Dance!

Blue Box 1

Carmen on Salsa

I learned to dance in my mother’s womb, as she and my father were avid cumbia dancers (like most Chileans), and I was conceived during Carnival in my father’s village. As a Latino, you never “learn” to dance, you are raised dancing, from the time you’re a baby.

Every region or country has its own dance. For example, merengue is from the Dominican Republic, cumbia (which is danced all over Mexico, Central, and South America) is originally from Colombia, and salsa (which comes from the ‘son’) is originally from Cuba, although it is danced everywhere now. There’s also New York salsa, developed by the Nuyorican (Puerto Ricans from New York) community as well as the Cuban-American community. Cuba also has Rueda de Casino, which is very popular. There’s also L.A. style salsa, which consists of lots of twirls. Then there’s Brazil, with its array of dances, the most popular being samba. All these dances are a hybrid of African, native, and European dances. In Canada, whenever you go to a dance hall, you will meet people from all over Latin America, so you need to know how to dance all these forms, which is not difficult because they are similar. When someone asks you to dance, you both immediately ask each other where you’re from so that you know how to approach the dance. Also, depending on the region, some people dance much closer than others. That is to say, some are crotch to crotch, while others stay a good foot away from each other. Asking where you’re from will also clear up those issues. In other words, nothing is to be taken personally.

To find out more about these different dances, and to see some dance in action, click the links below.

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