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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. :)

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