Salsa, Bachata and Tango… Keep on dancing!
During Hispanic Heritage month, I thought it would be interesting to talk a little about dancing as part of our Latin heritage. So, I have chosen three types of dances recognized worldwide. These dances are famous not only in their home country but around the world, even the United States. My three favorites of the day are: Bachata, Salsa and Tango.
When you read this article, get your dance moves on!
Bachata is a unique dancing style originating from the Dominican Republic. It derives from rhythmic bolero and has been mixed with other styles like Cuban Son and Merengue.
Bachata was originally called “guitar’s little bolero”, and originated in the urban neighborhoods of bars and brothels of Santo Domingo. Due to its origins, it was considered vulgar music. This affected the dissemination of the music at the start. However, during the 60’s and at the start of the 70’s, this style was known as “bitter music” in reference to a state of melancholy provoked by a lack of love reflected in the original songs.
The massive interest for Bachata came at the start of the 80’s, thanks to the importance of the media.
Watch the video from Ataca and La Alemana singing “Promise” from Usher here.
At the end of the 60’s, a wave of Cuban rhythms dominated the scene and fused with other Caribbean musical elements, Latin-American and jazz tunes. Of particular interest is Afro-Cuban jazz, which led to what we know today as “Salsa.” Salsa was developed by musicians of Hispanic origin in the Caribbean and New York. This music spanned various styles such as hard Salsa, romantic Salsa and Timba.
Izzy Sanabria (Mr. Salsa) is a graphic designer, writer and comedian from Fania Studios who popularized this term for Latino music in New York during the 70’s. He united all rhythms under the same designation to eliminate confusion and better sell the concept. He chose Salsa, a term that encouraged the bands to increase the energy of their performance.
Watch the video from Adrián and Anita, the Penta-Champions of the World of Salsa here.
Tango had its origins in Rio de Plata, especially in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay. Born at the end of late nineteenth century of the cultural fusion era, the Afro-Rioplatense communities with their peasant cultures made an impression. This included indigenous, Hispanic, African and Italian along with a large ethnic diversity. This was due to a great migratory wave mainly from Europe and became a global genre from the second decade of the twentieth century. From that moment it has remained as one of the most powerful international musical genres.
Tango is melancholy and passionate. In the words of Enrique Santos Discépolo, one of the greatest poets, tango is a “sad thought expressed in dance.” This style of dance offers a deep emotional relationship with each dancer using their own body and the body of other dancers in synchronous union. It should be noted that during its first origins, Tango was danced between men!
Much of the wording of the songs are written in a Rioplatense local slang called Lunfardo and commonly expresses emotion and sadness, especially love, nostalgia and childhood. In part it can be explained through the theories of its origin that places the Tango as “tenement,” where European immigrants and brothels were found.
In 2009, in a petition to the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, Unesco declare Tango as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (PCI).
Watch a video compilation of Argentinian Tango in Buenos Aires with music from Astor Astor Piazzola.