Mexico City and the Origins of Mambo

Posted on almost 11 years ago

You ever wondered how Salsa started? Where it started? When it began?I am a nut for the history of things so I have been researching Salsa for a while now. I have been around the NY/NJ Salsa scene for about 10 years now and I have seen how it has changed. Yeah, there are more instructors. Yeah, there are more places to dance. Yeah, the dancers are better. But the most important change has been that mainstream people are again appreciating the Art of Salsa now and they are wanting to take part in it. I have been working on a set of articles that will detail the history of Salsa/Mambo through the last six decades. In the meanwhile, let me give you a little peek.

Although this video is from a 1965 film, this Mexican film "El Dengue del Amor" shows the importance that Mexico had in the development of Mambo in the 1950s. The song in this video is "Mambo Universitario" starring Perez Prado as himself. The university portrayed is the U.N.A.M. (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) whose professional soccer team are the "Pumas".In the late 1940s, Mambo music was derived from Cuban music. In 1948, Damaso Perez Prado, a Cuban musician from the town Matanzas, moves to Mexico City, invents the dance to the Mambo and popularizes the Mambo rhythm with his new band, music albums and movie films. In 1953, Perez Prado is deported from Mexico after he stated that he would compose a Mambo version of the Mexican National Anthem. Perez Prado then moves to New York City where he continues to perform, tour and record albums. He gets a break in the mainstream U.S. and Mambo reaches great popularity in the mid-1950s.In New York, Mambo was most notably performed and danced in the Palladium Ballroom where celebrities of the time often attended. This is the era of bands like Tito Puente, Machito and Tito Rodriguez.This is it for now. More to come later on how Mambo evolved into the Salsa that we know today and how the Salsa is being danced more like the Mambo.

By Dany J.Have

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