LA Style Salsa…
How it started… Part 1 of 10…
Conversation started today:
Hello Edie. My name is Amnon Willinger, and I’m a Salsa dancer and instructor from Israel.
I am currently doing some personal research on the evolution of Salsa music and dancing and I was wondering if I can ask you a few questions, as you are one of the most experienced and known Salsa dancers in the world.
Assuming this message won’t get lost in facebook’s spam section, I will be very grateful for your help.
Edie: Sure! What would you like to know?
I am familiar with the annual Salsa Competitions (started in the late 90s) in LA which contributed to the popularity of LA style dancing around the world.
But I would like to know a little about how Salsa parties got started in LA, before the big festivals and competitions. What music was playing (romantic Salsa or NY Fania salsa) back then? – Amnon
Thank you for asking this question. I grew up in LA, and discovered Salsa at exactly the time the Vazquez brother started to rise. Yes, I agree; Fania is the best – TOTALLY. All of us boo’d the DJ when he attempted to play Salsa Romantica. Francisco Vazquez created LA Style Salsa. He then taught it to Luis, his brother, and a couple years later, when Johnny made it out of Mexico, he carried the tradition all over Europe. Now all three are in Europe. The women who created it were: Joby Martinez (Luis’s former wife) and Janette Valenzuela. Although they’ve all had many partners since, they were the true originators of the fast and power “Style” of Los Angeles Salsa. It was literally a STORM of dancing back then – combining the Nicolas Brothers with Michael Jackson moves, everything from Fed Estaire partnerwork to MC Hammer – all within ONE SONG. High-Speed spins, dips, tricks… you name it. It all carried the unequivocal “flavor” and palpable excitement of Hollywood. California was MORE than ready for this. And Francisco, Luis, and Johnny were Masters – that have never been equaled or conquered… to this day.
These guys would go out SEVEN NIGHTS A WEEK. They took EVERYONE BY STORM. It was literally SHOCKING to watch them dance. No one had EVER seen ANYTHING like it before. Most people were just dancing Cumbia at the time – since most of them came from Latin America, across the border, and most were illegal immigrants. There were no classes, no lessons… just pure dancing whatever they brought from the old Country. When the Vazquez brothers made it to Los Angeles, one by one (no one knows if they came illegally or not… to this day), they BLEW EVERYONE’S MINDS. This is literally “all they knew”. All they knew how to do was DANCE. It was the only thing that made them happy, filled them with joy, and got them attention – MASSIVE ATTENTION. When Hollywood producers entered the clubs to find their next “Mambo King” movie star… they couldn’t help but notice the Vazquez brothers. Their flips, tricks, high-speed spins, knee drops, powerful dips, and Latino, Machismo ATTITUDE tore a hole in the floor WHERE EVER they went. They had a following that you would not believe. They were everyone’s hero. They gave hope to those of us who were poor, miserable, and down and out… They gave us all “hope” that there was something in life that we could do – and be damn good at it if we practiced hard enough. I was about ready to commit suicide at the time. When Luis told me…”I will make you a great dancer…” I hung on to those words as if it were the only words I knew. It was a time that will be etched in everyone’s mind… forever.
When the Vazquez brothers walked into a club… you could FEEL their presence. Everyone turned around to watch them walk in – it was as if they walked in the place in slow motion – like you see the cowboys in movies… or the heroes of a great motion picture. The essence of confidence, power, extreme character, motion, movement, and masculine essence was… nothing short of “Divine.”
It was nothing like we had every seen before, nor since…
TO BE CONTINUED….
– Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
Edie The Salsa FREAK!! Website