By Dr. Dip
After my first few years of dancing Salsa, some of my friends said Latin culture had stolen me away from the black community. In the barbershop, they have placed bets on whether or not I marry a Latina. They said I used to hang out with guys named Jamel and Omar, but now my friends are named Julio and Manuel. I used to listen to hip-hop and neo-soul but now I listen to salsa and machata (really it’s called bachata). And my boxing friends were really surprised when I predicted that Miguel Cotto (a Puerto Rican boxer) would beat Floyd Mayweather. Some of my friends feel like I’ve forgotten my black culture and replaced it with Latin culture. But what my friends don’t know is that Black culture is infused in Latin culture (especially Salsa music).
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The two basic instruments that created Salsa music were the African drum and the Spanish guitar (which was brought to Spain when Africans (Moors) invaded Europe in 711 AD). During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, African slaves were brought to the Americas. The African slaves and Native Americans combined elements of their culture and music to create El Son, which would later become Rumba and then Salsa. The Africans and Natives incorporated elements of African, Native American, and European dance patterns to create footwork to dance to El Son, which we now use in Salsa Dancing.
One of the first Salsa bands was Machito and his Afro-Cubans. In 1937, Machito moved to New York City and began to play with Jazz Legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. During the 1960s and 1970s, an Afro-Latin Golden Era took place in New York City. During this Golden Era, large numbers of Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans immigrated to New York City to create what we now know as Salsa music. The dancing and music was more than an innovative art form; it broke racial barriers. In the 1950s, many of the first integrated New York City nightclubs were a result of Mambo/Salsa dancers.
After nearly four years of listening and dancing to salsa, mambo, bachata, and Latin jazz, I’ve learned a wealth of information about African, African-American, Caribbean, and Latino cultures. I feel empowered and inspired by the music, the dancing, and the new relationships that I’ve formed. Every time I listen to salsa, mambo, bachata, and Latin jazz, I feel connected to my African and American roots.
Want to try Salsa?
Charlotte Latin Dance’s Free Salsa Social at Villa Antonio on South Boulevard (last Tuesday of each month)
Charlotte Mambo Society’s First Saturday Social (1st Saturday of each month)
Rodrigo & Wendy’s Wednesday Salsa Socials (every Wednesday)
Beginners are welcome at all Salsa events.
Charlotte’s Salsa Ambassador
Dr. Dip is the salsa name for our finance columnist Rashad Phillips. He typically writes about ways to save money and build wealth, but he’s such a passionate salsa dancer that he wrote the guest column for us. Read his finance columns below: