Saturday, May 19, 2012

Salsa, Does anyone know?

Salsa 101: Intro to Caribbean Music
Dance Instructors: Laureano Ralon and Scott Hannah

The concept of salsa has been disputed for decades among musicians and aficionados. Some say that what’s called salsa is really Cuban son or mambo and they tend to use the words "salsa" and "mambo" interchangeably (salsa legend Celia Cruz once pointed out that "salsa is Cuban music with a different name").

"Your blog is your unedited version of information. The personal nature of the blog is what the reader/dancers will find appealing. And the more information contributors, the merrier."

Others argue that salsa is not a specific style or genre but a concept to denominate a wide range of Afro-Caribbean genres, such as bomba, plena, danza, seis, and aguinaldo from Puerto Rico; son, danzòn, and rumba in all its variants — yambú, guaguancò , guaracha, and mambo — from Cuba; cumbia and vallenato from Colombia; mangulina, salve, carabiné, bachata, and merengue from the Dominican Republic; compa from Haiti; tamborino from Panama; carbonero from El Salvador; and the calipso, zoca, and rapso from Trinidad and Tobago, to name but a few.

Yet others claim that the term salsa originated as a musical marketing tag or commercial term intended for the sale and distribution of a highly complex and often confusing musical configuration. Tito Puente once said, "Salsa is all hype." While all of these explanations have elements of truth, they are nevertheless incomplete without each other.

"No Es El Momento" por Patricia Gamero

Those who believe that salsa music is in fact Cuban music with a different name are quite right to the extent that the Cuban son and mambo are two of the antecedents of salsa. Although salsa music today is not exclusively Cuban, we should not forget to credit the Cubans for inventing the fundamental "beats" upon which the mixtures of Afro-Caribbean and jazz rhythms were laid.

That said, it is erroneous to use the terms "salsa" and "mambo" interchangeably, which overlooks the valuable contributions made to "salsa pot" by other Latin American countries such as Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Colombia. The reality is that today’s salsa music is very different from the more folkloric, 1940s and ‘50s type of Cuban mambo featured in the film Buena Vista Social Club.  *  *  *  *  *

Pub's Side Note:  "Renounce all assumptions and expectations, - thoughtfully consider all possibilities, - then choose among them with consciousness."

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Feedback in the next magazine, from the prior article:
I couldn't trace the name of the lady.

I am then a street dancer, having been taught first by my father, then by boys in high school, parties and so on. However, I can follow anyone unless the leader gets into some advanced gold syllabus steps learned from a professional. Even then, if they will run through it once or twice with me, I've got it. Also, most of my dance partners have been "street dancers." The skill here is for the follower to learn to follow anyone. That was my father's dictum and I have often been told that "you sure can follow!"

"People cannot discover new oceans, unless they have the courage to lose sight of the shore."

One man in particular I have danced with has taken literally hours of formal dance instruction and told me that I was a dream to dance with. He was easy to follow, but given the amount of dollars he probably has invested, he is nowhere near as good as many a "social dancer" I have danced with. Dance anyone?

*  *  *  *  *  *

"We dance for laughter, we dance for tears,
we dance for madness, we dance for fears,
we dance for hopes, we dance for screams,
we are the dancers, we create the dreams."

The heart and soul of blogging is the individual and/or the group of individuals opining on the fly and responding post-haste to one and all. Our blogs will in many ways be continuing conversations. Let's just keep the flaming down to a civilized level.

Pub's Side Note: Through these blogs read the most informed dancers in the Pacific.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Street, Educated or Social Dancer? 2

By Anthony S. Natale, PhD a good view
of dancing at the end of the last century.

Frequently misunderstood and confused is the application of the term "social dancer." Very simply, according to the dictionary, is anyone who goes out dancing socially. Therefore, street dancers and even competitive or exhibition dancers, when dancing socially, become social dancers. By using the terms presented, we could if we wanted to define these dancers by more specifications. For example, we could say he  or she is a flamboyant social dancer, and educated bronze dancer, a non-educated dancer and so forth.

"Often it is easier to do a good job, than to explain why you didn't."

Social dancing, it should be noted, can transcend ballroom and include other types of dancing. For example, a person could be a social square dancer or a social country western dancer. In view of this, the appelation "ballroom dancing" becomes very important. By its very name and legacy, it implies and is perceived as a type of dance being done with another person of the opposite gender to a certain kind of music.

Even in cases where two people of the same sex are dancing together, one assumes the male and the other assumes the female part. In view of this, "couple" and "partner" are really unnecessary and may be confusing because the words can apply to dances other than ballroom. To make it clear we would have to say ballroom, so why bother with the word couple? It appears that in an attempt to elucidate or be modern, using other words other than ballroom to describe the type of dancing of which we speak is tantamount to "trying to fix something which isn't broke."

In conclusion, let us try to be perfectly clear so we will all understand each other when we classify people's dancing. The phrase "I am just a social dancer," as frequently heard is meaningless by itself because it doesn't tell us enough, Aren't most of us doing social dancing? I know I am. Additionally, the phrase, "I just dance for fun" should be discarded. What is that suppose to mean? Is it just an excuse for poor dancing? The writer would hope that all dancers, no matter what kind of dancing they do, do it for fun. * * * * *

Pub's Side Note: There will be a commentary from a lady "street" dancer that was in the following magazine at the time, in the next blog.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Street, Educated or Social Dancer?

By Anthony S. Natale, PhD. same article in
several dance magazines of over ten years ago.

It is a question of semantics, interpretation or just plain confusion or misunderstanding in trying to describe or classify ballroom dancers? Whatever the reason may be, let us try to understand and agree that we can all talk the same dance language.

"To whom much is given, much is therefore expected."

"Street Dancers," for those who may need more clarification, are persons who have acquired their knowledge and individual style of dancing primarily from dancing with others. observing, imitating and/or through their own imaginative processes. The connotation of  "street" as often used is not genarally flattering for those things learned in that manner.

While it may be that some street dancers do have a considerable potential and may even be unique, they are limited for the most part. For all intent and purposes, street dancers fall under the category of being non-educated social dancers. Some of the more serious or better street dancers may have acquired additional knowledge through viewing of dance tapes or from lessons, usually group, taken from a profession teacher. Often, men street dancers, in particular are difficult to follow outside their own circle.

"Educated Dancers," on the other hand, are those that have been taught by professional dance teachers. Their patterns are governed by a nationwide acceptable syllabus frequentely referred to as the bronze, silver or gold standard. Additionally their dancing may include showcase and/or independently choreographed dance steps. The educated dancers' performance is determined by their potential, dedication, number of dance lessons, level of achievement and the quality of their dance teachers.

Within their level, these educated dancers are able to dance comfortably with similarly educated dancers anywhere. They understand timing, rhythm, charicteristic of the dance, styling and dance floor courtesy.   ---

Yes, there is a Part two.

Pub's Side Note: There was sign at the Dew Drop Inn, "Sunday night is mother's night and all ladies wishing to become mothers are invited to drop in."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Social Dancers? How Many?

I have finally accumulated a little data which is little more than a guess. An educated guess but still a guess. Some people will differ which is just fine, and they may be more right than I am. I don't know.

Blogger's Law Number 54b:
"It is simple task to make things complex, but it is a complex task to make them simple."

About 1% of the population in any state can be classified in the dance category. For Hawaii, it would be about ten thousand dancers but I actually think we have a little  more but this is easy figure to start with.

The "to be seen" categories must take at least 20% of that which includes all kinds of dancing. The "ballroom arts," Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese and all the other ethnic dances. 2000 dancers.

The young and the ocassional dancer takes at least 15 percent of the total. Most of it in the solo dance routines. Very little partner dancing. 1500 dancers.

"Save The Last Dance For Me" by Englebert Humperdinck

The Club dancers and the peripherals, (line, salsa, swing, and tango) will take another 15%. Many interlocking with other parts. 1500 dancers.

That leaves about 50% left for the real social cultural dancers, which is a hefty amount and growing daily. Many of the peripherals will be joining in the fun, specially when the night club scene starts to open up outside of Honolulu. There are people living in the West that would rather not go all the way to town. And the type of dances reduced to about seven or eight. 5000 dancers.

Of course they may throw in a Polka every ten years, but it will be all for fun. And that is the name of our game. Of course, I just found out that many think this is a Web site. Wrong! This is a blog!

Pub's Side Note: Hope nobody missed that last blog  by Calvin. Hit's are going through the roof!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Different Competitions

From The Dance News, New York:
Theatre Arts is usually based on a Ballroom Dance. The dancing should be recognizable as the dance in question - ie if the music is a foxtrot, you should be dancing a foxtrot. You are allowed/encouraged to dance in the American Smooth style rather than International Standard.

"A good idea can never drop into a closed mind."

The music is usually picked by the organising body - they will use the same music for all the competitions that year. There can be several couples on the floor at once, although this can get dangerous. Any lifts or drops are allowed.

Showcase competitions are similar to Theatre Arts, but you pick your own music and only one couple is on the floor at a time. Country Western Showcase may be different. Again the dance has to be recognizable, and any lifts or drops are allowed.

Cabaret or Exhibition competitions are completely free format. You can pick any music and usually do any style of dancing. Sometimes there is a restriction that the dance style must be different to the main competition (eg in a Swing competition, the style can be anything but swing.) The only other restriction is a time limit. The whole smash can get quite complicated.

Pub's Side Note: Apparently the Spectator division is holding pretty good so far in Hawaii. On the mainland it is shrinking. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Information Contributors

We were looking for a special kind for Town Dancer and we found a few. For now we have as Guest Authors, Mr. Blogger himself, Calvin, his wife Debra and Richard Sun who comments on the Evening Club scene. They do a very effective job in which the synergy multiples into the largest amount of hits for any internet dance connection on this Island.

Now we must work on getting Oahu And Beyond blog to get the same synergy and get more hits, which tell us that we are communicating. We do not need a blog or web site that does not communicate to our fellow dancers and we must be well aware of it.

So the die has been set for Town Dancer blog. I will no longer actively seek information contributors for this blog. For all practical purposes Town Dancer is now independent. It will do as it wishes and all I will do is update what I must and fill in now and then when needed. But it is on its own and it can get it's own information contributors.

"Young At Heart" by Frank Sinatra

Calvin and Debra will be going to Blackpool next month and report back here. I predict the hits will go to 200 average per day. (equal to 6000 per month.) The hits will probably remain in first place for a long time to come, and guaranteed if they should get a guest author. With one more after that they could tell me that "they accept my resignation." I have got a lot of work ahead of me and I do not have enough time.

"You must think about yesterday because hopefully you will have learned from your mistakes and it should also be pleasant to remember the good things. You must think about tomorrow, because you hope to do better than you did yesterday. But the important one is always today, make the most of it, for it will never come again."

Pub's Side Note: You went to the Dipsy Doodle Cafe last week end because you wanted to enjoy yourself? Not to support anyone? That sounds pretty good to "our" readers. We must cater to the wants of "our" reader/dancers, give them what they want and make it easier for them to make the right choices. This is different thinking? Definitely. For all those interested in town stuff, check Richie in Oahu And Beyond blog.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Playlist, Undefined

The Line dancers seem to be leading the way to the Playlist. From what I have been able to gather, the dancers have their favorite tunes, They are very aware of the music and the ones that they have more fun dancing to in the proper perpective, the right dance.

"There is no characteristic of human nature that is exchangeable as courtesy."

They seem to have their favorite waltzs, rumbas, cha cha chas etc. The DJ then compiles a list of the favorites that will be played at the next session. The DJ then labels it the Playlist and emails the list to the interested parties. Please correct me if I am wrong. But it certainly sounds like an idea whose time has come.

Ballroom Dancers, the top, the "to be seen" dancers do not need a playlist. They do not even need music at all. They are dancers first, and what they dance is highly choreographed movements. Timing is of course important because eventually they have to dance to music. But the body movements are what are judged.

"The Rain, The Park & Other Things" by the Cowsills

The social recreational dancer requires the music first, but guessing what they are going to dance to may arise as a problem. The interpretations by the DJs are not always the same. We have all heard a DJ reasoning, "you can dance rumba to it." Which is far different than "You gotta dance rumba to it." They are just not aware of it.

The line dancers have discovered what people have known for ages. People would rather dance to the music of their choice and it is better to dance to this one than to dance with that one. One of my favorite Rumbas, (not really a rumba) is "From Here To Eternity." And  I prefer only one version of it and I am not alone.

So a playlist is a list of the preferred songs that will be played by that particular DJ for the evening. You may sit down for a few but you will certainly dance with your favorites. Dancing to the music of their choice, these dancers are developing into the real dancers of our dance world.

Pub's Side Note: We welcome any additions or corrections to this opinion.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When Music Was The Important Part of Dance.

Excerpt from Diary of a Street Dancer
By Walter Darian.

Three decades had passed, the building was the same, only the signs were different. A modern 1970s sign said, "Rivera." It felt strange climbing that long straight stairway again, but it was just as I remembered it.  Inside, however, it was no longer a typical sailor joint.

It was now a reconstructed Disco joint (albeit a seedy one.) The bar to the left of the door was gone. Gone too were the booths and tables on the perimeter of the dance floor. In the center of the room was a circular bar with the standard disco lights over head - which instantly brought me to the present. A lone bartender handled the near empty bar. There wasn't a sailor, marine, doggey or hooker in sight.

I ordered a drink, then turned, searching for "it." It stood in a nearby corner, a modern jukebox, squat, dark and non-descript - unlike the original with its attractive oval shaped top. Hoping to find a familiar tune I walked over. A quick glance at the selection in the first panel had me shaking my head in disappointment. I returned to the bar.

Alone with my drink, my thoughts drifted back to 1942. Once again, the joint was "alive" and jumping. Still only nineteen, but no longer a boot I was at the bar with my buddies. White hat on the back of my head, (to show my wavy black hair, which too, is gone now.)

I ordered another drink. That familiar mellow feeling was starting to take hold (with me, it never took more than one.) In my reverie, I could almost hear Jimmy Dorsey's great hit record "Green Eyes" with Bob Eberly on the first vocal. Followed by that great "swing part" by the band with Jimmy on Sax. Then Helen O'Connell coming in - very quietly - with "soft light"- and building to her sexy, unforgettable description of those six little words - "those cool and limpid green eyes."  * * * * *

"Tangerine" by Jimmy Dorsey

Those were the days when the music was so important to the dance. Later came only the importance of the beat and still later, not necessary at all. Dancing for some people is something else. Hard for the rootzi tootzis to understand

Pub's Side Note: What about the Playlist that they have in Line Dancing? I don't know enough about it yet but looks like the music is important to their dance. It sounds too good to hear and I will have to look into it more closely. Also good article by the famous Peter Eggleton in the Dance News of the Pacific blog.