Ritmo Bello Interviews Salsa Dance Organization Vida Salsera

Monday, July 28, 2008

VidaSalsera Logo

The local San Diego dance scene (which includes salsa, tango, samba, and other types of Latin dancing) is expanding and garnering more exposure worldwide.   San Diego’s salsa dance scene, though, is definitely still in development compared to larger market areas like New York and Miami.  From time to time I like to take a look outside of my own area to see how others are spreading salsa dance within their own communities.  As a salsa dancer in the local San Diego dance community, I am always looking for examples of how others are helping promote the genre and spread the virtues of the dance.

Los Angeles, although a short drive away from San Diego, presents a totally different and vast salsa dance experience as compared to San Diego.  Recently I found an organization similar to Ritmo Bello in Los Angeles that helps inform the local community regarding salsa dancing related information.  Vida Salsera, Spanish for "Salsa Life", has kept the Southern California/Los Angeles salsa community up to date with its salsa dance scene, including special events, concerts, and live music performances since November of 2005.  

I sat down with Dena Burroughs of Vida Salsera to talk about her experiences in promoting salsa dancing in her own community:


Ritmo Bello : San Diego and Southern California are areas where Salsa is very popular.  What does your organization offer to the community in terms of Salsa dancing information?

VidaSalsera: VidaSalsera.com is primarily a calendar of live music events, mainly of Salsa bands, in the L.A. area. However, I have a smaller “Out of Town” section in which I post events for as far north as San Francisco and south as San Diego. I have separate sections for Salsa clubs in L.A., as well as information on bands and DJs that someone could hire, instructors, CDS, and so forth.

Ritmo Bello: What are the origins of your organization?

VidaSalsera: I started VidaSalsera.com in November of 2005. It was truly a project of love – I wanted to create a site where I could support the Salsa movement in L.A., particularly the artists and musicians, with the freedom of expression that would only come from owning my own site.

Ritmo Bello : On your website I see that you promote many different types of events and even have areas where musicians can list their information.  Can you tell me a little about how that started?

VidaSalsera: I got deep into the Salsa scene about a decade ago. I went through that crazy euphoria that new dancers all get into – I wanted to do nothing but dance, at every spare moment of my day. As time went by, my infatuation with Salsa dancing matured into a real love for the music itself and an appreciation for those who make it so beautiful, who are so talented, yet really do not often get the attention, or the recognition, they deserve – the musicians. Without them, there’s no music to dance to. My intention is to, in whatever small way I can, support what they do so that the music will not end.

Ritmo Bello: I also saw on your website that you offer information about other things such as salsa music information.  What’s been your experience with salsa over the years and the public’s response to the music & dance?

VidaSalsera: I am convinced that knowing what a song says, for example, makes a huge difference in how you enjoy it, even how you dance to it. The lyrics of a song can make you laugh when they’re funny, and when you laugh your composure, your body movements, your actual dance, changes. By the same token, when the song is romantic and perhaps manages to remind you of your current or past love, the experience of listening and dancing to it is transformed. Because we are in the U.S., and because many of the Salsa lovers here are English speakers, I have a hunch they’re missing out on a very important part of the Salsa experience. That’s why I started the “Salsa Lyrics” section on my site. Slowly, (because it’s very time consuming) but surely, I am translating the lyrics of Salsa songs into English. Hopefully, those who read them will remember what a particular song says the next time they dance to it. I think a few people agree with me because the lyrics request link of my site is one of the most active ones.

Ritmo Bello: I had an opportunity to visit your YouTube channel today and see that you’ve posted lots of salsa related videos for the public to view.  If an artists or somebody looking for exposure to your audience wanted to have a video posted what is the process like?

VidaSalsera : Invite me over to a gig! I will do my darn best to get a good video. I have limited resources, mind you. I go around with a small, yet amazing, Sony camera that does wonders, and I do look for the right angle, the right light, and the right moment to come up with a good shot. YouTube is a fabulous resource for artists. Some of my videos have been watched thousands of times. The video I took of Gilberto Santarosa at The Mayan has been viewed over 70,000 times! That floors me, but that shows you the power of the Internet to make things known. Every musician should take advantage of it.

Ritmo Bello :  I know that you are based out of Los Angeles, California and have great insight into the Southern California salsa scene.  Do you ever make your way down to San Diego for a little bit of salsa dancing?

VidaSalsera: I make my way everywhere. (Helps that I am a little hyperactive, a little A.D.D. and a lot insomniac. ::smile::) I have been to the La Jolla Marriott , to Club Miami , to Cafe Sevilla , to Havana Restaurant, to the Harrah’s Rincon, to many Salsa places in San Diego. And, for the record, I have very lovely memories of Thanksgiving holidays at San Diego’s Café Sevilla, from many years ago, when Salsa was my best friend during some rather lonely times. I will always treasure Café Sevilla’s turkey and stuffing dinners to the sounds of Salsa. That should be a tradition that should never die.

Ritmo Bello : Anything else you’d like to share with the general public?

VidaSalsera: There’s this story about how, when the great philosopher Socrates was in prison, a voice spoke to him on a dream, saying, “Practice music, Socrates!” For most of his life Socrates had been trying to separate philosophy from art, from music. Years later, Nietzche used that “Practice music, Socrates!” to point out that humans are best when they combine both their thinking ability with their appreciation for the arts; that we can be thinkers, serious people, responsible, and so forth, and still have a passion for music, for poetry, for art as a whole. For those of us whose passion is this music and this dance… it’s all good – Nietzche would approve. So… Practice Salsa, everybody!

Ritmo Bello: How can the Ritmo Bello audience reach you if they want to find out more information about your organization?

VidaSalsera: My name is Dena Burroughs. I am at www.vidasalsera.com and dena@vidasalsera.com Say hi anytime. Suggestions, information, commentary and constructive criticism are always welcome. Thank you,  John.

Ritmo Bello: Thanks Dena for all that you do to promote salsa dancing!

John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

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