¡Música y baile! Communicating through Music and Dancing

To celebrate diversity month, I would like to talk about one of the most important things to do in my culture: Dancing! In Latin America in general, dancing is one of the most fascinating way to express ourselves, and the music that we dance to is very important as well.

First of all, one of the strangest things for me that I have noticed when coming to Leoben is the dancing at parties, being outside or in a club. So far, the only place in Austria that I have visited is Leoben, so naturally, the only Austrian dancing experience that I have had has been in your very own Bodega. Dancing in Leoben is very different from what I am used to, as dancing here is more of an individual activity that you can do around other people on the dancefloor, while doing a circle around your friends. It can be very funny and freestyle depending of the song style that you are dancing to, but for me, it can get very repetitive after a while.

Music, naturally, is one of the central things you have to have for a party. Music in Latin America has evolved from indigenous rhythms of each region as well as African and European music, from the age of colonialism. Modern commercial Latin American rhythms have evolved and have been picked from their own region and are influenced by popular rhythms developed in central America and United States in the 70’s and 80’s.

Parties in Latin America are mostly centered around dancing, from the rhythms of “Cumbia” in Mexico to the “Tango” in Argentina, dancing is something that unites us and is a way to express ourselves. With most of the different dance styles, you need to have a dancing partner, so dancing can be considered more as a conversation between the two dancers than a physical activity.

The way of dancing with a certain rhythm of music might differ from country to country. An example of this is Salsa dancing, which in Colombia is different from the way that it is danced in Panamá, even if they are neighboring countries. You can learn a lot about another person’s culture just by dancing to different rhythms all night on the dancefloor.

The most popular music rhythms to dance to in Latin America are Reggaeton, Salsa, and Bachata. Each of them are danced in couples in a certain way, following a basic set of steps that you have to use for each one. After mastering the basic steps, you can improvise new steps in the middle of the dancing, or change the speed of the dancing depending to the beat of the music, and also make your partner spin, as it is very common in Salsa. If you want to listen to popular Latin American music, these are some of the most popular artists:  Daddy Yankee, Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Marc Anthony, Rubén Blades, Celia Cruz and Romeo Santos.

Dancing in Latin America is an activity that you hone over the years, so the most parties you go, you will become better over time. Reggaeton is one of the most popular rhythms to dance in the present time. It is a romantic rhythm, so if you want to learn how is it danced, I recommend watching this video. If you want to learn how to dance salsa, I recommend watching this video. Notice how important is to dance it with a partner, as the rhythm has to be very coordinated with the partner. In the following video you can check how to dance to Salsa music in the “Caleño” style, which is the way they dance it in Cali, a city from my very own Colombia. If you notice, the twisting in the knees is very pronounced, and the steps have to be very coordinated with the music:

Here in Leoben, teaching people from other nationalities on how to dance to Latin American music, and also learning dance styles from other cultures has been really entertaining for me. It is a really good activity that I recommend doing, as the international student community in Leoben keeps on growing!

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