Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Miss the Music of Salsa Romántica

Wilmer Cartagena of Perú sings Un Amor Como el Tuyo 
(A Love Like Yours)
For about 15 or 20 years, salsa music went through an age of mellow, sensual, and romantic style for broader commercial appeal to a Latin music audience. This took away emphasis from the hard-hitting orchestrations of Salsa, to which I was accustomed. It's called Salsa Romántica or Salsa Sensual because it heightened, sensual feelings. The big megastars in those days were Luis Enrique, Eddie Santiago, and Lalo Rodriguez, among many, many others. I have to admit that at first, I was totally turned off and disgusted as I was used to Salsa Dura (hardcore Salsa music); like that of Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, and Willie Colón. However, as I continued to go to the clubs, I fell equally in love with Salsa Romántica or Sensual, as it's sometimes called.

I found Salsa Dura to be nice to listen to long before I learned how to dance to Salsa music, but I found Salsa Romóntica to be nicer to dance to after I learned how to dance. Salsa Sensual made me feel more connected with the woman with whom I was dancing. It had a nice, steady beat where you can get all of your slick dance moves and patterns in without rushing and running out of breath, and at the same time, romance my female dance partner. My favorite Salsa Romántica artists were Gilberto Santa Rosa, Hector Tricoche, and Rey Ruiz. A close friend of mine, Ricardo, a fellow salsero (salsa dancer) and I earned some extra money making and selling Salsa Romántica t-shirts illustrate dwith a sketch of a dancing couple.

Today, salsa clubs, bands, and DJs have gone back to the traditional Salsa Dura, per demand of an overwhelming number of Salsa purist, which I once was. These purists gave Salsa Romántica all kinds of bad names, like bubblegum, lollypop, pussy-whipped ballads accompanied by Afro-Cuban rhythms —leaving no room for classic salsa's brilliant musical improvisation, or for classic salsa lyrics that tell stories of daily life or provide social and political commentary. Although I still love and appreciate Salsa Dura, I do miss Salsa Romántica.

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