The craze for all things Latin shows no sign of abating. Over the next ten pages we tell you what to listen

to, how to

dance to it,

and where to

go to get the



first hand. But

first, what is it that makes salsa so hot?

Jan Fairley

SALSA IS THE LATIN DANCE OF THE MOMENT. But what is it'.’ A sexy dance which takes its name from a picante ‘hot' sattce. notably l‘rom ‘lichale Salsita’ (Put Some Sauce 011 It). the famous Sexteto llabanera song of the 1930s still heard today. To a liuropean. it may look like an explicit vertical demonstration ol‘ sexual foreplay. as dancers swing and twirl around each other. moving their butts like Magimixes. working tip a sweat. To a Latino. salsa is mttch more: it's a statement of who they are. where they came from. it‘s their identity writ large in music.

By Latinos we are talking about those

whose l’amilies come from the tropical north ol‘

South and (‘entral America and the Caribbean. and the diaspora who populate North America: l’uerto Ricans. Venezuelans. Colombians. (‘ubans. Dominicans ol' lirst. second and third generation.

Why has salsa become so popular in recent years. and in particular why has (‘uban salsa

in its native guise ol'mn. become so dominant. most visibly through the gorgeous old music of the veterans of Buena Vista Social (‘lub'.’ Willi l‘idel (‘astro addressing the l'nited Nations in New York earlier this month. there can be no doubt that (‘uba‘s potent revolutionary history and its position as the world‘s last bastion of socialism. in name il‘ no longer in practice. makes it unique. The fact that the revolution has nurtured (‘uba's music and dance for 40 years. paying salaries to musicians to keep playing music live to audiences of every age. has kept music l‘resh and vital. Music is now (‘uba‘s greatest export. bringing home as much foreign

exchange for the country as its major crops ol’ sugar and tobacco once did. In the words of

the latest song from the street-cred .\'(i La Banda. (‘ubans are travelling the world. ‘tirando piedras por todos partes'. literally having a shot at everything they can.

With people spending an increasing


amount ol‘ their lil‘e interacting with a computer screen. communicating more by e- mail than l‘ace-to-t’ace. learning a couple of dances which involve touch. smiles. clinches on the dance floor. tuning your moves to those of someone else. gives you the kind ol‘ physical contact most everyday activities lack. Salsa allows you to flirt like mad. have l'un and still keep your dignity when the dance ends.

lidinburgh dominates Scotland‘s salsa scene with a club available every night. ('lub Latino began it all almost ten years ago. bringing o\ er (‘uban bands like Sierra .\laestra and Sonora la ('alle. Weekday nights were slowly picked up by Salsa Viva. Son de rumba. and African style by Arakataca. In the past couple of years (‘uba .\'orte. Baracoa and Hi Salsa. and Siglo have

joined in. recently added to by Latin lixplosion.

and now I'll Barrio has salsa to offer every night of the week. with classes and workshops l't'om talented teachers. Sabor?

' sea 5 ()0. f THEUST 107