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RHYTHM & POWER: Performing Salsa in Puerto Rican and Latino Communities


Perspectives on Race Among Puerto Ricans and Latino Communities

Edited by Derrick L. Washington

Published 2017

90 pages; notes, references, index; 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-945662-16-4   (paperback) 

LCCN: 2017038687

Price: $20.00 paperback

About this book

The story of New York salsa—an up-tempo performance of percussive Latin music and Afro-Caribbean-infused dance— is one of cultural fusion, artistry, and skilled marketing. A multi-disciplinary collective of scholars illuminate how immigrant and migrant communities in New York City—most notably from Cuba and Puerto Rico—nurtured and developed salsa, growing it from a local movement playing out in the city’s streets and clubs into a global phenomenon. The parameters of the work is expansive as it includes the numerous cultural influences of salsa as it is practiced in New York City and Puerto Rico. The papers interrogate the role of record companies and stores in supporting and promoting the 1970s salsa movement, the ways Puerto Rican nationalism and the Nuyorican Movement continue to influence lyrical content, the hybridization of dance styles, and pay close attention to the circular flows of people and ideas traveling between NYC and the Caribbean.


Table of Contents

Introduction:   A Call for Rhythm & Power \ Derrick León Washington

Chapter 1 On Social Dancing and Social Movements: Salsa and Resistance Sydney Hutchinson

Chapter 2 Bailando salsa en la sala: How We Learned to Dance and to Live Marisol Berríos-Miranda

Chapter 3 Marc Anthony 3.0: Toward a Critical Salsa Romántica

Frances R. Aparicio

Chapter 4 Maelo, El Sonero Mayor: Theorizing Song and Soneo as a Medium of Mutuality                     

César Colón-Montijo




About the Editor

Derrick León Washington is a cultural anthropologist with a focus in curatorial practice and expressive arts of the Americas. He is a former Smithsonian Center of Folklore and Cultural Heritage Fellow and former executive director of El Fogón Center for the Arts in New York City. He is currently an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Postdoctoral Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York. There, he conducted curatorial work on Activist New York (2016), New York at its Core (2016), and he is the curator of Rhythm & Power: Salsa in New York (2017) a groundbreaking exhibition and expansive program series on salsa as an artistic social movement



Salsa music and dance is a powerfully vibrant and uncontainable cultural expression that emerged from the barrios of New York City in the 1960s. Coming at the forefront of political and racial strife in the U.S., salsa initially articulated the voice and cultural experience of an often unheard and disenfranchised Puerto Rican and Latino peoples. Though historically salsa was “bounded” by the confines of the barrios in New York City, over time its popularity transcended those original city blocks as Hispanic populations grew throughout the U.S. and the music began appealing to a growing international market.  This diverse group of scholars explore the implications of this global movement. This innovative volume embraces new interdisciplinary examinations focused on the ways the rhythm and power of salsa music and dance remain emergent, celebrated, and transformational even in our current turbulent moment. Christopher Washburne, Columbia University