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    Act 1. Scene 1. Song 2.

    The knock startles him back from his imagined triumph. However, he wasn’t completely wrong, there was someone in his life now and she was the person knocking at his door. Stella was an amazing person, different from Sandra but in a good way. He cared deeply for her and was honestly able to say that he loved her. Yet this sudden outburst of emotion troubled him. If he was so happy with Stella, why so much twisted joy at the thought that Sandra might want him back? For that matter, why was that even a thought in his head at all? A sudden sense of guilt came over him, which he quickly tried to compose himself from before answering the door. A quick glance through the peephole confirmed who it was and brought a reassuring smile to his face.

    Opening the door, Emilio embraced Stella and showed her in. They were going to meet some friends for dinner and then off to the club for a night of entertaining. He had stopped by his place to change first and Stella said she would meet him there. The conversation turned to the days events, small talk of work and finally Emilio was ready to go. Still, something in him wasn’t right, distracted somehow. As they left the apartment, he told her he loved her; sincere, yet he suspected it sounded a little questionable.

    “I love you too.”

    I don’t need an advanced degree to know I found happiness at your side. I don’t need a bunch of lawyers when I feel trapped, if you know how to free me. I don’t need to go to a church or understand religion to know there are demons, that want to kill this love. I don’t need a wise man or a holy man, or to look into a crystal ball, if I see my future in your face and if you’re not here I can’t go on. Because life is hard and night is dark and the world gets colder when you’re not here. Your love is what makes me live, when you kiss me I have to resist. With you I can fly to the sky. I die, when you and I aren’t together, I live only if you are by my side. I want to be captive in your arms. I feel like your love has given me the heavens. Life is dark and I don’t know how to live when you’re not there.

    Content in their love, the two head out for the night….End scene 1.

    Hasta la proxima.

    Sigan Bailando!

    Manuel

    Act 1. Scene 1. Song 1.

    This is a story, plain and simple. More accurately, it is the beginning of a story. Some of the names may be familiar but it is only to make it easier for the reader. Let’s start with a young man, his name is Emilio and he has just arrived home from a long day at work. As he comes through the door he notices the blinking light telling him there is a message on his answering machine. He pushes play and a familiar voice from his past fills the room.

    “Hi Emilio, its Sandra. Listen, there’s something I need to talk to you about but I’d rather say it to you and not your machine so could you please call me back when you get a chance? Seems like its been ages since we’ve talked. Anyways, just give me a call when you can, k? Ok, talk to you later, bye.”

    Sandra and Emilio dated for a few years a while back. After the breakup communication had slowly decreased to the occasional e-mail. The fact that she had taken the time to call and the anxious tone of her voice let him know this was important. At the time, the breakup had caught him by surprise and he found himself torn between his desire for her to return and his will to move on. However, in the time sense, Emilio had managed to move on but something in him allowed a gratifying sense of victory to overtake him. Emilio allows himself to think that she has realized her mistake and is about to ask to be taken back. Sardonically satisfied with this thought, he recites the words he’d been wanting to say for a long time.

    All of a sudden you’re looking for me, to speak of the past and go out for dinner.
    It seems you missed me after all and you weren’t happy with your other half.
    All of a sudden you start to realize who it is that knows how to make you happy.
    But you forgot, that when you left, I was just like you, free to choose.


    And there was someone who gave me everything, everyday,
    who would talk to me and fill me with loving words.
    Yes, there was someone, that while you were living your separate life,
    bravely helped me take charge of mine and won me over.
    And to that someone, during a night of interminable delirium,
    I gave my love, my body, my soul, my mind and my being, in a way you’ll never know.


    All of a sudden you break into tears and you say you could never forget me.
    But it slipped your mind that when you left, I was just like you, free to choose.


    You forgot to say goodbye and there was someone who filled my days and nights with a new hope.
    You forgot to say goodbye and you left my heart open for a new love.


    She gives me so much and you let me go and didn’t think about me. Now you can’t live alone without me.

    (Mark Anthony’s “Y Hubo Alguien” is the translated song here). As the song finishes, there is a knock at the door…

    Check in to see what happens next.

    Sigan Bailando!

    Manuel

    Guerra Musical…2nd edition

    Hello again and welcome to the second installment of Guerra Musical. Last time I put two salsa songs head to head. This time I think I’ll cover something a little more sensual. I think its time to get a little bachata in our lives. We can all admit that while bachata may not have the elaborateness of salsa, it is probably the most daring of the common latin dances. Let’s be honest, if you have that special someone with you, you definitely want a bachata song to come on…it lets you say so much without saying anything at all ;) . So, I’m going to go with two well known favourites for this battle.

    The contenders:
    1. Ven Tu: Dominic Marte; album “Intimamente” (2004).
    For a listen

    2. Perdidos: Monchy y Alexandra; album “Hasta El Fin” (2004).
    For a listen

    The title, Ven tu means come (you). This song is a supplication by a man to his beloved, asking her to come back after being away for so long. This is one of those bachata songs that is instantly recognized by anyone who has ever been exposed to the genre. Its opening cry sets the tone for the feel of forlorn the song portrays and a quick study of the words will show just how much this guy is suffering. Click here for the full spanish lyrics.

    A year passes without kissing you
    Without giving you love, without hugging you
    I know you feel the same
    But I’m tired of not being with you
    When you call me on the phone
    I’m able to feign happiness
    But as soon as I hang up
    An immense sadness invades my body
    I’m tired of the “I love you”
    Of the thousands of “I love you”s you write in your letters
    Come and tell me face to face
    Because I don’t feel anything for paper…

    These are the words of someone who is in serious pain. He just wants to hold this woman, be with her and become intoxicated by her love. It is that desire that makes this such an amazing bachata song. The sensual sound goes hand in hand with the desperate pleas of the man. Painful, distant love is not an uncommon theme in bachata music but this song does it extremely well. I especially enjoy how each verse builds to the chorus, as if accentuating the reasons for his plea.


    Perdidos (lost) is another song about troubled love. However, unlike its predecessor, this one is more about lovers trapped in a situation and wishing to escape it. As I read the lyrics I kind of want to call it Romeo and Juliet’s bachata. The following translation should show you why. Click here for spanish lyrics.

    The two of us are lost on a boat without a destination
    Navigating through the forbidden, trapped in the seas of passion
    Lost, surrendered without measure
    Hidden and in silence
    Waiting for the sun to rise on our promised land

    It would seem that the desires and passion of their love have placed them in a situation with little room for them to fully love each other. This duo has a large repertoire of songs with the same feel, all of them excellent. This song is a pledge of an ultimate place of bliss and a reassurance by the lovers that things will be fine. This is evident by the distinct male and female parts, and strengthened by the melding of voices in the chorus.

    Judging:

    Sound of the song

    These songs don’t differ very much when it comes to sound. Part of the reason is that bachata doesn’t really have different tempos. Another factor is the emotion of the songs. Both make it hard to separate them on a scale. However, while Ven Tu is a grander sounding song, Perdidos is catchy without being tedious. I like the sound of both, but I’ll give the advantage to Perdidos 4.5-4.

    Danceability

    Both of these songs are great to dance to, not much need for separation and plenty of places for sensuality. Having said that, the accentuation of Ven Tu gives it a slight advantage for those who like to add a dramatic flair. I’ll give the nod to it for that reason, 4-3.

    Musical and lyrical sync

    I’ve already stated that these songs are exquisitely synced in regards to music and lyrics. When that is the case, I listen for which song offers a little more. In this case, Ven Tu has a more impacting sound. I just think that as a whole, it makes you feel the plea of the singer a little better than Perdidos. It could also be due to the fact that this man is alone and yearning for his love, giving it an added edge of despair. Either way, edge goes to Ven Tu, 5-4.5.

    Verdict

    Ven Tu 13; Perdidos 12

    What do you think?

    Sigan Bailando!

    Manuel

    You can dance salsa at different tempos and styles…part 2

    Remember those songs I mentioned last time?

    Los Sitio Asere (Afro Cuban All Stars): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqKu369wP1Q
    Pinar Del Rio (Celia Cruz): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsNPELxQnhQ
    Exitos De Siempre (Alquimia): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJxmYjdIYkQ
    Sombra Loca (Gilberto Sta. Rosa): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvzFexhhFKg
    Juliana (DLG): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz0YkiYBQlo

    The last one on that list, Juliana, is noticeably different from the others as far as the musicality of it goes. The song has loud, intricate brass which gives it a very energetic feel. The others, by contrast, are not as busy and give a more mellow impression (at least as far as a salsa song is concerned). The originating region has a lot to do with that association.

    Let’s admit it, salsa in North America is very showy. If you go to latin countries you would notice that there is less emphasis on turn patterns and big tricks and more focus on closeness and quick, tight moves. This can be seen in the music. Compare the first 4 songs, all from Cuban, South American or Puerto Rican artists. The first two, of Cuban origin, are very smooth, and simple. While tricks are still implemented, the basis of cuban salsa is numerous break back steps. Cuban salsa is very circular in that sense and, as a result of the constant tension between the partners, massive turn patterns aren’t all that common.

    Alquimia is a Colombian sonora (roughly translated means sound producer) which owes its sound largely to another legendary group, La Sonora Matancera. Their sound is very representative of Central American and South American salsa. This is probably the most distinctive of the selections I posted. In actuality, it is a blend of cumbia and salsa. Its cumbia influence is what makes it simpler, as cumbia doesn’t involve intricate turn patterns but is rather more of a dance based on basics with the occasional turn. Believe me, it may sound bland, but it is enjoyable, you don’t always need big tricks to have fun dancing.

    Now, Gilberto Sta. Rosa is a Puerto Rican salsero and has a very classical sound with a hint of the new age, North American style. I think he has a very nice sound, never hectic but always with a great rhythm and pace. His music serves as a good example of a blend of the laid back, Latin American style with the flashy North American style. While listening to the music you can see where turn patterns, shines opportunities and partner work fit in. There is also a difference in the dancing style. Cuban salsa, as mentioned, is more circular whereas modern dance salsa has a much more linear movement. This is due in part to the lack of break back steps. As with an elastic band, the recoil from the tension created by a break back takes time to unfold and as a result, the dance is a touch slower. This is not the case with linear salsa, where smaller steps are the norm and allows for quickness giving time for more tricks while maintaining the rhythm.

    As a final comparison, you have Juliana by the New York group, DLG (Dark Latin Groove). Notice how full of instrumentation and vocals this song is, it does sound faster and busier. The result is a song that goes well with numerous patterns and tricks. However, it is double edged, because such a pace can leave both dancers exhausted if sustained throughout. For that matter, pace is important. A compromise of flash and simplicity is a good practice…at least so you can dance longer between water breaks.

    I hope you can see what I mean when I say that salsa is danced at different tempos and styles. Next time you just want to throw all your big tricks non-stop, or chillax and keep it simple throughout, be sure to listen to the music…it is there as more than just a backdrop to your amazing skill.

    Sigan Bailando!

    Manuel

    You can dance salsa at different tempos and styles…part 1

    Listen to these songs:

    Los Sitio Asere (Afro Cuban All Stars): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqKu369wP1Q
    Pinar Del Rio (Celia Cruz): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsNPELxQnhQ
    Exitos De Siempre (Alquimia): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJxmYjdIYkQ
    Sombra Loca (Gilberto Sta. Cruz): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvzFexhhFKg
    Juliana (DLG): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lz0YkiYBQlo

    Every one of these is a salsa, which I’m sure you can tell, but did you notice how each has a different sound? ‘But a salsa is a salsa, they’re all the same,’ you might say. Its true that the components of salsa are pretty uniform, but individual songs as a whole can be vastly different. So, what’s the point, why do I even mention this? Well, the answer is simply because as lovers of salsa music and dance, we should be able to distinguish. Picture this: you go into a club and watch everyone on the dance floor and you suddenly notice someone dancing technically sound salsa yet still off in some way.

    More often than not, the thing that is off is that the dancing doesn’t match the music. In other words, the person is so concerned with pulling out all the tricks that they’re not really dancing with the music. Some songs have a rhythm and speed that make it alright to pull out all your fancy moves (ie. Juliana) but some others are just fine with a more tranquil pace and sporadic tricks (ie. Sombra Loca).

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should be creative and experiment on the dance floor, just try to remember that as your ear grows more discerning, you’ll be able to recognize that their are parts of a song where its ok to be keep it simple. Its common upon learning new moves that you just want to use them all the time, we’ve all done it. But to move from a strong technical dancer to a strong dancer, keep an ear open to the musicality.

    Keep the songs mentioned in mind because next time we’ll discuss differences in the origins of a song and how Caribbean and Latin American salsa differs from North American salsa.

    Sigan Bailando!

    Manuel

    La Palomilla

    As a special request here is a review of “La Palomilla” by Joe Cuba (this video shows one interpretation of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5buMguSmLUs.).

    This song is an example of what I refer to as a simple salsa. I don’t mean simple in a bad way, more in that there is no distraction to it. It is a salsa sound, pure and simple. The pure rhythm is somewhat reminiscent of latin jazz, the main difference being the absence of the large brass ensemble. If you listen, all you hear is the clave, keyboard and percussion. The instrumentation is a reminder of the roots of salsa. The pace is excellent and not rushed. The advantage, dance wise, to this is that there is no need to rush and actually lets you be highly creative due to its constant sound. The discerning ear will quickly realize that shines are not only appropriate, but almost mandatory. From a learners’ point of view, the beat is easily distinguished and followed, making it ideal for learning how to pick up the beat.

    Now, what is the song saying? Well, La Palomilla means the little dove. More accurately, it is an allusion to the dove of peace. However, the intent is not a dove spreading peace but rather salsa (which of course brings its own sense of love ;) ). As the song starts, picture a dove taking flight from the Dominican, spreading salsa over everywhere it flies. The lyrics aren’t complex, they just basically say that ‘the little dove invites you to dance.’ It goes on to say that if you play the raspa (an instrument where a metal fork is scraped across a corrugated wooden surface), or any instrument for that reason, then you’ll want to dance. Again, the simplicity of the lyrics is echoed by the instrumentation.

    Being a former brass player, I love songs that have large brass section, however, the lack of that does not detract from the enjoyment of this song. There are sections where all you hear is the clave and keyboard building up to the percussion. These stretches put you on the edge of a musical explosion, and when that explosion is reached it just feels right and the song takes off.

    All in all, I really enjoy this song. While it may not come to mind right away, it is still an homage to traditional salsa and can be called nothing short of salsa sabrosa (sabrosa means delicious, tasty). A very good aspect of this song is to show that there are different styles of salsa, different paces, and each one is just as good to dance to as the next. Overall, strong song, appropriate lyrics and musicality. Whether you remember it or not, you’ll enjoy dancing to it. Hasta la proxima….

    Sigan Bailando!

    Manuel

    Guerra Musical…Edition 1

    Welcome to the first edition of Guerra Musical (Musical War). The purpose of this blog is to gain a further understanding of what is being said in those catchy latin songs you enjoy dancing to. I’ll provide some insight into the songs, translate the lyrics and try to establish the feel the song is trying to convey…you’d be surprised how many latin songs sound completely different from their meaning. As an added bonus, the reviewed songs will be pitted against each other and judged on 3 criteria: 1) The sound of the song; 2) Danceability and; 3) how well the music expresses the lyrics (and vice-versa). Seeing as this is the first contest, feel free to comment on things you like, don’t like, want added, etc. Also, please suggest songs (and don’t just limit it to salsa, throw in some merengue, bachata and even reggaeton if you wish), after all, these blogs are written for your enjoyment. So, to kick off the blog let’s pick two songs from a couple of outstanding salsa groups: Colombia’s Grupo Niche and Puerto Rico’s PuertoRican Power.


    The contenders:
    1. Vamos a Ver (Jeringoza): Grupo Niche; album “Imaginacion” (2004). For a sample: http://shopping.yahoo.com/p:Imaginacion:1922053444;_ylt=AtmTkTkhFs_HuFW.1qWSY3VUvQcF;_ylu=X3oDMTBzZTVhM3RqBF9zAzk1OTUxMTEzBGx0AzQEc2VjA2FydHByb2Q-

    2. Tu Cariñito: PuertoRican Power; album “Men In Salsa” (1999). For a sample: http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.asp?pid=1051178&cart=690701496


    Vamos a Ver can be translated into ‘Let’s see.’ While not as well known as its competitor, this song attempts the same kind of feel. The mood is playful and light and the song is about a man telling his girlfriend to see what happens when her parents find out about their relationship. Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics (original spanish lyrics: http://www.rosariosalsa.com.ar/letras/niche/vamos_a_ver.htm).

    Let’s see
    What your mom says
    When she finds out
    That we love each other.

    And let’s see
    What your dad says.
    He doesn’t let you go out
    And that’s why we sneak around

    Let’s see
    If they can decipher
    How we speak,
    How we understand each other.

    And let’s see
    Who laughs at whom?
    Let them criticize and talk
    And see how much we laugh.


    As you can see, the song is playful, kind of like a nice retort from a suitor that will never be accepted by his sweetheart’s parents. It is a medium paced salsa giving plenty of time for styling and execution of moves. The instrumentation is fun, opening with the brass leading into the swinging rhythm and lyrics. At times all music and lyrics stop, giving opportunity for emphatic accentuation. The tune is catchy, staying with you long after you’ve heard it. A later part of the song is filled with pure gibberish; an obvious nod to the “way they talk ” which her parents can’t decipher…a very nice arc in the lyrics.

    Tu Cariñito means ‘your love.’ A lot of people will recognize this song, it is a favourite of Sharon’s when teaching the ‘pop’ as styling. As a matter of fact, it is its opening stretch that makes the song so addictive and unique. The gist of the song is simple, a guy looking for a lost love all over the world (original spanish lyrics: http://artists.letssingit.com/puertorican-power-lyrics-tu-carinito-lq71mpz).

    I’m searching for you like a madman throughout the world.

    And without you I can’t take another minute.

    Someone come and tell me now

    If you’ve seen her here, or seen her there.

    Because I look, I look for her and I can’t find her.

    I just want that moment to come

    When I tell her that without her I just can’t live

    Because I want you to return to me,

    And that you give me your love, my love,

    And that you fill me with kisses and more,

    Because you are the girl that I love.

    This is a great song because the music fits perfectly with the tone of the lyrics. It’s a light-hearted plea for a lost love. It is an ode to impending joy at finally finding her once again, and we all know how exuberant we can get at the anticipation of something we dearly want. The instrumentation is complex in its flow and challenges the dancer’s ear in its many beat changes. A dancer not on their game will find themselves off rhythm early and often in this song. However, it is that nuance and the playful tone that gives it a timeless sound typical of this orchestra. Like Vamos a Ver, this is also a mid tempo salsa which allows the dancer to express him/herself fully and gives enough time to ponder what to do next. The intro itself is enough to make this song a favourite for dancing.

    Judging:

    Sound of the song

    I personally love these kinds of salsas. The tempo is perfect for dancing and the ebullience of the music makes them memorable and gets your feet moving wherever you may be. Having said that, the complexity of Tu Cariñito earns it a mark of 4.5 out of 5 compared to the 3.5 for Vamos a Ver.

    Danceability

    As explained before, Tu Cariñito is a more complex song to dance to because of the changes in beat. Vamos a Ver is consistent throughout and gives more shine opportunities. Both are enjoyable but for matters of ease, the vote goes in favour of Vamos a Ver, 4 to 3.5.

    Musical and Lyrical sync

    I love the syncing of music and lyrics in both these songs. The music goes perfectly with the lyrics and vice versa. This is the toughest category to call but I’m going to have to give it to Tu Cariñito by a hair, 4.5 to 5.

    Verdict

    Tu Cariñito 13; Vamos a Ver 12

    Hope you all enjoyed this first entry…come back next time when two new songs go cabeza a cabeza. And don’t forget, contribute to the blog and be sure to make recommendations, suggestions and nominations.

    Sigan Bailando,

    Manuel

    Welcome to ‘A Salsero’s Soundtrack’

    Bienvenidos a todos!

    Let me first thank Sharon for the opportunity to manage this blog and acknowledge the great work that both Alfred and Nina have done on the ‘Salsa in Review’ blog. They provided us with great feedback and anecdotes of the salsa world. For that matter, this blog is not so much a replacement of their excellent work as it is my take on a large component of latin life….the music.

    I love latin rhythms and, as salseros and salseras, I’m sure you do too. There is an added depth to latin music in that its dance music (salsa, merengue, bachata, etc.) also tells stories of love, loss, death, tragedy, triumph, comedy and nonsense, to name a few. It is also for this reason that the expression of the music is so vital. I find that the most enjoyable songs are the ones that successfully meld lyrics and instrumentation to create a tune that can get you off your feet and make you feel something as well.

    A song in sync is one where the music itself can express what the lyrics are saying without having to know the words, and vice versa. So, what is the idea of this blog? Well, it is a reflection of music. My goal is to give an understanding of what is being said and hopefully by doing this, give the reader a further appreciation of the music. After all, it is one thing to dance, it is quite another to express feeling and emotion through dance.

    With that in mind, I want to make this a place where you can have musical questions answered. I’ll talk of things musically related, whether it be songs, bands, performances. Also, on occasion I will provide a “war of the songs” installment where two contenders will be pitted against each other and critiqued on certain categories. Above all, this blog is written for all of you who love latin music. I encourage you to comment and contribute and in that way I hope to write something that is enjoyed by the reader.

    Vamos a bailar!

    Manuel

    Goodbye and good luck to Salsa in Review

    It is time to say goodbye as our current commitments have significantly changed our ability to go out and write about our salsa experiences. We have enjoyed writing our reviews for the Salsa in Review blog and certainly hope that you have enjoyed reading our postings. The both of us certainly hope to continue seeing our readers at the outings, at the clubs and maybe our classes up in Richmond Hill. Salsa continues to be a source of enjoyment for us and we’ll no doubt be seeing you on the dancefloor!

    Nina and Alfred

    iFreeStyle.ca’s Salsa Christmas Gala 2007

    Especially when there is snow on the ground and it’s freezing cold outside, it can require extra encouragement to get out to the salsa clubs. The iFreeStyle Salsa Christmas Gala at Revival lounge apparently was attractive enough to be a sold out event. In contrast to the the snow and cold outside, inside things were hot with the fantastic DJ’ing of DJ Geronimo and the excellent performances of the evening. It was also the debut of the 2nd Toronto Dance Salsa Performance Class that consists of many of the helpers you’ll be familiar with from classes at TDS including Nina and I.

    In terms of the location, Revival Lounge is an excellent venue for salsa. The layout is a basic rectangle with cozy benches and tables with chairs down the legth of one side and the bar on the other. There is a small stage and of course superb hardward wood floors to dance on. The location on College is a great area too with plenty of places to have dinner or grab a coffee prior to partying there. Hopefully we’ll see more salsa events at Revival Lounge in the near future.
    We didn’t get as much social dancing in as we would have liked as we had to prepare for our performance; however, with DJ Geronimo spinning slick salsa tunes everyone was dancing up a storm. I classify DJ Geronimo as a “real” DJ because he is tuned to the crowd, adjusting to the reaction and the energy of the dancers instead of what I classify as an “iPod DJ.” Anyone can put together a playlist and call themselves a DJ nowadays, but this DJ has a good mix of music appropriate for the crowd he’s spinning for. I like the fact that there is always a good variety in terms of style, tempo and classics versus new material.

    There was an excellent crowd of familiar faces with plenty of both On-1 and On-2 dancers. The atmosphere was great with plenty of people wanting to dance the night away. Everyone looked great in their semi-formal attire. We shouldn’t need an excuse to dress-up, but most took the opportunity to look their best. And man, the salsa crowd is a great looking bunch.

    Cheers to Caryl and Angus on putting on a great party.
    Merry Christmas and see you on the dance floor!


    Revival Bar
    783 College Street West
    416-535-7888
    Revival does not have a regular salsa night

    Our Ratings

    Dancefloor: 4
    Ambiance: 4
    Music: 5
    Dancers: 5
    Fun Factor: 5
    Overall: 23 (out of 25)