“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
Ar8cle by
evolving dance form derives from the secret
Stefan Vale sauce of Salsa (music) itself, a term that

was ini8ally coined by the American media
Now celebra8ng its 16th year of existence, back in the 1950’s, to describe a newly
the Miami Salsa Congress is the most developed musical genre and fusion
an8cipated dance extravaganza of the year between Cuban music combined with
for Salsa dance enthusiasts from around the American Jazz s8rred together in the
world who aAend this 5-day event, which cultural mel8ng pot of New York City.
takes place each summer on Miami Beach Originally referred to as simply La,n Music,
showcasing exhibi8ons by world-class the term Salsa was embraced by an adoring
Salsa dance performers, renowned Salsa public for its unique blend of diverse
bands and DJs, dance workshops by notable musical ingredients, and it became the
instructors, daily pool par8es, evening heart and soul of American La8nos,
nightclub events and so much more. especially New York Puerto Ricans who
On the official company event website, the were most responsible for contribu8ng to
following phrase is prominently displayed: its further development and worldwide
Prepárate! (Spanish for Prepare yourself) popularity. “The rhythmic pulse of Salsa
as a call-to-ac8on for Salsa dancers from music inspires physical movement… you
around the world to get prepared for the simply can’t listen to it and stay s8ll”, says
impending extravaganza. 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 which introduced exaggeratedly flashy
dance style, which accompanied it was styling aAributes (leveraged from
developed on the Caribbean island at the Ballroom dance influences). Today there
Casino Depor,vo country club, and was based are various hybrid styles, which can be
on a series of choreographed foot paAerns employed to dance to Salsa
and turn combina8ons music, with the most
performed as an elaborate prominent styles on
group dance, following an display at the Miami
8 part beat count (star8ng Salsa Congress being
on the 1st beat) with dancers the Miami style
consistent moving in tempo (Casino/Rueda),
in a circular paAern. NYC (Mambo On-2)
Meanwhile back in New and LA style. Which
York City, the iconic style a Salsa dance
Palladium nightclub prac88oner chooses to
became the breeding follow usually depends on
ground for the NYC which part of the country
Mambo style, which that they learned how to
originally was danced dance Salsa, but events like
On Clave or in tempo the Miami Salsa congress
with the rhythmic beat enable its par8cipants to
count of the clave s8cks be exposed to instructors
(musical instrument). of various styles and even
Later a different NYC to experiment on developing
Mambo style was developed their own unique hybrid style
based on following the 2nd beat of new foot paAerns, turn
count of the congas (musical instrument). combina8ons, dips and styling
Referred to as On-2, this style incorporated aAributes. As Salsa is inherently a show
more partner turn paAerns (leveraged from off art form, there can exists a healthy
the Hustle and Disco dance craze) and dose of compe88on between the various
elaborately flashy step paAerns (referred to unique styles, dance schools and even
as shines). Springing even further from the the exhibi8onist themselves, where
proverbial tree of evolu,on, several other bragging rights for who is the best dancer
new innova8ve hybrid dance styles were later and which is the best style can plague the
developed, including Miami Style (Casino/ social dynamics. But to the Salsa purist,
Rueda) leveraged from the original Cuban the only thing that really maAers is that
style with more enhanced partner turn they’re having fun on the dance floor,
combina8ons, and Los Angeles (LA) style, and doing what they love.
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 pilgrimage to Miami Beach, an art deco
very beginning, and have had the honor of hotel, adjacent to a tropical beach, where
performing there several 8mes. In 2015, I inside lies an electrifying dance floor with
presented Rene Gueits (founder of the thousands of other Salseros feverishly
event) with a surprise life8me achievement dancing to the pulsa8ng vibra8on of
award for crea8ng the Miami Salsa Congress Salsa music. It can be a formidable
and for giving Salseros such an amazing environment for the inhibited, but for
venue to showcase their skills, reconnect the Salsa enthusiast, it’s preAy close to
with old friends and make new ones.”, says heaven.
Ramani Nicola (notable Salsa dance Although individual apprecia8on for the
instructor, performer and recipient of the merits of any art form can be inherently
2008 MSC life8me achievement award). He subjec8ve, to the Salsa dancer, this is the
and Gueits were both pioneers in igni8ng a purest art form of all, for its prac88oners
Salsa dance renaissance back in the early require nothing more than their own
90’s, Nicola with teaching Salsa dance bodies to create art-in-mo8on. And while
lessons at the (now defunct) Club Mys,que the painter uses a tradi8onal medium to
in the Miami Airport Hilton and Gueits for create art, the Salsa dancer uses sultry
establishing the 1st exclusively Salsa dance body movement to communicate their
school, Salsa Lovers. Both men, pioneers in feelings about the music (pulsa8ng within
promo8ng the local Miami Salsa dance their heart). The dance floor becomes
scene and curators of the dance arts, with their proverbial canvas, their feet the
the dis8nc8on of having contributed so paintbrush and their electric body
much to its growth and prosperity. movements become the colorful paint
Par8cipants in the Miami Salsa Congress are used to create a masterpiece of sight and
treated to a venue with all of the trappings sound. Y que viva la Salsa!
that one should expected from making the

Ar8cle and photographs by Stefan Vale, author of the book Salsa Dancer, Indie recording ar8st and recipient
of the honorary 2006 Miami Salsa Congress Alex Award. For more informa8on visit www.StefanVale.com

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