Random Cultural Thoughts

Our readers take on LA -style salsa, spoken word and Latino movies

By Amigos de LatinoLA
Published on LatinoLA: March 8, 2002

Random Cultural Thoughts

What's Up With LA Style Salsa?

By Yossi Conde

"Does anybody care that strangers are redefining who we are as Latinos? I have recently heard from a friend of mine that "LA-Style dancers" are ostracizing anyone who says that LA Style Salsa is not salsa because those are steps taught straight out of ballroom: swing, hustle, and other memorized dances.

Does anyone care that the wealth of Afro, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Colombian, and other street salsa styles are being belittled over the "white's version of Latin Salsa"

Does anyone remember how to be Latino?

Does anyone remember that the sum of our Latin cultures has more richness
than most culture anywhere?

I am old enough to remember who taught be to be Latina and because of that I appreciate the closeness that Salsa has to the average man. Each one is a character of his own and learns to imitate dancing through feelings rather than the cerebral ballroom way.

I realize that the second generation of Latinos are not at fault for having white people and sold out Latinos teaching them how they should dance. For this reason I voice the fact that we as Latinos have more than enough flavor y alma for expressing those sentimientos y ritmos which reflect our experiences.

I shake my head when Latinos begin to dance Salsa as if they are afraid to hold a woman in their arms!

Seriously, mi gente tiene gusto y tiene mas que suficiente vida como para ser originales en el baile.

?Pero esto, a quien le importa?"

Spoken Word Deserves Attention!

By Mark Gonzalez

"The amount of influence hip-hop has on the Xicano/Latino adolescent generation is undeniable. Indeed, Latinos have had a role in aiding hip-hop into the culture it is.

Cyphers, b-boy competitions, and freestyles are not foreign to our youth. Neither is the art of Spoken Word.

Recently, there has been an insurgence in the popularity of Spoken Word to the mainstream media. Spoken Word, a fore-father of hip-hop, combines the art of poetry with the tradition of storytelling. Yet ,it seems to be that while many ethnicities write and perform Spoken Word at venues from Open Mics, to Slam competitions, the Latino media coverage of this is very limited.

I would welcome seeing a review of local spoken word venues, such as 33 1/3, the Poetry Lounge, Mic an Dim Lights, within Latino LA. These venues provide an outlet for youth to express their frustrations with the establishment, family, and loved ones, as well as gratitude, in a positive manner.

These venues also prove to be very informative, and often aid the youth in their process of self-actualization. While poetry readings are sometimes covered through websites like Calaca Press or papers like LAWeekly, these vary from venues focused on the Spoken vs. the written word.

One attendance at any of these functions would prove my point. Another suggestion is if you wanted to open up an actual page for the submission of poetry, even audio clips for your patrons to submit to you."

What's Wrong with This Picture?

By Jesus Alberto Alvarado

"You said to write what we are feeling, or what we are thinking, and as I was scrolling down I saw all these articles and reviews on movies.

So what is wrong with this picture? Well lately I have been watching how the so-called commercial movies in theaters are getting so boring. What I mean is, if you seen one teen flick, you have seen them all. There is nothing new, or good, coming out. Even Latino theme films are getting repeated again and again. We see the same old food metaphor, like Tortilla Soup, Eat Drink Man Woman, Like Water for Chocolate, Babette's Feast, etc..

We also see the same old film with writers, painters, poets, like we see it with Before Night Falls, and now Pi?ero. If anything, this should be the time for filmmakers to try new themes, experiment, create something unique, new and fresh, as we saw it with Amores Perros. This is the time to go into themes that may be a bit more taboo such as gay and lesbians or even racism. Perhaps go into a psychological thriller, or perhaps a comedy that does not use food in any way.

We need to call attention to ourselves and to our culture. We are now the largest minority in this country, yet all we can come up with to represent ourselves in movies are boxers, gangsters, writers, cooks, illegal aliens, and of course machos. I know that these are important parts of our culture and heritage, but aren't there any lawyers, doctors, policemen, firemen, and other professions that could make a better movie? Yes, you need some imagination to see it, but I think that it can be done.

What about those struggling for a higher education? I bet they have a good story to tell. I mean there is nothing wrong with the movies I mentioned above, but we are doing the same thing as the studio system, we are recycling the same old plots and themes, and re-using them until they grow lame.

Well, I finally got this thorn off my chest. Thank you very much."

About Amigos de LatinoLA:
Send your thoughts and expressions about Latino culture to: amigos@latinola.com

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