We, the team of dancers have started a BLOG. Why? share knowledge about dance from an educational perspective. This first BLOG post is from Ania Helmobakk article research written for her Master degree in Dance at NTNU, Norway. And might be interesting for you that are teachers in latin dance or students of latin dances. Special thanks to Jazzy Ruiz for interview in this article.

Salsa: is it a Caribbean dance, music or just a concept? The comparison of different standpoints on history of Salsa.

List of content:

1. Introduction

2.So where is actually salsa from?

  1. 2.1  Salsa as music
  2. 2.2  Salsa as sauce
  3. 2.3  Salsa as dance

3. Salsa is Mambo 4. Salsa is Hustle 5. Discussio6.Conclusion

2.3.1 Salsa is from Cuba

2.3.2 Salsa is from NY

1. Introduction

When you ask where salsa is from, you will receive many different answers: Cuba, Puerto Rico, New York, LA or even Cali claiming in Colombia. When you look at the latin culture itself you will find a group of people claiming that salsa is their heritage (McMains, 2015:11) and a group of Latin people claiming that salsa is not “theirs” or that it doesn’t exist (Ramirez, 2019:175). Who is right? When you are going back to literature trying to find the “right” answer you might just get more confused as scholars contradict each other. Then, add the internet as an information source and the general misconception coming from people actively participating in the salsa community, you will be left with more questions than you began with. In this short essay I will try to combine different view points of different researchers. Unfortunately most of the literature I had access to is from North America and unfortunately scholars from there focus mainly on history of salsa in United States, claiming directly or indirectly the origin of this popular Latin dance. Following the quote from the read material: “We need to remember that a key source in the study of dance is not traditional written one but visual: the dance itself” (Carter, 2017:119). I decided to broaden the perception on history of salsa by incorporating video clips into the essay that should help to understand the topic better. Moreover, I have also used interviews I have conducted in Cuba February 2020 which was a part of a study trip granted to study Cuban folklore. During my research trip I did drumming and clave classes with local musicians, had dance classes in the Cuban popular and folklore dances and participated in Santeria ceremony in a tiny hidden place in the middle of the island called Las Tunas. In addition, I have interviewed one of the most knowledgable persons on the topic in Norway, person who did witness history of Salsa happening either first or second handed.

2. So where is actually salsa from?

To even begin to start answering that question it is important to understand distinction between: salsa as music, salsa as dance and salsa as sauce … (made up marketing word for Latin dance)

2.1 Salsa as music

One of my interviewed guests said: “Where musicians go, dancers will follow. Music shapes

the dances and when music evolves so does the dance” . That is why, to better understand the

history of the dance it is important to know history of the music. The music – dance relationship is even more significant while studying social dances where connection to music is inseparable from the dance itself. Unfortunately this relationship has not been properly explored by dance scholars who tend to understate the role of music. Moreover, in vast majority of articles, researchers bewail that latin music forms, salsa included, have not been studied with sufficient depth (Maling,2008: 3-4).

Salsa is an immensely popular contemporary Latin urban music (Blum, 1978:137). To get to the bottom of salsa music history is also quite challenging. There are two main reasons for it, the first reason is the fact that meaning of word salsa has changed over the years, the second reason is that salsa has been widely ignored by ethnomusicologists and there is serious lack of written sources regarding the topic (Blum, 1978:137). In his article “Problems of Salsa Research”, Blum is writing about serious lack of salsa research from ethnomusicological point of view. One of the reasons he is blaming it on, is the difficulties on reasserting such a recent musical phenomenon and he even compares it to a pandora box. In contrary he writes that researching music from historical periods remote to us or from places geographically remote might be more tempting to scholars as more valuable from cultural point of view research. He claims that not so many ethnomusicologist are writing about that topic as they might be afraid of confrontations. One of the advantages of

I have conducted interview with Jazzy Ruiz, Salsa dancer who did extensive research on Salsa music and dance history.


writing about the native music of, for example, Pago Pago or ancient Egyptians is that little to none people will contradict that research (Blum, 1978:138). Moreover, there is serious lack in research from Spanish speaking ethnomusicologists. Blum shows it on an example of one particular artist called Cortijo. This contemporary musician of Latin origins and his music is widely popular to millions of people around the world, especially from latin countries. However, there was no single article that could be found about him in Spanish language when Blum published his work. Moreover he is quoting “La Musica Folklorica de Puerto Rico” by Francisco Lopez Cruz (1967) who focus on traditional pena and and the pena performed by popular artists like Cortijo regards as “lamentably adulterated by other Afro-Cuban forms” (Blum, 1978:140).

The same problem can be addressed to research on salsa music which is listened to by millions and millions of people all around the globe on all continents. Blum could not find one positive mention that was made regarding salsa music in 99 % of all ethnomusicological publications in both English and Spanish languages. He duels that no recollection in scholar publication was made regarding artists like Tito Puente or Celia Cruz but there were numerous publications available on how Colombian-Indian carved their instruments (Blum, 1978:141).

Regarding the fact that Blum wrote his article over 40 years ago, since that libraries should be full of new publications regarding Salsa. Unfortunately, studying this subject I discovered myself that topic has not been that widely discussed and even though there is few new books treating on history of mambo or African beats there is not that much about salsa in general.

Isn’t Mambo and Salsa the same thing? Not quite, Mambo is definitively a big part of Salsa but not its definition. Since both Mambo and Salsa got popular in New York a lot of scholars like to point to Mambo as the “original salsa”. That is very visible especially in publications from USA, as an example we can use the author of the ethnochoreology book about Salsa, Juliet McMains. Even though she shows in different chapters of the book the distinctive differences between different styles of Salsa, the title of the book is “Spinning Mambo into Salsa” which pretty much gives a tone

to the book as Mambo is the one and only real precursor of Salsa dance and music



2 Spinning Mambo into as Salsa, Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce, author: Juliet McMains is a book published in 2015 in University of Oxford. One of the main literature used and compared in the essay.

However, we cannot undermine the importance of studying the history of Mambo and Latin

3 Jazz when we talk about history of salsa music and its evolution from salsa dura to now more

popular salsa romantica4. All authors are agreeing on the significancy of the history of mambo whilst studying history of salsa.

As salsa grew in popularity, nearly all Latin communities consider it as “their” music and in consequence dance . As informative as his article is, Blum, avoids definition on the word salsa but he rather prefer to call it “Latin” music. That might be due to the controversy on the word salsa, especially in 1960s and 1970s which then meant more of a sauce rather than music genre…

2.2 Salsa as a sauce

So salsa is a sauce, very spicy, very popular in Latin cousin and unexchangeable indigent of a Norwegian taco night dinner. So what does this condiment have to do with history of dance? A lot, actually. So, what does Salsa mean? Salsa means sauce, simple as that, in contrary to origins of the word Mambo which means conversation with Gods in Kikongo, the language spoken by Central African slaves brought to Cuba (Tito & Martinez, 2015:8). Salsa term was used as marketing strategy by Fania record label established in 1964. Just as the sauce is a spicy mix of many different ingredients, the salsa was supposed to define all different kinds of latin music.

3 Salsa Dura “hard” or “heavy” salsa, characterise with a more conservative approach typical for salsa from the 1960s and 1970s and more aggressive arrangements. Salsa dura, known for being performed by full orchestra uses more percussion and larger horn selection than salsa romantica and lyrics refer to political topics i USA (Moore, 2002: 451-453). In 60s and 70s the political messages were influencing dance performances in many parts of the world, not only in USA. The shift of focus to dance as a pure form happened in 80s when artists began to abandon creating heavily politically polarised pieces (Hammergren, 2000: 174).

4 Salsa Romantica, less aggressive style of salsa that was developed in late 1980s. Lyrics in this type of salsa are free from political message which helped to capture larger market and spread salsa worldwide (Moore, 2002:451-453).


The meaning of Salsa as music is different now than it was in 1960s and 1970s. In this part of the essay we are going to talk about what Salsa meant in 60s and 70s from music point of view. If you watch the videos or listen to records from Fania in the early stages do not be surprised to hear not only Mambo and Son but also Timba and even Cha Cha. Those are all different dances with different rhythms and different steps. However all of them were packaged to one bag and labeled Salsa. Therefore for many musicians Salsa didn’t exist or exist only as a label created for marketing purposes.

Now Blum wrote in his 1979 article, fifteen years after the Fania5 records got established

and the word Salsa got commercialised . In his article he is quoting multiple times Latin New York

magazine and consider its archives as one of the best sources for studying Salsa history. Two of the quotes from Latin N.Y. (Pabon, T. cited in Blum, 1978:144) in particularly highlights the issue of Salsa as a music term. In that edition musicians, that ironically now are known as Salsa legends, give their opinion on the Salsa as terminology for their music: … “Now, you have to go with what the people are saying, so I adapted the word Salsa but it really doesn’t mean anything to me. (Jose Mangual, Jr.)”… and …”This is not a musical terminology at all. The music that I am playing today, which I have been playing for the last 20 years or more, if they want to call it Salsa or matzo ball soup, the name doesn’t make any difference to me. But I would imagine that the younger generation has to have a title for this music so it can be used commercially as the New York sound. (Tito Puente)”…

(Puente, T. quoted in Blum, 1978:144)

Same stories are mentioned in Spinning into Mambo book where author interviews

Palladium -era mambo dancers. Many musicians have denied the existence of Salsa as musical

genre all together, claiming it as a marketing trick ploy used to sell Cuban music after the US government had declared an embargo on import of all cuban products, music included. A quote of

5 Fania was a record label formed in 1964 by entrepreneur and musician Johny Pacheco and his lawyer Jerry Masucci. They signed all Latin music artists from New York city into the label and began marketing it as “salsa” music (McMains 2015:93-95)
6 Using the word “salsa” as a term for all Latin music can be traced to 1960. However, the phrase came into general circulation in 1971 when Fania staged what was to become the most important salsa concert of all time (McMains 2015:69)

7 Palladium was a ballroom dance club located in downtown New York in 1946 which first started to organise Latin nights once a week with live Latin orchestra.


Izzy Sanabria, one of Fania records signed artists said: “A woman writer from Cuba said the word salsa is used to disguise the fact that salsa is really Cuban music, that we changed it in order not to give credit to Cuba. She’s right, but it was not pre-planned” or a citation of musicologist Peter Manuel: “To many, the term has always seemed to be an artificial, commercial Rubik, designed particularly to obscure the politically inconvenient Cuban origin of the music”(McMain, 2008: 316).

Salsa is much more established terminology now used commonly but the use of that term still vary depending who we talked to. When talking to another dancer we would always specify if we mean mambo or cha cha or LA style. However, in marketing world where Salsa is a commodity you can find Salsa very loosely endorsing not only Cuban Salsa, mambo, LA and Bachata but also dances coming from Brazil like zouk and Africa (Kizomba). That is because Salsa term is popularly known and it is easier to sell to non-dancers as a full pass to dance festivals offering all sorts of social dances, danced in couples to Afro-Latin beats. That is how we are moving into Salsa as dance part.

2.3 Salsa as a dance

This is probably the mostly misconnected part in studies on history of Salsa. Just like mentioned above, Salsa can still be a commercial term adopting other dances loosely or not at all connected to each other. However, we are going to leave all the other dances of unrelated origin that made its way into a Salsa world, crouched in the corner and forever left to be associated with Salsa. I am in no way trying to diminish those dances, in fact my favourite one, Bachata, is one of the dances that were sold together, in a sort of a package of Salsa dances.

Leaving behind the commercialism of the word Salsa let ́s try to investigate the dance history. Coming back to the very first question “Where is Salsa from?”. This question proved itself to be much more difficult and complicated than it seemed to be.

2.3.1 Salsa is from Cuba

One of the most popular answers you will hear is “Salsa is from Cuba”. According to one of the online sources giving online classes in different topics, Salsa was created with combination of Cuban Son and Afrocuban Rumba. It is very important not to confuse ballroom “Rumba” with a

Cuban Rumba or Afrocuban Rumba . This source claims that salsa was created in 1900 in Eastern

Cuba to only 50 years later travel to USA where latin music got mixed with American Jazz.
This source names instruments characteristic for Salsa, however it is forgetting to mention

the clave, the crucial instruments in all Cuban popular dance music9 (Juliao, 2019). A documentary movie about history called: Palladium Era, Golden Age of Era (SalsaClub CSUF, 2012) states that first mambo’s steps were created in Cuba and presented in Tropicana Club in Havana by Perez Prado in 1943 which is three years before the opening of famous Palladium Ballroom, a place considered as a historical landmark and home of the mambo.

Historian studies in Cuba faces same problems like any other colonised country. How has the research focus shifted away from Eurocentric positions and how to “decolonize” the historical materials written in the past? There is a great importance in studying communities of people actively creating the dance history Their heritage, behaviours and importance of the religion (Purkayastha, 2007:123-134). Let ́s look again into the Cuban folklore which gave birth to Cuban popular music. The folklore dance and music comes from Cuban religion Santeria. This religion was created by slaves and brought to Cuba from West Africa and its mixture of Yoruba and Roman Catholic religion. Santeria is full of different saints oricha and each one has its own dance move that characterise each god in nature. Those dances are still practiced in Cuba as folklore and in general it

8 Rumba danced in Ballroom competition and commonly called Cuban Rumba is in fact bolero. The Afrocuban dance has different music, rhythm, steps and is danced not so much in couples but solo with man holding red handkerchief and trying to direct it towards woman pelves. Those two dances share nothing in common besides the name.

9 When I am taking about Cuban popular dances and music, I mean: Son, Mambo, Rumba and Bolero. The Cuban folklore uses cattle bels instead of clave and dances are less know even in Cuba. Those dances are part of the Santeria religion which moves have been now incorporated into salsa performances (source from two interview and music workshops taken in Las Tunas in Cuba in February 2020).


is not well known by general population . Nonetheless, all those moves are wildly known by

professional salsa dancers who used them mainly in the solo cuban salsa performances.

2.3.2 Salsa is from New York

Another equally popular answer is “Salsa is from New York”, Palladium club to be exact. There is so many documentaries circling the idea of Palladium to be the place where salsa was born. Both of those documentary films focus so much on Palladium dance history (SalsaClub CSUF, 2012). Palladium even self-proclaim itself as the “Temple of Mambo” (Torres 2017). There is no doubt that Palladium is a very important place in dance history but also for scholars studying race and social problems in United States. In 1950’s America was very much segregated but Palladium was one place where race and status did not matter and people of all races were welcome to enter and dance together. Palladium was also a place where first Salsa and Cha cha steps where taught (SalsaClub CSUF, 2012).

3. Salsa is Mambo

Like I mentioned earlier there is a lot of scholars that see Mambo either as a precursor of Salsa or the authentic Salsa. In an internet source we can learn that mambo is a dance of Cuban origins that evolved through a mix of African, Cuban and Haitian customs. Developing from earlier dance forms like Rumba, Mambo is a partner dance with high energy, danced to a 4/4 beat with particular foot and exaggerated hip movement while always maintaining fluid motion.
The source claims that salsa is nothing else as a more contemporary form of mambo (Przybylek, 2020)

10 That information was obtain during interview with Jazzy Ruiz. During my research in Cuba conducted in 2020 I only had contact with Santeros, Santeras or candidates in line for the ceremony, therefore all of them were obviously very familiar with both music and dance.


McMains in her book refers to Latin dancing in 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s as “Mambo” and dance style that develop in 1970s as “Salsa”. However, this terminology is not universal. As an example she writes about followers of modern New York11 style popularised by Eddie Torres referring to their style as “mambo” in an effort to distinguish it from other types of salsa (McMains, 2015: 32-34). The author is also trying to highlight the contrast between salsa and mambo and is studying the differences between dances using variety of movement analysis systems (McMains, 2015: 27-32). McMain writes that just in USA, Salsa is danced very differently depending on geographical location. She writes about differences in Salsa dance in New York and New Jersey (however she mentions slight differences between styles from those two neighbouring cities), California’s Orange and Los Angeles counties, Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Broward County. Even though, the last two are neighbouring counties salsa there is very different, Broward County’s style is heavily influenced by Puerto Ricans and New York style (McMains, 2015: 43 – 51).

Nevertheless, the message of McMain’s book is that salsa evolved from Palladium-era mambo and this evolution was a direct result of the commercialisation of the dance and its separation from salsa music , a phenomenon she called herself “kineschizophonia”. She claims that dancers do not dance to music anymore but rather recreate learned, technically difficult turn patterns and she blames it on the end of live music era and popularisation of recorded music (McMains, 2015: 47). She also writes about the old-time mambo dancers insisting that salsa is the same old dance they have been dancing for years and that for them it is indeed the same dance. As an example she brings up interviews with two professional dancers from Palladium ballroom, Michael Terrace and Cuban Pete, partner of Milly Doney who did international dance career dancing mambo. She also writes that those old-time dancers believe that young population destroy the original dance which was, in their eyes, more superior (McMains pp.1326).

Mambo, however started as a performance dance, danced by professional dancers with ballet background (SalsaClub CSUF, 2012) and it did not include so much of couple work. The dance is characterised by its rhythmical structure, interdependence with live music, idiosyncratic creativity of dancers and lots of solo work (McMains 20015:43 – 51 ). Meanwhile, salsa danced today uses simpler rhythmic structure, much more complicated partner work and solo work called “shines” are just a brief break in couple work that takes majority of the song time

11 New York style is a style of salsa by many called mambo or “On 2”. This style has a different rhythmic pattern and the dancers changed direction of dance on second step. This style is dance on line just like LA style.


However, before the 70’s, social dance that Salsa is now popular for didn’t really existed, at least not as it is seen now. Mainly professional dancers were occupying the ballroom floors and most of people were going to clubs to listen to live music. That all changed in the beginning of 70’s when disco era was ruling clubs and forever shaped the popular dance called Salsa (McMains, 2015: 55).

4. Salsa and Hustle

McMains views the popular Hustle dance of the 1970s as the forgotten link between mambo and salsa (Ramirez, 2019: 174 – 175). In her chapter McMains brings up shortly the history of Hustle dance which happened in Latin clubs where in the live band performances DJs would play at that time popular disco music. While Latin band musicians were resting the dancers continued to dance to the disco beats incorporating steps from dances known by them like cha cha, mambo or bolero. As a result of this fusion, 6-count dance began incorporating Mambo ball and changed action with a count 1-2-3 & 4-5-6, giving birth to Latin-Hustle. With time, word Latin slowly got washed away when dance got adopted by white Americans (McMains, 2008: 302.322). McMains stresses how closely related Hustle and Salsa are and how little this subject has been researched by scholars. For example in the book titled“Ballroom, Boogie,Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader”, there is an entire chapter dedicated to Hustle dance. However the connection to salsa is only mentioned in two brief sentences in this 12 pages long article about history of Hustle: “Drawn from the mambo, the Hustle required partners to hold hands while one led the other in a series of learned steps and spin sequences, and, popularised by Van McCoy’s hit single, the practice subsequently emerged as a conspicuous ingredient of the discotheque…”
and “… Hustle dancers could be expressive, but the mambo-derived move disrupted the synergistic line of communication that was so central to the dance dynamic established in the early 1970s.”

(Lawrence, 2008: 210). The article also states that Hustle did not survived so called death of disco (Lawrence, 2008: 212) but forgot to mention that Latin Hustle managed to survive and is still added to the Salsa festivals in North America and Australia12.

It is accustomed that popular dance borrow elements from each other shaping its form known for us today. Nevertheless, this links between dances have gone unaccounted and the racial roots ignored (Maling, 2008: 6). The salsa forms that we know now, like LA and NY styles, incorporated many turn patterns from Hustle. Cross-body lead a basic salsa figure that is always taught in the first salsa beginner class is in fact, from Hustle. Eddie Torres, called “Mambo King” was one of the first teachers of NY salsa style. Torres, was attending Palladium ballroom as a young kid and danced mambo there. As an adult aspiring dancer and a dance teacher surrounded by Hustle dancers he incorporated many elements in teaching first NY salsa syllabus. Even though, Torres doesn’t mention Hustle as strong influence on the style that he created, the evidence that disco dance impacted his style so much can be found in an interview from Palladium era dancer, Michael Terrace where he talks about salsa and mambo being same dance: “The fact that Eddie Torres came along and put in a couple hustle turns doesn’t make it a different dance… The dance hasn’t changed since I’ve started” (McMain 2008: 302-322).


12 As a professional dancer I have been working for over 8 years as an artist in different Salsa Congresses around the World. First time I got familiar with Latin Hustle in festival in New York in 2015. While I was told by many dancers from US and Australia that Latin Hustle is quite popular I never experienced it on any Salsa or other Latin festivals anywhere in Europe, Asia or Middle East.

5. Discussion

Salsa was first of all a social dance that was based on improvisation created on the spot to music by leader and follower. Nowadays, Salsa competition are of course very popular and the performing dancers are setting choreographies with a lot of very difficult spinning patterns, acrobatic elements and technically demanding figures. A common misconception created by Hollywood movies about a boy of Latin origins who simply “feels the beat” comes and swoops jury panel winning the competition doesn’t exist. However, this image is so strongly imprinted in our minds that anybody who moved to the Western World from Latin and Caribbean countries is considered expert in the field because he is Latin. That led to many Salsa schools popping around the world teaching their version of the “authentic” salsa. In consequences everybody danced it differently. I have experienced it myself too,10 years ago, when I was hired to teach a salsa class with one of the first salsa instructors in Norway. He was Cuban/Brazilian and when we met to rehears the class I quickly realised that Salsa that I know and his way of dance are very far apart. This was the first time I got interested in history of Salsa and now I know that his style of dance was in fact Son.

In many sources word Salsa and Mambo are used interchangeable which leads to many people simply assuming that is the origin of Salsa. However, after conducting interviews and reading materials of non US-based scholars the voice more leaned into Cuba. Unfortunately, the majority of written materials, like Latin New York magazine is from America which might not reflect fully on the history of the dance but more on how the New York Latin dance scene was evolving over time. The chosen sources of materials used for researching history of dance will definitively shape the narrative character of the written paper. Scholars encourage us not to dismiss any of the sources even if they might contradict each other but considered them as equally
“true” (Hammergren, 2017: 136-145). Thankfully, time when oral materials were looked down upon in contrary to the written sources finished in the mid-twentieth century and historians accepted that written is not necessarily more accurate (Buckland, 2006: 3 – 17). We are encouraged to use biographical research and interviews as a valid research source of information instead of using it only for locating disconnected pieces of historical information.The information extracted from autobiographies help the comparison process of obtained materials and creation of the unique way of historical narratives (Hammergren, 2017: 136-145). That is why in my paper I decided to use an

interview as one of the sources. Jazzy Ruiz is one of the longest dancing salsa artist in Norway and definitively the most respected when it comes to history of Salsa. He himself had studied history of Salsa from sources available only in Spanish and books that are available only in Cuba. It was a very important source for me because my Spanish is very basic to non-existing so study original literature in Spanish would be impossible for me. However, his stand point was very biased, pressing strongly on the theory that Salsa is from Cuba.

Video recordings from Palladium (SalsaClub CSUF, 2012) show not only Mambo and Cha cha performances but also elements of dances called now breakdance, popping, voguing and so on. Since they were first danced there to latin beats does it mean that hip hop comes from Mambo and following the logic from Cuba? That ́s why it is such a controversial and difficult topic from historical point of view. The biased standpoint of authors of historical essays, books or interview guests is not weakness, in contrary, used consciously of what they are can enrich the work (Carter, 2017: 114 – 121). Like I mentioned earlier there are so many nations identifying themselves with Salsa and wanting credit for it.

In her article, McMains says that salsa is from Mambo and Mambo is from Son (McMains, 2008: 306) it also says that Salsa dancers do not have proper dance school training which is not quite right. Mambo was first used as a performance dance by dancers with ballet background then it became a social dance , in contrary to Son which always was social dance. Then she praises about ballroom dance having lots of speed in contrary to Salsa. As dancer who danced and competed for many years in ballroom dance and in salsa in many European countries and USA, I would like to disagree. In ballroomdances like Cha Cha and Rumba (the closest dances to Salsa) it is important to transition body weight fully to the foot and placing the heel down which give dancers a unique dynamic but not speed. In LA style which I specialise in, the heel is never supposed to be pressed to the floor as that reduces dancer speed significantly and in consequence moves led by partner will be delayed. She also treats both dances as being equally social dance. However, ballroom is choreographed and leading and following is not very sophisticated which gives partner very small room for improvising new patterns. In Salsa however all steps are always studied from leading- following point of view as recreating complicated steps or turn patterns is easy if for partners expect it. However in Salsa, as a leader you never know the figures your partner will lead to. This aspect is so important that even on most dance competition couples are required to do two runs, one which is choreography to previously selected music and other one is improvisation with same or sometimes randomly chosen partner.

6. Conclusion

How far should we seek salsa roots for? Since its precursor Son was created in Cuba using African slaves rhythm is it wrong to say that salsa has roots in Africa?

It is easier to pinpoint the origin of music rather than dance. Salsa just like majority of social dances began as a form of leisure for amateurs. Notwithstanding, there is still overwhelming majority of salsa dancers on amateur level who wish to stay there, the dance evolved overall and became more technical and demanding, and its competition version became a profession for many salsa dancers around the world (Maling, 2008:4 – 6).

I believe, it is much more accurate to talk about specific style os Salsa when ask about history of dance: Cuban Salsa originates from Cuba but LA and NY styles were born in USA.


Literature from provided reading materials:

Buckland, T.J. (2006). Dance, history, and ethnography: Frameworks, sources, and identities of past and present. In: Buckland, T.J. Dancing from past to present: nation, culture, identities. Madison, Wis. : The University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 3 – 24

Carter, A. (2017). Destabilising the discipline. In: Morris, G. and Nicholas, L. Rethinking Dance History. Issues and Methodologies. London: Routledge. pp.114 – 122.

Hammergren, L. (2017).Many sources, many voices. In: Morris, G. and Nicholas, L. Rethinking Dance History. Issues and Methodologies. London: Routledge. pp.136 – 147.

Hammergren, L. (2000). Sweden Equal rights to dance? In: Grau, A and Jordan, S. Europe Dancing. London: Routledge. pp.168 – 188.

Lawrence, T. (2008). Beyond the Hustle: 1970s Social Dancing, Discotheque Culture and the Emergence of the Contemporary Club Dancer. In: Malnig, J. Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake. A Social and Popular Dance and Popular Dance Reader. Illinois: University of Illinois. pp. 199–217.

Malnig, J. (2008). Introduction. In: Malnig, J. Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake. A Social and Popular Dance and Popular Dance Reader. Illinois: University of Illinois. pp.1–19.

Purkayastha, P. (2017). Decolonising dance history. In: Morris, G. and Nicholas, L. Rethinking Dance History. Issues and Methodologies. London: Routledge. pp.123 – 135.

Other sources:

Blum, J. (1978). Problems of Salsa Research. 22 (1) pp. 137-149 DOI: https://www.jstor.org/stable/ i235288

Martinez, A. and Aguilar, T. (2015). Conversation with the Gods: Understanding the Mambo. California: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform.pp.10.

McMains, J. (2015). Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McMains, J. (2008). Dancing Latin/Latin Dancing: Salsa and DanceSport. In: Malnig, J. Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake. A Social and Popular Dance and Popular Dance Reader. Illinois: University of Illinois. pp.302–322.

Moore, R. (2004). Reviewed Work: The City of Musical Memory: Salsa, Record Grooves, and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia by Lise A. Waxer. 48(3), pp 451-453. DOI:https://www.jstor.org/ stable/30046292?seq=1

Town, S. (2016). Review of the book Spinning Mambo into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce, by Juliet McMains. Latin American Music Review 37(2), pp. 251-253 DOI: https:// www.muse.jhu.edu/article/638606.

Ramirez, J.,(2019) Spinning Mambo Into Salsa: Caribbean Dance in Global Commerce, by Juliet McMains. 93(1-2) pp. 174 – 175. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1163/22134360-09301038

Interviewed guests:
Jazzy Ruiz
Junior Performing Arts diploma – Ritmo Latino Dance academy and Los Nazadenos arts academy Guatemala.
Bachelor Degree in Performing Art and Dance Pedagogy The Norwegian College of Dance.

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21 years active work as a dance instructor, performer at international events worldwide.

Wilberto Alicio Kindelan
Diploma in folklore dances, graduated with tittle: Profesor Especializado. Diploma in folklore music, graduated with tittle: Precusionista Folklorico.

Eddie Torres (2017) Palladium The Home Of The Mambo Documentary Part 1 [YouTube]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3i7y9SW3t0 (Accesed at: 4 January 2021)

Juliao (2019) Salsa Dance: Origin, History & Steps. [Study.com] Available at: https://study.com/ academy/lesson/salsa-dance-origin-history-steps.html (Accesed at: 4 January 2021)

SalsaClub CSUF (2012) Palladium Era – Golden Age of Dance. [YouTube]. Available at: https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHU-YyjnfS8 (Accesed at: 4 January 2021)

Przybylek (2020) Salsa Dance: Origin, History & Steps. [Study.com] Available at: https:// study.com/academy/lesson/caribbean-dance-styles-moves-history.html (Accesed at: 4 January 2021)