Salsa is the Spanish word for “sauce” denoting a spicy or hot flavor. As a dance, it can be performed to a variety of different rhythms. Generally, salsa music encompasses many Afro-Latin rhythms driven by the clave (two wooden sticks struck together). Today’s Salsa is the result of many years of rhythmical evolution due to economical social and political change. Salsa is the national music and dance of Puerto Rico. Many of the Salsa dance patterns are closely related to those of the Mambo.
In 1933, Cuban songwriter Ignacio Piniero wrote the song Echale Salsita (“throw on some sauce”) after tasting food which lacked the Cuban spices. But it wasn’t until 1962 when Jimmy Sabater’s tune, “Salsa y Beme” suggested the dancers liven it up or spice it up by adding a little “salsa” to their movement when dancing.
In the 1940’s, Americans became fascinated by Latin American rhythms. The original Mambo music, El Guardia Con El Tolete, had its beginning in 1944 as a Rumba with a riff improvisation. The Mambo combined American Jazz with the Afro-Cuban beat. As the parent of Cha Cha and Salsa, the Mambo is an exciting challenge for all dancers.