Going to the Caribbean? Learn the Dances


It seems that Bob Schulman (The Examiner/International Travel) had a lot of fun writing this article—“Going to the Caribbean? Learn the Dances”—about the rich range of popular dance in the Caribbean. Although he doesn’t offer real dancing moves, he does offer a glimpse of the huge diversity in Caribbean dance; as he points out, it is not all salsa, merengue, and reggae:

You’ll have a lot more fun on your Caribbean vacation if you take a few minutes to learn how to dance to the music of the local folks on your particular island. You might do a pretty cool salsa, but that won’t help you on, say, Tortola, when the band starts batting out an African-flavored funji.

Most newcomers to the Caribbean don’t know it, but each island has its own music. True, thanks to Bob Marley, you’ll hear the popular Jamaican reggae beat on just about all the islands. Ditto for Puerto Rican salsa tunes. But chances are the local bands will try to get you shaking your booty to their native rhythms, too.

Like the sexy, up-tempo beat of zouk (literally meaning “party”) on Martinique and the other French islands, brassy soca (a blend of soul and calypso) on Trinidad and Tobago, the sultry merengue and the once-banned bachata in the Dominican Republic, the carnival-like goombay and junkanoo in the Bahamas and the quadrille-ish quelbe on St. Croix.

Going to Curacau [Curaçao]? You’d better brush up on your tumba. Ditto for your spouge on Barbados. And your jwe on St. Lucia, your tambu on Aruba and your compas next time you’re on Haiti.

What about those good old calypso songs? You don’t hear much of the Caribbean’s original music on most of the islands. But over on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, there’s a 55-mile-long stretch of beaches where they play so much calypso you’d expect to see Harry Belafonte dancing around in striped, clamdigger pants telling tales of how a lady named Matilda took his money and ran off to Venezuela.

Here, on the so-called “Calypso Coast,” hundreds of Jamaicans opted to call this spot home in the late 1800s rather than go back to their native island at the end of a railroad project in Costa Rica. They brought old-time calypso with them, and their descendants stuck with it over the years. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of all these rhythms and the other dances of the Caribbean on YouTube. Give it a shot, mon.

For original article, see http://www.examiner.com/article/going-to-the-caribbean-learn-the-dances

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