Mariposa Cruz balances writing with working as a fulltime corporate paralegal. She works, writes and dances Salsa in Reno, Nevada. Learn more about her and her books at her blog. Today she joins us to talk about the dance that plays a role in the first book in her Rhythm & Romance series.
A Taste of Salsa
Besides being an excellent workout, burning an average of 420 calories per hour, the wonderful thing about Latin dances is that there’s a flavor for every taste. If you’re longing for hot and spicy, try Salsa with its fast pace and brassy tones. While Bachata’s smooth rhythms and haunting melodies will resonate with those yearning for more of a chill vibe.
This diversity of flavors is due to these dances having been steeped in a wide variety of cultural influences including African drum rhythms, Spanish guitars and American jazz. The history of Latin dances is as varied as its sound and rhythms. Like many origin stories, the lines between fact and myth have become blurred over time.
In the wild days of Old Havana, the casinos had the money to draw the best musicians and the dancers quickly followed. American musicians escaping Prohibition infused jazz into the mix. When revolution struck, the casinos closed, but casino-style dancing continued to flourish in Cuba’s community halls, while Cuban music spread throughout American cities. Today in addition to Cuban-style Salsa, there are several distinct regional styles including Columbian/ Cali style, Miami-Style Casino, New York and L.A. Salsa.
While the translation of Bachata literally means “party”, many of its songs are of trouble and heartbreak. Under the Trujillo regime in the 1960’s, Merengue was hailed as the national dance while Bachata was spurned as low class, confined to the seedy bars and brothels of the Dominican Republic. Even once Trujillo’s reign ended, it took a long time for Bachata, with its heavy guitar rhythms and poignant melodies, to emerge from the shadows. Now Bachata’s sultry rhythms are heard in clubs throughout the world.
While it may be impossible to separate fact from legend, a single truth resonates throughout the evolution of Latin dance. The power of an artistic expression, whether it is a type of music or a dance style, can draw people together, transcending cultural differences, economic upheaval, or political strife.
A Rhythm & Romance Novel, Book 1
Widowed attorney Liz Grant buries her grief in a deluge of paperwork. On whim she takes a free dance lesson at the club Eclipse where the mojitos are cold and the Salsa is hot. She falls for Salsa’s spicy rhythms and Patrick Cavanaugh’s sexy grin. But can Liz handle the dramatic change of tempo in her well-ordered life?
Patrick has all the right moves, but struggles to keep his balance as his adult daughter spins out of control. Will their love survive off the dance floor?