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Latin America’s Most Popular Rhythm Both a Blessing and a Curse at Social Dances


By Leonardo Rosen

Even though danzón was born in Cuba more than 140 years ago and came to México shortly after, it is relatively new in San Miguel de Allende. Because our city does not have a well-rooted danzón tradition. we cannot play as much of it at our monthly dance events as they do in the weekly and monthly dance events of nearby cities like Celaya, Guanajuato, León, Querétaro, and San Juan del Río. We must play a variety of Latin dance music here. Many people at our events are not experienced or trained dancers. However, we believe in inclusion, not exclusion, and want everyone to dance. So, we play the cumbia!

The cumbia is Colombia’s major contribution to Latin dance. In that country, it started as a folkloric form, having African and indigenous roots. Like many others, it became a popular dance that is strongly linked with the cultural identity of the Colombian people. Then, it spread to other countries, becoming arguably the most popular social dance in Latin America, including México.

Of course, there are people who dance it very well. However, it has a strong and steady “chuck-chuck-a-chuck” rhythm that is accessible to people whose dance abilities are limited. In this sense, the cumbia is a blessing. Virtually everyone can dance to it in some form or other.

However, the cumbia is also a curse. Over the years, there have been people who demand it and would gladly dance very long periods of cumbia to the exclusion of other dances, such as danzón, mambo, cha cha chá, salsa, merengue, and so forth. Sometimes, they would object when I’d change to another rhythm. I had to learn to stand firm with the cumbia people without alienating them. I always explain to them that if they are patient, I will certainly give them a healthy dose of their favorite dance, but only at intervals. Years ago, some of them were resistant, but not now. We get very strong contingents of salseros and danzoneros. Dancers are good folks, and virtually everybody now understands that we must all share this precious and lovely time to dance “con ritmo y sabor”.

With the support of the local government’s Department of Culture and Traditions, we invite all to the next event of “El Danzón y Otros Ritmos Bailables con el Club de Danzón Mercerina” on Sunday Sept 1, 2019, 5:30–8:30pm in the Plaza Cívica. Admission is free. The happy sound of the Orquesta Marimba “Tono 13” playing live will surely “put pep in your step.”

For more information, please call 121 4319 (Cultura y Tradiciones) and 154 5840 (Leo, “el Brujo del Danzón”). Please remember that you are the stars of this show!


“El Danzón y Otros Ritmos Bailables

con el Club de Danzón Mercerina”

Sun, Sep 1, 5:30-8;30pm

Plaza Cívica

Free admission


121 4319 Cultura y Tradiciones

154 5840 (Leo, “el Brujo del Danzón”


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