While salsa is not a rhythm that originated in Ecuador, the city of Quito has become known for its salsa dancing, especially in the last several years. There is a plethora of dance schools available in the city where they teach all different types of salsa: Cuban salsa (including ‘Rueda de Casino’ or casino salsa, danced in a big circle where you switch partners), L.A.-style salsa, and now even the newly popular salsa choke which has recently emerged out of Colombia.Instructors at dance academies here are international champions who have traveled worldwide to compete. Here is a video of Karina Báez and Diego Vega – teachers at their own salsa academy in Quito – competing in the world salsa tournament in Cali, Colombia in 2013:
People on the salsa scene in Quito say that it is unlike any other dance scene in the city. It is perhaps one of the healthiest nighttime activities – it’s both social and physically active. There is very little alcohol consumption and smoking at salsa clubs as compared to all other night clubs in Quito. Salsa is mostly partner dancing and I would argue that it is one of the most gender equal scenarios for dancing as well – women ask men to dance, men ask women to dance, and all under the only assumption that people just want to dance. In fact, the largest salsa club in Quito, Salsoteca Lavoe, made this meme about what people think when they’re asked to dance:
Here’s the translation:
They ask, “Want to dance?”
Common person: Salsa person:
She’s hot. What a great song!
Hopefully, she’ll dance with me and maybe more… 😉 Gotta dance this one!
Other important components of salsa culture in Quito include:
– It’s considered bad manners to say ‘no’ to someone.
– You’re expected to smile when dancing, which is easy for most!
– There is generally very little discrimination – people dance with people of all different ages, women dance with women, men dance with men, you dance with your friends and people you’ve never met.
Something I find very nice about the salsa scene in Quito as compared to my roots in Minnesota is that salsa dancing is not this big fancy activity that you have to get all dressed up for. It’s casual and people wear whatever they want – the idea is mostly to be comfortable since you sweat, um, quite a bit.
Here’s a video shot at a friend’s wedding of myself dancing with my friend, Alexiño to Cuban singer Celiz Cruz’s ‘Quimbara’:
Volunteers in a salsa class in Quito during their free time
Many people find in salsa an excellent way to socialize, be active, and get rid of stress. If you ask me, it is the best way!