Catch Jake playing percussion w/bands at various locations. Click HERE for more info...
If you're dancing salsa now or interested in dancing salsa, a big reason for this is likely salsa music! It is exciting, exhilirating, hot, infectious and begs to be expressed in dance. The dance and the music are closely tied. We dance to the music, the musicians play also to the roots of the dance.
The origins of salsa music reach back into the distant past all the way to African rhythms. Slaves from Africa that were transported to places such as Cuba were not even allowed to express themselves musically, but did so anyway, using makeshift instruments such as cow bells, animal skulls, and of course conga drums made of barrels and animal skins. Nothing could suppress the rhythms.
I sometimes think of salsa music as "pizza" which is something that derived from elsewhere (Italy) but developed and evolved greatly to something else in this country of USA. Salsa combines influences from music of many countries via the people immigrating here from those countries and converging mainly on the New York Latin and Jazz music scenes during the last 70 years.
You must understand the basic musical rhythms to dance well, and this topic is explored further on our site. As to the exact origins of the music and the complexities of salsa, it is advisable to read some of the books published on the subject or to visit as a start, Rita's Salsa Roots page for more discussion.
If research music seems too daunting to go to a dance club, then don't worry. Salsa music is mainly written in a common time signature (4/4) and follows the same conventions of many other types of music. So, it has the same underlying structure of other forms such as blues, swing. But the complex percussion makes it unique. As long as you can hear the beat, you can enjoy the music and dance to it well. Learning more about it will come naturally as you dance more as well.
SalsabyJake recommends close attention to the music, the great local music scene here in the S.F. Bay Area, and to the bands that play. Enjoy all the intricacies, improvisations and energy that makes up salsa music, and dancing will come naturally.
And remember that this music brings us all closer together as a community. So embrace the scene as a whole to get the most out of salsa music and dance. Check out links under our "Music" menu for more!