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Salsa Fever Hits The Crow's Nest This Saturday!

 By Sharon Allen
Arts and Entertainment Columnist


May 13, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - The temperature is rising in Ketchikan and the reason is clear: Salsa Fever has arrived!

If you're among those infected with a love for this anything-goes-sexy-style of music and dance, there's good news.   There will be a Salsa Dance this coming Saturday night, May 14th.  It will be held at the Crow's Nest, which is located at the Coast Guard's Upper Base.  The dancing begins at 8:00 pm.  Chips and Salsa will be served free of charge, there's a great view of the Narrows and the Coast Guard Ships free for the looking, other food and drinks will be available for purchase and the cost is a mere $5.00 at the door!

If you have two left feet or you're not sure if Salsa is right for you, don't automatically dismiss the opportunity to check it out.   Dance instruction will be available at the party and no experience is necessary to begin learning.  You don't even have to have a partner to attend!

Be assured, you'll have fun.  After all, the music is infectious, the dancing sensual.  The roles are defined in a clear, straightforward way: men lead, women follow.  The flowing outfits - for both men and women - are sexy and elegant - though it's not necessary to wear traditional Latin garb in order to have a good time.  And although the dance steps may appear difficult at first, once you let yourself go and get a feel for the rhythm, you'll soon find the cha in your cha-cha and the bow in your Mambo.

Never heard of Salsa?  Wonder what all the buzz is about?  Where it came from? What's it like?   Perhaps a little history will explain. 

Although quite a few Latin countries claim to have influenced the development of this popular music and dance form, (most prominently Puerto Rico and Spain), Cuba is universally accepted as the birthplace of Salsa.

According to most experts, Salsa grew out of "SON," a form of music and dance which came into existence in the early 1900s on the eastern end of Cuba.   Farm workers and slaves living in the mountains of Santiago de Cuba began using everyday objects such as metal spoons, cups, chairs and sticks to create sounds that combined the rhythmic dance steps and raw tempos of Africa with Spain's sensual poetry and passionate resonance of strings.

Later the original crude instruments were replaced with the guitar and tres (3 double-stringed guitar) and a drumbeat was added, along with a motivating, syncopated bass "tumbao" (a sort of 'lurch' of sound). The dance mutated along with the sound by taking basic mambo steps and changing them into extravagant, flaunting rhythmic movements that ranged in speed and emotion from slow and sensuous to hot, fast and sexy. 

This unusual music and dance style then made its way to the U.S. in the 1950s and early 1960s as people began migrating from Puerto Rico and Cuba to both New York and Miami.   Dubbed "Recycled Cuban Dance Music," it quickly evolved one last time, integrating America's Jazz and Swing movements.  The result was a hit and Jerry Masucci, founder of the Latin recording label Fania Records, finally gave the new sound the name "Salsa." Within a very short time, Salsa Fever had become an epidemic and temperatures were rising everywhere.     

Salsa ultimately peaked in the '70s and then lost ground to Funk in the '80s.   But recently, there has been a worldwide resurgence of interest in Salsa, possibly initiated by the growing popularity of such new Latin musicians as Marc Anthony and others.  

Today, the music is basically bass heavy, but it also integrates other instruments, such as piano, conga drums, cowbells and timbales, to name a few.  As for the dance, it - like the music - is a riotous fun fusion of tempos, steps, spins, drops and syncopations.  It has slow, passionate embraces that tantalize the senses and the flesh and fast, intense, grasping, gasping numbers that twirl your world and heat you up 'til you fall down. 

Better yet, there's even a "descarga" (firing) moment when the music turns raw and primitive.  The horns heat up, the skins on the drums pound with excitement and the pulsating rhythm of all of the other instruments vibrate their way though your skin and your lungs into your very soul to leave your heart and legs shaking and your lungs without air. 

If that sounds suspiciously like the last time you had the measles or the flu, don't worry.  Although Salsa Fever may be infectious and you may never be cured of it once it's in your blood, unlike most ailments, it won't kill you.

But, it might leave you a bit tired this Sunday!!

For more information, call 617-1284.  Doors open Saturday, May 14th at the Coast Guard Upper Base in the Crow's Nest.  Salsa Dancing begins at 8 pm.  Instruction is available, no experience necessary, no partner required.  Chips and Salsa are provided and food and drinks are available for purchase.  Cost is $5.00 per person for the facility.

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