Peruvian Fusion: Salsa Dancing

One of the things that many foreign visitors to Cusco try is Salsa dancing. There seems to be dozens of Salsa Dance schools and clubs (Mythology, Mama Africa, Kamikase, Roots, etc) clustered around the Plaza de Armas.

Early on when our family was taking Spanish lessons at the Amauta Spanish Language school, we would take their free Dance lessons on Friday nights. My wife and I and our kids would swirl around doing doble enchufles with twenty-something backpackers, while the instructor barked out the rhythm “uno, dos, tres…cinco, seis, siete.” After a few weeks, we started to get pretty good and started to accent our twists and swirls with a little Latino swagger. For us this was great entertainment and exercise and, as the rest of the backpackers headed out to the clubs for more, we’d go out for dinner and then head home to our apartment.

It seems that almost everywhere you go in Latin America, there is Salsa dancing. Salsa dancing originated in Cuba, where the Spanish guitar and the African drum collided to form unique rhythms in the New World. Salsa -- also a word for a sauce with various ingredients -- became popular as nickname to refer to a variety of different music, from several countries of Hispanic influence: Rhumba, Són Montuno, Guaracha, Mambo, Cha cha cha, Danzón, Són, Guguanco, Cubop, Guajira, Charanga, Cumbia, Plena, Bomba, Festejo, Merengue, among others. Many of these have maintained their individuality and many were mixed creating "Salsa".

The more we think about life in Peru – as well as the rest of Latin America -- the more we realize how the fusion of three continents (Europe, South America, Africa) touches almost every aspect of Peruvian life.


  1. Cool! I like how you combine personal experiences with facts in your posts. In 2 minutes, I just learned about salsa :)

  2. And I thought salsa was something that came with tortilla chips! Looks like a lot of great fun!

  3. Do all social strata and groups in Peru learn to Salsa?

    Meanwhile, gotta get my dancing shoes out of the closet.

    I have just been watching a novice's guide to Salsa on YouTube after reading this - one, two three four rest five six seven rest.

    The video has had over one-and-a-half-million hits, so Salsa is surely popular :-)

  4. Sophie,
    Thanks - when you come to South America you have to try it.

  5. Marly,
    I would have expected a foodie like you to have that perspective. Thanks for commenting.

  6. David,
    I'm not sure about the upper might not be refined enough; but certainly the working classes love them some salsa.

  7. This looks like a lot of fun. I love salsa dancing. Sadly, I have two left feet and no sense of rhythm when it some to dancing :)

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