Salsa, Salsa and More Delicious Salsa—“What do you think came first, the dip or the dance?" This question was recently posed at a Tuesday morning editorial meeting and is the kind of query that is either asked by: 1) A slack-jawed cretin, 2) One of many cloistered Americans, totally oblivious to Latin culture, 3) Both 1 and 2, or 4) A drowsy editor, exhausted from hours of mulling over every single word in the paper. The question in this case was asked by 4 (you know who you are). There, there, everyone says dumb things sometimes.
If you're still wondering which came first, it's the dip, dumbass. Salsa means sauce in both Spanish and Italian. Salsa music and salsa dancing is a 20th century phenomenon with Cuban and other Caribbean island roots, honed and developed in New York City. Meanwhile, the exact origins of salsa as a word for the music and dance are unknown.
Moving on, if you missed the first annual New Mexico Salsa Festival, held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center two weeks ago, your opportunities to see live, outdoor salsa throughout the summer (between now and the Salsa Fiesta on Aug. 11) are considerable.
To start, on every Friday night from 6 to 9 p.m. free salsa music and dance demonstrations are held at Old Town Plaza. I happened upon this one recent night, with an out-of-town business guest no less, and was stunned by the enthusiasm of the attendees and the quality of that night's performers, locals Son Como Son. My guest was delighted. What a catch!
Walk a few paces over to the Albuquerque Museum Amphitheater and $12 will admit you into a competing event, Salsa Under the Stars. This weekend kicks off the annual New Mexico Jazz Workshop series, held every Friday night this summer from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission for children under 12 is free, plus The Cooperage provides food and, ahem, a full-service bar. This weekend's salsa will be performed by Charanga del Valle.
Finally, if you're a fan of jazz in general, you'll be pleased to learn this weekend also marks the commencement of Jazz and Blues Under the Stars. This happens at the same place, same time, with the same admission, same food and same full-service bar. But on Saturday nights. Big Band Extravaganza is this week's theme, while next week's is ... Latin Jazz.
Wow, it's going to be one salsa-tastic summer. Good thing, because I'm getting hungry.