You are on page 1of 3
Ar8cle by Stefan Vale Now celebra8ng its 16 t h year of existence, the Miami
Ar8cle by Stefan Vale Now celebra8ng its 16 t h year of existence, the Miami

Ar8cle by

Stefan Vale

Now celebra8ng its 16 th year of existence, the Miami Salsa Congress is the most an8cipated dance extravaganza of the year for Salsa dance enthusiasts from around the world who aAend this 5-day event, which takes place each summer on Miami Beach showcasing exhibi8ons by world-class Salsa dance performers, renowned Salsa bands and DJs, dance workshops by notable instructors, daily pool par8es, evening nightclub events and so much more. On the official company event website, the following phrase is prominently displayed:

Prepárate! (Spanish for Prepare yourself) as a call-to-ac8on for Salsa dancers from around the world to get prepared for the impending extravaganza.

“I look forward to this event every year and religiously prac8ce all of my dance moves with my husband several months in advance, so we’re ready to par8cipate”, says Alicia Mar8n of Silver Spring Maryland, who has aAended this event for the past five years now. She dances the Miami Casino style of Salsa, which she learned during a Salsa dance workshop four years ago at the Miami Salsa Congress. Since then she’s been hooked and although she doesn’t speak Spanish, she is proud to call herself a Salsera . “What I love about this event is that it brings together people from all walks of life that have a common interest in Salsa dancing. You get to see the best-of-the-best out there, learn from them and also see new emerging hybrid Salsa dance styles being developed, so the genre is constantly evolving”, says Mar8n. The founda8on of this enduring and ever evolving dance form derives from the secret sauce of Salsa (music) itself, a term that was ini8ally coined by the American media back in the 1950’s, to describe a newly developed musical genre and fusion between Cuban music combined with American Jazz s8rred together in the cultural mel8ng pot of New York City. Originally referred to as simply La,n Music, the term Salsa was embraced by an adoring public for its unique blend of diverse musical ingredients, and it became the heart and soul of American La8nos, especially New York Puerto Ricans who were most responsible for contribu8ng to its further development and worldwide popularity. “The rhythmic pulse of Salsa music inspires physical movement… you simply can’t listen to it and stay s8ll”, says Jon Lee, who has aAended the event for 10 years now.

“The rhythmic pulse of Salsa music inspires physical movement… you simply can’t listen to it and stay s9ll”

From its roots in Cuban music, the original dance style, which accompanied it was developed on the Caribbean island at the Casino Depor,vo country club, and was based on a series of choreographed foot paAerns and turn combina8ons performed as an elaborate group dance, following an 8 part beat count (star8ng on the 1 st beat) with dancers consistent moving in tempo in a circular paAern. Meanwhile back in New York City, the iconic Palladium nightclub became the breeding ground for the NYC Mambo style, which originally was danced On Clave or in tempo with the rhythmic beat count of the clave s8cks (musical instrument). Later a different NYC Mambo style was developed based on following the 2 nd beat count of the congas (musical instrument). Referred to as On-2, this style incorporated more partner turn paAerns (leveraged from the Hustle and Disco dance craze) and elaborately flashy step paAerns (referred to as shines ). Springing even further from the proverbial tree of evolu,on , several other new innova8ve hybrid dance styles were later developed, including Miami Style (Casino/ Rueda ) leveraged from the original Cuban style with more enhanced partner turn combina8ons, and Los Angeles (LA) style,

which introduced exaggeratedly flashy styling aAributes (leveraged from Ballroom dance influences). Today there are various hybrid styles, which can be employed to dance to Salsa music, with the most prominent styles on display at the Miami Salsa Congress being the Miami style (Casino/Rueda), NYC ( Mambo On-2) and LA style. Which style a Salsa dance prac88oner chooses to follow usually depends on which part of the country that they learned how to dance Salsa, but events like the Miami Salsa congress enable its par8cipants to be exposed to instructors of various styles and even to experiment on developing their own unique hybrid style of new foot paAerns, turn combina8ons, dips and styling aAributes. As Salsa is inherently a show off art form, there can exists a healthy dose of compe88on between the various unique styles, dance schools and even the exhibi8onist themselves, where bragging rights for who is the best dancer and which is the best style can plague the social dynamics. But to the Salsa purist, the only thing that really maAers is that they’re having fun on the dance floor, and doing what they love.

purist, the only thing that really maAers is that they’re having fun on the dance floor,
It can be a formidable environment for the inhibited, but for the Salsa enthusiast, it’s

It can be a formidable environment for the inhibited, but for the Salsa enthusiast, it’s pre>y close to heaven.

“I’ve been a part of this event ever since the very beginning, and have had the honor of performing there several 8mes. In 2015, I presented Rene Gueits (founder of the event) with a surprise life8me achievement award for crea8ng the Miami Salsa Congress and for giving Salseros such an amazing venue to showcase their skills, reconnect with old friends and make new ones.”, says Ramani Nicola (notable Salsa dance instructor, performer and recipient of the 2008 MSC life8me achievement award). He and Gueits were both pioneers in igni8ng a Salsa dance renaissance back in the early 90’s, Nicola with teaching Salsa dance lessons at the (now defunct) Club Mys,que in the Miami Airport Hilton and Gueits for establishing the 1 st exclusively Salsa dance school, Salsa Lovers . Both men, pioneers in promo8ng the local Miami Salsa dance scene and curators of the dance arts, with the dis8nc8on of having contributed so much to its growth and prosperity. Par8cipants in the Miami Salsa Congress are treated to a venue with all of the trappings that one should expected from making the

pilgrimage to Miami Beach, an art deco hotel, adjacent to a tropical beach, where inside lies an electrifying dance floor with thousands of other Salseros feverishly dancing to the pulsa8ng vibra8on of Salsa music. It can be a formidable environment for the inhibited, but for the Salsa enthusiast, it’s preAy close to heaven. Although individual apprecia8on for the merits of any art form can be inherently subjec8ve, to the Salsa dancer, this is the purest art form of all, for its prac88oners require nothing more than their own bodies to create art-in-mo8on. And while the painter uses a tradi8onal medium to create art, the Salsa dancer uses sultry body movement to communicate their feelings about the music (pulsa8ng within their heart). The dance floor becomes their proverbial canvas, their feet the paintbrush and their electric body movements become the colorful paint used to create a masterpiece of sight and sound. Y que viva la Salsa !