Salas music is one of the most popular, and well-know form of Latin music. Go to any big city in the United States and you can find salsa clubs, full of people from dancing the night away. If your looking for an introduction to Latin music, salsa is a great place to start!
Closely related to the cha-cha, merengue and mambo, salsa is a fusion of Cuban style rhythm with pop, jazz and other influences depending on the style. And there are several styles of Salsa music, Cuban salsa, Colombian salsa, etc., but most share simmilar rythms played in a 4/4 time signature with a 2/3 or 3/2 style.
Its hard to pin down a concrete history of salsa music. Some people claim it has always been around as a form of Cuban music, while others contend that it originated in New York City in the 1930's. It did not originate as the salsa we listen to today; rather it evolved over the years, absorbing rhythm and style from Puerto Rican, Cuban and Colombian musicians. What is certain is that it gained popularity in the 1960's and 1970's, while other forms of Latin dance music were declining in sales. Salsa continued to progress, with romantic salsa (a some what slower and smoother form) becoming a popular sub-genre. Mainstream pop and dance music also absorbed many aspects of salsa to create dozens of hybrid forms popular in dance clubs.
Early Salsa often had a big-band feel. It was popularized by such artist as Tito Puentes, Celia Cruz and Tito Nieves. As it evolved, popular artists brought a more mainstream pop feel to the music, and artists such as Gloria Estefan and Marc Antony. Today, salsa can be found everywhere, with artists from every genre of Latin music, including pop, reggeaton, and bachata, releasing their version of the popular dance music in the form of dance tracks or salsa remixes of successful songs.
If you want a good introduction to salsa, there are several great artists to choose from. Rueben Blades, Willie Colon and Celia Cruz offer a more traditional form. For more contemporary artists, check out “Pena De Amor” by Puerto Rican Power, or Aventura's 2009 release, “La curita”
Salsa is great to listen to, but to really enjoy it to its fullest, you gotta dance! There are as many ways to dance salsa music as there are variations of the music itself. If you are looking to learn to dance salsa, your best bet is to go to a salsa club! Watching can be a great way to learn, so find the best dancers, and watch their moves! If you want to learn some basics before heading out, there are several movies available on DVD with great salsa dancing scenes, including “Dance With Me,” “Salsa,” and “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.”