Salsa Addiction Centre
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    Act 1, Scene 3, Songs 6 and 7

    Its an odd coincidence that life throws some times. At the moment that Sandra was thinking of the phone call, Emilio was thinking of her as well. Through the years he had been able to control his emotions towards their past. He understood what they had been and why things unfolded as they did. His experiences with Sandra had actually made him a better person, a person that understood relationships better. He was grateful to have been with Sandra, to have learned from the relationship and, in a strange way, he was grateful that those experiences were making his current relationship with Stella so amazing. But now, in a moment that filled him with a sense of guilt, he found himself reflecting on the confusion and despair he felt after the breakup. At that time all he wanted was an answer as to why and a chance to make things the way they used to be.

    I can’t be strong, I just can’t because you’re not here.
    I fake smiles, and even the wind hurts against my skin.
    The jokes I learned with you no longer make me laugh.
    The cold stings and the hours kill me.
    It seems that you took my world with you.
    I try different paths but they all take me to the same familiar ones.
    There’s nothing that can erase you from my mind, not even for a minute.
    I have so much sky but I’m like a lost bird.

    Missing you!
    I spend my time missing your kisses and your gaze.
    Missing you!
    I’ve just been missing you since the day you left.

    That seemed so long ago and it had been 5 years yet there were still times, even against his best efforts, where these feelings came flooding back. Never as strong as the first time but still strong enough to sense the old scar. Of course, as chance would have it, Sandra was also thinking back to the time after the breakup, but with a different twist.

    It had been different for her. She knew she had to end it, the surprise had passed. Its not that she wasn’t caught off guard by her realization it was just that when it did happen she was at a different stage in her healing. She didn’t want to go back to the way things were, a sentiment that filled her with some sadness but the appropriate feeling nonetheless. She cherished what her and Emilio had shared but was not about to let it keep her from living the rest of her life. It was interesting to her because she knew that Emilio had never understood how she had ‘moved on’ so quickly after a long relationship. The truth is that had she been in his shoes, she likely would’ve felt the same way. She only hoped that with time he had grown to understand that. His attitude towards her told her that he had but that he still felt the pain from time to time. Still, at the time she remembered the pain that hearing his sorrow caused her. Every plea from him was a knife to be unwillingly wielded by one against the other. The sorrow in his voice pained her and the inevitable rejection by her further deepened his sadness.

    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please, I’m as guilty as you.
    We’ve both lost the sky and our smiles.
    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please, don’t you see our effort was in vain?
    The sea became angered and my boat sank to the depths.

    To accept that life is different,
    Everything changes when love leaves.
    The emptiness you feel in your soul cannot be filled by any heart.
    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please, I’ve sinned just like you.
    Every time we try again it ends in tears.
    The way in which you ask me does not make any sense.
    It’s like asking the Earth to stop rotating around the sun.
    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please, let’s understand it’s all over.
    You and I have hurt each other so much that I can’t anymore.

    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please.
    Don’t ask me to get back with you.
    Don’t ask me again.
    If you want to be my friend wait while I think about it more.
    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please.
    Don’t ask me to love you again, you can’t be my love again.
    Don’t ask me again.
    If we meet each other one day it may be best not to speak.
    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please.
    There’s no reason to ask me to love you again.
    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please.
    Don’t call me again when you need someone to kiss.
    Don’t ask me again.
    You know I have a new love and I cannot love you.
    What do you want me to do if I can’t love you?
    I just want to get away.

    Don’t ask me for forgiveness, please.
    I’m guilty just the same as you, we’ve both lost the sky and a smile.

    The feelings were of annoyance, despair, guilt and a longing to move on. Not meant to be cruel but to encourage the process of healing for the both of them. In the end Sandra had decided that whether or not Emilio heeded her advice, she had to move on for her own sanity. In time he’d understand.

    As Emilio broke his thoughts he reached for the phone. He figured it was time to see what Sandra wanted…

    Sandra’s nostalgia was broken by the sound of her phone ringing…

    Sigan bailando!

    ps. I apologize for the cheesiness of the videos but I want you to know what the songs sound like, as it plays to the feeling of the moment.

    Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo!

    Saludos a todos!

    Well, another holiday season is here and I just want to wish everyone happy festivities this year for whatever you may be celebrating. Christmas is always a festive time in latin countries, a time for celebrating, enjoying food with loved ones, respecting the religious origins of the season and just overall having a wonderful time. Of course, a large part of celebrating is the enjoyment of music. The song I have selected here does a superb job of embodying the feeling of Christmas in latin countries and I just want to share it with you. I apologize for the lack of a full sample of the song (though you can listen to the midi sample on this link) but it is not an easy one to find so please accept this translation as a small token for you all during this season

    Salsa Cubana (El cuerpo me pide) by Elvis Crespo and Victor Manuelle

    During Christmas time my body asks me that I have lots of fun, let’s go out.
    No one stays behind, this is going to be good, to the sound of sweet music, its time to have fun.

    The doors open and Christmas time is in full swing.
    There’s a lot of noise and I’ve brought this party to sing to you.
    A bunch of friends have come to celebrate with you.
    My body asks me just for fun at Christmas time.


    We’ll be singing all night until the sun rises.
    But we’ll have a great time even if you leave early.
    Move your bones, this party gets is driven by this rumba.
    My body asks me just for fun at Christmas time.


    With the sounds of aguinaldo, salsa and guaracha during this holy night,
    And then we’ll continue dancing until the new year.
    On the feast of the wise men we want to be gathered with good music.
    My body asks me just for fun at Christmas time.

    My body asked for this party I gave you.
    Since I know you liked it, I’ll do it again.

    Since my body asked for this party I brought it to you.
    I don’t know if you wanted it but my body said, ‘let’s go, let’s go!’
    Since my body asked for this party I brought it to you.
    Hey, Victor, if your body is asking for a party then let’s go to your place and start the dance.
    Since my body asked for this party I brought it to you.
    Hey, Elvis, you see so many people entering your place in a hurry and I’m not seeing your smile.
    Since my body asked for this party I brought it to you.
    You’ll go back to your place and that’s why I have I have my people in the spirit waiting for you.

    My soul breaks but I gently bring this party to you.
    You’re already saying bye but where are you off to?
    My soul breaks but I gently bring this party to you.
    That’s how I wanted to see you, leaving my party.
    My soul breaks but I gently bring this party to you.
    I knew there were many houses to choose from but I chose yours.
    My soul breaks but I gently bring this party to you.
    Tomorrow I’ll go to yours with my own party.
    My soul breaks but I gently bring this party to you.
    There’s like 50 cars and there’s more noise to come.
    My soul breaks but I gently bring this party to you.
    The other 75 cars are waiting at your place.
    My soul breaks but I gently bring this party to you.
    Well, this party is done but now we’re of to the house of…

    Felices Fiestas!

    Sigan bailando!


    Guerra Musical….DLG face-off

    Hola de nuevo, salseros!

    DLG, or Dark Latin Groove, is a salsa ensemble that creates a very modern, enjoyable brand of salsa. The band originally comprised of 3 singers, Huey Dunbar, Fragancia, and James ‘Da Barba’ de Jesus. They had many hits including, ‘No morira’(it will not die), ‘Volvere’ (I’ll return), and ‘Todo Mi Corazon’ (all my heart) to name a few. After a successful run, the lead singer (Dunbar) decided to pursue a solo career and the band disassembled. In 2007 the band was re-introduced with de Jesus returning along with a female lead vocalist, Yahaira Vargas. They continue to put out great music (I recommend you check out their version of the Peruvian folksong ‘Toro Mata’ [the bull kills] done to salsa) but the songs that will battle here are from the Dunbar days.

    The contenders:
    1. Todo de Ti. DLG; album “Swing On” (1997).
    2. Es Una Promesa. DLG; album “Swing On” (1997).

    Right off the bat these songs both sound like they won’t build up to the usual quick pace of DLG songs but they both nicely work in the salsa feel into the ballad-like intro. These are love songs, meant to be tender and full of adoration. Todo De Ti means ‘All of you’ whereas Es Una Promesa translates to ‘It’s a promise.’ Both are very sweet songs, just see for yourself.

    All of you

    In this dwelling that looks out at the city
    Even when I’m alone I don’t miss the ocean
    I sail travel through your eyes no matter what

    I just have to close my eyes to feel as if I have all of you

    All of your kisses, your gentle laugh
    All of your breath, your passionate love
    Your entire body burns against mine
    When I remember you again, my love

    In this great city my life passes by alone
    In this solitude I’ve learned to love you in any way

    I just have to close my eyes to feel as if I have all of you

    All of your kisses, your gentle laugh
    All of your breath, your passionate love
    Your entire body burns me again
    When I remember you again, my love

    It’s a promise

    I can’t live without you; you are my everything

    Give me your permission, please, and I’ll die in your gaze
    It will be an engagement from me to be driven crazy
    Crazy with love and from my heart I’ll make you a promise

    To fall in love with you more every day is a promise
    To not be able to live without you again is a promise
    To always take you with me in my soul and dreams is a promise

    I just need for you to also offer me
    At least a bit of your wine and strawberries
    And I’ll be crazy with love and from my heart I’ll make you a promise

    It’s a promise to fall in love with you
    I promise to give you all of me (sing it)

    Just can’t live without you

    I also can’t live without you
    And without you I swear I’ll die
    Because this man enjoys his time with you

    Because you are what I want most
    And all I want is to give myself to you
    Take you to heaven and give you the stars
    I will be your king and you will be my queen
    Come closer to me, I ask you not to leave me
    I promise to love you however you wish

    So, as you can see, these songs are expressions of love spoken in a way anyone who’s been in love can relate to. The feelings are raw, simple, powerful and, at times, full of longing. I think one of the reasons these songs connect so well with the listener is that the sentiments expressed are universal and familiar to all of us. Now, let’s move on to the judging.

    Sound of the song

    DLG’s sound tends toward a more pop/hip-hop style of salsa. Having said that, both songs have a similar sound yet are all their own. ‘Todo de ti’ has a section about 3 and a half minutes in that slows down and maintains the faint salsa rhythm which transits nicely into a salsa crescendo. ‘Todo de ti’ is also a slower song. Compare with ‘Es una promesa’ and you’ll see that that one has a more driving beat. On their own each song is very enjoyable but when heard back-to-back I find that ‘Es una promesa’ stands out more (at least in my opinion). Having said that, my vote goes to ‘Es una promesa’ by a score of 4.5-3.5.


    Based on my above assessment, this verdict will be a result of my personal taste in the tempo of a salsa song. When it comes to very quick versus slower, I prefer slower. However, when both songs are mid-tempo, I prefer songs that are instrumentally more complex. I enjoy the driving rhythm of ‘Es una promesa’ and find it overall more intriguing. Therefore, my verdict once again goes to ‘Es una promesa’ by a score of 4.5-4.

    Musical and lyrical sync

    As usual, this will be the most difficult category to judge. ‘Todo de ti’ is a supplication, a longing for someone. In a way, these songs are a before and after. ‘Todo de ti’ is the original question, asking someone to give of themselves. It is hopeful and therefore more under control, slower. ‘Es una promesa’ is like the promise the person makes when the other has answered their question in a positive way. In that scenario, there is an overwhelming joy, triumph, victory in the first. This makes the tone more excited, as the first is filled with joy at the answer and wishes to assure the second that everything will be better. Seen in this context, both songs are perfectly suited with the sound of the music. I really enjoy these two songs as a call and answer. My verdict is a draw, 5-5.


    These are solid, enjoyable songs full of emotion. On their own they are probably pedestrian salsa beats but as a set they are quite extraordinary. The numbers decide this winner and that song is…’Es una promesa’ by a score of 14-12.5.

    Hasta la proxima,

    Sigan Bailando!


    Milton Nascimento & the Jobim Trio

    In the late 1950′s and early 1960′s a new fusion of samba and jazz was born in Brazil. This music came to be know as Bossa Nova (“new trend” in portuguese). In its purest form, bossa nova consists of a classical guitar played without a pick and laying the music for the vocals. Larger ensembles use piano and some percussion to produce a very relaxed, swaying rhythm. We’ve all heard the style (and in case you’re not sure, I’m sure you can all recognize this standard “the girl from Ipanema”). Among the pioneers of this genre was Antonio Carlos Jobim and it is his son, Paulo Jobim (guitar), grandson, Daniel Jobim (piano), and long time collaborator, Paulo Braga (percussion), that accompany Milton Nascimento. Mr. Nascimento is himself a legend of bossa nova and a Grammy award winning artist. With this in mind, I was very excited to attend this concert.

    The crowd at Massey Hall was upbeat and full of anticipation for this performance and I can honestly say that the act did not disappoint. A fear of mine was how much of this ‘elevator music’ could I handle, however, it really is difficult to not be caught up in the addictive rhythm of bossa nova. The stage had a very simple set up, just the musicians at their instruments creating music which is actually quite fitting for the feel of the music. Even Mr. Nascimento was very calm and relaxed on stage, limiting his movements to playful interactions with his band. Among the most enjoyable parts was simply the sound of his voice (here’s a taste). His voice is really a treat for music lovers in general.

    I went in expecting to hear a full concert of a certain kind of bossa nova (I suppose it could be called the mainstream sound) but was surprised to hear songs with a much different sound. As my friend put it, it was almost like listening to the radio at times. What this meant is that some of the songs in the set did indeed sound like modern soul music. While still nice in sound, it was something that for the bossa nova novice (like myself) I could have done without. Still, the material was well balanced and the concert was extremely enjoyable as a whole. One thing I must warn about is that Mr. Nascimento’s singing is not overpowering and blends almost perfectly into the music. This is the style of the genre but does make distinguishing lyrics a little difficult at times. It is easy to understand the appeal of Milton Nascimento and bossa nova as a whole. After a long week of work this was the perfect concert to just sit back, enjoy and unwind to.

    Hasta la proxima.

    Sigan bailando!


    Act 1, Scene 3, Song 5

    Sandra sat in her room, exhausted from a long day of work. Its not as if she could just go home and rest; no, she had to go and continue some final arrangements for her upcoming wedding. So interminable list of things to do never really seemed to shorten. It seemed to her like for every task she checked off, two more would appear. Her fiancee, George, and her had decided to keep it simple, yet it still seemed daunting. The good thing is that George had been a lot of help and her friends and family had also pitched in when possible. It was the mundane things that seemed to agitate her most, like picking out the colour scheme for the table cloths, which is exactly what she was doing at that point.

    It could be said that Sandra was successful. She enjoyed her job and had an active social life. Money was tight at times but never a limiting factor. At only 27, Sandra’s mother often asked her if she was rushing into things. The thought was not alien to Sandra but down inside she felt that this was the right thing. Sandra’s mother’s questions were made simply out of motherly concern. Her parents liked George and had no objections, they just wanted Sandra to be sure she was doing what she wanted. She sometimes wondered if her parents just didn’t want her to get married.

    My mom has told me not marry someone rich
    because every night its demands and demands.
    My mom has told me not to marry someone poor
    because every night its hardship and hardship.

    But I die of romances
    my stomach hurts.
    And I aimlessly wander where?
    To the count’s home.
    And for what?
    That, I don’t know.

    What my mom wants is that I not get married.
    That I not get married or get tied down.

    Chuckling at the silliness of this thought, Sandra goes back at looking at cloth colours. At this point Sandra doesn’t really care what colour the table cloths are but she’s gone so far now that she may as well get the final details done as well. Her mind wanderes to the one last detail she has to take care of. It was kind of absurd in a way, but she didn’t really want Emilio finding out through someone else. Oddly, she felt that due to their history, she had to tell him directly. When she had ended their relationship 3 years back Emilio had been left hurt and confused. Truth is, she knew she had done the right thing, she just wasn’t pleased with the way both of them had handled it. For a solid 5 years they had been lovers, confidantes and best friends. His pain and her need to break free of the past had strained their relationship further. Now it seemed that they were nothing more than acquaintances, though each could sense an underlying connection at some level. This connection, a result of compassion, respect and amnesty, is what kept them connected now and was the reason why she felt she had to tell him of her impending wedding herself. Maybe this time he’d answer? She reaches for the phone but doesn’t dial. On second thought, she doesn’t have the energy this night to make this call.

    Sigan Bailando!


    Guerra Musical…4th edition

    Hello again salseros!

    It has been a while since I last wrote here but with a busy summer, it was to be expected. So now I am going to pull myself away from these sometimes thrilling, sometimes sleep inducing, political conventions and return with another edition of guerra musical. For this edition I’ve decided to pick a couple of songs that are quite direct in their imagery yet are classics of salsa (and have actually been redone many times). Let’s get to it.

    The contenders:

    1. Ven Devorame Otra Vez. Charlie Cruz & Jennifer Pena; album “Como Nunca” (2004).
    2. Desnudate Mujer. Frankie Ruiz; album “El Papa de la Salsa” (2008, though the version is actually much older than that as Frankie Ruiz suffered a Lavoe type lifestyle and died at the age of 40 in 1998).

    These songs are openly and directly about sex, no beating around the bush. However, each song approaches the topic from a much different perspective, as you will soon see. One is about a straight physical desire between two people; the other is about vindication (for lack of a better term). Anyways, let’s allow the songs to speak for themselves.

    I’ve filled my free time with more adventures
    And my mind grows with nostalgia over not seeing you
    And without thinking I’ve said your name while making love
    Because I always look for your wild sex, my love.

    Even in my dreams I’ve imagined you devouring me (pretty steamy)
    And I’ve moistened my white sheets crying for you

    In my bed there is no one like you

    I haven’t been able to find that being
    That caresses my body in every place
    Without missing a bit of skin.

    Devour me again, come devour me again
    Punish me with your desires because I’ve held my vigor for you

    Devour me again, come devour me again

    My mouth tastes like your body and it heightens my desire for you.

    Whew! Pretty hot if you ask me. Needless to say, the rest of the song follows a similar train of thought. These two people obviously have a level of lust for each other that can’t be denied any longer. The idea of becoming so consumed by someone that it is as if they are devouring you is the premise of the song and works well as a duet. Most versions of this song are sung as a single voice but the dynamic of adding a second voice with a reciprocating desire is very effective for the tone. Now for a different tone.

    I don’t know why you deceive me if I adore you
    Perhaps it was my fault for not knowing how to take charge from the beginning.

    But I didn’t know that you’d be capable of betraying me
    Capable of deceiving me.

    Undress yourself, woman
    I also want to see the art with which you make love.
    Undress yourself, woman
    I’m trembling, a little pale and a little shocked by you.
    You deceived me, your body is foreign to me
    You’re just another naked woman.

    I don’t know why you deceive me if I adore you
    I searched for you among a thousand women but I was mistaken.
    With your innocent face you played the role of a great actress.
    Its over now, the comedy is done,
    I’ve removed that mask I loved so much.

    This song is completely different in tone. This man feels betrayed and angry over what this woman that he idolized did to him (presumably cheating on him). His demand for sex is more about debasing her and making her into nothing more than an object, which is how her betrayal has made him see her. It almost seems as if he’s asking for something he never had but that other(s) that weren’t her “love” did. I find it noteworthy that the lyrics of this song are quite harsh and acerbic yet the if you simply heard the music you wouldn’t get the same sense. Let’s see how the songs fare in judging.

    Sound of the song

    I remember both these songs from my youth. In the case of Devorame, the original was a more tame version, not quite as moving but still catchy. As I said before, the duet style works for this song and I really enjoy the slightly more full sound of this version compared to older ones. One of my favourite parts is actually the base that introduces the song and the slow build up to the full instrumentation and clave. I think it is a very upbeat song with a catchy tune. The harmony between the two singers is enjoyable and helps express the desire by both of them (though not as fully as I would’ve liked). Desnudate provides a steady salsa rhythm and is simple yet effective. There are no big flares and the star of the song is the vocals. I like the ‘less is more’ instrumentation in this piece, never overpowering but just accenting the story being told. Neither of these songs is overly flashy but the sounds are undeniably addictive. Due to the extra savour given to Devorame by its intro, I will give it a slight edge here, 4.5-4.


    Danceability is never really a problem with salsa; if it doesn’t get your feet tapping, then nothing will. I will echo what I said earlier, these are simple salsas and finding the rhythm is not difficult. For that matter, maintaining it is also easy. This allows your mind to wander into the territory of creativity and allows your feet to simply move on muscle memory. This may not be a large deal to seasoned dancers but to those in their salsa infancy, it can be a blessing. Having said that, one song does offer a little bit more in terms of musical expression and its translation to the dance floor. Many people won’t readily recognize what the song is about so they will rely on the music to lead them and give them opportunities to change things up. It is here that Devorame has an edge as it provides a little more pure instrumentation and even some complete stops (resets if you will) to the music. This may not seem like much but it does, in fact, provide a chance to accent things. This is not to say the Desnudate does not provide it but that Devorame makes it a little more clear. So again, the edge goes to Devorame by a score of 4.5-4.

    Musical and lyrical sync

    This is one of the few times where I didn’t quite see an obvious sync with the songs and their lyrics. In the case of Devorame, it may have been because I didn’t quite feel the desire in the voices of the singers. Don’t get me wrong, they were good voices, but not quite as expressive as I would’ve liked for the tone of the song. The situation with Desnudate was different. At first hearing, the music sounds too upbeat for the lyrics but I think it is because of the sting of the lyrics that the song is that way, to lessen the bite. The question is does it work in that tone? I would personally prefer something a little more angry (a la Marc Anthony) but respect the vision of the artist. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and credit its sarcastic (I think) nature. I will also give it the edge, 4-3.5.


    I really enjoyed both these songs. While both deal with sex, one is clearly more happy and joyous whereas the other is bitter and sarcastic. I think both work well though they don’t necessarily sync up completely with their music. I would have a hard time saying which one I like better but the numbers clarify it for me. The winner is Devorame 12.5-12.

    Hasta la proxima,

    Sigan Bailando!


    Act 1, Scene 2, Song 4

    The club was especially hot on that summer night and the driving rhythms of the music propelled more and more people on to the dance floor. Exhausted from the continuous dancing, Emilio, James and Ozzy decided to take a break for some water.

    “Man, it is hot out there.”
    “I know, just like all those lovely salseras.”
    “I hear that. Wouldn’t you agree, Emilio?”
    “You’re right, Oz, no argument here. But you know, what’s stopping you guys?”
    “Hah, the problem is I can’t decide on just one. And as for James, well…”
    “What’s going on? Come on, don’t hold back on me here.”
    “Well, what can I say, someone has captured me like no other.”
    “Yeah, and you’ll never guess who?”
    “Whoa! Come on, who is it?”
    “Let me tell you about her…”

    There’s this girl that drives me crazy
    When she walks by I get all worked up
    And I don’t know what to do with that woman
    Her mouth tastes like coconut candy
    And I like to kiss her little by little
    And I don’t know what to do with that woman
    Because she is so good and so pretty
    She is the medicine my body needs
    And there is only one like her
    To me she is worth a fortune

    She drives me crazy
    She drives me crazy
    And I don’t know what to do with that woman

    “Sounds like you’ve fallen, so who is this mystery woman?”
    “Well, let’s just say she’s no stranger…”
    “What’s that suppposed to mean?”
    “Haha, looks like someone is being a bit of a snoop.”

    I have a girl that drives me crazy
    Its as if I’ve won the lottery
    And I don’t know what to do with that woman
    If she looks at me my knees go weak
    And my body shakes like an earthquake
    And I don’t know what to do with that woman
    Because she is so good and so pretty
    She is the medicine my body needs
    And there is only one like her
    To me she is worth a fortune

    “Ok, I’m going crazy wondering who it is. Come on, aren’t you going to tell your best friend?”
    “Well, the fact you don’t know yet and Oz here does means you’re clueless. I guess I’ll have to let you in on it.”
    “Oh Emilio, sometimes you’re so caught up in your own world you don’t notice those around you.”
    “Fine, fine, who is it?”
    “You see that girl over there in the red top?”
    “You mean Kim?”
    “Since when?”
    “Hey sometimes things just happen.”

    If she asks me to dance
    I don’t know what to do
    And whenever I see her
    I don’t know what to do
    If she sends me an e-mail
    I don’t know what to do

    “Well man, that’s awesome…no point in keeping the ladies waiting. Let’s get back out there.”

    Sigan Bailando!


    Act 1, Scene 2, Song 3

    The evening’s plan was simple, a night out dancing with friends. Stella and Emilio were joined by two of Emilio’s closest friends, James and Ozzy, and two of Stella’s friends, Kim and Nicole. It was a good circle and even though loyalties were obvious there was a respect and overall joy amongst all members of the party. Throughout the night, both at dinner and on the way to the club, Emilio had seemed a little detached, as if something was bothering him. Knowing him as well as they do, James and Ozzy take him aside and ask him if everything is alright.

    Begrudgingly, Emilio admits that something has been bothering him but that he’d rather not talk about it at the moment. Understanding the tone, James and Ozzy drop it, knowing that it is something that will be revisited when the time is right. However, before completely abandoning the topic, they ask Emilio if he’s sure he wants to continue with the nights festivities, to which he has only one response (a sentiment shared by all members of the group)…

    You hear it from Puerto Rico to New York
    Doesn’t matter the generation
    They recognize this song.

    From Columbia to Venezuela, Japan to Panama
    They say it in their own unique way and style
    Its a contagious rhythm that makes everyone dance
    If the people ask me for salsa than that is what I’ll give them
    I love salsa!

    As long as there are people who sing this song
    Salsa will live on in every generation
    I like merengue, bachata and reggaeton
    But I carry that flavourful salsa in my heart
    I love salsa!
    (I’m sure you all recognize this song as the one used by James and Therese in their competition performance)

    Livened once again by the promise of the fun to come, the group arrives at the club, ready to dance the night away.

    Sigan bailando!


    Gilberto Gil and Omara Portuondo

    Whew! Let’s take a second to catch our breaths from a frantic few weeks. It began 3 weeks ago when I attended two concerts on back-to-back days and wrapped up with the grand opening of the new TDS studio. On Friday June 27th I attended a concert at Massey Hall. The performer was an entertaining act from Brazil, Gilberto Gil and the Broadband Band. This was a highly enjoyable show with traditional and modern brazilian sounds ranging from calypso, samba, forro and reggae to name a few. As is the nature of the music, all songs were upbeat and had your toes tapping in no time. One of my favourite pieces was the reggae interpretation of the Beatles classic “Don’t want to leave her now.” Audience participation was encouraged and by the end of the night everyone was having a good time, up on their feet dancing the night away. Composed of various guitars, basses, percussion and keyboards, the harmony was complex yet simple in its enjoyment. Every song had a joyous feel and was sung with such dedication that you couldn’t help but experience the music (a sentiment echoed of the performance given the following night by Omara Portuondo, but more on that later). I only wish I knew Portuguese, my spanish allowed me to understand some but not all of what was said. Still, musically, the show was well put together and did not disappoint.

    The following night brought a performance by the legendary Cuban songstress, Omara Portuondo. This act was closer to what is known as salsa but to call it a salsa act would be an injustice to the range of music performed. Perhaps most famous for being a part of the Buena Vista Social Club, Omara’s music consists or stories from her native Cuba expressed with tenderness, love and power. The group was the topic of a PBS documentary which I recommend to anyone interested in the afro-cuban rhythm and its influence to modern day musica tropical. I must say that Roy Thomson Hall is a great place for a musical experience and the nuances of her voice carried well in the venue. Consider one piece where she sings about spurned love with the passion and scorn expected of such a song. Each note carried the emotion precisely and with equal conviction. Now, imagine following that up with a song intended as a lullaby for a little baby. The power in the voice was replaced by playful, hushed tones, making you feel as if you are in the room, looking down at the baby in its crib. For a woman well into her 70′s, Ms. Portuondo’s voice carries a quality seen in performers more than half her age, a truly great voice.

    Still, I must admit, even with two amazing acts the highlight for me was the opening act for Ms. Portuondo. The group charged with this task was the Roberto Fonseca group. The best way I could describe this group would be as a latin jazz ensemble. Consisting of drums, percussion, guitar, bass, various other instruments (flute and sax to name a couple) and Mr. Fonseca on the piano, this group delivered one great song after another. For an interview click here, with the second part here. As a former jazz musician, I have always had an affinity for the many permutations of jazz; add to that my love for latin rhythms and this group was a delicacy to my ears. As I listened to the music I could feel the layers being built on each other until the final product which was just mind blowing, a collective melody of simple complexity. The groups ability to incorporate different sounds was especially evident in the piece titled “Congo Arabe.” As you can probably guess from the title, the idea is an afro-cuban rhythm with a distinctly arabian feel. I just have to say in closing that I’ve never quite heard the piano played that way…what a treat.

    Hasta la proxima.

    Sigan bailando!


    2008 Amateur Competition–final wrap up

    Well, what did you all think? Friday saw the end of the 2008 TDS amateur competition…and what a show it was. 5 couples, all of them outstanding. In case you missed it, the winning performance was given by Kelly Elliott and Barry Ip. They put on a show worthy of the top prize. I wish to congratulate all of the competitors, the creativity, skill and joy on stage was visible from everyone.
    The top 3 were as follows:
    1. Kelly Elliott & Barry Ip
    2. Camela Adams & Manuel Alvarez
    3. Therese Maceda & James Kalfin
    Also deserving of recognition are Marsha Soefreddie & John Radtke and Jennifer Botelho & Tyrone Sterling, who all showed why they deserved to be in the top 5.

    Of course, none of what the performers did on stage would have been possible without those people behind the scenes. With that in mind, I’d like to thank Sharon and Evan for all the work they put into the event; George for being one hell of an MC and all the others who helped organize.

    It seems hard to believe that this journey began 3 months ago and is now done. I remember looking for a partner back towards the end of March and having Sharon suggest someone who I knew nothing about. However, I figured, let’s do it. I am so thankful that that partner turned out to be Camela Adams. We clicked instantly as a dancing duo. From our first informal meeting all through the rehearsals and choreography, our compatibility was obvious and strengthened. It was a blast putting together our final routine with her.

    Our routine began as I was researching music for this blog and came across a cd of old tango standards made into salsa by Jerry Rivera. Two songs specifically caught my attention for having a stronger tango feel. Of the two, one was my preferred choice, luckily, upon presenting Camela with 4 song options, she picked the one that I had in mind. Having decided on a song, it was time to choreograph. Taking into account that it was based on a tango and that the song (Yira Yira!) dealt with overcoming despite the world being cruel and unfair, I decided that we should make it a passionate, “us vs. the world” type of performance. In a couple of days I had carefully timed movement to music, working in moves that fit with the song. When it came time for our first practice, Camela gave her input and slowly but surely, the final piece took shape.

    From the very beginning, we both had a very exact idea in mind for costumes. All in all, the final piece was one we were both proud of and which we felt did a good job of combining tango and salsa elements into one fun package. I think what surprised me most was the expression we both put into the final performance; at no point during practice had it ever come out the way it came out on the stage. Camela had always been very good on the stage, it was about time I kept up. Right before the performance, Camela told me she would be adding a special touch to the routine. In a strange way, this brought out a certain side of me that played off extremely well with her stage presence. The way it all came together was great, a justification of the work we had put into it. I’ve never been more expressive on stage than I was on that night.

    And now it is done. No more 3 hours of practice a week, which oddly enough I kind of miss. It was quite an experience and it won’t be soon forgotten. The difference within me this year from last was stark and obvious. I can say with certainty that I have grown as a dancer and encourage everyone to cast their fear or apprehensions away and do it…it might surprise you how much you gain from it. In closing, a giant note of recognition to everyone involved, you’ve made this year’s competition memorable for many reasons….can’t wait to see next year’s version.

    Sigan bailando!