I think it’s time to start a coalition against dancing Salsa to non-Salsa music in the clubs.
There is a big trend in some of the local Salsa venues to play a lot of RnB and Soul.
I say a trend – it’s been going a long time as some of it is actually the music we were dancing to about 20 years ago before i-Tunes and Spotify,
And maybe we had an excuse back then – we didn’t know any better and the scene was still very young.
Good Salsa music was much harder to get hold of – you had to buy actual CDs .or the original vinyl records.
But times have changed…
If you go into the good Central London clubs to dance you will only hear authentic Salsa music….and if RnB was played at the clubs where the On2 dancers go, the DJ would probably get lynched or booed off the stage at the very least.
The reason good dancers aren’t interested in dancing to RnB is because the timing pattern, moves and steps evolved to coincide with the accents in the rhythms of the different instruments in Salsa music – accents which aren’t present in RnB.
The main emphasis in RnB music is on 3 and 7.
When we dance Salsa On1 the most emphasised steps are on 1 and 5.
On2 the emphasised steps are 2 and 6.
You can get away with dancing Salsa On1 to RnB, but dancing On2 makes no sense at all.
If you INSIST on dancing Salsa to RnB you might want to try dancing On3 – this at least would bring the break step in line with the accented beats.
RnB is rhythmically much simpler than Salsa music.
It hasn’t got the complexity of real Salsa music and dancing to RnB although easier for beginners, lacks any real challenge for musically aware advanced dancers.
When you start learning the classic Eddie Torres New York and Mambo shines, you realise that they have an inbuilt musicality which perfectly fits those more intricate rhythms of the Congas and Bass Tumbao, the Clave, Piano, Brass and even the vocal phrasing in some cases.
The best dancers even in freestyle can pull out a shine which exactly matches the music – no mean feat because there are hundreds of shines and endless ways you can combine them.
It’s these challenges which On2 dancers love – along with hitting the breaks, filling out all the counts with body motion, and having those playful musical conversations with their partner.
So for novice dancers who want to REALLY be able to dance Salsa, you need to get as much exposure to authentic Salsa music as you can, and go to the clubs where you can watch this kind of musicality in action.
THEN you’ll see why we don’t dance Salsa to RnB or other music genres such as Soul or even Latin Pop.
I believe DJs and teachers have a responsibility to promote the artists that are making awesome Salsa music because they are the ones who keep dancers inspired, and the scene vibrant.