Rest in Peace: A Tribute to Johnny Polanco

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Johnny Polanco, a beloved salsa artist well known in Southern California and in the salsa dance world, died June 2nd 2015 from complications stemming from a recent heart attack.

He was a regular performer in San Diego and had some great shows as you can see from one of his past events in San Diego:

I had the opportunity to interview Johnny a few years ago (you can see it here) and I’m still in shock regarding his passing.  He was a great person with a real passion for salsa music.

Please pray for Johnny’s soul and his surviving family as they cope with his loss.

John ;-)


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Cuban Festival Coming to the Los Angeles Area…

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cuban Festival

From time to time I leave San Diego to enjoy Salsa and Latin dance in other communities, so I was happy to get a message from our friend J.C. Ospina (LatinFire Productions) about an upcoming event.

On May 3rd the 7th annual “Mi Son Cubana Festival” will be held in San Dimas and will be a great way to get out and enjoy Cuban culture for a day.  The event will run from 10:00am to 7:00pm at night and boasts lots of Cuban music and food.

Cuban Festival Flyer

If you need a break from San Diego salsa dancing head up to Los Angeles for this great event…

Is Salsa Dancing an Extreme Contact Sport?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Alex Da Silva

Every one has a horror story about how they went salsa dancing and got stepped on/trampled/smashed/etc by another couple on the dance floor.

Apparently one Los Angeles Times writer had a particularly “memorable” experience recently when he went salsa dancing with his wife in Los Angeles. Augustin Gurza’s article points out that sometimes salsa dancers can get carried away with different moves, spins, and flips on the dance floor. Although I don’t think it was wise for Agustin to write an article basically focusing on one particular dancer, Alex Da Silva (see the picture in this post), the article does point out a problem that many of us encounter on the dance floor.

After reading the article feel free to write a comment on my website about your horror stories with salsa dancing mishaps or thoughts about the article. I look forward to see what you veterans of the dance floor have experienced.

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: 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 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 and 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!

A Salsa Dancer Travels: The King King on Hollywood Blvd

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hello everyone once again from Los Angeles! I went out last night for some Tuesday night Salsa at the King King on Hollywood Blvd.

Located on the famous blvd of stars , the King King reminded me of the speak easy establishments of years gone by with its entrance in the back rather than the front. The Asian themed venue, with its concrete floor and red allure can be best described as "gritty." Emphasizing the virtues of "music, love, happiness, and peace", the decor at the King King counterbalanced this starkness to make for a nice venue.

The dancing itself had a slow start but dancers started coming in after 11pm. Many of the people who I met did not appear to be salsa dancers at first, especially with their Andy Warhol looks and different hair styles (I thought this one women’s hairdo was going to cause me some damage with all the hair spray spikes she sported.) Most came in casual garb (jeans).

Although there was no band, the DJ played some pretty good older salsa songs that I recognized. All in all it was a good night.

Special thanks to Karla Long, booking agent/manager at the King King, for the VIP treatment.

That’s it from Los Angeles. See you all again in San Diego soon!

John ;-)

A Salsa Dancer Travels: Night out at Zanzibar for Tumbao- Salsa Dura in Los Angeles

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Greetings once again from Los Angeles! I’m having an excellent time here and was fortunate enough last night to go salsa dancing in the City of Angels. The venue was called Zanzibar and the night was Tumbao – Salsa Dura . Located not too far from the 3rd Street Promenade , Zanzibar was the perfect place for some Monday night salsa. The venue itself had an old brickhouse feel, complete with rustic wood floors that gave an ambience of middle eastern flavor. Most people in attendance were casual as expected for a Monday night sporting jeans (of course I went looking like I was ready for Saturday night salsa dancing but hey its my style).

I arrived early in the night to observe the lessons being given by Cristian Oviedo , who competently and with his own unique flair taught a bustling group of eager salsa dancers. After the beginning and intermediate lessons, the general dancing began and true to the name Tumbao there definitely was a great latin groove in motion. For a Monday night there was a great turnout that rivaled many of the most frequented locales in San Diego on busier nights (imagine a Cafe Sevilla on a Thursday night but filled with great dancers and space to dance). Personally I had a great time dancing and appreciated a venue that strictly played salsa songs (with an occasional cha cha cha) as the main form of music.

As with any salsa venue, the management and staff have an important impact on how a night turns out and I’m happy to report that I was treated with the utmost respect. Special thanks to Destiny at Zanzibar for the VIP treatment and opportunity to enjoy a salsa night in Los Angeles.

I’m here for a couple more days and I might go out dancing once again while here. If I do you can read all about it here. Until then, keep dancing and God bless!

A Salsa Dancer Travels: Los Angeles

Monday, March 3, 2008

Greetings from Los Angeles!

I’ve taken a short trip to our northern neighbor and hope to take advantage of the time here to go salsa dancing. Specifically, I’ve found at least three different venues that I can choose from for tonight. They include Zanzibar in Santa Monica, El Floridita in Hollywood, and Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill on Sunset Bvld. I’ll keep you posted on which venue I attend tonight and will write out a complete review. Until then, I’m going back to checking out the scene here… Hey, I think I just saw Jim Carey!

John ;-)

John F. Bello

Meet John ;-)

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