Cumbia and Tango

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by larrynla, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    If you want to increase the amount of tango dances and tango partners you have when you visit Buenos Aires, learn to dance swing and cumbia. Many milongas include break tandas of swing and tropical (Latin) dancing.

    Swing has long been popular in Argentina and other Latin countries. It began in America (in black communities, as tango did) but it has universal appeal, and at the milongas which feature it you may see some of the best swing dancing in the world.

    “Tropical” includes most of the Latin dances but the word usually excludes salsa, which is popular enough in Argentina that it is referred to by name and not "tropical" and has its own "milongas." Cumbia is a sort of slow salsa with different instruments for those of you who know salsa.

    Be warned about requesting or doing cumbias in milongas. Class consciousness is as prevalent in Argentina as elsewhere, and the middle and upper class there (or those with pretensions to it) look down on cumbia as a low-class dance. But some of the music is quite lovely and the dance is leisurely and (I think elegantly) simple, so you can pick it up quickly. And it is quite popular in some milongas.

    If you do salsa/mambo try slowing it down and you will be fine. But hold off the fancier moves until you see what others are doing, and try moving smoothly rather than with a bounce.

    Want to hear some cumbia music? Go to YouTube and search for Fito Olivares. Or for "baila esta cumbia" (with the quote marks), which will bring up several songs by the Tejana singer Selena whose all-too-short life was made into a movie starring Jennifer Lopez.

    Larry de Los Angeles
     
  2. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Interesting. I didnt experience this myself so am interested where this happens.
     
  3. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    There were 116 milongas listed in the web site I consulted a couple of months ago when I started to plan to return to Argentina next April (and I hope May). Each one is different depending on the organizers and DJs and night of the week (or weekend). Not all of them have non-tango tandas, and not all of them feature tropical.

    Salon Reduci is where I first saw a cumbia in Buenos Aires. This is south and west of San Telmo barrio. The flavor seemed to be of mostly older couples many of whom knew each other for a long time.

    Niño Bien is where I saw the swing dancing. It's a huge place and seems to draw everyone of all ages and backgrounds. It was awesome to see literally hundreds of people dancing swing, like something out of the Benny Goodman era. But the music was from a later time, and included Rock Around the Clock, and Blue Suede Shoes.

    Armenia the night I went was split half-and-half with recorded rock music and a band dressed like and playing Beatles music, and tango DJd music the other half. It was absolutely packed and was mostly a 20s and 30s crowd.

    lo de Celia also played tropical including cumbia but also a rumba. A young woman asked me to dance (verbally, not with the traditional cabeceo). She told me she lived a couple of blocks away and always came to this milonga, but only for the tropical, not the tango. She made a date with me to go the next night with a couple of lady friends to another milonga, which I was happy to agree to and had a good time as their sort-of fallback partner when no one else asked them to dance. (I was not neglected, however, meeting a trio of Canadian women who also saw me as a safe non-intimidating Argentine.)

    Larry de Los Angeles
     
  4. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Larry, the pieces you suggested have a fast beat and they are only a little bit slower than LA- or NY-style tunes. What is the difference to normal rural salsa ?
     
  5. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Larry, thanks for the thread. I have in previous threads talked about the Argentines' love for amer swing and salsa (b/c these were what I taught when I was there to support my AT education).
    Some very typical, and very often played, cumbias. iTunes or someone will have them for you to listen to.
    Juana la Cubana
    Cumbia des los Pajaitos
    El Cafetero
    El Negro Jose
     
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    oh shame on me and my ignorance: I found a lot information on youtube, thanks! And now I think, cumbia is no salsa style, it´s something special.
     
  7. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Yes...a dance unto itself, but also one of the 4 primary components that make up salsa.
     
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member



    Actually, Cumbia " breaks" are used in Salsa, but other than that, the music is a separate category from the NYC. P.Rican and Cuban based style of music usually assoc. with Mambo/ Salsa .

    Sometimes, in latino clubs, Cumbias are played, and many cannot distinguish it from Salsa... its " pulse " rhythm is quite distinctive, and the rhythm appears quite regularly, in Colombian style salsa music, ...

    Popular, as a dance, with Colombians and Dominicans, altho its origins are Colombia via Africa ( as are most latin based rhythms ) .And yes, the tempo can vary greatly .
     
  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi tt, you wrote

    I read in wiki, that the break (el rebote) is on 3. Is it right?

    .. they have a clave and they break on 2, like ball-room rumba.

    Sorry, I learned Salsa only for a couple of months and then I changed to TA. But my salsa teacher at that time, an early student of Jonny Vazquez, told me, that all styles of central america and the west coast region are quite similar, and that there is no distinction between salsa and cumbia. That was the origin of my term "rural salsa", which was not meant pejoratively.

    greetings
     
  10. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi tt, you wrote

    I read in wiki, that the break (rebote) is on 3. Is it right?


    .. they have a clave and they break on 2.

    Sorry, I learned Salsa only for a couple of months and then I changed to TA. But my salsa teacher at that time, an early student of Jonny Vazquez, told me, that all styles of central america and the west coast region are quite similar, and that there is no distinction between salsa and cumbia. That is the origin of my term "rural salsa", which was not meant pejoratively.

    greetings
     
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    The break timing is a syncop bar, danced,, 1 and 2.. 3 and 4, similar to 5th position breaks .

    " Styles " can be dance and or music, so i dont know what his reference was, but... dance wise, they look and are different, and musically speaking, there is a huge difference between Salsa and Cumbia .

    By "rural " I might assume he means more " folk " style than current trends, and that is quite possibly true, but in todays context, the dances have been defined in a new paradigm that fits the current musical trends .
    One also has to mention, that Cumbia is danced in Mexico and is as prevalent there as is Salsa elsewhere.
    A further point of interest, one of the early forms of " Son " rhythm in Mexico, was played in strict 4/6 timing and was popularised in the Fed. district of Jalisco. "Son" being another " root " along with the clave ,of mambo/salsa .

    So.. he is right about connections.. but not about the divergence being the same .
     
  12. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    I suspect you are mis-quoting the teacher, but he may have not been as knowledgeable as we could wish. Certainly all Latin dances influence each other, but to those who spend a lot of time on each they are distinct.

    Incidentally, cumbia is not only influenced by (and influences) other Latin dances, but the dance has been influenced by rock'n'roll, especially in Mexico, and some cumbia dance groups do a hip-hop version. And the music has been influenced by other genres. There is, for instance, an Argentine cumbia variant that makes heavy use of electronic sounds. If you visit or live in Argentina there is a music club in Palermo called Zivek that is something of a center for this music.

    The most obvious difference is that salsa/mambo music is medium- to very-fast, cumbia is slow. The two examples I suggested people search for on YouTube both have a major beat on each second and a minor beat between.

    This leads to a very leisurely dance tempo, suitable to the more elderly and none-too-slim tango dancers at milongas who are the ones who most often fancy cumbia. And it is the tango dancers that this thread is concerned with. Discussion of Latin dances more properly belongs in that forum.


    Larry de Los Angeles
     
  13. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    .. but this would be a parallel with the LA-style of Jonny Vazquez, too.
     

Share This Page