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August 15, 2010 / HJD

Salsa in the City

This article in the Times is a good segue for my return to New York and to highlight another genre that has me going loca.

In one post, I said that it was strange to study flamenco in Buenos Aires, the tango capital of the world. The fact that people from all over the world come to New York to take classes and get a taste of the local scene is a testament that if you like salsa and live in this city, you’re in the right place.

I started learning salsa in 2006, landing a work-study gig at a studio that has since folded, Empire Dance. My instructor was living legend Frankie Martinez, although I had no idea who he was at first. Soon I learned that he was the Puerto Rican Michael Jackson.

I was lucky– not only to have a great teacher– but also because he was one of the DJs who exposed me to classic salsa from the 70s, like Willie Colon, Ray Baretto, and Eddie Palmieri.

For my tastes, this music is perfection: polyrhythmic, melodically evocative and with jazz-inspired arpeggios. I helped out at socials and at the Salsa on the Seaport, dancing in between taping down speaker wires, or collecting entrance fees. Anything to be around that sound.

If you’re down to learn or want to know where to go, here are a few suggestions:

DJ Babaloo’s Mambo Mondays at Session 73 – smokin’ live bands, or classic salsa tunes spun by Babaloo in an intimate venue. Dancers of all varieties —  from clave in the cradle, to studio-trained– get down in this open atmosphere. Beginner lessons by La China and Hector starts at 8:30.

NY Salsa Fiesta Meetup & Dance Group. Classes for all, at every level, by the dynamite duo Cynthia La China and Hector Pena.

For salsa classes with Frankie Martinez, click here.

Salsa New York Calendar: the go-to site, bookmarked by every dedicated salsero or salsera looking to dance every night of the week. Links to Manny’s Magazine with articles like, “Most common mistakes for beginners.”

May your nights be dance-filled and salsa-spiced!

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