All Of The Following Are Latin-Based Romance Languages Except Salsa Music, Lifeblood of Cali

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Salsa Music, Lifeblood of Cali

Leaving the tropical night behind, you step down the darkened entryway. Suddenly, waves of sound crash over you like surf in the ocean. Your sweaty heart beats to the beat of bass, bongos, bells and brass. The walls seem to vibrate. The pungent smell of sweat mixed with perfume assaults you. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, broken by the hypnotic flashing of multi-colored strobes, you realize that it’s not the walls that surround you, but the dancers — scores of dancers twirling and weaving and twirling, their flashing limbs, their hips on all fours — beating time. You fill your lungs with the spicy aroma, tighten your belt a bit and enter. Welcome to Chango’s in Cali, Colombia, one of the hottest Salsa nightclubs in Latin America.

Cali, a modern, festive city, is located in the heart of the “Valley”. When Colombians say “valley,” they mean the Caucasus Valley, a not-so-small Garden of Eden, one hundred and fifty miles long and about fifteen miles wide, between the coastal mountain ranges and the Central Cordillera. Until the turn of the century, this valley was little more than a rural outpost.

At the time, the Caucasian Valley, with a population of about 15,000, was mainly cattle country, divided into large tracts among “haciendados.” These were proud, almost arrogant men who raised cattle for hides and beef. Some had sugar cane plantations where the sweetening “panela” was produced and the crystal clear but strong “aguardiente” was distilled. Life was slow, measured, patriarchal and unchanging.

They say that the Caucasus region is to the United States of South America as it is to Colombia. True, there are similarities. In days gone by, “the hidalgos wore velvet or crimson frock coats trimmed with gold and silver and buttoned, waistcoats of flowered silk, and the folds of their shirts in the finest batiste,” says Kathleen Romoli Colombia: Gateway to. South America. And like the colonial southern states, large numbers of slaves were brought in to work the fields and serve the nobility.

Time has brought many changes. Even today, vast sugarcane plantations still cover the Valley. The mechanized production of cotton, rice, and cattle made the Caucasian Valley the most important agricultural area in Colombia after King Coffee. With economic growth came industry. Cali, a comfortable colonial city in 1900, has grown into a major manufacturing center with over a thousand industries at last count.

There’s salsa in the air

Yet, despite all the changes, Cali retains its down-home charm, a distinct personality from other cities, an atmosphere you might find in the Caribbean. Romoli describes it well:

Today, the most striking thing about Cali is not the square with government buildings and rows of taxis along huge avenues of palm trees, nor the suburbs with modern villas and churches that play melodies instead of ringing bells like Bogotá. nor busy factories. It’s almost an air of celebration. It is a city of many entertainments; Cali is gay by the grace of God, not by commercial facilities for organized subversion.

Cali attracts travelers from all over; tourists, businessmen, backpackers, scholars and students. And of course salsa lovers and salsa artists. Recording studios, “rumberias”, “discotheques” and “viejotecas” abound.

What is Kali’s appeal? The lively atmosphere of the city? A spectacular sunset? The natural beauty of the soaring Andes? The praised beauty of women? Maybe it’s the climate where it’s always June. Or could it be his remarkable purity? Many cities in Colombia are clean, but Cali is so clean that it stands out. Or maybe it’s the trees and the flowers – red and purple bougainvillea dripping from the walls, gold cups dripping from the eaves, waxy bells of the trumpet stream, poinsettia bushes, magnificent gardenias, trees with purple leaves and carmine flowers, or feathery green – with white flowers or pale trees with clusters of pink – a wild bloom where colorful green-bellied hummingbirds fly over even in winter.

No Salsa No Date

Cali has it all. But undoubtedly, for many, the main attraction that draws them to this charming city is Salsa music. Salsa’s sensual, tropical rhythms permeate the lives of two million plus Calenos. You will hear salsa on every bus. Go for a walk, go to school or go shopping, salsa is in the air. And, of course, almost all of the more than two dozen local radio stations have Salsa. All over the city, 24 hours a day, Salsa blasts from the streets, parks, shops, cars, portable radios and speakers in private homes. Cali lives and breathes Salsa. So why Salsa? Many other musical traditions, styles and types of folk music flourish in Kali (including traditional Kumbia, where dancers with machetes stomp around fully draped women in frilled skirts). What is special about salsa? After all, Vallenatos, a brand of folk music with roots dating back to the days of the Spanish conquistadors, is still very popular – especially as performed by Colombia’s Grammy Award winner Carlos Vives. Boleros (see Luis Miguel’s “Inolvidable”) and Merengue continue to have a strong following here.

Why is this style so deeply rooted in culture? For enthusiasts, the answer is simple: “I love salsa music.” Whatever the reason for its universal popularity in Cali, Salsa is more than just music, it’s more than a dance. It’s an invaluable social skill, explains my friend Carmenza: “No salsa – no dates.” If you can’t dance, you can’t meet people.” And that’s why there are salsa dance schools all over town. You pay for lessons by the hour. For a more private, one-on-one, prices range from $2 to $6 an hour. -one instruction. Group classes are going fast. Salsa classes are not only a place to go to learn, but also to practice and improve your moves or pick up new ones. They are a good “meeting place” for the locals. It’s important to dance very well or you’ll miss out “, – says Salsa lover Sofia.

Cali calls itself the “Salsa Capital of the World,” a title taken from post-Fidel Cuba and often shared with New York City. But even those who rule out the “Capital of the World” will agree that Cali is undoubtedly the “Salsa Capital of South America.” Top Latin salsa performers, such as New York’s Jerry “King of 54th Street” Gonzalez, regularly fly in to strut their stuff. You can see all the famous names in salsa at any time, artists like the “Queen of Salsa” of Cuba, Celia Cruz zam; Juan Luis Guerra, a guitarist, singer and songwriter from the Dominican Republic; Frank Raul Grillo, a Cuban American known as Machito; Reuben Blades, a popular Panamanian singer, songwriter, actor and politician known for musical innovations as well as traditional salsa; Willie Colon; Oscar d’Leon and others.

THE SALSA CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

You don’t have to go far in this city of dancers to hear all the different styles and variations of salsa. With 120 of the hottest dance halls, Juanchito is the beating rhythmic heart of Cali’s Salsa nightlife. Every week of the year, two hundred thousand locals flock to this eastern suburb for fun. Cali is full of discotheques and “viejotecas” for the young and the not-so-young. Younger generations of Latinos typically prefer the softer, more sentimental music known as Salsa Romantica, popularized by bandleaders like Eddie Santiago and Tito Nieves. Among the internationally popular salsa performers of the 1990s were Linda “India” Caballero and Marc Anthony. Puerto Rican power band Puerto Rican Power is another hot band with a fervent following in both Cali and Puerto Rico.

While it’s exciting to hear famous Salsa performers from abroad, don’t forget Cali’s own outstanding world-class bands and famous Salsa musicians who mix the old with the new. Classic and innovative. It’s worth a trip to Cali to hear the live unconventional sounds of Jairo Varela and Grupo Niche. Or other artists like “Son de Cali” – female “Orchestra Canela” and Lisandro Meza also inject new blood into Cali’s Salsa scene. This and the intoxicating classic Salsa sounds of Kike Santander, Joe Arroyo and Eddy Martinez thunder through the air and flow through the veins of discotheques, salsatecas and even “coca-colos” (teenagers from late teens to early 20s) and “cuchos”. Viejotecas that attract crowds of over 35.

When I came to Cali in 1995, I thought my salsa was good. After all, I had picked up some smooth moves from hot Puerto Rican beauties during my summer vacation in San Juan. Even in my home state of Pennsylvania, there were opportunities to rub and mingle with Latinos at our local Spanish watering holes on Friday or Saturday nights. I also improved the double quick step on the rectangular pattern and added swirls and spins to the heavy stroke. I had no trouble finding and keeping dance partners. Then I met a Latin cutie over Labor Day weekend in Miami. To show off my moves, I invited him to dinner and dancing that week at La Cima, one of the best Salsa clubs in town. He was amazed. A year later we got married and a few years later we moved to his home country of Colombia.

Colombian salsa is a different animal. The style, rhythm and beat are similar elsewhere, but it’s a different story on the dance floor. My feet recognized the beat, but I behaved like I was wearing Bozo’s shoes. For a while, I stuck to 1, brown, knee-deep downtown areas like Cuarto Venina, on the banks of the Cali River. Only listening, no dancing here. The music is so quiet that you can carry on a conversation over empanadas and a cold “Costeña”. This could be just the right touch for a Sunday afternoon. Currently, my Latin cutie and 1 “cuchos” (set above 35) are considered. Ten years have passed. We’re still here, still dancing salsa. And I’m still showing off my moves.

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