by Sean O. Murphy
Mar 08, 2012
Though it has been a mild winter, the temperatures have dipped the last few months with darker skies, fog, rain and even a little snow. The winter takes a mental and emotional toll on all of us, particularly singles, as we go that long stretch from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day and we might start to wonder if that seasonal depression is going to hold on through St. Patrick’s Day. No worries, there is a cure to those long winter blahs and a way to heat up your life and maybe lose those extra holiday pounds that you packed on, too. The cure is SALSA! No, not the kind served with tortilla chips. I mean dance!
In Salsa dancing, it’s easy to pick up the basic steps, but can be an excellent cardiovascular workout, too. There are so many various dance moves that you are guaranteed to work every part of your body from your head to your toes. What better way to burn a few extra calories? It is guaranteed stress reducers. The music makes you want to dance even if you are not the one usually first on the dance floor. While you could take a class, there is no shortage of willing instructors right out on the floor. Salsa and Meringue are so rhythmic and contagious that you will be tapping your toes anyway, so it would be silly not to just grab a partner.
I recently went to hear Sons del Barrio at Mango’s (a comfortable Mexican restaurant during the day and a vibrant dance club at night) Sons Del Barrio means “sounds of the neighborhood” and this band, widely recognized as one of the most popular Latin bands, has been making people dance to the beat of Salsa, Merengue, and Cumbia for the last decade. Robert Ruiz invited me to hear the band to really get an idea for the sort of music they play and to understand their growing following with Latino and mainstream audiences—and especially with anyone who likes to dance. I gladly accepted and was not disappointed. The energy was palpable when they began to play and the atmosphere was friendly and lots of fun.
Ruiz tells me the band’s name has a double meaning as well as “sounds of the neighborhood.” It also means “from the neighborhood,” Ruiz said. “We are just people from the neighborhood. We are all real faithful and humble people playing the music that we heard in our neighborhoods.” There is Robert Ruiz (vocals, trumpet, trombone); Wilmari Ruiz ( flute, backing vocals); Rebecca Cauldron (vocals); Danny Cauldron (bongos, congas, backing vocals);Tony Pacheco (drums, guitar, backing vocals); Jonathan Weigner (trumpet); Sean Wright (trombone); Rob Stokes (saxophone, backing vocals); and Tony Pacheco (sound engineer). Ruiz tells me that while he started in mariachi bands, he was drawn into Salsa by his brother, who played clubs in Washington D.C. and introduced Tony when he was fourteen years old to the musical tradition. “Then I married a girl from Puerto Rico, Wilmari. Salsa was her heritage in the same way Mariachi was mine. We fell in love with each other and the music from each other’s heritage. I am Mariachi for life but I love to play Salsa”.
There is little not to love about Salsa. The dance floor was a sea of movement and there were plenty of willing partners. Everyone was dancing. It does not matter who you are or where you come from. Salsa does not discriminate. Salsa proves Gloria Estefan correct that the rhythm is going to get you.
This is a band you want to take a date with you to hear, and of course, to dance to. A lot of touching and closeness is needed to do most of the dance moves in Salsa. A hand on the hip, arms around the waist, fingers interlocking fingers, Salsa is a hot and sexy dance. If you don’t have a date, then Salsa may provide a love connection as there was no shortage of willing single dance partners on the night I went out, and asking your partner to help you learn the moves may be a great way to break the ice.
The band dresses sharp in matching black suits, and the ladies in beautiful cocktail dresses. They are all smiles and easy to approach, and they love to talk about the music they play. They play mainly Salsa and Merengue, but also Latin rock hits and all sorts of Latin-influenced music. Ruiz and the band are very friendly and the music turns strangers into friends. Ruiz smiles when he says, “Even if you don’t dance, you will dance!”
Sons Del Barrio intend to play every first Friday of the month in Moore or Norman and play Mango’s on every third Friday of the month. “We would really enjoy being able to play the Old School Auditorium in Moore and are just working out the details of making an event like that happen. We play lots of festivals and cultural events as well as clubs. Salsa is universal.” Ruiz said the band is ready to be booked for an event. For booking information: Wilmari Ruiz, 405-579-3693, firstname.lastname@example.org