Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Cali, Salsa Capitol of the World

Different Styles and Variations of Salsa
You don’t have to go far in this city of dancers to hear all the different styles and variations of Salsa. The suburb of Juanchito, with 120 of the hottest dance halls, is the throbbing rhythmic heart of Cali’s Salsa nightlife. Every week throughout the year, two hundred thousand locals pour into this eastern suburb to party. Cali teems with discos and “viejotecas” for the young and not so young. Latinos of younger generations typically favor a smoother, more sentimental music known as Salsa Romantica, popularized by bandleaders such as Eddie Santiago and Tito Nieves. Internationally popular salsa singers of the 1990s included Linda “India” Caballero and Mark Anthony. The Puerto Rico-based orchestra “Puerto Rican Power” is another hot group with ardent fans both in Cali and Puerto Rico.

Photo: Prof. Larry M. Lynch and his Colombian wife, Doris

It’s Worth a Trip to Cali to Hear …
While it’s thrilling to hear famous performers of Salsa music from abroad, don’t forget Cali’s many own outstanding world class groups and musicians of Salsa fame blending the old with the new, the classic and the innovative. It’s worth a trip to Cali just to hear the vibrant non-traditional sounds of Jairo Varela and the Grupo Niche. Or other artists like “Son de Cali,” the all—female “Orchestra Canela” and Lisandro Meza who also inject new blood into Cali´s Salsa scene. These and the intoxicating classic Salsa sounds of Kike Santander, Joe Arroyo and Eddy Martinez thunder through the air and flow in the veins of ”coca-colos” (late teens to early 20s adolescents) and “cuchos” alike in discos, salsatecas and even in viejotecas that draw the over-35 crowd.

When I Arrived in Cali
When I arrived in Cali in 1995, I thought my salsa was OK. After all, I’d picked up some smooth moves from a bevy of hot Puerto Rican beauties during a summer stint in San Juan. Even back in my home state of Pennsylvania, there were opportunities on Friday or Saturday nights to slip out and mix with Latinos at our local Hispanic watering holes. I’d perfected a double-quick step in a rectangular pattern, too, and added whirls and spins to the heavy beat. I had no trouble getting, and keeping, dance partners. Then in Miami, during a Labor Day weekend retreat, I met a Latin cutie. I invited her for dinner and dancing later that week at “La Cima,” one of the city’s top Salsa clubs, to show off my moves. She was impressed. A year later we married and after a couple more years we moved to her native Colombia.

Colombian salsa is a different beast. The style, rhythm and beat are similar in other places but it’s a different story on the dance floor. My feet recognized the beat, but behaved as if 1 were wearing Bozo shoes. For a while, 1 stuck to downtown places like “Cuarto Venina,” perched on the banks of the brownish, knee-deep Cali River. It’s listening only, no dancing here. The music is so subdued you can carry on a conversation over "empanadas" and cold “Costeña” beer. It can be just the right touch for a Sunday afternoon. Nowadays, my Latin cutie and 1 are considered “cuchos” (the over-45 set). It’s been many years now. We’re still here though, our 14th wedding anniversary is this month. We're still dancing Salsa.
… and I’m still showing off my moves.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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