Updated: Sep 1, 2019
For the Salsa dancers out there – young and old, beginners to advanced, you’ve probably heard that within Salsa there are different sets of sub-genres.
Here we’re going try to keep it simple and sweet and attempt to summarize the sub-genres – we say attempt, because there are enough theories to go around.
Salsa Clasica/Salsa Dura:
During the 1940s and 1950s Cuban musicians dominated the (New York) Latin Music scene, but with the arrival of Fidel Castro and breakdown of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba; the Puerto Rican’s quickly took over.
In this time( 1960s to the 1970s) – Latin music transitioned from the “big band” vibe to a mix of influences from different genres ranging from African beats to European piano styles and US jazzy brass.
The term “Salsa” meaning “Sauce” was born as a way to define the “sauce mix” of genres.
Salsa Clasica later on re-emerged as Salsa Dura as a differentiator to “Salsa Romantica”
The Salsa Dura / Sasla Clasica is classified for its jazzy music, brass and/or piano solos. It’s a “heavy” or “fat” type of Salsa and often time includes the “descarga” or discharge where the musicians essentially “go nuts”
The crossbody style of dance (on1 and on2) fits best on this music and the different sub-sections in the music just simply scream for musicality and “fun” play.
It’s also important to note that due to the composition these songs were all relatively long 5-10 minutes.
Notable groups/Artists: Fania Allstars, Hector Lavoe, Celia Cruz ,Ray Perez ,Jimmy Bosch, Ruben Blades
Rock-on 1980s. Salsa Romantica is classified as an easier to dance / easier to listen to and not to mention radio friendly 3-5 minutes. A theory online suggested that Salsa Romantica partially came to existence because of the Cocaine Cartels of that era and their affinity to the genre, while other suggest that it was Salsa created for the nightclub scene.
It’s a bit of a slower, “lighter” sounding salsa when compared to the Clasica and Dura. Salsa Romantica has its influences from the Latin Pop scene and has a bit more of a “ballad” vibe. Note that Salsa Dura came made a comeback during and hence the Salsa Dura was coined to distinguish between the 2 genres.
There’s a lot of criticism on Salsa Romantica, ranging from lack of musical creativity (boring composition) and lyrics being too syrupy leading to sometimes a lack of creativity on the dance floor. All up for debate – not relevant here 😊
Nevertheless Salsa Romantica is the "all-around" genres that generally any style of Salsa can dance to. It's also that perfect blend of "party atmosphere" that the non-salsa dancers can sit and enjoy a drink to.
Marc Anthony, Luis Enrique, Gilberto Santa Rosa , Tito Nieves, Victor Manuelle
That's it from our end - we'll be adding on Cuban Salsa and Timba in a later upgrade from this article. Stay tune!