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

celia_cruz2003 / Instagram

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!

This Elementary School Held A Flash Mob Where Kids Dressed Up And Danced To Selena And Celia Cruz And I’m Crying At My Desk

Culture

This Elementary School Held A Flash Mob Where Kids Dressed Up And Danced To Selena And Celia Cruz And I’m Crying At My Desk

The fear of losing our Latinidad as our kids learn to assimilate to American culture is very real. As new and older generations come and go, younger Latinos born in the U.S. are less likely to speak Spanish, and know how to cook certain recipes or the moves of certain dances. Fortunately, one elementary located in the city of Los Angeles, California is taking literal steps and classes to ensure la cultura never dies.

In a recent post to the elementary school’s Facebook page, little kids are seen putting on a performance of Selena’s “La Caracha.”

[Click the image to watch the video]

In the video posted to Facebook, dozens of kindergarten students from Euclid Avenue Elementary are seen dancing along to “La Carcacha.” While the boys wear leather vests, the girls are suited up in outfits that channel Selena’s purple jumpsuit.

But the display of vida did NOT stop there.

The event soon turned into a display of Afro-Latina celebration when the school’s second graders turned up for Celia Cruz

Like just LOOK at all of those little Celia’s in training dancing to “La Vida Es Un Carnaval.”

And because the party could just not stop the school’s First Graders danced to “Un Poco Loco” from Coco.

Honestly, my heart is about to burst watching these little guys expertly dance to the “Coco” theme song. And not only are the kids wearing the sweetest traditional outfits the little boys are wearing fake guitars!!!!

Guys!! And The Third Graders Dance the Tarantela!

And there goes my heart. Bursting into a million little pieces and being simultaneously full again.

Celia Cruz Would Have Slayed The 2019 Met Gala Camp Theme And Here Are The Looks To Prove It

Fierce

Celia Cruz Would Have Slayed The 2019 Met Gala Camp Theme And Here Are The Looks To Prove It

celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

Celia Cruz is as widely revered as the Queen of Salsa for her genre-breaking vocals as she is for the regalia she adorned on stage. After being exiled by Fidel Castro from Cuba, she brought her Afro-Latina culture to the mainland–undiluted.

Given how much her homeland tropical paradise influenced her fashion, there’s no question the La Reina would have brought all the azúcar to the 2019 Met Gala theme: “Camp: Notes On Fashion.”

She wore hibiscus flowers in her hair at black tie events as only she could.

Untitled. Digital Image. Huffington Post. 6 May 2019.

Not to mention all kinds of feathers to tie the whole look together. Cruz is Mother Nature and we just enjoyed our moments basking in her greatness.

They say birds of a feather stick together.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

We’re sure that in 2019, she would have seen all the PETA footage and would be blowing up her own fashion line of faux feathered gowns. How about those wrist cuffs?

She totally crushed this peacock look.

Untitled. Digital Image. Huffington Post. 6 May 2019.

Oh, honey, it’s camp theme Cuba style, or didn’t you hear? Birds and flowers of paradise are what Celia would get to work with. Not only does she look flawless in her style, but she is also happier than ever in those outfits.

Remember when Cruz started this shoe trend?

Tina Hill Jones / Pinterest

Imagine her bringing this back with some serious tread for those talus, rocky trails. This is thee workaround for wearing heels outdoors. Lady Gaga should be thanking Cruz for opening the doors for this kind of footwear.

Meet a regal, cozied neck Queen.

@Musicstradio20 / Twitter

If you wondered whatever happened to turtle necks, they went camping. Cruz was rocking turtle necks for many decades and they just seem to suit her.

The wider the turtle neck, the closer you are to God.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

She’d slay the red carpet via towering turtle necks or dressed as a songbird. Either way, Celia Cruz isn’t about being cold. She is just like our abuelas, after all.

Behold, an Ice Queen.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

Are those faux icicles around her neck? Imagine with the advances of fashion technology today what this look would become at the Met Gala. It is clear that she is not shy about trying something new and different.

Back in the day, her more modest looks were classic favorites.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

Bet you’ll see a pea-coat at the Met Gala tonight. You’ll never find a shivering Celia because she was prepared for all weather conditions.

She might be the only person to ever pull off a fringe poncho.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

Ponchos may have been in for a minute in the 2000s, but when you’re “camping,” there are no rules. You can wear a poncho in the rain and in the cold and be feeling good about yourself.

Cruz was Poison Ivy before Uma Thurman.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

She looks like a flawless goddess of nature and we are here for it. She gave us all of the Poison Ivy vibes we never knew we needed before Uma Thurman even tried it.

Celia Cruz giving us snow melted, pristine alpine lakes you just need to swim in.

Sweet home arts and crafts / Pinterest

Please note the embroidered neckwear and tell me she hasn’t dressed her whole life to win this theme. She has and she is still winning this theme because, well.

Cruz could easily win the Met Gala with this regal falcon imagery.

@BeanstalkGroup / Twitter

She’s beauty and she’s grace… and she’s also a stunning predatory bird who will comfortably have the rest of y’all for dinner. Okay. So no one wins but she would be the best dressed for sure.

Meet the elevated beanie look.

Latina Magazine / Pinterest

Your mami would never let you go outside without a hat to keep your head warm. Cruz was only ever seen dazzling.

Patterns are Cruz’s best friends and here’s the proof.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

No zebras were harmed in this homage to Africa’s most recognizable mammal and the Aloe flower, native to the continent. Mother Nature.

This one is a bit toned down but imagine Cruz being given the challenge of camp and her incorporating her stars.

Untitled. Digital Image. Huffington Post. 6 May 2019.

The only way we can look at Cruz is to look up to her. Here she is as dazzling as a remote night sky and we can only imagine that her campy take on this would include a moon headpiece.

Color blocking at one of the highest levels.

Huffington Post / Pinterest

Here’s Cruz giving us both and the difference is night and day. This is a day to evening dress for sure. It even feels like a little bit clownish and would totally stand out at the red carpet.

She might have a toned down outfit but her sunglasses are giving us all the camp we want.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

We just can’t get enough of Cruz and her looks. She knows how to deliver and we just want to see her shine all the time. If she was here today, the Met Gala audience would be gagging.

Whether she’s wearing literal tropical flowers…

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

As is her right. Most guests at the New York City Met Gala will only have memories (or Instagram inspo) in American desert, pine forests and Pacific alpine meadows for reference.

Or is embodying the essence of the Roseate Spoonbill bird…

bizqit Company / Pinterest

That bird is worth looking up. She looks like a flamingo with a wide flat beak and she gets her color from exclusively eating shrimp. You can’t find those birds in New England.

There’s no question that Celia would have owned the red carpet tonight.

@celia_cruz_la_reina / Instagram

Here she is wearing the Sun, the Moon, and a campfire ring all in one. In terms of light and heat, that’s the only way to summarize camping.

We’ll be thinking of you tonight, Celia.

Untitled. Digital Image. Huffington Post. 6 May 2019.

She would have been 92 years old, with even more experience to back up her look. What we know is that if Celia Cruz could walk the carpet, it would be full of hibiscus’, feathers and all things tropics. Te queremos, Celia!

READ: 21 Things You Didn’t Know About Celia Cruz, The Indisputable Queen Of Salsa

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