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Salsa dancing

The Tokyo region has a small but active sub-culture that enthusiastically dances salsa.  Hip-hop and disco dancers vastly outnumber those doing salsa - but no matter, salsa is great fun (and good exercise too). 

We'll attempt to provide some info about the Tokyo salsa scene, and a bit of background about salsa dancing itself.   You can also get a good view of the Tokyo scene and of salsa, by reading the novel 'Dancing in Roppongi' - click here for a description.

 

A bit of background

Salsa is one of the numerous dances originating in the Caribbean and South America regions.  New dances pop up every few years - and it's been happening for decades, maybe centuries.  In the 1930s it was rumba, in the 1940s it was mambo.  Brazil had samba, Argentina had tango.  Habanera, son, lambada- and more recently, reggaeton, zouk, and others - the number and variety is quite broad, and the ones I've mentioned are only a fraction of the dances generated by these regions.  An interesting article about this, dated 1947, is at

http://cuban-exile.com/doc_176-200/doc0200.html

 

Salsa began in Cuba, with a different name.  Beyond that, much seems open to debate.  One version I've heard is that in the 1950s, in Havana, several social clubs evolved a group dance that they called Rueda de Casino.  Several pairs of dancers, in a circle ('rueda' in Spanish), do the same moves at the same time, as shouted out by a designated caller.  In the US, there are also dances that have many pairs of dancers doing moves shouted out by a caller (square dancing and the Texas two-step, for example) but Rueda de Casino is much much more dynamic than those dances in the US.

 

Dancing in a group takes effort to arrange.  Single pairs took the Rueda moves and danced them, retaining the Rueda basics of an 8-step cycle and rotating the moves in a mutual two-person circle.

 

Sometime in the 1960s or 1970s, musician-businessmen from New York saw this dance, and began promoting it in the US.  They retained the 8-step cycle, but laid out the moves in a back-and-forth pattern, and dropped the group aspect  And they changed the name to 'salsa' (which means 'spice' in Spanish),  Some Cubans were/are irritated by this name change.

 

Over the years, several variations of salsa dancing evolved.  When you go a salsa club, depending on where you are in the world, you may encounter:

     -- New York style (also called "On 2")

     -- Los Angeles style ("L.A. style", or "On 1)

     -- Cuban style ("Rueda de Casino").  Miami style may be close to this.

     -- several flavors from the South American countries: Colombian, Peruvian etc.

Also, while a large percentage (50% to 80%) of the songs played will be for salsa, music for other dances will also be played:  merengue, bachata, reggaeton.

Click on these pages for more details:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
MAP / Market Action Partners         Tokyo, Japan

    Tel international (81) 90 2430 1778, in Japan 090 2430 1778    Email dan.harris (at mark) mapjpn.com     Dan Harris, principal

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