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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Possessed and Obsessed with Latin Music

During my first two years attending the State University of New York at Albany, I thought I wanted to major in African-American studies. I not only took the classes and read a lot of books, but I took trips to the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture in Harlem, NY, and discovered that the African diaspora extended from Canada to Argentina. I learned that in the Western Hemisphere, black people speak English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Dutch as a first language, all as a result of the slave trade. This explained why Latin music, specifically salsa has so much of the African influence in its music.

Some of my African-American friends noticed my ever growing collection of Latin music and made a comment about my turning into a Puerto Rican.

I was going into my junior year in college when I met my girlfriend Jenny who was straight out of New York's Latin Manhattan, more specifically, New York's Lower East Side. When she learned of my love for salsa music, she was good enough to teach me the basic steps and some slick moves. At that time, I was still a klutz. It wasn't until years later that I perfected those steps by practicing slowly until I got the rhythm in my system, and became a respectable salsa dancer. Sometimes, at the salsa clubs, women who didn't know me would turn me down assuming a "brotha" knows nothing about salsa to only be sorry when they see me flow through fancy dance patterns and footwork with other women who were not so judgmental. Of course, I would never ask such snobbish women to dance again because there were too many down-to-earth women around who would love the offer of dance from a gentleman.

I learned that in the Western Hemisphere, black people speak English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Dutch as a first language
While in college, some of my African-American friends noticed my ever growing collection of music by Eddie Palmieri, Joe Cuba, Ray Barretto, and other Latin music stars and made a comment about my turning into a Puerto Rican. I had to laugh that one off. I still loved my jazz and rhythm & blues, and depending on my mood, that was the music I played; classical music included.