Music Monday: Vamos a Bailar!

In our quest to fill our ears with the Spanish music of the world it would be foolish to ignore dance music as it is such an integral part of many Latin cultures. (and the Caribbean, they kind of mix, see if you can hear all 10 different dances in this song.) Most people know these dances from an early age as they are taught them at family gatherings and such, and the music of them can be heard everywhere from the afternoon radio on busetas to lively nightclubs. Unfortunately this means I really stand out when Manu makes me dance merengue or something with her, I just am no good with my hips!* Salsa I can bumble through alright at least. Anyway, on to the music!

Speaking of salsa, lets start with the best-selling song of all time: Pedro Navajas by Rueben Blades. As you can see in this video, the song tells the story of a man, with one gold tooth, who goes and stabs a woman but is then shot by her. Both dead, a drunk comes by and takes both of their money, the moral of the story being “life surprises you.” (lyrics with translation) All salsa songs tell a story, although not always so morbid. Salsa originated in Cuba, but currently Cali, Colombia is referred to as the Salsa Capital. There are many regional variations of salsa thought, so if you are interested I suggest looking at further videos.

Next we have merengue, which is from Dominican Republic. This dance is much simpler than salsa, all it really requires is alternating bending each knee and keeping your upper body still. However to do that and not look awkward you need to move your hips. bah. Anyway, this song is actually ‘merenrap,’ but I think you could dance to it fine. El Tiburon (The Shark) by Proyecto Uno is about going to the club and meeting girls, but having another guy-the shark- take them away from you, surprise! The best part is really “no pares, SIGUE SIGUE” which means, “don’t stop, keep going keep going!” (sounds clunky in English. Seguir is the very “to continue”) Proyecto Uno formed in New York, hence the assorted English chunks.

Snaps, I have to go to class, and I don’t actually know the names of other good dance songs, so that will have to be all for now. As a coworker of mine used to say, “boogie!”

*I blame this on the notion in the states that men do not have hips, but my gender dysphoria is not up for discussion here.

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About syd

I like beats & beets
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2 Responses to Music Monday: Vamos a Bailar!

  1. vocabat says:

    Although it can definitely seem that way to the untrained (read, gringo non-dancer) eye, trust me that not everyone here can dance, if it makes you feel any better. There are scads of people that kind of just shimmy around in circles on the dance floor– done with confidence, however, and enthusiasm and some artful hip shakes, you won’t be able to realize that what they’re doing doesn’t really require much skill at all. Fake it till you make it!

    I’m sure Manu knows the names of more dance songs. My favorite merengue is Suavemente by Elvis Crespi. There’s so much good salsa. Some of the ones you probably hear everywhere are La Rebelión by Joe Arroyo, Cali Aji by Grupo Niche, Oiga Mire Vea and Cuando Hablan Las Miradas by Orquesta Guayacán, El Preso by Fruko y Sus Tesos, Yo Soy La Muerte by El Gran Combo, Ni Siquiera by Antonio Cartagena and Llorarás by Oscar D’Leon. That should keep you busy for a good while– I hate it when I don’t know the names of songs and don’t know how to look them up to listen to.

    • syd says:

      truuue, I do know some pretty uncoordinated people. But compared to the number of people who can dace in the states it is still ridiculous! Gonna have to work on my enthusiastic shimmying I guess…

      Oof, yes that will keep me plenty busy. The worst is when you think you know the words and then they turn out to be something completely diffrent. So it goes, with “untrained” eyes and ears.

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