Today, in the "Isla del encanto", the reggaetton sobered up, there is a "rebirth of salsa" but highlights the existence of three divergent lines, three ways of expressing and interpreting the music is completely different:
"La salsa de la calle" (also called "salsa de pueblo", "spontaneous" cocola "or" salsa sauce)
The salsa de academia "(also called" salsa de salon ")
The salsa show "
Interestingly, while the last two have between them some connection, the first live absolutely of its own light.
To better understand this phenomenon, we must start from the fact that being the sauce part of the culture of this people, it learns generally in a Dance Studio. Many Puerto Ricans learn to dance by imitation, other relatives, others spontaneously, giving free rein to their creativity (resulting in rarely see two dancers who dance the same way).
This type of dancers, also called "Hema" are those who attend the festivities, or local (for us decidedly alternative) as "El Balcon del Zumbador", "El Barril de Jun" or "La Placita de los Salseros" in Santurce (a proletarian neighborhood of San Juan).
The striking thing of "Hema" is that to them, for example, does not affect absolutely what happens in the meantime, the World Congress of Salsa in San Juan. They continue to dance the same way (which is the only one I know), not caring about the "evolution" that the great dancers are giving meanwhile to the sauce.
What you want is much changed over the years is the "salsa de academia or de salon" because, in the meantime, to Puerto Rico dance academies increased dramatically. The curious thing is that in these academies, unlike in the past, as well as giving greater attention to the figures, are taught to dance is the one that the two, in order to facilitate this way spreading the sauce even among the younger generation, who are gradually rediscovering the charm of couple dancing.
In the "Isla del encanto" the biggest transformation has, however, suffered the "salsa show", the subject of evolution (or if you prefer an involution) that Puerto Rico is much criticized by members of the old guard. While once the puertorican salsa was distinguished by its sabor and the near absence of figures or stunts, today the new generations tend to a spectacle of it all, mimicking in fact certain trends from abroad. This phenomenon happens because the goal of these young dancers is to perform at the world Salsa Congress or win the Salsa Open, the dance contest held every year within the same Congress (where to win, whether we like it or not, there are now those who do more stunts).
The bad thing is that these dancers dedicated to the show, it doesn't come anymore the Puerto Rican ballrooms, which are definitely not suited to their evolutions, and then remain completely divorced from reality. I mean that if once you were in Puerto Rico and in a single evening you could happen to meet in a place like the "Tropic" Puerto Rican best dancers of the time (in a real festival of sabor you left open-mouthed), today these talented dancers hardly see them in some easy dance floor …
Locals now are frequented not by, but by people completely normal, but positively make you realize how we can express in an easier, less agitated, without losing the typical sabor boricua.
In hindsight, though, that is the biggest lesson that can give you such a trip. Can help you, in that natural environment and genuine, to get rid of the superfluous to express only the essentials, especially if accompanied by a nice orchestra that plays live (which around here fortunately happens regularly) …
The most interesting thing is that this year I finally managed to document the whole thing. Through the videos that little by little I'm putting on my youtube channel, you can better understand and appreciate what is happening now in Puerto Rico:
It's good to know that in Puerto Rico the term cocolo is to identify not only the skin color of these dancers but also their social background. They are mostly instinctive, dancers often unable to rationalize what they do naturally.
The "salsa de la calle" (also called "salsa de pueblo") is actually the most common in Puerto Rico as well as in the rest of Latin America. Spreads by imitation, has no rules and sets out to interpret in the simplest way, instinctive and spontaneous tropical rhythms. However, it is important to note that there are two different types of "bailador de la calle". There is the one that dances with no ambition aesthetics and use the solo dance as entertainment or communication tool. Then there is the "sabio de la calle", which means "Street" virtuoso who, despite not having an academic background, possesses that talent or that happy attitude which led him to interpret "sabor" feeling the music and dancing.
In these videos we have a good example: a young man of 80 years, while Gilberto Andean dances with Janet Orta (which despite being raised in the Academy of Papito Jala Jala, dance with the typical sabor de la calle, since I was born and raised in one of the most "hot" in the metropolitan area of San Juan):
Also interesting is this couple shot down the street while dancing in a local Festival:
I hope that these videos will help you to go beyond stereotypes, prejudices or the bad information that there are today on the salsa sabor boricua, some mistakenly call "salsa", as if the line (and nothing else) was the main characteristic of this style.
A stylistic form that, I'll never forget stress, it is by no means unique, and that the motherland stands out instead (and this is especially his charm) for its wide variety of expression.
Not surprisingly my Puerto Rican friend Teresa Velez says:
"Once you've learned how to dance, if you want to figure out if you really know how to dance, then go to the calle!!! …"
Nathan Chan (25 years of love with the sauce)