PASTOR VALLE-GARAY / HAMILTON
Forget about inhibitions. Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to hit the floor. On September 25 amateur and professional dancers will gather in Hamilton to participate in ¡Caliente!, the city’s First Annual Salsa Competition, a hot, exotic send off to one of the sultriest summers in memory.
Sponsored by the “Toonies for Tivoli” campaign, the event will be held at the Tivoli “Soul of the City” theatre featuring some of the best interpreters of the seductively contagious Afro-Cuban dance.
Salsa’s origins date back to colonial times in Cuba when the Spanish guitar joined the drums of freed African slaves in the cafe’s where freemen served food and played music for visiting Spanish sailors. The combination of African percussion with the Spanish Rumba created the Guajira rhythm or music of the country side, best represented today by the very popular Guantanamera.
In its beginnings Guajira music, used in social and religious rites, was primarily danced by plantation slaves brought to Cuba from Africa and Haiti. By the middle of the 19th century, further immigration from Haiti influenced the contradanza criolla of Hispanic American origin and contributed to the birth of the Cuban rumba and son, salsa’s earliest versions.
In the ’40’s, 50’s the Cuban mambo and the cha cha cha took America’s ballrooms by storm impacting also the American jazz scene. In the early 60’s, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, a more sensuous, and less hectic, version of the mambo made its way to Puerto Rico, New York, Colombia and Miami. Salsa had been born. In very short order the contagious sound firmly established its presence in North America and across the oceans, carved a niche among people of all ages and in the 21st century has reigned supreme as arguably the most popular dance rhythm in the universe.
Today salsa -as in hot, spicy sauce- has tens of millions of followers competing in salsa festivals around the world. Year after year its interpreters and bands walk away with multiple, well-deserved Grammys and other international music awards. The roster of salsa greats includes Hector Lavoi, Franki Ruiz, Tito Rodríguez, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Charlie Palmieri, Gilberto Santarosa, Mark Anthony and the Sonora Ponceña orchestra from Puerto Rico; Celia Cruz, Los Van Van and La Charanga Habanera from Cuba; Oscar d’León from Venezuela; Rubén Blades, from Panamá; and Luis Enrique, the Prince of Salsa, from Nicaragua.
On September 25 ¡CALIENTE! arrives in Hamilton. It’ll be salsa-fever time and the invitation to dance the hot, hot, hot tropical rhythm from exuberant Cuba, is open to everyone. Salsa music and salsa dancing appeal to all ages and nationalities. Millions of tourists traveling to Cuba invariably return to Canada with a wonderful appreciation of salsa. Now salsa promises to become an unforgettable Hamilton experience. Don’t miss it.
Amateur Competition: 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Professional Competition: 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Salsa Lessons and Dancing for Everyone: 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM
For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (905) 512-1453, www.cbye.ca
* Senior Scholar, York University