Salsa Music, Lifeblood of Cali

You step via the darkened entranceway, leaving the tropical night time behind. Suddenly, waves of sound crash over you Iike ocean surf. Breaking out in a sweat, your heart pounds to the rhythm of bass, bongos, bells and brass. The partitions appear to pulsate. The stinky scent of perspiration blended with perfume attacks you. As your eyes adjust to the dark, damaged by means of hypnotic flashes of the multi-coloured strobes, you realise it’s now not partitions that enclose you, but dancers– ratings of dancers gyrating, weaving and swirling, limbs flashing, hips thrusting in sector–time beat. You fill your lungs with the highly spiced aroma, tighten your belt a notch and plunge in. Welcome to Chango’s in Cali, Colombia – one in all Latin America’s freshest Salsa night golf equipment Cali Air.

Cali, a cutting-edge, festive town, lies in the coronary heart of “the Valley.” while Colombians say “the Valley” they suggest the Cauca valley, a now not so little Garden of Eden a hundred-fifty miles long and some fifteen miles huge between the coastal mountain degrees and the Central Cordillera. Until the turn of the century, this valIey became little extra than a rural outpost.

Then, with a population of a few 15,000, the Cauca Valley become largely cattle country, parceled out in sizeable tracts a number of the “haciendados.” These were proud, nearly haughty guys who raised cattle for leather-based and pork. Some had plantations of sugar cane used to produce the sweetener “panela” and distill the crystal-clean however powerful “aguardiente” still sipped nowadays. Life become gradual, measured, patriarchal and unchanging.

It has been said that the Cauca place is to Colombia what the South is to america. Indeed, there are similarities. In bygone days “hidalgos walked the unpaved “calles” in coats of velvet or scarlet broadcloth embroidered and buttoned with gold and silver, their waistcoats of flowered silk, and the ruffles of their shirts had been of the best batiste,” says Kathleen Romoli, creator of Colombia: Gateway to. South America. And like the Southern states in colonial rimes, massive numbers of slaves have been imported to paintings the fields and serve the gentry.

Time has brought many modifications. Today huge sugar cane plantations nevertheless carpet the Valley. Mechanized production of cotton, rice and livestock has grew to become the Cauca Valley into Colombia’s maximum critical agricultural area, after “King Coffee”. And with monetary boom has come enterprise. A leisurely colonial city in 1900, Cali has grown right into a big production middle with extra than 1000 industries at last be counted

There is Salsa in the air

Yet with all the changes, Cali retains a homey allure, a character one of a kind from different towns, an atmosphere you would possibly count on to locate within the Caribbean. Romoli describes it properly:

The maximum hanging issue about Cali these days is not the plaza with it imposing authorities buildings and rows of taxis, along the avenues of giant hands, nor the suburbs with their modem villas, and church buildings, whose bells chime melodies in preference to clanging because it Bogotá, nor the busy factories. It is the pervasive air of cheerfulness nearly of gaiety Not that it’s far a metropolis of many amusements; Cali is not gay by means of distinctive feature of commercial centers for prepared diversion but through the grace of god.

Cali draws tourists from throughout; vacationers, businessmen, back packers, scientists, and students. And, of course, salsa enthusiasts and salsa artists. Recording studios, “rumberias”,”discothèques” and “viejotecas” abound.

What is Cali’s enchantment? The city’s buoyant atmosphere? The amazing sunsets? The herbal beauty of the soaring Andes? The vaunted beauty of its ladies? Perhaps it’s the climate where it is continually June. Or ought to it’s its notable cleanliness? Many Colombian towns are clean, however Cali is so smooth it stands out. Or maybe it’s the bushes and plant life–the billowing pink and red bougainvilla that tumbles in profusion from the partitions, the cup-of-gold that drips from the eaves, the waxy bells of the trumpet go with the flow, the poinsettia bushes, splendid gardenias, the timber with magenta leaves and carmine plant life or others with feathery inexperienced–white blossoms or pale clusters of crimson–the wild extravagance of blooms among which buzzing birds with iridescent inexperienced bellies flit even in iciness.

No Salsa No Dates

Cali has these types of. But surely for plenty, the important appeal that lures them to this charming town is Salsa music. The sensuous, tropical rhythms of Salsa pervade the lives of the 2 million plus Caleños. On each bus you’ll listen Salsa. Go for a stroll, to school or purchasing there may be salsa inside the air. And, of course there’s Salsa on almost all of the greater than two dozen neighborhood radio stations. All over town, 24-hours a day, Salsa blasts from audio system on the streets, in parks, in shops, from motors, transportable radios and private homes. Cali lives and breathes Salsa. But why Salsa? Many different musical traditions, patterns and kinds of folks tune flourish in Cali (such as the traditional Cumbia, in which machete wielding dancers stomp around full-busted ladies in ruffled skirts). What’s so special about Salsa? After all Vallenatos, a logo of people music with roots lower back to the times of the Spanish conquistadors, is still highly famous–in particular as sung by the likes of Colombia’s Grammy award winner Carlos Vives. Boleros (take a look at out Luis Miguel’s “Inolvidable”) and Merengue retain to have sturdy followings right here.

Why has this one style ingrained itself so deeply into the culture? To aficionados the answer is simple: “I love salsa song.” Whatever the cause for it is universal reputation in Cali, Salsa is greater than simply music, extra than a dance. It’s an fundamental social talent explains my friend, Carmenza, “No salsa–no dates.” You cannot meet others if you cannot dance.” And it is why there are salsa dance schools at some stage in the metropolis. You pay for training by using the hour. Prices range from $2 as much as $6 in step with hour for extra non-public, one-on-one education. Group lessons fu up rapid. Salsa classes aren’t simply the location to go for studying, however to exercise and ideal your moves or choose up a few new ones. They’re an excellent “assembly vicinity” for community residents. “It’s critical to dance very well or you are uninteresting,” says Sofia, an avid Salsa fan.

Cali calls itself the “Salsa Capital, of the World,” a name wrenched from put up-Fidel Cuba and regularly shared with New York City. But even folks that would possibly take exception to “World Capital” will agree that Cali is actually the “Salsa Capital of South America.” The top Latin salsa performers, like New York’s Jerry “King of 54th Street” Gonzalez, often fly in to strut their stuff. At any given time you may see all the well-known names in salsa, artists hike Cuba’s “Queen of Salsa,” Celia Cruz; guitarist, singer and songwriter Juan Luis Guerra from the Dominican Republic; Frank Raul Grillo, the Cuban American also known as Machito; Reuben Blades, the famous Panamanian singer, songwriter, actor and baby-kisser renowned for his musical innovations as well as conventional Salsa; Willie Colon; Oscar d’Leon, and others.

SALSA CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

And you do not should pass a ways in this metropolis of dancers to hear all the specific patterns and variations of Salsa. Juanchito, with a hundred and twenty of the most up to date dance halls, is the throbbing rhythmic heart of Cali’s Salsa nightlife. Every week for the duration of the 12 months, two hundred thousand locals pour into this japanese suburb to birthday celebration. Cali teems with discos and “viejotecas” for the young and now not so young. Latinos of more youthful generations commonly want a smoother, greater sentimental track called Salsa Romantica, popularized with the aid of bandleaders such as Eddie Santiago and Tito Nieves. Internationally famous salsa singers of the Nineteen Nineties blanketed Linda “India” Caballero and Mark Anthony. The Puerto Rico-based totally orchestra “Puerto Rican Power” is another warm group with ardent lovers both in Cali and Puerto Rico.

While it is thrilling to listen well-known performers of Salsa music from overseas, take into account Cali’s many own fantastic world magnificence agencies and musicians of Salsa reputation blending the vintage with the new. The classic and the modern. It’s really worth a trip to Cali simply to listen the vibrant non-traditional sounds of Jairo Varela and the Grupo Niche. Or different artists like “Son de Cali,” the all–lady “Orchestra Canela” and Lisandro Meza who also inject new blood into Cali´s Salsa scene. These and the intoxicating traditional Salsa sounds of Kike Santander, Joe Arroyo and Eddy Martinez thunder thru the air and flow in the veins of “coca-colos” (past due young adults to early 20s youth) and “cuchos” alike in discos, salsatecas or even in viejotecas that draw the over-35 crowd.

When I arrived in Cali 1995, I concept my salsa was OK. After all, l’d picked up some clean movements from a bevy of warm Puerto Rican beauties at some stage in a summer stint in San Juan. Even returned in my home kingdom of Pennsylvania, there have been opportunities on Friday or Saturday nights to slip out and blend with Latinos at our neighborhood Hispanic watering holes. I’d perfected a double-brief step in a square pattern, too, and brought whirls and spins to the heavy beat. I had no problem getting, and preserving, dance partners. Then in Miami, in the course of 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 expose off my actions. She changed into impressed. A year later we married and after a couple extra years we moved to her local Colombia.

Colombian salsa is a distinctive beast. The fashion, rhythm and beat are similar in different locations but it is a extraordinary tale at the dance ground. My feet recognized the beat, but behaved as though 1 were carrying Bozo footwear. For some time, 1 stuck to downtown locations like “Cuarto Venina,” perched on the banks of the brownish, knee-deep Cali River. It’s listening best, no dancing right here. The tune is so subdued you can keep on a conversation over empanadas and bloodless “Costeña”. It may be just the right touch for a Sunday afternoon. Nowadays, my Latin cutie and 1 are considered “cuchos” (the over-35 set). It’s been ten years. We’re still here even though, still dancing Salsa. And I’m still showing off my moves.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language coaching and mastering expert writer and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your goals in paradise, discover romance, excessive adventure and get paid at the same time as travelling totally free.

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