Salsa > Why would people dance NY style?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by brujo, Jan 11, 2004.

  1. salsarhythms

    salsarhythms New Member

    Hey Dragon...Welcome to the forums!!

    I agree with you on the whole style vs. style thing...there's just
    no excuse for it.

    On the other hand, learning different styles allows you to expand
    on your potential partners...however, if it stops being fun, then it's
    not worth it.

    I don't think that the people who perpetuate this whole "this style
    is better than that style" realize that this just turns people away.

    If I was just coming in to salsa dancing and I would see this non-sense
    I'd never want to be a part of it...
  2. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Thank You, Thank You, THANK YOU Pat! That's exactly what I said at the very beginning of this thread.
  3. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

  4. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    I definitely agree with Dragon. This segragation via style/timing thing is not healthy for the salsa scene. It's happening everywhere, I believe :x !

    This is what I'm doing at the moment. Very busy sharing ideas with everybody :wink: !
  5. brujo

    brujo New Member

    Let me try this one again. But it's going to be a long post. I'm not talking about the distinction between dancing on1 and dancing on2. Or even the distinction between dancing in a slot or roaming around. I am talking about the fundamental view of dancing.

    I've always thought that dancing was something that you learned. Someone somewhere showed you a couple of steps, and then you repeated those steps until they were perfect. Get more steps. Rinse. Repeat.

    But lately, I'm not so sure about this anymore. At first, I thought the difference was in the approach to salsa between Cubans and Americans, but I've been looking at some of the latino dancers in my area and the product of some of the Casino schools, and I've been seeing the same pattern repetition.

    So what is missing? Why do we dance?

    I'm reading a book about tao, and it talks about the difference between confucianism and taoism. Confucianism is very strict, very authoritative, very rigid in it's thoughts, while tao is like flowing water, very laid back and relaxed in it's viewpoints.

    I find that the perception of dancing in North America seems to be a lot like confucianism. There is too much emphasis on the how and not enough emphasis on the why. There is a right way to do many things. In order to become great in dancing, you need to follow the patterns that your teachers gave you, practice enough and you can go learn to salsa with Edie the Salsa Freak, where you'll be endowed with astonishing skill, musicality and incredible moves. Technique, timing, dancing to the beat. Identify the instruments. It's all so technical, so broken down, so focused.

    Boriken says that the American style of salsa fits well with fast music. Look into the curriculum of a lot of dance schools, and you'll see that an advanced dancer is defined by their ability to asyncopate and dance to faster music. It seems that in the LA and NY style of salsa, dancing to fast music is the goal. They are also praised for their ability to make up patterns, to make things different and interesting to the spectator.

    People often tell me that in Cuba, people dance all day. They spend their entire lives listening to music and moving their bodies to it. They are obviously not partner dancing, but they are having a relationship with the music, letting the music inspire them and expressing it with their bodies. This is perhaps most evident in Puerto Rican Plena, where there is an interaction between the dancer and the drummer.

    Salsachinita says that when you ask a latino to dance, and do it for more than 2 songs, they might interpret it as a come on. But I think our whole notion of dancing is out of whack. Think about bars in the United States. What do people go do at bars? They try to get laid. They go have fun. They socialize. It is one of the few socially acceptable place in North American society to talk to a complete stranger without being considered a nutjob. When you see the latin people in the bars, they are doing exactly that. Of course they'll get the wrong idea, it is a bar, after all.

    I often hear that people claim that latin dancers have more passion, more spirit when they dance. That the movements come naturally to them. When I look at the NY / LA dancers around me, I see that many of them are practicing for the really fast, spectacular descargas, and they miss the joy of dancing to the slow songs. To the songs where speed is not really that much of an issue, where the connection with your partner, not the best fancy spins money can buy are what matters. Maybe Boriken is right, The Spanish Harlem Orchestra is going to make you want to learn to dance fast, on two, whatever. I look at my dance heroes, and they are not people that look incredible on the dancefloor, they are the people that really trully connect with each other. They are the little Colombian couple in the corner getting lost in each other's eyes during a cumbia. It is the Dominican couple dancing bachata like they don't care, that nobody is watching them. It's not in the blood, it's a different perspective. In this light, Merengue is not annoying or simple. Neither is bachata. Neither is cumbia.

    And ultimately, that is the difference. To the people that dance every moment of the day, they are just moving to the music. In a bar, they are still moving to the music. There are no patterns, no timing, it is just music that makes you want to move. Think the hip hop dancers on the streets, not the tango dancers in the dance halls after years of serious practice.
  6. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    I am with you 200% on this one, Brujo. I've noticed the number of flashy dancers sitting down as soon as the DJ plays something slower (not Bolero slow!) & sensual. I've always been able to make pretty good assessments on how well my dancing 'clicks' with someone by dancing one of these numbers with them :wink: . Sometimes I invite newbies to try one of these songs with breaks the patterns/moulds they've worked themselves into during classes & REALLY makes them focus on FEELING the music & partner 8) .

    Tao is always my preferred philosophy, as opposed to Confucianism. Salsa dancing should be as such: flowing water, able to take the shape of any vessel that contains it. Therefore both you and Boriken are right in believing in your own preferences. I have mine too, so do everyone here.

    As a female follower, I know no lead; nor is it my role to lead. The more I dance with different people (no matter what style/timing/level) the more I learn. I submit myself as a 'blank' in the presence of a lead. I am water, I will assume the shapes of vessels that contains me.

    I realized that the more I learn, the less I 'know' :shock: , and the more 'empty' or 'blank' I've become. This is making me a better follower, a little bit everyday.

    :? I have been wondering about this too. Why do you dance Brujo?
    Could it be a separate thread to ask everyone in th DF?
  7. dragon3085

    dragon3085 New Member

    So what is missing? Why do we dance?

    IF your asking the question then you need to read more books on taosim. :twisted:
    If your asking why then your missing the point somewhat. I dance simply because I feel like dancing, when I dont' feel like dancing I don't. :wink:

    And just in case you take this wrong I mean this in a sincere but humorous tone.
  8. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    Funny you would bring up Taoism since I've followed the philosophy for years, but that's neither here nor there.

    Again I will state there are people with that fundamental view of dance everywhere. I have friends born and raised in NY who have never taken formal lessons. Who've danced since they were young just for the sheer joy of it. Same thing with friends in LA, Puerto Rico, Spain, Costa Rica. What you speak of is a characteristic of each specific dancer. Doesn't matter what modification of mambo, cha cha cha, bachata, merengue, they dance. Maybe where you live you see the dominance of people only conerned with patterns and form. When I go out I see an equal amount of what you're talking about. I don't think anything is missing; and since I dance for the pure love and enjoyment of it I tend not to worry about others dance ideology much. I guess I'm to wrapped up in my partner's and my gratification.
  9. brujo

    brujo New Member

    I will reiterate my point. It is not the New York dancers I am against. It is the philosophy that I see as an export of the New York attitude and that geneology of salsa and mambo moves. I'll be honest, the style has a lot of great strengths, but the philosophy is not taught. Many people thrive for dancing at amazing speeds and miss out on the joy of dancing slow songs. They get involved with patterns and more patterns. I respect Edie the salsa freak because she has been advocating dancing to the music more and more. But from my own scene, there are many people that think that leading roughly, flashy dancing is dancing. They miss out on the joy of non-cookie cutter dancing. Go to a studio, you are taught to follow the music, on the technique, on the patterns, but never on how and why you dance. It is assumed that you already know some of this when you seek out the studio, but how often do people go to studios to meet people, to connect, to get over their own shyness?

    You selfish bastard :D
  10. capricorndancer

    capricorndancer New Member

    Confusciansim, NY and The Tao of Dance

    Fabulous people. I had to laugh about the current end of the thread. Maybe it's just the archetypal "New York Attitude" with which many have a problem: does Confuscianism equate to hard-assed anal-retentiveness, or is it just me?

    As for this style vs that style . . . and why people prefer any dance style, or why they dance at all . . . if we try to boil it down to simplest terms, with the danger of losing some of the essence (probably the more volatile aspects of it ;-) ), then given that . . . Doesn't everyone dance because of the way it makes them feel, however that may be?

    So, if you get a kickout of the NY style, b/c you look hot, get more dance (enjoyable/better) partners, or just love a challenge/sense of achievement (hello type-A personalities), go for it. Oddly, I learned the foot pattern of the NY style, but breaking on 1/3, in Melbourne, about 7 years ago. Couldn't understand the excitement of the NY style for a long time, as it looked at face value like what I'd been doing, except on2 . . .

    Now, really FAST Salsa, with a lot of percussion, tends to feel better on2 to me, though I am nowhere near as proficient with that beat . . . conversely, looking at people dancing on2 for a 1/3 Salsa looks weird to me, like they aren't actually dancing on a beat that exists in the music, but maybe they can hear it b/c their ears are sensitised to that aspect of the music (subjectivity rules, OK?).

    Finally, on making a distinction b/w styles: I think it's only important insofar as one wants to follow a particular style. Mine is mostly Cuban, I think, but that's just incidental. I like dancing with my partner, and the worst dances are those with someone who looks like they can dance really well, but with whom one simply can't make a connection, stylistically speaking. Total waste of time for both parties. Difficult to know who wasn't trying hard enough, but move on to the next partner anyway.

    Consider this, too: philsosphically, what defines interesting? (which is an unavoidable element of fun, for many people). My thought is that "interesting" is something that is similar to what you already know, but not the same (=boring/uninformative), nor is it SO different that you can't understand it at all: you can put it in a context. In partnered dance forms, this means being able to dance WITH someone, TO the music. Different styles of dance allow the interpretation of different music in different ways.

    And it's all good, as long as the most people possible are enjoying it - participators and spectators, both!!

    thanks for the ride

  11. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    Beautifully put, salsachinita, and sooooo true.
    I think I'll print this out and put it up on a wall so I can remind myself every time I go out.
    :notworth: :notworth: :notworth:

    I think we followers are lucky; the "which style is better?" question is irrelvant to us really since all we have to do is dance whatever the leader leads. I like the fact that every time I dance with someone for the first time it is a discovery, a new learning experience, no matter which style he dances. I have my preferences, yes, but they tend to be along the lines of "I like the way this particular man leads" and "I like the way he responds to the music" rather than "I like NY/LA/Cuban/whatever". I actually like going to places where I can expect a good mix of dancers with different styles, in spite of the inevitable slot vs. circular traffic management problem.
  12. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Great points capricorndancer, thanks for sharing! :D

    (Oh yeah... and welcome to the Forums too! :D)
  13. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Wow, we are finally getting at something here. I absolutely love it.

    I dance so I can give my soul an escape from a day-to-day prison called body, let it manifest itself as it wishes, hence, expand my bodies capability for feeling truly free in a world where freedom is dependant on how you behave according to someone else's views.

    As brujo mentions dancing has been “lost in translation”. We have succeeded to teach people how to step but failed as teachers. Why be a flawless person in the physical world limited by that which is translated by our brain when we can step further and tap into what SG describes as Salsa Nirvana?

    We have stopped feeling for the sake of a satisfied ego being fed advanced patterns so it can claim depth and knowledge while we snorkel and claim we have seen the depths of Mariana’s Trench.

    But for what its worth, there is no difference between someone enjoying a fast song using any structured style and someone enjoying a fast song without any regard for structure, all there really is a difference in means. The very word says it all, enjoyment. So while lots of people enjoy salsa, they’ve yet to break through Confucianism, and turned a flawless dancer into an enlightened dancer. I can’t fail to mention that while humanity seeks for something greater in life following the paths others have traveled, we’ve failed to see that Buddha, Mohammad, and Jesus all took different paths yet touched upon something most of humanity hasn’t yet enjoying and living in the same world. If we think that following others’ dancing we will reach the necessary skill level to be that flawless dancer we will only see Confucianism, yet mistake it with Taoism because our dancing flows like water.

    Dancing is beyond the realms of grooving, advanced patterns, and beautiful smiles. It incorporates all in way to all becoming one. It is a world where the body, mind, and heart stop feeling and become the feeling itself. It is a world of salsa very few have ever known. It is the mystique that separates the sum of the parts from the whole, and enjoyment from nirvana.
  14. capricorndancer

    capricorndancer New Member

    Styles of Nirvana

    Interesting viewpoint. I've been dancing (formally) since 1992, when I started Ballroom. Miss Waltzing terribly, but now I'm home, that should get rectified soon. Anyway, Since I started dancing in Perth, far from home and friends, effectively working as a lab technician, I have found that dancing for me has been more of a release from the aggravations of my work/study. Sure, it allows me to express aspects of myself such as you list, and creativity, but while I can get pretty high on adrenaline and related hormones, I don't think of it as a path to Nirvana. I suspect that my attitude is closer to Brujo's in this regard.
    I have some little experience with meditation as a route to enlightenment. In the school of thought I was taught, the traveller attempts to quieten their mind in order that buried, disruptive thoughts may emerge, be observed, but not to which one does not respond or become part, anabling one to ACT, instead of REact, when similar events happen at a later date . . . In this way, the control such memories have over us, often unobserved, is weakened. Freud would have called it developing the super-ego, I expect: from this place of consciousness we observe the ego as it deals with the angst of the sub-conscious/Id.
    The habit of spiritual luminaries such as Jesus and Moses, etc, to spend time in physically deprived circumstances that facillitate altered states of mind is well known, and no doubt a big part of how they reached their states of Nirvana. Even one of the more recent Buddhas was reputed to have sat under a lotus tree, vowing to fast until he had determined what prevents people from being happy. (Until the lotus dropped its blossums for him to eat, metaphorically, or so I remember the story going: his answer was "cravings and aversions"). I regularly get hammered to impossible sugar lows by dancing, so I can relate to Nirvana at that level, at least :wink:
    This is not to say that your approach is invalid; hell, if it works, more power to you. Looking at my experience of living in the US (the last 4 years), where consumerism is their substitute for enlightenment, and distraction from spiritual starvation part of the weekly rountine, I conclude that at the very least, dancing is a healthier way of escaping from the trials of the mundane world. It's also intersting to note that, like poets, the more tortured a soul becomes, the more driven to seek escape, either by dealing with demons within, or by running from them at highest speed. Funny how "fight or flight" are still our primary methods for dealing with stress, innit?

    Catch you on the flip side

  15. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Great post capricondancer!!! Truly enjoyed reading it.
    The reason I say salsa nirvana is because I have been there. I have been there multiple times. Being there is the exact same feeling I get when I meditate. I become everything yet still in physical self. I feel my partner, I feel my surroundings, I feel the crowd, I feel the music, I feel the music waves going through my ears and uplifting my soul right out of my body and rising above everything. My body looses all sensation of weight, time, and space, yet even when I sense it all, I am at peace, and everything becomes me, the same loudness of the music gives me silence. I even feel the heart beat of my dance partner, her pulsations through my fingertips. If I open my eyes I see nothing yet I see everyone around me and feel the part of me. My steps don’t feel like steps, nor I feel my body move but I know it’s moving. I truly step into a world of salsa very few have been. Hence, the similarity to Nirvana while dancing salsa that I speak of.

    I don’t believe neither in good nor bad, there just is. Any thoughts associated with my unconscious are just thoughts. Not evil to me, nor anyone, they are thoughts just like the “good” ones. However, when I’m dancing, the war-like feeling of a person trying to mediate is finally won with silence, the silence that is itself the noise going on around me at whatever time I’m dancing When I reach that given point, in a given dance, no thoughts through my head, I skip the meditation process and go right into feeling at peace. There is no thought filled battle to wage with my ego/id/super ego, there just is SELF. Why? Because they are all me, the divisions we create are nothing but an attempt to create and give rational meaning to a physical world that is absent in the metaphysical, an attempt to differentiate everything from everything, when in fact, the self is everything and everything part of one-self.

    I used to dance for the physical feeling, but once I noticed that my body took on the same properties as when meditating I stopped all brain communication with the world around me and began to experience what it was like to really allow the soul to dance. I began to just feel, once I left the mind and began to feel, there weren’t any images associated with it, just a feeling of agapeo, a feeling of total love. There was no feeling of being tired, aching feet, aching muscles, there was just an immense sense of awareness, which at times caused physical pain when coming down from it. I believe since I don’t have a dualistic view of the world, it became a lot easier to allow everything to BE. I’m not saying that I use dancing to become enlightened, because I’m not, nor really care to be. All I am using it is to experience those things that the use of a body and brain can’t comprehend, but are all very familiar to the soul.

    I don’t see disruptive thoughts, yes, I will label them as such for others to understand the impact of my words, but as far as equating them to disruptive, I can not, for I don’t see the line that draws bad and good, high low, flee or fight. For there has to be evil in order to see good, to me they just are. I take things as they come and learn from them, I don’t place them in the good basket and bad basket, I do however, place it in a basket and say this is the me that everyone sees and the me my body and mind want the self to be.

    If a person doesn’t believe in physical deprivation, could he claim it so? For it isn’t what others see but what the self sees. To he who the body isn’t the self, physical deprivation can never be labeled such. Pain to it, is no more than joy to it, again the difference being what the mind labels it as. What some consider deprivation can very well be a lifestyle that only brings more joy to others, and why there is degrees of good and evil to the mind. Not talking of a delirous state...

    Can there be fight or flight if they are both the same? I don’t see a difference actively seeking spiritual awareness and lavishly dismissing it. All I see is 2 different paths. He who fights does the same as he who flees, for what they really think is that the disappearance of the body from the realms of the physical is true death, which to me, is just a step along the way. It is an inaccuracy to measure the sum of a person upon ones thinking and not their own.

    God, now I must really seem crazy, and how in the world did this get into a salsa forum… Hmmmm You guys might wanna call the shrink and tell him that I am in dire need of help.

    BTW... if anyone was offended by this post, please accept my deepest apologies.
  16. capricorndancer

    capricorndancer New Member

    Amazing experiences!!

    . . . would be yours, Boriken; I've never got that deep into the experience of life, or dancing. Too much thinking, I expect, and not enough being. I think your experiences also put into context a lot of your exchange with Brujo.

    Oh, and the sirens you can hear? Those would be the men with the nice white jacket with the long, lace-up at the back arms. :wink: No offense meant or taken. I think that I would most like to see you dance. That could be inspirational. :)


  17. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Re: Amazing experiences!!

    Should I run the other way, or sit back and say thank you to those nice gentlemen who are so willing to help :lol:

    Who knows maybe the inspiration of seeing me in the "moment" might gift you with a seat right next to me and those nice gentlemen. :wink: I'll need someone to talk about dance. :D
  18. Pacion

    Pacion New Member

    Ditto! :lol:

    SD :roll: how do you happen to know this piece of movie trivia :wink:

    I agree with what Chayanne's character is saying by the way :wink: :banana: :D

    Brujo and Boriken, some interesting stuff here. All I can say is "Wow" and I will have to print this out and read it over a loooonnnnngggg cappachino :wink: :D
  19. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    No. Just go out and dance. :wink: :)
  20. cocodrilo

    cocodrilo New Member

    Confucious thought that women were subservient creatures and shouldn't be trusted. :evil:

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