Salsa vs mambo

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by uncle joe, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    .. yes and no

    Hi timbera, I was told this, too, when I learned Salsa. But, I think it is not true! Dancing contra tiempo, on clave, or a tiempo is not a question of style, it is a question of proficiency. Today on1, on2, on3 have degenerated to trade marks, or to seperated club scenes, resp. When you get to the point of improvising, and interpreting a piece of music, you dance what you feel, and not what is usual in your school. I saw couples dancing mixing everything! (Rueda may be an exception)
    I did not get so far, because I changed to TA, which is improvised, too. But, when I dance, I don´t follow the style completely (and there are as many as in Salsa), I follow the music.

    Cheers OD
  2. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Danced an on-2 mambo to salsa music last night for the first time in a long time, and I noticed how much better -- "more logical" -- it felt in my body than the on-1 salsas I've had of late. The lead was complex but impeccable and it felt better than any on-1 I've ever had. I never noticed before the way the natural forces move thru my body differently so much with on-2.
  3. Beto

    Beto Active Member

    Exactly how I felt when I made the switch 6 years ago. It's like my eyes had been opened to a new way of experiencing the music. :D Knowing both is best IMHO but sometimes you'll see dancers develop a bit of an attitude once they make the switch or get comfortable with the timing.
  4. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Yes, am well-aquainted with the "attitude" from when I was taking on-2 lessons and dancing in those circles for awhile. So not my thing. Can't even say I "hate" it...iit just doesn't interest me and I stay away from arrogant dancers like that.

    Thankfully, the dance circles I've been travelling in of late are full of gracious leaders.

    One thing which surprised me was that this leader didn't *ask*, "Do you dance on-2?" He just started leading. On hindsight, mebbe that was a bit of a complement. IAE...dang, did it feel great. And it really did fit the music, as you say! Linked my body *with* the music better, is how it felt...

    I will definitely go seek this guy out again for the experience...:)
  5. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    I learned on-2 first, then on-1. I've always found on-2 to be much more musical than on-1, and the way you phrased it here -- how the natural forces move through my body -- is exactly right, imho.

    That said, the most musical salsa/mambo experience I ever had was with a vieja escuela older Puerto Rican gent, who learned at the Copa back in the day, and led me on-3. Never forgotten it. To me, on-3 is the most musical, but I rarely encounter it.
  6. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    Very interesting! Never danced on-3. Can't wrap my mind around how that would work, unless the 1 and the 2 are both in place...
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    I dance pretty much all my salsa on 3, with some exceptions, when 2 is really more appropriate . But.. in my classes, I teach all three ( 1.2.and 3.... )
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    PRs use this frequently ( they tap on 2 ) occasionally
  9. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    Like so many things to do with dancing, it's clear once you see it, but tedious to explain. I will leave it to brighter minds than mine, but it's all in where you break, step, and hold. And yes, 1 &2 are both in place; hold, break, step, for lack of better terms. And the tension while you build to that break on 3: delicious, and v. musical, imho.
  10. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    I'm getting a feel for it in my mind and am gonna seek someone out to try it with...
  11. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    I recall Angel Figueroa used to say "Mambo is what you dance. Salsa is what you eat."
  12. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    now that you put it this way, i believe that many years ago i was first introduced to salsa by some tapping PR dancers...later when i actually learned how to dance, i was surprised to never see that tapping version. and yep... it would make sense that that was on-3.
  13. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    Love it!
  14. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Actually, Tito Puente said it first..
  15. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Agreed, that's definitely his line ;)
  16. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    His direct quote was .. "Thats what I put on my food "..
  17. GJB

    GJB Well-Known Member

    Thanks, TT and SD for point that out : )
  18. timberamayor

    timberamayor Member

    I've never seen any variety of son danced on1 so that is interesting.

    I have no idea whether latinos and DJs consider cha cha cha to be a "latin dance" or music, but they are undeniably from Cuba, which is a latin country...which makes that kind of a funny thing for them if they say it's not latin, but whatever.

    My understanding is that the origin is danzón. If you listen to a danzón the montuno section "sounds like" a cha cha cha. In the Diccionario de la Música Cubana Enrique Jorrín "creater" of the cha cha cha said himself "...I liked it so well that I decided to separate the last part, that is to say, the third trio or montuno, from the danzón. Then I came up with pieces like 'La Engañadora' (1951), which had an introduction, a part A (repeated), a part B, a return to part A and finally, a coda in the form of a rumba. From nearly the beginning of my career as a composer of dance songs, I watched how the dancers danced the danzón-mambo. I noted that most of them had difficulty with syncopated rhythms, owing to the fact that their steps fell on the upbeat (contratiempo), or in other words, the second and fourth eighth notes of the (2/4) measure. The dancers dancing on the upbeat and the syncopated melodies made it very difficult to coordinate the steps with the music. I began to compose melodies to which one could dance without instrumental accompaniment, trying to use as little syncopation as possible. I moved the accent from the fourth eighth note- where it was normally found in the mambo- to the first beat of the cha-cha-chá. And so the cha-cha-chá was born- from melodies that were practically danceable by themselves and a balance between melodies on the downbeat and the upbeat."

    Yes I have also heard that the name came from the sound of the women's heels as they clicked on the floor during the shuffle part of the step. The fact that you start dancing with the 4 & 1,(or chachacha) on the 4 makes it contratiempo to me.
  19. timberamayor

    timberamayor Member

    Cuban street dancers quite often dance on3 and also tap on 2. If you look at YouTube videos about casino dancing you will see that a very large number of Cubans tap on the "pause". The street dancers very often dance on3 with the tap on 2 and the professional dancers usually dance on1 with the tap on 4.
  20. timberamayor

    timberamayor Member

    I agree that the focus on the beat you dance on has become a selling point for the various styles and I personally don't think one is any more valid or better than the other. I think that dancing is a threesome between me-mypartner-themusic and it has to work for all three. If I am dancing to a son montuno with someone who can't dance contratiempo, I will dance on1 with him. But I also know that son is a contratiempo dance. That doesn't mean that if you dance a tiempo to son you will go to hell or you are a bad dancer or anything else, it just means you are dancing to the music differently than the original dance.

    But it's not just the feet. Just taking steps on 2,3,4 6,7,8 doesn't make it suddenly son. Son has a particular upperbody motion that sort of drags out over the pause and gives the dance it's particular feel. That is what I like about dancing son. It's not about when I set my feet down, but the bodymotion of the dance. I don't like dancing son to fast songs even if they are son, because in the fast songs the drawn out, lazy bodymotion becomes a little bounce that I don't like. So fast songs I like on1 (or3). You can of course dance on1 with the son bodymotion and a lot of people do that, but to me it doesn't feel quite right because it is missing the point in the music that was originally emphasised by the dance (the 4 pause)

    So I don't know if I've made much sense but I mostly dance on1 or on3 because I dance casino. When the DJ plays a son if I have a partner who dances son, I will dance contratiempo but if not I will dance on1. When I dance by myself as a wallflower, I will as often as not start out dancing contratimepo during the cuerpo and then at the first montuno quite possibly switch to a tiempo. I listen mainly to Cuban music and Cuban music has certain elements that emphasis the 1 which makes a tiempo feel quite natural.

    This video shows this. The singers dance a basic son step until about 2:06 when the montuno starts where they begin dancing on1 with a tap on 4, going back to what some people were mentioning about the tap that some people do in PR. I pesonally tend to tap with the right foot but not with the left so that would mean I tap on4 but not on8. Don't know why. That's just what I do for some reason.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TChbIlTSx3o

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