Salsa > Yambus -- Salsa and Sex

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by pygmalion, Nov 22, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Here's an interesting article. It states that salsa, and other similar dances, evolved from African folk dances, which were essentially sexual pantomime. Therefore, according to the article, to capture the spirit of the underlying dances, one should think of their Latin dances as sexual pantomime.

    Hmm. What do you think of that? Does the salsa you see in clubs really incorporate the sexual flavor of ancient African dances? How much of salsa is pantomime sex?
  2. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Hate to keep harboring over this, but salsa stopped being sexy when the hustle took over its sexuality and turned into the spin frenzy that we see today at clubs. If I didn't think that there was a million and one ways to express the self in the dance floor, I too would agree with old timers that a certain high profile NY city dancer killed salsa.

    Yes, salsa's main attribute is the run and chase aspect of its basic step. Where the male and female go after each other, in what is best described as a sexual ritual. As the Yambu, salsa sexuality comes from the male and female playing the “mating” game. The girl steps away while the man chases and vice versa (the basic), until they meet in the middle and create, what is known in yambu as el “vacunao”. Except that in salsa there really isn’t a vacunao. So the coming together in the middle and holding each other replaces it.

    Today's salsa dancing isn't very comparable to yambu. We have taken the purity and sexuality of the dance and turned it into a mixture of other dances, hence diminishing its sexuality to almost extinction.

    When a person learns something one way, it will be almost impossible to teach them otherwise. If you speak to NY City dancers they’ll swear that salsa is all about spins. If they are told otherwise they won’t believe it. They’ll even argue that if you don’t know “complicated” spin patterns you aren’t a good dancer. Worse yet, if you take them from their spin niche they will be baffled and won’t know what to do. Dancers are taught by their teachers, and the teachers of their teachers that salsa is this one way, and that way happens to be a hustle like style. The problem isn’t that they don’t know any better, but that they have failed to dig deeper into the world of salsa. They have basically stopped their learning in the late 80s.

    Every dancer, in my opinion, has a duty to never stop learning. Doing so means that we start with what we know then follow it to its folk, or purest form (its origin). We can never stop learning, it doesn’t matter how much we think we know, there is always more to know. Knowledge without the use of an ego tends to humble a person.
  3. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member


    I've been thinking more and more about musicality. [I'm sure if I knew Spanish I would be better at it. Note to self - learn Spanish/Portuguese.] I actually just got this idea of chasing back and forth recently as I am only now beginning to understand the breaks in the basic. I was way too engrossed in getting latin motion down....They are a lot of things that you can learn in a dance class, and a lot of things that you must learn for yourself.

    When you concentrate on executing moves/spins/turns a sterility is introduced....perhaps that's why people who want this feel lost. They are not used to the emotional connection to the music and partner? These people might substitute that for the thrill of spinning around or contorting their bodies flawlessly for one complex move after another!

    Your signature quote says it all borikensalsero!! :)
  4. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Hi Borikensalsero. I agree with you totally. I think many dancers forget that it's supposed to be a sensual, romantic dance and not an aerobic exercise or men and women seeing who could outdance each other. This is why I too, love watching the old timers dance. I think it was Johnny Pacheco who said something like this in an interview: "Salsa today is nothing like it was thirty years ago. Men use to hold women close and whisper romatic words to his lady while dancing around the floor. Now, they just spin her around and say: 'Well, maybe I'll call you'." :) Not every dancer is this way but again alot of dancers are into tricks and flips rather that the true sensuality of the dance.
  5. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    LOL... that remainds me of a good friend of mine. When I first strated learning from him he said, dancing salsa is like this. When you drive past a lady, you slow down, you smile, you wink you say something nice you make her feel good. You take your time! You don't just fly by her doing 90MPH and scream something. He kept on with, you want to walk her to her house, carry on a flurtations conversation. You don't want to sprint her to her house and try to get a few words while cathing your breath. Boy he is a clown but sure got his point across.
  6. mambo-momma

    mambo-momma New Member

    This is a GREAT subject! After getting divorced a couple of yrs ago, I wanted to get into something that would reacquaint me with the sex kitten side of myself. Some of the big cities on the east coast have pole dancing studios - NOT for strippers...just for women to learn how to be sexy and project the confidence that belies sensuality. Living in San Antonio, TX I have to say that Latin influence is HUGE here. Uh...and we don't have any pole dancing I decided to learn the next best thing - LATIN dancing (aka "having sex with your clothes on".) :wink: I've been doing this for close to a yr and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. I think it's been a total confidence booster and it makes you feel good. One of the big differences between "bumping and grinding" and salsa is that with the latter, you know the history behind the dance, the "story" it tells, and the culture it epitomizes - it's SENSUAL, not just sexual. If you're passionate about dancing and you have a good partner, how could you possibly look into their eyes and NOT think this was mind blowing!? It sounds like in some places it's just about the moves, but here it's about the mood the moves create. Come to San Antonio!! :D
  7. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi mambo-momma. :D Sorry I didn't get to welcome you before. It's late, but welcome to the forums.

    I know what you mean about the sensuality thing. Isn't it Edie the Salsa Freak who says something like salsa is just three minutes of sex on the dance floor?
  8. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Yep, I've read the Yambu article last year. Thankyou for directing it to the DF, Pygmalion :D

    So true. It seems while Melbourne is seen as the city which isn't very "advanced" in the way of salsa dancing (compared to other big cities), we still hold the old timers' values on sensuality.

    Mind you, this value is starting to be replaced by all the glitz & glamor carried out by the 'elite' dancers from various studios. While the old timers are starting to disappear from the clubs.

    I am working on a couple of projects with some of the others here. Hopfully we will be able to pass on some of these essential elements to all salsa dancers 8) .
  9. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    Hey, this 'whipering' used to happen to me :p and it used to add a little dimension to my nights out :wink: , very often came from someone's dad/uncle/grandpa........and it was very sweet :D !
  10. Redheadedmermaid

    Redheadedmermaid New Member

    Salsachinita, what project? Should I know about this for Bicardi Festival?
  11. youngsta

    youngsta Active Member

    You know what I know a lot of people that dance the way you describe Boriken, but I also know an equal amount that aren't concerned about excessive spins, dips, flips, etc. and have a very sexy style. So I wouldn't say it's a lost art. It may be lost among the elite show dancers but not in the social circles I travel in.
  12. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    I don't think there will be much to show before Bacardi Festival. We are trying to unite the dance schools together & share resources (as opposed to working against one another); at the same time bringing the cultural elements to the attention, especially to the students.

    We are also in the process of making a documentary on the history of salsa scene in Melbourne, paying homage to the people who brought this amazing culture/music/dance to us. I am kinda helping out because I was forturnate enough to have been there from the start........I am kinda putting people in touch with each other.

    I am also talking to/dancing with every one from different studios/levels and encourage them to all do the same. We can all benefit from going out of our own comfort zone & learn from the unfamiliar.

    Sorry, guys. :oops: I am off topic again. :oops:
  13. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    :D Great to know that, Youngsta! :D

    *love to be there*
  14. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    :) I'm discovering old threads...

    It's not just the dance that's changed... it's the music itself... How can you feel romantic and sensual on really fast salsa... on Arranca en Fa - Sonora Caruselles..., on Descarga de la Luz - Orquestra de la Luz...

    So, is it the fault of the dancers or that of the composers? Is it anybody's fault? Is it a fault? Dance evolves...

    I don't like salsa-hip hop fusions... it's nice to watch but I wouldn't do it! How many of you ladies would feel offended if you felt that the dancer in front of you is sexually attracted by you?!... That he is dancing in an obvious way? Can we pretend to dance like our ancestors? No...

    Mentality is changed... music is changed... morals and ethics are changed... is it wrong? NO... IT'S JUST CHANGE!!!

    What do you think?
  15. cocodrilo

    cocodrilo New Member

    I agree with you , too Youngsta! I know a lot of folks who are really into the music and the rhythm, and spend more time in clubs than in dance studios. I've seen too many performances that look more like ballet than salsa(and Cubans & South Americans saying "What is THAT?!")...
  16. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Absolutely, Cocodrilo. That is definitely one of my pet peeves. :evil: Nothing wrong with expressing yourself and having your own interpretation but enough already. I also notice that when some dancers have trouble with even the basics, they cover it up with a couple of flips or whatever to counteract it. Just makes me mad. Sorry....I'm okay now. :p :)
  17. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    You actually can be sensual to a fast salsa, but it is know-how and takes lots of experience. To me the sensuality of the dance changes, it doesn’t disappear. From slow and sensual, it becomes aggressive and driving. You attack, which is best described by a lustful take of a partner, the sensuality as transformed to best suit the mood. The problem here becomes the mentality of people, their views stop being this is an act of togetherness for both of us, even if it has the elements of speed, and aggressiveness, and they see it as a battle field, as a game, which the person must conquer. With the conquering mentality of someone that doesn’t understand the changes of moods from lovemaking to aggressive nature of transformed state of lovemaking, we will never be able to see that fast salsa is still the driving aggressive cousin of lovemaking. However, those are just my views, to which to some speed and take and destroy mentality of all physical barriers in a dance is what is meant by a hard driving descarga. PERSPECTIVE

    Fast dancing is what I call the Rabbit style of salsa. It is fast paced for us to bust out and enjoy going nuts for 4 minutes. The song is fast, so you go fast and worry only about having fun.

    It isn’t anybodies fault. Salsa has different tastes for different people. Some like it fast, some like it medium, some like it slow. At which time you choose your style and show what you feel the song wants you to do.

    However, Yambu isn’t a fast dance, Yambu is Slooooooooooow. Hence, the sensual side that ends up in salsa. Here, it is apparent that what has changed is the mentality and not the music. Dancers take a song like Idilio by Willie Colon and they bust out like they were dancing to Descarga de La Luz. That is pure mentality and not the music.

    If the music is built using the characteristics that were created a 100 years ago and turn it into what salsa songs are today, why can’t we use the dance from a 100 years ago and incorporate it into today’s music? Change always happens, that is why salsa is here, and the same complains that we now raise were raised by opponents of the salsa wave. However, what is happening is that the music still uses elements of what it once was, yet our dancing philosophy doesn’t. We basically think of one way of dancing salsa, which is built for us by our surrounding society then apply a philosophy that we think is ours, to all styles of salsa, Hence, all songs become descargas to the dancer. The music has changed, morals and ethics, yet philosophy from song to song doesn’t, for no one has ever prepared us to see passed the alienated thinking about that has been built by our surrounding society. If we think fast salsa is fast salsa is for animalistic duel instead of the “animalistic” side of lovemaking then, yes, our action on the dance floor will equal to that which we think.

    The essence of a dance, or style of music doesn’t change, what changes are the surrounding attributes that make its “physical feel” different, but after dissecting its true meaning we see that it hasn’t changed in essence, it has just physically transformed. An essence that isn’t meant to change even when the music evolves, its underlying foundation should never change, what changes are the few characteristics that makes it look like something completely different. For essence is held together by a set of beliefs that are created through knowledge, knowledge that expands our current philosophical views of dancing slower Yambu-like salsas.

    When someone is nasty they just are, the girl should always protect herself from guys who are just plain nasty, and use salsa as means to display that thinking.
  18. peachexploration

    peachexploration New Member

    Just another thought. Right now, alot the Salsa songs you hear are the ones that are "popular" now. Meaning, that it is only the ones that appeal or are palatable to the masses. Nothing wrong with that and I actually like some of it but keep in mind, there is so much music, old and new, that we don't hear on the radio or in the clubs because of that reason. It doesn't really appeal to the masses or so they think. :? If you take a look at this thread All Time Greatest Salsa Hits , you'll probably see quite a few artists that you'll never hear in the popular clubs or on the popular radio stations.

    Very nice as ususal, Boriken. You rock, Dude. :D
  19. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    Yes peach, I can see your point... some of those artists I have never heard of (not many, though, 'cause I love salsa vieja... and salsa in general...).

    I hope you guys didn't understand that I do not like the new salsa! I do! The songs I quoted above and many others similar to them are among my favorites!

    But they are sooooooooooooooo different from salsa as it began! Think Compay Segundo & Ibrahim Ferrer (Buena Vista Social Club)... think other great salsa singers and composers... the magic of their music...
  20. Sabor

    Sabor New Member

    well.. i am African afterall.. 'nuff said :mrgreen:

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