The “Salsa de la Bahia” project highlighted the history and current flavor of Latin and particularly Salsa music in the Bay Area, but it also touches on dancing! Music and dancing always go together, and that is especially true with Salsa music.
Since I recently blogged about Salsa Dancing and its recent evolution, it’s appropriate to revisit that the “Salsa de la Bahia” project highlights Salsa dancing and its social significance in the Latin community of the Bay Area.
For this, I want to share some of the information contained in the CD package, as well as share a promo video of the project.
Salsa Dancing History and Social Impact
Wayne Wallace, the trombonist/educator and “Salsa de la Bahia” arranger and producer, aptly summarized in just one paragraph part of dancing’s history and social impact.
“In the 1930s, swing dancing at New York City’s Savoy Ballroom became an active act of social integration. Even if for just an evening it was a way of easing the devastating effects of the Great Depression. People of different ethnicities and backgrounds came together and found joy in the music and dancing. This American social phenomena continued with the fusion of swing, bebop, and Cuban music with the “Mambo Craze” of the 1940s and 1950s at the Palladium Ballroom. Despite the racial climate of the times, Latinos, Whites, African-Americans, and Jews found common ground through the music and were integral in the progress of the Civil Rights Movement. It wasn’t enough to speak of cultural idealism but to actively be part of the process. Dancing is an expression of love, a feeling of being one with the music and can be an agent for change. Art as activism, activism as an art form. Love the dance, live the music.”
Another interesting passage regarding Salsa dancing contained in the “Salsa de la Bahia” package was written by radio music director and music writer Jesse “Chuy” Varela, who chronicles the more recent impact and evolution of dancing…
“In the 1990s there was Salsa happening literally every day of the week in the Bay Area. What kept it bubbling were the dancers who came from all walks of life. Today Salsa dance has evolved from a nightclub social scene to a course of study that combines ballroom dancing with salsa steps evloved from the mambo era. In 2001 the initiation of the Salsa Congress…took Salsa to another level and started an annual conference of Salsa dance that today draws into the tens of thousands in attendance.
Television shows like ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ are igniting a new found interest in Latin dance that has the local dance studios popping. This has not necessarily translated into more attendance at the local nightclubs as violence, drugs, and bad manners, turn off the more athletic and clean livers involved in Latin ballroom who dance more as a sport than a social activity”.
Jesse “Chuy” Varela
There is a lot to chew in those quotes, and they certainly bring a great perspective on the role of Salsa dancing in our social and musical scene. Chuy’s quote certainly weaves perfectly with the discussion I brought up in the blogs “Salsa Dancing and Dancing Salsa Music” and “Salsa Dancing – Does the Music Matter?”
“Salsa de la Bahia” and “The Last Mambo” Promo Video
From the above information you should get a feel for the effort and heart that went into this musical project. It has as much to do with the music as with the dancing that helped to keep it alive. Below is a promo video of the musical and documentary pieces related to this ambitious project.