Saturday, May 30, 2015

La Epoca

About the film "La Epoca"
by Francisco Villalobos, (just don't give me a lot of crap.)

Countless times, we've heard the names of Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, but how many times have we heard the names of the musicians who played the music that made them sound so good? "La Epoca" exposes the legends supporting those big names!

What is the Mambo? Who really-really created the Mambo since there are several figures who are often credited with being originators of the Mambo, like Israel "Cachao" Lopez, Perez Prado, Beny More, Tito Puente and Cuban legend Arsenio Rodriguez - so then, who really is the creator of the Mambo? We have the answer documented on film. What is Salsa? Which is Cuban and which isn't? Which rhythms are Puerto Rican, Dominican or Panamanian?

"Beautiful Maria, Of My Soul" by Antonio Banderas.

What's guajira, guajira-son, guaguancó, montuno, son-montuno, cha-cha-chá and are they just rhythms or are they dances? Why are these questions in need of answers in today's society? It's because the term "Salsa" was created, which diluted the ability to distinguish between each rhythm. "La Epoca" goes into great detail, with personal interviews with the legends who PRECEDED that umbrella term "Salsa," and they share with us how it came to happen.

Many of the Latin musician legends such as Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and Arsenio Rodriguez are no longer living, but their enormous contributions to the Palladium-era remain! There have been several films, recently, which touch upon the "Palladium" times, in New York City, which mentioned many other Latin legends like Machito, Beny Moré, Perez Prado, Tito Rodriguez, and many others.

"Ran- Kan Kan" por Tito Puente

But, "La Epoca" takes it much, much further into the stories and the inside-never-heard-before informative details of the Mambo origins, the relationship between the musicians and most importantly, the legendary musicians who were behind the scenes of the major band-leaders. In addition, the film puts to rest the controversy of Dancing "on 1" vs. Dancing "on "2," and it also exposes the controversy over the umbrella term "Salsa" and the generations that have followed since its conception.

"La Epoca" is a major success in comparison to ALL other documentaries and documentary-films and all other films EVER done on Latin music and the Palladium. There are ONLY 2 other films that have plenty of following - those films are "Buena Vista Social Club," which is a documentary-film. Buenta Vista is a fine film and has its value, however, we find that it only focuses on a small group of musicians and does little to provide history. The other movie is called "Mambo Kings." But, do you know what's so funny about that? Many of the legends, from the Palladium-era, who we've spoken to us, have all made it absolutely clear that Mambo Kings did no justice for Latin-American roots and rhythms and dance - and that it "watered down."

"Oye Como Va" por Tito Puente

"La Epoca - The Palladium Era" incorporates BOTH Palladium-era Latin music AND dance AND IN ADDITION to this, it incorporates the Palladium-era musicians AND the dancers - so this movie has got it all covered. We go back to the origins - the roots and follow it up to present day. The movie is not ONLY about the Palladium Ballroom, located at 53rd and Broadway in Manhattan, but about the Palladium-era to present day - all the clubs open at the time and the music born at the time - comparing the dancing of back then to the dancing of today. We even have interviewed those who tell us who it was that started "on 1" Salsa dance, which happened in the Catskills.

We have intimate interviews with major musicians and performers of the Palladium-era that NO other producer has been able to get!! That's so important! It's because of this - that the movie has continued to expand. The 2-hour long feature-length documentary-film premiers in each state that producers filmed in - Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina during the month of August. Then, in September, the film hits select theaters nation-wide!

"Regalo Del Alma" por Celia Cruz

Charlie Rodriguez, the tres player of Johnny Pacheco and who also worked with Larry Harlow and Pete "El Conde" Rodriguez, says in his interview exactly what this film is about. Speaking in Spanish, he says (translated), "Much of today's youth does not know how to distinguish between the origins of the rhythms. Today, they call all those rhythms by one name - Salsa." To have such a major player for the Palladium say this - is amazing and to actually get it on video is even more amazing.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Latin Dancing

By Penelope Castro, Ewa. 
Men as a rule simply can't dance the Latin dance. It's just not in their blood, or it has been completely knocked out of their culture. The older in two words: Vanilla Ice. Stiff pale bodies, two left feet, no awareness that knees bend nor that hips sway or move. Every part of the male body appears to act independently when attempting to dance, jerking rigidly to and fro, without natural flow.

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted;
some should only be sipped, but with others, you can drink the whole bottle.”
Long, long ago it was mainly men who made the many triumphant contributions to the art of dance, specially so in the Mexican Indian Civilizations. They they could be assigned to professional status and do nothing but dance and choreograph. But a lot of this went dead in our modern civilization. And when it comes to Latin dancing, there's not much hope.

Sure, I'm not saying that all men are incapable of learning footwork, but the vast majority lack the rhythm and soul it takes to become a good Latin dancer. It has been knocked out of them in the school of hard knocks for men. Salsa has been doing good in that direction but even there they are dead compared to Mambo.

"Swing City" by Swing City Giants. 

The men line dancers are the only ones that seem to lose their inhibitions easier, on the way to becoming a good line dancer. That is, one who thoroughly enjoys moving to music and can just let themselves go. Of course they are on their own and some changes occur when they partner dance.

Latinos on the other hand learn how to dance as kids so by the time they are adults, dancing is just a natural part of life. I distinctively remember one day at a birthday party dancing the Samba in a circle with my girlfriends. An adult male approached me and with a chuckle told me I didn't know how to Samba. He went on saying that I was doing the dance with my right foot only, and that I needed to do it with the left also.

"Color Esperanza" by Diego Torres

This is true, but that's how you learn; first with your right, then your left, I wasn't there yet. I was 6 years old! So I practiced until I got this very difficult step down. I digress but my point is that in Latin countries everyone has the opportunity to learn how to dance from a very young age, and since it's just part of everyday culture nurturing this wonderful part of life, it becomes second nature to most Latinos, and we grow up to need it."

Can Japanese Men dance? You'd better believe it.
We pride ourselves in being good dancers, but that doesn't just mean knowing fancy footwork, upper body rhythm, and tempo, it also means adding our own individuality and flavor to your personal style of dance." Son Cubano in New York City used to be our group's dancing playground. Always worth the wait in line, we danced until our bodies had a healthy glow from sweat, and the doors were closing.

"Wherever a person turns they can find someone who needs them."

In Hawaii? Not likely. In Ballroom and Line dancing, men are at a premium and many of the men who dance would rather keep it that way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Our Clubs

Judgment is always in the eye of the beholder. No matter how welcoming and friendly your club, recently acquired members may feel they're constantly being weighed... and measured... and found wanting. But many clubs make it easier for the new ones to be accepted.

"We could strive not to be a success, but rather to be
of value to the dance world around us."

Or how about a dance function? The first time you go to dance you probably are just a bit insecure. And self conscious. And like you don't belong -- and wish you were anywhere else. Unless of course you are a deluxe dancer ready to show off. Most of us are in the normal ranges.

"Ojos Verdes" por Placido Domingo

Most of time it is the beginning dancers that have the most trouble. It's easy to spot people who feel hesitant and out of place. Pick one. Say hi. Say something nice. Say, or do, something that makes them feel like they are making a connection -- to your club or group, or just to you. Take it from someone shy and insecure: they may not show it, but they'll definitely appreciate the gesture.

And in Latin Dancing, Rumba and Cha Cha Cha still at the top throughout the world. In the peripherals there is Tango moving up very nicely and Salsa peaking, with Bachata coming up pretty good. It will be a ticklish proposition to set up a "Latin" club. But good thing that many are working on it. The biggest group being the "social" dancers with the base of the American Style Latin. Everything else will be gingerbread.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Getting There?

It looks like this blog is getting there. The hits, even as screwed up as they are, definitely pointing to Blogging Hawaii as the logical successor to Town Dancer as the leading blog. Town Dancer dropping in hits and Blogging Hawaii is steadily going up.

"One Bad Apple" by The Osmonds

Now more than ever is the necessity of a Two Center. One willing to share information on dancing and a photo or two of friends. It would be published on this blog for the benefit of all our friends, neighbors, relatives and fellow dancers and we could have social media. Can you imagine the photos of an occasion where we posted the advertising but never got to know what happened?

Communicating to the readers has changed over the years and there has been no better development than blogging. Throughout the world blogs are coming into prominence. They have bigger ones than this one, and smaller ones than this one but everyone has the chance to choose the blog of their choice. This is whether they decide to make their own or whether they wish to join an existing one.

So the decision is and should be yours and yours alone. You don't want to share, you do not have to. You are willing to share, many will appreciate it. But we must make it entirely your decision. All we can do is make the offer. This can be your blog but only if you want it.

"Morning Dew" by Loyal Garner

Meanwhile the other blogs are doing just fine, trying to find there own niche. The Two Centers, the Information Contributors, will make those decisions. If five people interested in the Macarema decide to Two Center, that blog will become the Macarena blog. That's all. And that is what will eventually happen in our blogosphere. Enough Guest Authors and hits and they can get independent from me.  They wont need me and they can make their own decisions.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Plodding Along

Now if we can only get some dance information to share for this dance blog, it would be nice. The Two Centers are very important if they are willing to share dance information with their friends, relatives and fellow dancers. They do not have to be journalists, writers, authors or whatever high class terms you may wish to use.

"Maui Waltz" by Loyal Garner

But I have hopes that we will get a Two Center soon.

The Shadow Of Your Smile: Tony Bennett re-recorded this song for his album Duets - An American Classic with Colombian-rock singer Juanes in a "Spanglish" version. This marked the first time that Juanes ever sang in English and the only time for Tony Bennett in Spanish. You can get the video from You Tube if you wish.

"The greatest thing we have in our dance world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction are we moving."

A study in “Circulation: Heart Failure” found that people with cardiac conditions who danced for just 20 minutes three times a week saw their heart health improve significantly more than those who stuck to traditional cardio workouts.

"Casi Un Bolero" por Eli Goulart

We do what we can for the blogs because the blogs do something good for the dance community. For every Two Center or Guest Author, they are not hemmed in as a business, it is personal, whether anyone likes it or not. As dance organizations see these very real and measurable benefits, I believe we’ll see a move away from assigning social media tasks, and see even more clubs getting good social media strategists that are interested. Dancing on Oahu.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What' Doin'?

The Window of Opportunity

In all our other blogs of social media we are pretty current in our news. But late breaking news that we receive today for an event that is tonight will just not cut it. Sorry, but we just don't have that kind of readers. We must have time to plan what is most efficient in each and every blog. Even then, there are many times that we are wrong.

"We've learned so much from our mistakes. It might not be so bad if we made a few more."

At the other extreme we have people that ask us, "Mark your calendar for next year, same time, same station, ad nauseum -- frankly our readers are just not interested. So from the little experience that we have already had, five to 15 days is the Window of opportunity for any submissions of party information for our blogs.

Most readers know where they are going to take the classes during the week, so they are mostly interested in the parties they went to, on the prior weekend and where they going this weekend. One thing is sure, we will eventually have "social media" for our friends and fellow dancers. The Two Centers will be of utmost importance.

This will be when the clubs realize that what happened at the last party is 60 to 70% of your public relations, advertising is minor. The items of information at the occasion and naturally the photos. No not single photos. There is an awful lot of information that goes into web sites and newsletters and newspapers and magazines.  Just bear in mind that ours are blogs and we are unique.

 "(They Long To Be) Close To You" by the Carpenters

Floorcraft?: We have seen many very complicated and descriptive definitions for line of dance and floorcraft and they are very correct. But it mostly applies to the top exhibition and competition levels of dancing. For us common folk it is much simpler and we just try to "use your head, Fred." On most dance floors it is an imaginary line around the dance floor. And when you are driving your car (partner) the outer wall (the sidewalks) are on your right. So to avoid collisions the effort is to stay on the line of dance which is counter-clockwise anywhere. I have been very pleasantly surprised that it is that way too on Night Club dance floors.  Why Not? We can get along with the same rules.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Latino Dancing

By Jack Wilson, Niu Valley

The Rumba or Rhumba? We shall continue to see it both ways. American Style dancers don't like standardizations. But they could make things easier for all of us if we got it straight just one time and everyone agreed.

"We are finding out that the more we do, the more we can do."

To clarify matters in the Rumba (or muddy the waters still further,) there are actually three "official" accepted "basics" for rumba.

The Arthur Murray schools use slow, quick quick: 1-2, 3, 4. using a box step as the  basic movement. The slow step is the 1-2. This is called "square rumba" in England. Arthur (bless his soul) did not think the American public could do it the Latin Way.

Arthur Murray then took Fred Astaire to the courts for using "his" box step and won. What the hell did the courts know about dancing? The Fred Astaire schools then changed the same box step to using a quick quick slow: 1, 2, 3-4 and got away with it. But no matter how you slice it, it was still a "square rumba." And not Da Reel Teeng.

"Abrazame" por Alejandro Fernandez

International style got it almost in the right Latin way. The man takes a step with his right foot on the one, does the rock step on the 2 & 3 and then does the slow spanning two bars 4-1. Of course, I have seen the rock step increasing in speed so that they can have more time to pose dramatically on the slow step. I don't know much about this.

That explains the success of teaching the Universal style using the Mambo-Salsa basic instead of the square basic, breaking on the accented beat and using all the rest of the American Style step patterns. The Universal Style could solve the controversy very neatly and standardize the American.

"Ojos Verdes" por Placido Domingo

From there it will be relatively easy to establish publicly a bronze level of at least 30 step patterns and a silver level of 30 step patterns. And reserve the advance only for exhibition and competition dancers. There are, at present, over 600 documented step patterns in Rumba, so that advance teachers and students have plenty to pick from. Or just put all 540 in the Gold level

Victor Sylvester, being English, covered the international style in his book very well. But few published books cover the American style since the Murray and Astaire chains seem to like keeping their syllabi secret. But the two different timings have screwed up the American Style of Rumba for almost a century. Now we can look forward to a real Latin rumba.

"Voy Apagar La Luz" por Luis Miguel

Surprise, all over the world, in the social and night club environments, they are beginning to have the third option for basic. And it does resemble the Da Reel Teeng. The man breaks on the loud beat, one or two and does the rock step, the slow step is in the next two counts. Easy as pie.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Makua Alii3

So many good people that we lost in this club but it shall rise again. On my trip from Nanakuli, I made some wrong connections and it took me almost two hours to get there. But I had left early and I still got there at seven. A few people there. I quickly explained but most people are not very well acquainted with their computers or the Internet.

 "Welcome to Makua Alii weekly dance sessions and general dancing. We appreciate
your attendance and support for 47 years."   ~Tad Fukumoto.

Explanations do not always work but we can learn by our mistakes. It took a while to explain that I cannot dance, I cannot even walk by myself and I cannot handle a camera. That said we proceeded to try and find someone that could operate my camera. By trial and error we got better. At the moment the photos are the biggest problem in getting a good blog. The photos should be taken by different people. That is "their" viewpoint and they have a perfect right to it.

"Great activity, exercise, friends and pretty women."  ~Bren Holly

So many of the present dancers not aware of this nice club. And all we gotta do is tell them. The Two Centers will be the ones to do it. Anyone can email a photo for publication and anyone can make a comment on anything. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is entitled to it. And Kathy was able to get me to Ala Moana and the last express bus to Nanakuli with plenty of time. Got home before ten. Thanks, Kathy.

 "Makua Alii Dance Club invites you to join us Wednesday and Thursday at 7:00 to 8:30 pm.
International Samba and International Fox Trot." ~Kathy Uehara

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Salsa Anyone?

By Aristides Raul Garcia, New York City
also known as El Intruso

When the Son Montuno came along, the old ways of dancing didn’t change, even though the music was beginning to evolve, with the Tumbao, into having more of an overlapping feeling than the Son did. The accented 4 in the Son was done with only one golpe (TUM) on the Bongo drum.

"Some people march to a different drummer ...
and some people will Salsa on the two."

There were no Congas nor Timbales in the old Son. In any event, when the Mambo arrived in Manhattan the first people to dance it were those Latinos dancing to other music the way I just described above. By the simplistic definition of the dance studios, the first group would today be called "Two Dancers", and the second "Three Dancers".

"Moliendo Cafe" por Azucar Moreno

In any case, the Mambo caught on and this "new" dance had to be taught to a new public. Who was going to teach non-Latinos and even second generation Latinos how to do the Mambo? By all accounts, at that time there were no Latino Dance teachers in NYC. So Westerners teaching Ballroom dances were called to service. Since everything Cuban was "in", or perhaps for practical reasons, they took the "Cuban" step sequence I described above to teach the newcomers.

To them it was, and still is, inconceivable that a dance could have a step sequence beginning in one frame and ending in the next, such as the step sequence for the Son. Much more inconceivable for them to have the accent of the music to be on the 4. For the western dance teacher, at least in those days the 3 step dance sequence had to fit into the 1234 "box".

In a way they were lucky, because once two of those old fashion "Cuban" dancers got over the "protocol" step, to the well trained eye of the Ballroom teacher, who was totally unfamiliar with the feeling of Latin music, those dancers looked like they were dancing 234 etc. And so, they started to teach the Mambo on the 2. Their "luck" also turned out to be their misfortune, for ever since then they have had to come up with all kinds of senseless explanations for this non-existent accent on the 2, as well as dirty tricks to make their students "feel" the accent.

"Hazlo Bonito" por El Coronel

They should have changed the Tumbao or switched the slap and the TumTum around. Luckily, that was beyond their powers. The rubbish placed around the "House of the Two", to protect it, is threatening to fall on top of it. International Style has it in their format and according to dancers of The New York 2, you do a step on the one, and "break"on the 2, ha! I don’t know of any 2 dancer in New York stepping on the 1. But enough already.

"When the best things are not possible,
the best may be made of those that are."

Blog In Process

Well, I  know now, I did not lose Facebook, they lost me. The same kind of mickey mouse deal was done to me a year ago and we went around and around. But this time I have decided, that those two hits in Finland I will never miss. Same as those two in Afghanistan, or South Africa or Lower Slobavia for that matter. My blogs are local.

"Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  ~William James"

Moanalua Corridor should have remained where it was and I have changed it back.  With no help from Facebook, the hits have gone even higher. The proof is in the pudding. Kokohead Dancing the blog will also remain even though it is at the bottom of the pile in average hits per day. Now I know it is bettah than Facebook to promote our other blogs. Better late than never. So what do I know about blogging?

We don't get enough info from anyone so I have to do the best I can. And at least now I know that our information is mostly local and that is what interests our reader/dancers. So our local Two Centers are the most important factors in the new equation. Even more important than the readers. Why? Because no news, no readers. A few bits of information and a photo or two and our readers eat that stuff right up. So we are all learning, come on and email something.

I am just beginning with Makua Alii, - messed up the first time, and the second I only got one photo. But I will be going this month again and hope to get more photos and perhaps a write up or two. I cannot do much but be there and tell them what we need. They may know what to do this next time. Then I hope to start with Dream To Dance Studio soon to see what we can develop there for the good of everyone. They may have a nice crowd and if a couple people know how to operate the camera, we can get some good photos and maybe a few small write ups.

In a local night club he ask her, "Sonia, no engagement ring? The wedding is off?"
She confirmed, "Yeah, I saw him in a bathing suit last week,
and he looked so different without his wallet."

There is a good article on Floorcraft in the Dance News of the Pacific. This is essential information not only for the high class competition Dancers but also for the run of mill social dancers that we have on Oahu. The ones laying down some leather in Malls, School Cafeterias, District Parks and Community Centers. Definitely can be useful in Night Club dancing too. Mainly for the leaders but many ladies are very good help in the right situation.

Friday, May 8, 2015

American in Latin America

It is a regular ongoing thing, the American style of Latin Dancing in Latin America. And in the last century it had been making small inroads among the upper classes who visited the US and went back home from Mexico to Argentina.

“While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate,
I cannot separate myself from life.
I can only be joyful and whole.“

In this century with the firm establishment of the annual Viña Del Mar in Chile, it is accepted more into the middle classes. I have even seen Foxtrot danced to nice slow music in many videos. And of course American Rumba is being danced with the "alternative" basic which is the rock step, slow step which resembles the International basic.

"Moliendo Cafe" por Azucar Moreno

In Mexico it is much easier because their dancing is much more diversified than anywhere in Latin America. So there are many smaller groups to convince into a more standardized dancing acceptable in all parts of Mexico. It is happening also in the US among Mexicans amalgamating their dance from their own accustomed versions in smaller groups.

The closer to the border to the US and more standardized the music and dance usually referred to as "Norteña" which merely means the northern section. Mexico city is very international and to the south of Mexico very diversified. And down through Central America, very local.

"Ojos Verdes" por Placido Domingo

Of course, they all partake of the basics, the even step, the rock and the quick and slow steps. And they go with the music of their choice. They have solo dancing and partner dancing. The more experience dancers will partner. The kids can do their own thing as they wish.

Makua Alii

Started out to be such a nice planned Thursday evening at Makua Alii. I would spend an hour and half talking with my friends and they would all be taking pictures of each other. I got the camera and the batteries ready. I left early and got the Express bus at a little after 5:30, got to Kalihi Transit Center and only waited about ten minutes for #1 bus. I was at Makua Alii before seven pm.

"The best thing about the future is that it comes just one day at a time."

There were some people there already taking classes from Tad and Kathy and the whole thing looked like it was going to be nice evening. I said hello to my old friend Herbie and sat with a couple of nice ladies. My memory is failing evermore on names. I intend on going more often and will remember next time.

Gave away my last DVD and a few CDs. These are awfully nice people. They were up and dancing in a short time and I took my camera out. I thought this time I had two good batteries but the camera kept closing up. I replaced it with my backup batteries and the same thing. So I thought I'd better wind it up and leave with enough time to walk all the way to Ala Moana Center and get the last Express bus to Nanakuli.

"Maui Waltz" by Loyal Garner

I happened to go by Don Quijote and bought new batteries and walked back to the dance. They were having their last dances but I persuade some people to take some photos. Actually they had trouble and I only had one in the memory card. But better than last time when I got none.

Maybe next time we can get some names to go with the photo. First names is good enough.

Kathy volunteered to drop me off at Ala Moana to get the slow bus to Nanakuli. Fortunately, when I got to the corner, the last Express bus got there too. I was home before ten, thanks to Kathy.  All in all it was a good day and I will try again next week. We gotta get it right.

The most valuable photo for these blogs from the view point of the reader/dancers is still the four to six people photo. very, very difficult to get. All coming attractions  and at the shindigs, should have photos, write ups and perhaps a few quotes from some the attendees. This is Social Media.

"Tiny Bubbles" by Don Ho

Many people do not know what Social Media is all about. It will take some time but I believe these blogs will be the ones getting the right people to sending in their opinions and the hits will go through the roof, The results will be that all the dancers will get to know each other and on Oahu they are all terrific people.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Everyone in Tango has heard the name "Milonga" and many know where it comes from many also do not. Roughly we know that it evolved from the Indian groups hundreds of years before the Incas in Peru. And it was basically a "cat" dance with about 8 slow walking steps ending in a pounce. Similar to the original Fox Trot but slower.

"Perhaps we could accept responsibility for our lives. Know that it is us,
who will get us where we want to go, no one else.”

In South America they were predominantly interested in the two count and most of their dances evolved into that kind. At about one hundred and twenty five years ago, the documentation of the Milonga gets to be a little clearer. And of course for the majority of the Tango aficionados this is where the history of the Tango began. They may be right but it was still the Milonga and just getting new additions and new names.

The Milonga has had many of the present basic ingredients as it has been evolving in South America for almost two millenniums. The old drum beats were lost and replaced by bass strings and the dance had many new movements. much new music and new instruments added by the Europeans. Naturally, by this time many of the old timers in Argentina were saying, “It’s just not Da Reel Teeng.”

"Mi Buenos Aires Querido" por Carlos Gardel

The names of the newer places surrounding La Orilla (the edge) are still nostalgically remembered and much has been written about them. This is where they first depicted the Gaucho in Milonga exhibition dances and La Milonga became a performing art, to be sung and danced for an audience. And the myths about the Gauchos began.