: Picama’s Salsa Brava

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This mild, green sauce has a ketchup-like consistency and is made with serrano peppers. The color is straight up neon, but some people swear by it, stocking up on bottles when they visit Guatemala. Also, don’t you love when an abuela comes through like this?

5. Honduras: D’Olanchano

Credit: @OldJersey / Twitter

This hot sauce uses Tabasco peppers grown in the Olancho valley and later aged in wooden barrels to acquire its taste.

6. Nicaragua: Chilango

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Chilango Chile sources their ingredients from all over the world to create unique flavors in their line of hot sauces. The Cabro Consteño is made with the Nicaraguan yellow “goat” pepper grown on the Atlantic coast. The Habanero Chocolate gets its name from the dark, brown pepper it uses for flavor. It doesn’t actually have chocolate in it – whether that relieves or distresses you.

7. Panama: D’Elidas

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This yellow is made with Habanero peppers, mustard, and vinegar. Hot sauce lovers report getting a lot of that mustard taste in the sauce, so adjust expectations accordingly. People are known to fill up their suitcases with bottles before leaving Panama.

8. Brazil: Mendez Hot Sauce

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Mendez Hot Sauce is a brand out of Central Brazil where creator, Rafael Mendez strives for sustainable business practices that help his community. The sauce uses the locally sourced Malagueta pepper which creates work for local farming families, lifting many of them out of poverty.

9. Chile: Diaguitas

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Diaguitas is the most popular hot sauce in Chile, coming in a few flavors. It’s light on ingredients, letting the peppers speak for themselves. It’s salty, so handle with care to balance that taste out on your food.

10. Colombia: Amazon Pepper Sauce

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This brand uses a variety of Amazon peppers that grow at the edge of the rainforest in the Andes Cauca Valley. They blend the chilis with other tropical ingredients. They have a mild flavor that stands out made with guava. 

11. Ecuador: Ole

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Ole carries a few different flavors, but it always goes back to the ingredients to make a hot sauce unique to the region it comes from. Ole uses the tena pepper which only grows in Ecuador. They have it on its own where you get the fruit taste with a lash of heat. They also put it in their Tamarillo sauce which couples the tena with the fruit from the pepper tomato tree.

12. Peru: Salsa de Aji Amarillo

Credit: PeruChef.com

What’s actually the most popular thing to do in Peru is to just make your own hot sauces. However, sometimes you can find bottled sauces that will satisfy the craving. The Peru Chef makes one with the aji amarillo pepper which has a subtle sweetness to it and is a cornerstone of Peruvian cuisine.

Of course, there are many hot sauces from all over Latin America that you’ll simply have to travel for if you want the best like Llajwa sauce from Bolivia. You could also probably stay home and get some bomb green sauce from King Taco.

A Grocery Store Owner In Mexico Was Tired Of The Salsa He Was Selling So He Started Making His Own

Culture

A Grocery Store Owner In Mexico Was Tired Of The Salsa He Was Selling So He Started Making His Own

Super Carniceria La 18 / Facebook

One thing that no one can ever take away from us Latinos is that we know how to hustle. When we see an opportunity we take it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Whether we were taught to sell crap at the swap meet, babysit the neighbor’s annoying kids, sell liquados from our backyard, or make cakes out of our kitchen, we know how to make a buck. That is why this next story of homemade salsas is no surprise. What is kind of shocking is that we didn’t think about selling this idea ourselves sooner, and that’s what makes this item even that more genius.

An independent Mexican grocer noticed that all the sauces he sold at his store had a ton of preservatives.

Credit: elpatohotsauce / Instagram

Juan García, the owner of Super Carnicería La 18 in the border town of Matamoros in Mexico, said the lack of authentic Mexican sauces —without preservatives — made him wonder why he couldn’t create real sauces himself. 

“Our specialty is roast meat, we have 35 years of experience in that, but we began to see that the sauces that were sold had many [preservatives],” García said in an interview with El Pais. He added that because they sell their on-demand meat on the weekends, they also prepare their own recipes to accompany the foods. He said in order to make their signature recipe, they had to buy machines to start producing their homemade sauces. 

As you know, the sauce is everything. Without an excellent sauce to put on carne asada, or tacos, or flautas, or beans, or anything, you might as well not eat at all. 

García knew his signature sauce would be delicious, but he needed a way to market the sauces in order to be unique and ensure sales.

Credit: SuperCarniceriaLa18 / Facebook

“I had to get attention,” García told the publication. Yet, the question was what could he name the sauces that would attract people? The label indicated the name of the store, La 18, and that’s not particularly special. Neither is the type of salsa. Most salsas are red, green, mild, hot, etc. 

Then, just like a stroke of lightning, at least we’d like to picture it that way, García knew exactly how he’d sell the sauces. García used his own family’s story to create the branding of the sauces. 

García knew that he wanted to make it something funny and empowering so he drew inspiration from his father’s lack of English and how he was mocked for that lack of knowledge.

Credit: Super Carniceria La 18 / Facebook

“These are words that my father said,” García told el País. “He worked some time in Brownsville, but he didn’t know any English. People laughed at him.”

García adds that the only way his father could fight back against those mocking him was to curse at them. The problem was since his English wasn’t so good, his curse words were really tough to understand, but not to Latinos! We know how to understand broken English, especially that is spoken by elder Latinos. So, without further ado, let us present each salsa in all its glory.

The salsa verde salsa is called “madafaker,” which means mother f*cker.

Credit: Super Carniceria La 18 / Facebook

Incredible, right? We’ve all heard one of our abuelos or tíos say this out loud when things just weren’t going their way.

The red sauce is called “sanababish” — in other words, son of a b*tch.

Credit: Super Carniceria La 18 / Facebook

The Spanglish spelling is utter perfection. Admit it. When you read it, you read it like an angry abuelo yelling at someone in their thick accent.

Then there’s the habanero chili sauce that is straight-up Spanish, sort of.

Credit: Super Carniceria La 18 / Facebook

That reads exactly how it’s spelled: “asupichimaye” or a su pinche madre. 

“It’s what people say when they try our habanero chili sauce, because it’s very spicy,” Garcia said. Of course, it makes perfect sense.

So if you’re wondering whether or not his unique sauce naming strategy was a success or not, just check out these comments.

Credit: Super Carniceria La 18 / Facebook

You don’t have travel all the way down to Mexico to purchase these stellar sauces, they can ship them to you! The sauces have been such a success that they produce about 500 bags of each type of sauce every week. The store itself is doing so well that García plans to open a new store in Monterrey, Mexico.

Now, the question remains, which one would you try first? We’re kind of lightweights so we’d definitely try the asupichimaye green creamy sauce. What about you? Let us know in the comment section below!

READ: This Entrepreneur Worked For Years To Sell Her Authentic Mexican Sauces To The World And It Paid Off