This was originally a comment on a friend’s livejournal about his salsa classes.... but it made me think, salsa was something I hated and felt outside of and perhaps only learn to like as I moved away from my native environment.
I find it so odd, the different cultural nuances and meta-content that the same item of culture can stand for in a slightly different cultural context. I grew up in a place where salsa was the norm. It was never as sophisticated as that, but I never was able to manage it successfully beyond a few basic steps -I think this was just a small data point amongst many of my alienation in relation to the society from which I'd come. To me, apart from something that made me stand out as an outsider in my own patch, salsa was very rough music, something like punk rock or gangsta rap, the music of people who led very rough lives in the barrios and a music full of violence and misogynism at that, reflecting the culture that had produced it. It never ceases to amaze me that it has here, on the one hand such a bland, gentle image and, on the other, that other image as something very sophisticated and full of nuance -which I'm sure it is. It wasn't really that for me, though, hopeless at it in the parties in the barrios in West Caracas, or for my class-mates, who didn't 'study' it and for whom it was a vehicle to pull the chicks. Fascinating.