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What is Salsa in Cuba

  • Cuban Salsa music is a synthesis of European and African musical influences that was born in Cuba. The European part being mainly the melodies and harmony of the Andalucia region of Spain (the homeland of the Conquistadors), while the African part in Salsa is mainly from the western coast of Africa where the slave trade was most prevalent.

    The musical genre known as Salsa has its roots in Cuban music and especially in the Cuban Son. Musically speaking Salsa is a group of Latin rhythmic styles that contain the Clave beat; the five note syncopated rhythmic cell of African origin. The clave beat is infectious, it make the listener "have-to-move". Although there are many African Clave patterns the most popular in what is called Salsa today is the Son Clave.
    The first well known recorded use of the word Salsa was in 1937 in the Cuban composer Ignacio Piñeras ’ classic Son "Echale Salsita", which means "spice it up a little", soon became a popular success. Oddly enough it was not referring to music but to the American food that its author was served while on a musical tour in the USA.

    To hear "Echale Salsita" in MP3 please click here!

    What is Salsa in Cuba

    During the late 1950's in Cuba, there was a popular dance -- some might call it a "dance craze!" -- that was done in the streets and in the clubs, and in people's homes. It was called Rueda de Casino. Rueda means "wheel". Casino refers to the kinds of turns and breaks you might normally see in ordinary partner Salsa dancing.

    Rueda de Casino was originally danced in the 1950's to the Cha cha beat in members-only clubs in Cuba known as casinos deportivos. These casinos sponsored dances with live orchestras where dancers would get together and create new styles. It was in these casinos that "la rueda" was born. Rueda de Casino eventually resurfaced in people's living rooms, on the street, at clubs and parties.

    "Swing Your Partner Round and Round..." If the first few words of this notorious dance command ring a bell, then open your ears, as you may start to hear phrases like "dame una" (give me one), "dame dos con vuelta" (give me two with a turn), and "exhíbela" (show her off)... the list is endless. Rueda de Casino is Country and Western square dancing CUBAN SALSA STYLE! If you like dancing Salsa, then imagine the sensation of doing so not with one person but with an entire group. Picture this... you step out to your favorite Latin nightclub. Later in the evening, the floor opens as couples gather in a circle. You know the moves, the names, the signals. You grab a partner and you're about to enter into the most incredible Salsa experience!

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