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Let us begin our dance journey with son, one of the earliest Cuban music forms.
music historians agree that the Cuban son
is the backbone for contemporary salsa and was probably the most popular
dance music genre to emerge from Cuba during the early 20th century.
Son developed in the late 1800’s in the mountainous
Oriente province, located in the eastern regions of Cuba. Son began as an
Afro-Cuban popular dance of the rural working classes and was performed with
percussion alone. Son is believed
to be the first musical genre to use drums played with bare hands. Music
historian Vernon Boggs notes that Son
possesses numerous African musical influences including syncopated rhythms and
melodic line that had no connection to the underlying percussion.
Son, the dance, starts with a very formal, closed embrace of the man and woman. The couple maintains a very upright frame, with quick flirtatious side to side movements of the shoulders, torso and hips accenting the underlying six count rhythm of the feet . Since son is danced off the beat (a.k.a “contratempo”) the couple moves on the half beat before one. So leader moves left and holds on the “and-one” beat , moves right on the “two” beat and left on the “three” beat. This results in a slow-quick-quick, slow-quick-quick rhythmic pattern. Salsa dancers will recognize that this style is the exact opposite of the quick-quick-slow rhythmic pattern work of modern day salsa.
Rebecca Mauleon, The Salsa Guidebook
F. Figueroa, Encyclopedia
of Latin American Music
Vernon Boggs, Salsiology
P. Manuel, Popular Music of the Non-Western World
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