Why Do We Love Salsa
June 26, 2006
Interview/Survey by Cathy Bartch
Philadelphia is certainly not a newcomer to salsa. On any given night, one can find at least one if not multiple venues packed with people dancing the night away to this contagious and often addictive, sultry latin dance. Whether they are dancing to one of Philly’s hip Latin music DJs or a great live salsa band, salseras and salseros from the beginning to advanced stages and from all backgrounds are tirelessly enjoying themselves to salsa. What is it about salsa that people can’t stop dancing or listening to it? I asked a few of the salsa fans in the local community of why they love salsa so much and what is it that they like about the salsa scene in Philadelphia. Here are some of the responses:
Why do you love salsa?
“It’s in our blood. We don’t have to think about it. We just do it.”- Jose Serrano- Professional Salsa Dancer and World Salsa Champion
“Out of all the dances, it’s the one I can do well.”- Charlotte Serrano, Professional Salsa Dancer and Salsa Champion, commenting on how salsa seems to suit her more naturally than other dances like classical ballet. Charlotte and Jose Serrano are a sister and brother salsa team that have competed successfully in salsa dancing.
“I love salsa because it comes from my roots in Puerto Rico. It is an emotional moment from inside of you because you can actually express the way you feel.” – Jinette Olmeda
“I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I’m a musician—I sing and play the percussion. It’s in my roots to pass on to the next generation.” – D.J. Delatino
“It is found in my blood.”- Soet Soto
“It’s something that comes from within. It’s part of our African culture, [as] it’s a combination of Spanish and Africa. It brings something out of you that you don’t think you have.”- Diana Rivera
“Because I have a lot of fun when I dance.” – Dan Davolos
“I love salsa in general. It’s beautiful. I think it’s one of the best dances.”- Joandelise Marquez
“For me it’s just a way to release the energy that builds up.”- Jay Jimenez
“You have like a 12 piece instrumental and they all strike the same chord at the same time. Everytime I hear that I feel it vibrate through my body. I feel it in my blood. It’s a vibe. You can express what you want and show some of that funkin’ flavor “- El Salsero Chino, Joe R. “I love salsa because it’s a good social activity.” – Ian Murray
“Why do I love salsa? The rhythm. It’s in my blood. You wake up in the morning to it and you can fall asleep with the beat of the drums. [Also] when you’re down there’s salsa, when you’re up, dance more and more salsa.” – Jose Arroyo
“You get on the stage and give it your all. It’s a feeling you’re right there doing what you love the most.” – Raul Santiago Jr.
“It is a combination of African, Cuban and Latin music in a melting pot. Out of that comes salsa.” – DJ Sugar Ray. He also says it is one of the longest running touch dancing in history, in which people still have to touch each other to dance.
What is it that you like about the Salsa scene in Philadelphia?
“I think everybody likes the salsa scene in Philadelphia because of the diversification of ethnic groups involved and because of the ambience. This is [also] a crowd that if you have a wife, husband or significant other you feel comfortable taking them out and not feeling out of place.” –D.J. Delatino
“Everybody is really kind and generous and they really get along. We are all like a united family. It feels good to feel like that.”- Soet Soto and Dan Davolos.
“The salsa scene in Philly never dies. Here in Philly salsa is all year round and you can find clubs that have salsa at least once a night. There is more salsa here than in New York City..” – Jose Serrano
“The Philly congress is a good time to bring everyone together. It brings all types of dances together—ballroom, ballet and belly dancing, [for example]”- Raul Santiago Jr.
“Everytime you go into a place, you definitely know at least ten people from the neighborhood.”- Diana Rivera
“Everybody is close and tight. The competition here is crazy. If you go out to dance club, you have to bring you’re a-game, or your best, because everyone is ready to compete.”- Jay Jimenez
DJ Sugar Ray discussed how the salsa scene has changed a bit since it first started in Philadelphia. Originally, he says, a lot of the Latin Bars were named after towns in Puerto Rico. People from the island would come to Philadelphia and would frequent these bars to meet up with other Puerto Ricans and persons from past generations. It was a sort of tradition. The music they danced in the past was a more romantic type of salsa, according to DJ Sugar Ray. Now, though, he finds they dance a type of salsa that mixes ballet, tango, cha-cha, hustle, hip-hop and other dances. The dance changes with each generation.
“I meet new people everytime I go out.” –Ashley Sanchez