The salsa robot army dances in place
Listening to Salsa Swingoza's Sunday afternoon set at the Orange Court, my feet started to do the move -- one forward and one back with a hip-shake in the middle -- the basic salsa step. About two minutes later, a girl walked up to me, "You can salsa?"
"Not really," I said. "I just know the basic step. A friend who knows how to dance this taught it to me. But it's weird. No one is dancing here."
"Yeah!" she said, and then, before turning away to leave, "Anyway, this is a cha-cha."
Boy did I feel stupid.
Salsa dancing, outside of Latin America, is an incredibly nerdy excuse for social mixing ("Hey, didn't we meet at the Hong Kong Salsa Congress?") for people who, by and large, don't drink. But the music is very, very cool, and even if the two or three dozen salsa steppers at this show were mostly just doing the basic step in place by themselves, like a platoon of salsa robots, Salsa Swingoza has the stuff.
The band is led by conga player Gen Ogimi, who got his chops in the New York salsa scene in the mid-1990s and is heavily influenced by the classic salsa of the 1970s. (The music and dance dates back to the 1960s when Cuban immigrants developed it in New York.) With tribal tattoos down both arms and a shaved head, Gen calls to mind photos I've seen of Guatemalan gang bangers, which is neither here nor there for the music, which is wonderfully true to the genre. Gen's band includes Cubans and Peruvians, and the major idiosyncrasy is that the four horns are all trombones. But I suppose you can only take my word so seriously. After all, I can't tell a salsa from a cha-cha-cha.
Reported by dave (2007.07.30 / 00:11)