Dance History: Salsa

You might be surprised to hear that Salsa has been around since the 1900’s! The dance and music has deep roots with the Caribbean and African cultures and is very popular in Latin America and more recently Europe and Asia. Salsa is one of the more popular dances in the ballroom community. It’s catchy which makes it easy to learn, but at the same time, it can be difficult to master.

Salsa is a mixture of dance and music brought by other cultures into Latin America. It combines Danzon dance of the French and Haiti immigrants, Rumba of Africa (brought by slaves into Latin America), Son dance of the Cuban People, troubadour music of the Spanish people (mostly Flamenco) and various instruments of Africa.

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Salsa began to evolve from an Afro-Cuban Rumba to more of what we know now as Salsa also due to the evolution of music in the Jazz era. American Jazz and local Cuban music had a great influence on the music and dancing. During the Cuban Revolution, many musicians from Cuba moved to the US which further evolved the rhythm of Salsa.

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Through the 1920’s, Salsa began to spread through the nightclubs in Havana and throughout the Caribbean. America was going through prohibition and had an influx of American tourists to the Caribbean countries during this time, which helped spread Salsa throughout the Western Hemisphere. 

In 1964, Fania Records was established by musician Johnny Pacheco which became super famous throughout the 1970’s. Many of the artists signed to this record label are now considered as legends of salsa such as Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, and Ruben Blades.

Sources: 1, 2