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Monday, August 9, 2010

Latin Dance Customs, Icons & Symbols

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Latin Dance & Relationships

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Etiquette for Latin Dancers

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Safety for Latin Dancers

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Personal Hygiene for Latin Dancers

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Tips for Latin Dancers

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Greetings, Compliments, etc. for Latin Dancers

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Tips for Latin Dance Partners

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Latin Music and Dance 101

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Zumba

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Zouk

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Timba

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Tango

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Son Montuno

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Son

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Samba

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Rumba

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Salsa

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Reggaeton

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Pilón

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Paso Doble

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Merengue

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Mambo

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Kizomba

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Flamenco

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Fado

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Danzón

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Cumbia

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Cha Cha (Cha-cha-chá)

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Casino Rueda

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Casino

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Bossa Nova

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Bolero

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Bachata

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Zumba Scene

Zouk Scene

Reggaeton Scene

Cuban Scene

Cumbia Scene

Rumba Scene

Monday, April 26, 2010

Habana Sodo

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Salsaymotion

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Seattle's Flamenco Scene

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Seattle's Fringe Latin Scene

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Seattle's Tango Scene

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Seattle's Samba Scene

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Seattle's Bachata Scene

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Seattle's Merengue Scene

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Seattle's Cha Cha Scene

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Seattle's Salsa Scene

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Bands

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Deseo Carmin

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

La Casa de Mojito

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All Nations Soccer Bar & Restaurant

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BDS Xtreme Dance Company

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Bahia in Motion

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Samba Brazilian Restaurant

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Pequena Havana Cuban Restaurant

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Matador

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La Isla

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La Carta de Oaxaca

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Acai Vida

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2118 Night Club

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Wild Rose

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Vertigo Lounge

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Triple Door

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Tia Lou's

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See Sound

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Rock Salt

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O'Asian Bar and Restaurant

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Navya Lounge

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El Malecon

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HaLo

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Selena's Guadalajara

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Fusion

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Dantes

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China Harbor

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Babalu

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Washington Dance Club

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Tudo Beleza

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Sonny Newman's Dance Hall

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salsaNseattle

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Salsa Salvaje

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Salsa Con Todo

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Salsa Caliente

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Rumba Brava

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Mambo U Dance

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Left Foot Boogie

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Flamenco Danzarte

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Ewajo Centre

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E. Mayimbe Dance Company

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DanceWorks Studio

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DanceSport International

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Dance Underground

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Century Ballroom

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Carmona Flamenco

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Bravas de la Rumba

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Belltown Dance Studio

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Arthur Murray

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American Dance Institute

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Abaya's Ballroom

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Tumbao

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Supersones

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Sonando

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Sambatuque

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Samba Assim

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Salsariba

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Rhythm Syndicate

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Quichua Mashis

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Picoso

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Orchestra Zarabanda

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Mambo Cadillac

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Grupo Ashe

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Global Village

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Fred Hoadley Trio

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Double 0/8

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Cosmonauts

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Conjunto Chevere

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CocoLoco

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Children of the Revolution

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Charanga Danzon

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Cambalache

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Other Seattle Latin Institutions

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Seattle's Latin Blogs

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Seattle's Latin Restaurants

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Seattle's Latin Clubs

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Seattle's Latin Performance Groups

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Seattle's Latin Dance Schools

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Seattle's Latin Dance Instructors

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Seattle's Latin Dancers

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Seattle's Latin Dance Companies

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Seattle's Latin DJ's

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Seattle's Latin Musicians Comments Page

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Seattle's Latin Bands Comments Page

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Century Ballroom Samba Party!

Century Ballroom is celebrating its anniversary this Saturday. The 6 1/2-hour party lasts from 7 pm. until 1:30 a.m. and is free.

Interested parties are invited to submit the names of three of your favorite dance songs. Of course, there's no guarantee that they'll play any of your choices, but it sounds like fun - especially when they've specified no genre.

As just about any Seattle salser@ who's reading this blog knows, Century Ballroom is the Mecca of Seattle's salsa scene, serving as Seattle's premier salsa dance venue and school both, with a little cha cha, bachata and merengue thrown in. Together with its sister studio, HaLo, it also focuses heavily on tango and swing. So I'm guessing that the submissions will consist largely of salsa, cha cha, merengue, bachata, tango and swing.

The one thing Century Ballroom is missing is samba - and I discovered just recently that there is a samba community here in Seattle. I'm intrigued by the fact that the salsa and samba communities are so distinct; at one samba party at Nectar Lounge, I didn't recognize one person from the salsa community.

In related news, I've just learned that Brazilian Songbird - the first album released by my favorite local band, Sambatuque - is now available for sale on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, ReverbNation and Facebook. I LOVE this album, which, as you might guess, features mostly samba. But one song, Tanta Saudade, ranks as one of my top ten favorite salsa songs. I refer to it as Brazilian Salsa, because it's so unique.

In fact, the song is part of a medley - Chegui Meu Povo/Tanta Saudade. Chegui Meu Povo is samba, and it doesn't sound extremely danceable to my ears, though I love the song. But it's hard to sit still while listening to Sambatuque's version of Tanta Saudade.

So let me get to the point: I want to ask you two favors.

First, I'm DYING to know if other salsa addicts like Tanta Saudade half as much as I do. I even discussed this song on an online forum, but it was surprisingly hard to find online audios that people could listen to. Now, you can buy this song (or two-song medley) for just ninety-nine cents. So if you can afford to part withi the better part of a dollar, please buy the song, listen to it and tell me what you think.

Second, I'd love to hear this song played in a local club. In fact, I'd love to dance to it. So I'd like to ask some of you to make Chegui Meu Povo/Tanta Saudade one of the three songs you submit to Century Ballroom. Don't just list the song; tell them WHY you'd like them to play it. Better yet, send them the link to this blog post.

The icing on the cake: Promoting this song would also help promote a local band, and it would further help promote a greater awareness of samba.

In fact, all three of my suggested songs have some connection to samba: Chegui Meu Povo/Tanta Saudade, Another Star (Stevie Wonder) and The Girl from Ipanema (jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd's version).

I heard Another Star years ago, but it didn't really register with me until I heard Sambatuque perform it recently. I then checked out Stevie Wonder's version again, and it's now one of my favorite Latin songs. At least, I think it can be considered samba.

On second thought, I'd like to ask you THREE favors. 1) Buy the song Chegui Meu Povo/Tanta Saudade and let me know what you think about it. 2) Ask Century Ballroom to play it. 3) Consider including another samba song among your three choices.

Another Star and The Girl from Ipanema would be great choices, as would be Mas Que Nada. (Sergio Mendes' original version of Mas Que Nada is my favorite, but a Japanese lady named Nilo Koizumi also has a cool version, which you can find on YouTube.)

So will I even attend Century Ballroom's birthday party? I'm not really sure what to expect, and I certainly wouldn't stay for more than two or three hours. But I'm guessing there will be a mixture of salsa, swing and tango dancers there, which could be kind of interesting. And if I knew they were going to play that one song - Tanta Saudade - I'd have a hard time staying away.

For whatever it's worth, I'm taking cha cha and bachata classes at Century Ballroom/HaLo right now. In fact, there are several cha cha songs I'd l ove to request, including Funky Cha-Cha (Arturo Sandoval), No Me Llores Mas (Ismael Miranda) and Sway (Rosemary Clooney). But I thought it would be fun to try and persuade Century Ballroom to embrace a new genre this time around.

You can e-mail your three favorite dance songs to Century Ballroom at Office@CenturyBallroom.com

I'd love to know what songs you requested, especially if one of them is Tanta Saudade. :)

Vertigo Meetup

If you're looking for some mid-week salsa action, check out Vertigo, in Bellevue tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 23). Disclaimer: I've never been there, and I'm not even certain I'll be able to make it tonight. But it sounds interesting.

Last week was the grand opening of Vertigo's salsa night, which begins with two salsa classes (beginners' salsa and ladies' styling) taught by Samantha Brava (7-9 p.m.). Though the six-week series started last week, it might not be too late to start tonight. I suspect you might even be able to pay for a single drop-in class, if you just want to check it out.

Samantha is reportedly available for private lessons from 9 p.m. on as well.

Tonight is a special night because Samantha's son, Rico Brava Jr., is flying in from LA to give a performance on his mother's birthday.

Vertigo apparently has two dance floors, though I'm not certain if both will be in action tonight. I'm guessing they might have salsa on one floor and some other dance genre on the other, similar to Rock Salt.

Again, I really know nothing about Vertigo, but I suspect some salser@s might enjoy checking it out tonight. (Did I mention there's no cover charge?) There's more information about it on the Eastside Salsa Meetup Group's page.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Seattle Latin Musicians Page

After launching me new Seattle Latin Community page, I launched a Seattle Latin Bands pages. This blog post serves primarily as a place for people to comment on the next page, which will focus on Seattle's Latin Musicians. (You can also e-mail me via my Contact Page - or e-mail me directly, if you know my e-mail address.)

The Musicians page will probably be organized similar to my Bands page. Hopefully, I can get most of my questions answered by simply contacting local Latin bands.

In the meantime, please let me know if you spot any errors, or if you can think of any musicians I should add to my list.

My site lists Latin dance teachers, so why not Latin music teachers?

I feared that might be a little complex. After all, many Latin musicians take classes from "mainstream" teachers, at least in the beginning, right?

Nevertheless, I think it would be a good idea to at least mention SOME Latin music teachers. So I'd like to begin by adding the following information, wherever possible:

1) Who taught each of the band members listed on my site?

2) Which of the band members offer lessons themselves?

If you think you deserve to be listed on my Musicians page (either as a performer or a teacher), then please send me some information regarding your lessons. Hey, played a little guitar, piano and trombone when I was younger, and I've been thinking of taking a few basic Latin percussion lessons myself. :)

Thanks for any tips!

Seattle Latin Bands Page

After launching me new Seattle Latin Community page, I launched a Seattle Latin Bands pages. This blog post serves primarily as a place for people to comment on the Bands page or offer additional information or advice. (You can also e-mail me via my Contact Page - or e-mail me directly, if you know my e-mail address.)

Anyway, my new Bands page features a list of twenty Seattle area Latin bands, with links to their websites and Facebook/MySpace pages (if any).

A second table organizes the bands by genre or style and offers a brief description. Finally, I created a table that lists the members of each band.

I'm already working on my Musicians page, but I still need a lot of help with my Bands page. Fortunately, I can probably get most of my questions answered by simply contacting each band.

In the meantime, please let me know if you see any errors - or if I've left out any bands or band members.

I want to add at least one more feature: A list of albums recorded by each of these bands and links to online audio files, so visitors can hear samples of their music.

Also, I might add some sort of performance calendar, though I'll probably just work that into my existing Seattle Salsa Calendar.

Thanks for any tips!

Seattle Latin Community Page

Good news: I've finally figured out how to organize my Seattle Salsa website. You can see my inspiration at the new Community and Bands pages.

As you can see, my idea is quite simple, but I have a lot of work to do - and I need your help.

You can start by taking a glance at the Community page and giving me some feedback. (You can either e-mail me via this page or post a comment right below this blog post.)

Do you like the way I've organized this page? Do you have any ideas for improving it? Do you know of any local individuals, bands or businesses that I left out? I don't have a list of all of Seattle's Latin dance teachers, musicians or clubs, so I need help tracking all of them down.

Next, I want to work on the Musicians page. I'll create separate blog pages where people can comment on the Bands, Musicians and other section pages. This post is for commenting on the Community page or the overall project.

Thanks for any feedback!

Busy February!

Wow, Seattle's Latin entertainment scene may seem lame compared to LA or San Francisco, but first appearances can be deceiving. Take February 20 - please.

As all diehard Salser@s know, Seattle's #1 Salsa hangout, Century Ballroom, has been in cabaret mode for the last few weeks. The first post-cabaret Saturday Salsa fling is on February 20. But there's a lot of competition.

I've long wanted to see one of Seattle's most unique Latinish performing groups, Children of the Revolution. As you probably guessed, they're performing in Kirkland on Feb. 20. Then I discovered another event that looks hard to resist: The 16th Annual Brazilian Carnaval of Seattle.

A couple nights ago, I learned about a THIRD mega-Latin event scheduled for February 20: The 11th Annual Fiesta de la Independencia de la Republica Dominicana, featuring plenty of Bachata, Merengue and Perico Ripiao. (If you don't know what Perico Ripiao is, join the crowd.)

Why do all these events have to be scheduled on the same night???

In the meantime, I've been checking out some local Salsa clubs, attending Rock Salt, China Harbor and Selena's Guadalajara for the first time - and I was impressed.

I've generally shunned clubs (other than Century Ballroom and HaLo), largely because I thought the people who hang out there are pretty good dancers. In fact, it looks to me like many of them are pretty average. Rather than dance better, they dance different than what those of us who have been living under the shadow of Century Ballroom or whatever dance teacher we've adopted are used to.

China Harbor and Rock Salt are interesting because they're so near each other, yet they're so different. China Harbor used to be Seattle's #1 Latin dance venue, but Rock Salt has stolen its thunder. In fact, many of the Salsa heavyweights who were headquartered at China Harbor have relocated to Rock Salt.

Which isn't to say China Harbor is a bad place. It struck me as a relatively mellow place, compared to Century Ballroom. With a smaller dance floor but a much smaller audience, it was a nice change of pace. It would probably be a nice place to take a date.

At first, I liked the music a little better, too, but I began to grow weary of the Merengue and "Mexican Cumbia" songs they played later in the night. However, the audience didn't seem to object. I assume the audience consisted primarily of people who have found their niche at China Harbor.

Rock Salt is bigger, fancier and more vibrant than China Harbor, with two dance floors (Salsa downstairs and Reggaeton upstairs). I had the impression that it catered to a younger, rowdier crowd. In fact, I didn't see any rough stuff, but I did see a major security team, with no shortage of big, burly bouncers and guys wearing black shirts emblazoned with the word SECURITY. A guy stationed at the entrance with a portable metal detector made sure no one brought any knives or firearms inside.

The Salsa room has far more seating room than dance floor, but the tables are spaced pretty far apart, and people aren't shy about dancing between them. It seemed like a really fun atmosphere. With several Salsa VIP's on the premises, I had some interesting/educational conversations, too.

China Harbor and Rock Salt aren't the only Salsa neighbors. Just two or three buildings seprate Babalu and Selena's Guadalajara in North Seattle's Walingford neighborhood. Selena's has that Mexican restaurant look - probably because it IS a Mexican restaurant. Babalu is much more posh. One might call it more of a yuppie hangout.

It's kind of like comparing Matador and La Carta de Oaxaca, neighboring Mexican restaurants in Ballard. Matador is a really fancy "Tex/Mex" place. La Carta de Oaxaca is much plainer but more authentic and really cool in its own way.

Having visited Babalu and Selena's Guadalajara just once, I can't really say which one I like best. Selena's was much less crowded, and I thought it seemed a little more fun. They kicked off the night with a free dance class taught by a local Cuban dance teacher, Carlos Lazo.

Incidentally, there probably isn't a lot of competition between the four clubs I mentioned above because Rock Salt and Selena's have their Salsa nights on Saturday, while China Harbor and Babalu do Salsa on Friday and Wednesday, respectively. (I think; I need to check the details again.)

I believe China Harbor is going to start featuring beginning Salsa classes, also.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention what appears to be a Latin mega-party at a new club called Republiq on February 19. I have't done a lot of research on it yet, but that's shaping up to be one wild weekend. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SeattLatin Blogs

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sambatuque Reunion

I’ve been meaning to write some articles about Seattle’s Latin bands for the Seattle section of my SeaLatin website. I was finally motivated to get started by my favorite local band - and one of my favorite Latin bands in the world - Sambatuque (samba.TOO.kie).

They became my favorite after I saw them perform twice and bought their CD. Their album Brazilian Songbird blew me away. But last night’s reunion performance (Jan. 16, 2009) was the best and most intriguing yet. When I got home, I was so inspired, so full of questions, I knew I had to write something.

This blog post consists primarily of my impressions of Sambatuque and thoughts on Samba and Seattle’s Latin music/dance scene in general. If you don’t want to wade through my rambling essay, please skip to the Help Wanted section, where I ask for input from Sambatuque band members and fans alike in writing a more informative article about Sambatuque.

* * * * *

Sambatuque is a tough act to analyze, let alone follow. It strikes me as a fairly bizarre band - or is it typical of Brazilian bands?

But Sambatuque isn’t really a Brazilian band; it’s a Seattle band that plays Brazilian music. The only member of the band that looks, speaks and acts Brazilian to me is Makala Wengelewski-Romero, a sexy Latin beauty whose vocals merit the title given their first CD - Brazilian Songbird. So I was shocked to discover that Makala is from Fairbanks, Alaska.

That isn’t a put down; it obviously makes Sambatuque cooler (hey, I went to school in Fairbanks, where twenty below zero can feel warm!), and I think it makes the band that more intriguing. What sparked Makala’s interest in Latin music? Does she really speak fluent Portuguese and Spanish, and, if so, when, where and how did she learn?

(I encourage everyone interested in Latin music and dance to learn the native language and tend to favor Salsa teachers who speak Spanish; I’m studying Spanish myself and hope to learn a little Portuguese some day.)

Rhythm Machine

Of course, Brazil is a diverse country, with many citizens who would look right at home in Seattle. What really distinguishes Sambatuque is its menagerie of percussion instruments and noise makers, which, to my mind, suggest a fusion of Dr. Seuss and Road Warrior, with things that can be beat with hands, sticks and probably heads made out of scrap metal, animal hides and shells and just about anything else that makes cool noises. I don’t even know the names of these gizmos, except for the steel drums that made an appearance the third time I saw them perform and the tambourine some curly-haired Samba star balanced on his finger during their farewell performance a few months ago. (Makala briefly moved to Florida.)

To my mind, steel drums sort of fill a niche somewhere between percussion and instruments that actually produce musical notes. Of course, steel drums aren’t percussion instruments at all; I guess it’s just that they’re played with sticks, similar to drums, plus they’re exotic, similar to the various gizmos that make Sambatuque a rhythm machine that might be almost scary if unleashed for more than ten minutes.

Talented jazz keyboard and bass players help channel all that wild noise into something resembling a song, but even they are occasionally assimilated by the rhythm borgs as they exchange ivory and string for their own noise makers.

It seems the only person who can tame this noisy inferno is the Brazilian songbird herself, Makala. Yet even she’s occasionally assimilated by the rhythm warriors, and, even when she isn’t wielding drum sticks, she’s typically dancing Samba and chanting or cheering fellow band members and/or the audience, drunk on her own lyrical voice. The only time I’ve seen Sambatuque tamed is when Makala sings a slower, more serious or sensuous song, like E Morio (my favorite...and if you’ve only heard it played live, you have to get the CD).

Band, Meet Fans

Another weird thing about Sambatuque: It appears to be a band without borders, with new members and guest performers at each performance and individuals jumping back and forth between band and audience, members of which are frequently enlisted as performers themselves.

According to what I’ve gleaned from the Internet, Makala shares star billing with Jeff “Bongo” Busch who doubles as a vocalist and composer. The keyboard player (whose powerful background helps E Morio fly) and bass player are prominent band members, and a trombonist has performed with them at least twice.

The rhythm/dance section is where things get a little confusing. At the last performance, I forgot to count the people who were playing percussion (or background noise makers) full time, but I think there were about half a dozen, including a guy playing steel drums and local Salsa instructor Lance Loo, who was enlisted to shake what appeared to be a shell-covered gourd.

A curly-haired (and apparently Brazilian) Samba star played tambourine at Sambatuque’s farewell performance. He always puts on a nice Samba performance, too. His only rival as a dancer appears to be Dora - a native of Bahia, a city or region in Brazil - whose energetic dancing is eclipsed only by her spectacular costumes, probably the single element most recognizable as Brazilian.

At their reunion performance, Sambatuque was also joined by a group of beautiful young ladies who call themselves the Samba All Stars and who in turn helped coax members of the audience on to the too small dance floor. With people dancing next to Makala, who was dancing herself, it was hard to tell where the band ended and the audience began; virtually everyone in the building was part of the celebration of whatever they were celebrating. (If the French are known for their joie de vie, so are Brazilians; they just call it Samba.)

When I tack an “All Ages” tag onto an event on my Seattle Salsa Calendar, I’m generally referring to an event that people who are under 21 can attend. Thus, one can encounter a lot of high school students at HaLo’s Friday Salsa dances.

But when Sambatuque advertises All Ages, they’re talking children, and dancing children added yet another special touch at the band’s reunion performance. Unfortunately, no children joined the band, though I saw one boy banging on drums during a break.

One final nice touch was the time. I’m still a little new to the Latin music scene, but I have the perception that bands like to start really, really late. El Malecon (a Mexican restaurant in downtown Seattle) advertised two live bands at the recent grand opening of its new Conga Room, so I expected to find at least one band playing when I arrived there, long after 9 p.m. At about 10:30, I gave up and went home.

At their reunion performance, Sambatuque was scheduled to start at 7:00, and they weren’t more than fifteen minutes late, as I recall. They played until 10:15, which is perfect for those of us who don’t ordinarily party until after midnight. Unfortunately, I’ll have to take a night off if they perform on a week day, as I work night shift.

Samba vs Salsa

I won’t go into the details here, but Sambatuque helped inspire me to tackle Salsa, about nine months ago. I’ve been taking classes and conducting research into Latin music and dance ever since. It’s something that appeals to me on an intellectual and philosophical level, not just recreational. But the Latin music scene can be very complex, and I’m still trying to get a handle on it.

Anyway, I think Sambatuque’s reunion performance helped me understand the difference between Salsa and Samba. To me, Samba seems even less rigid, more freestyle. Salsa appears to me as a dance form somewhere between Samba and ballroom dance. The irony is that Samba is an official ballroom dance, but Salsa isn’t - though Salsa’s nearly identical twin brother, Mambo, is one of five official American Rhythm dances.

Of course, there are widely varying styles of both Salsa and Samba. In fact, Wikipedia features two articles about Samba - Samba (Brazilian dance) and Samba (ballroom dance).

If you’re confused, join the crowd. But Latin music and dance wouldn’t be so intriguing (and addicting) if it was as simple as learning how to waltz, now would it?

I haven’t yet thoroughly checked out Seattle’s Salsa club scene; as a beginner, I generally hang out at Century Ballroom and HaLo, the city’s most popular Salsa venues. Comparing a typical night at Century Ballroom (or HaLo) to a Sambatuque performance, I’d say that Samba appears to be more spontaneous, easier to learn and more energetic. I’m not knocking Salsa; I love it. But learning it can be beyond frustrating, and the social scene can be a little intimidating.

Which makes me wonder why Salsa is so much more popular than Samba. And since local Salsa DJ’s typically play an occasional Cha Cha, Merengue, Bachata or Reggaeton tune, why do they never play Samba?

Incidentally, Sambatuque’s album Brazilian Songbird does feature one Salsa song, Tanta Saudade. I rank it among my top ten favorite Salsa songs, partly because it’s so unique (I refer to it as Brazilian Salsa) but also because it’s so irresistible. The only problem is the song is part of a two-song medley, and the first song (Chegui Meu Povo), though beautiful, isn’t Salsa. In fact, it doesn’t even sound danceable to my ears.

So I thought it would be cool if Sambatuque could release a standalone version of Tanta Saudade, preferably a little longer, and persuade some local clubs to play it. But I’ve had the hardest time even figuring out whether or not other Salseros like the song, partly because I’ve had the hardest time linking to audio files, for some reason. Anyway, you can see my latest attempt on a Salsa forum, in a thread titled Brazilian Salsa (Tanta Saudade),

Help Wanted!

I launched my website SeaLatin.com after discovering that 1) Latin music and dance is damn complex and confusing, and 2) there’s amazingly little useful information about the Seattle Latin music/dance scene online. I still have a lot of work to do on the site, and my goals include a series of articles about local Latin bands, singers and musicians.

So far, my favorite local Latin band is Sambatuque. Guess what? There seems to be virtually no useful information about them online!

Makala has somewhere around 500 Facebook friends, but Sambatuque’s Facebook page lists just 85 friends, not much more than I have. Check out CD Baby’s Sambatuque page, and you’ll find just one review of their album Brazilian Songbird. It’s hard to find good photos or videos of the band or its members.

I’d like to write an article about Sambatuque, and I have a thousand questions. How and when did Sambatuque get started? What are the names of the bands’ members, and what are their stories? How did Makala learn Spanish and Portuguese - and where did she get her fabulous singing voice? What are the names of all those percussion instruments and noisemakers they play, and what are the stories behind them?

I’d like to get the ball rolling by inviting members of Sambatuque and its fan club to send me whatever information they care to. If you’re a member of the band, can you give me a little background? How long have you been playing whatever instrument you play? What got you interested in Latin music? What are your thoughts on Sambatuque?

If you’re a fan, what are your favorite Sambatuque songs? Has Sambatuque inspired you to take Samba classes? Are you also into Salsa or other Latin music/dance forms?

I thought promoting Sambatuque might be a fun project; none of the Salsa friends I’ve talked to have even heard of them. There are pluses to keeping Sambatuque our secret. For example, it’s nice having the feeling of community one gets in a small club with a small audience.

On the other hand, Sambatuque’s reunion performance in Cafe Solstice was a little too crowded. A dance floor two or three times as big would have been nice. And as Sambatuque becomes more popular, the numbers will inevitably increase.

Some Latin dance clubs offer drop-in classes before dances or performances. For example, people can take beginning Salsa classes at Century Ballroom and HaLo every Friday and Saturday. Similarly, it might be cool to have beginning Samba classes before Sambatuque performances. Do any of you think this would be a good idea to promote?

Another thing I’d like to promote is Sambatuque’s version of Tanta Saudade, which is one of my favorite Salsa songs. I think it would be really cool if the band could record a new, standalone version, preferably a little longer, and try to persuade local Salsa DJ’s to play it. I’ve had the hardest time getting feedback on the song. You can see my latest attempt here.

Anyway, feel free to offer any information or ideas you care to share. If I have time, I’ll try to get an article online in the next few days, before Sambatuque’s next performance at Nectar Lounge. I’ll be putting some articles about Samba (and local teachers) online in the near future, too.

Thanks!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Years Reflections, Predictions & Resolutions

I hate to be a downer, but I’m not predicting a good year. I think the economy is still going downhill, along with our government. (My job certainly isn’t getting any better.) And how many more countries are we going to invade? From Iraq to Afpakistan to Yemen, and the military buildup in Latin America is very ominous.

But there’s always hope. This has been a very bizarre New Years for me. My New Years Eve was brightened by the news that the CIA is getting its butt kicked in Afghanistan, followed by the news that Rush Limbaugh had a heart attack. (Pardon me if I’m suffering from compassion fatigue.) And Obama and Bill Gates have both been unmasked, as more and more people see them for what they are. (Isn’t it interesting that Bill Gates is once again the world’s richest individual, even as the economic train wreck has affected computer sales?) Indeed, Obama, Bill Gates and the CIA appear to be linked together in a rather intriguing conspiracy, unwittingly revealed by the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thanks to the Seattle Salsa Congress, I had the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had here in Seattle. Similarly, Salsa helped make this my best New Years. But I’m even more excited by the discovery of the powerful political currents swirling around Latin music.

I’ve never found a single good political ally even here in liberal Seattle. Shortly before New Years, I was overwhelmed to discover that several new allies - mostly Latin American - had discovered and connected with me on the Internet, especially via Facebook. When I say “Viva Chavez!” these people don’t call me crazy; unlike most U.S. citizens, they understand. Right-wingers are welcome to George W. Traitor, and liberals can have his twin brother, Obama. I’ll take the only world leader who has stood up to Exxon and won.

In the meantime, my favorite local Latin band, Sambatuque, recently got back together and will be putting on a reunion performance in a couple weeks. I’m also hoping the Salsa documentary Politics of Rhythm might be released this year. (Judging from the demo, it does indeed delve into politics.) On an almost bizarre note, a film-maker who produced a DVD focusing on Tim Eyman (a prominent activist here in Washington State, though I suspect he’s actually working for the bad guys) told me he’d like to make a movie about me - a prospect I find as scary as it is flattering.

Did I already mention that this has been a bizarre New Years?

Predictions

Before I share my New Years resolutions with you, let me offer you my predictions.

I've already stated my predictions for the U.S. economy and government: They’re going down. I don’t know if unemployment will increase significantly, but the average U.S. citizen is going to get hosed, one way or another, because Obama hasn’t even attempted to fix one of the major problems with our economy (deregulation, privatization, job outsourcing, corporate welfare, etc.).

In the meantime, the prospects of the U.S. evolving into a fascist state are as real as ever. People who still think Obama is the Great Savior are fools.

Saying that Corporate America’s ever more disgusting wars are going to increase isn’t a prediction; it’s happening as I write this. Obama has given the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan a big boost and is now lobbing missiles at Yemen. The U.S. military buildup in Latin America is especially alarming.

Newsweek’s stunning prediction that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will be toppled in a coup in 2010 should not be taken lightly. I see it as further evidence that the U.S. is planning to oust (or kill) Chavez this year, though Team Obama will almost certainly act through some proxy. They’d LOVE to tell the world that it was an inside job.

I’m not ready to predict a hot war in Latin America, but I do predict our new de facto Cold War will heat up, with some military action. And I predict that Hugo Chavez will indeed by targeted by a coup and/or assassination attempt. If Chavez is toppled by a coup, I further predict that he will be killed, because surviving a second coup would make him an even bigger hero. Obama and Bill Gates want Chavez dead.

But my predictions really aren’t that gutsy; most of them are simply stating the obvious. So let me add a more daring prediction: Hugo Chavez will add Bill Gates to his hit list. That is, he will publicly label Bill Gates a global criminal and give him the same non-stop tongue lashing he assailed George Bush and Obama with.

Closer to home, I predict a noticeable change in Seattle’s Salsa scene. (You might even be able to follow that change on this website:))

Resolutions

So what are my New Years resolutions? Well, I’m going to stick with Salsa, which I find as great a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. I was on the verge of giving up, but the Seattle Salsa Congress really gave me a boost, and the “politics of the rhythm” only makes it more irresistible.

Latin music and dance offer a much needed break from my political battles and have become sort of a political ally at the same time. People who think Salsa is nothing more than a form of recreation are missing the big picture.

My other resolution is to simply continue what I’ve been seemingly doing forever - working on my websites and fighting the political battles that no one else seems to care about. I think 2010 may actually turn out to be a good year for me. I just feel terrible knowing that it will likely be another rotten year for my children - the students I taught during my sixteen years in education. They were the closest thing I’ve ever had to my own family, and I’ll never forget or abandon them. For me, they are what the revolution is all about.

So screw Obama, and viva la musica!

Remember - A revolution without dance is a revolution not worth having.