One of the best things about mastering salsa timing is looking for it in other music genres. The trick is to adapt one’s rhythm for each song’s demands. It takes a while to be truly confident that one is dancing on time—like with all things, practice makes better (never perfect)—but once you get the hang of it the muscles will remember for you.
The best way to learn timing is to listen to salsa music and to practice one’s steps. This helps to get an ear for the various melodies and instruments which form the varied dancing layers. Another way is to immerse oneself in music wherever one hears it—because salsa works and lives in numerous genres.
Here are five Afrobeat songs from the continent that go from hot to fierce in less than a minute.
This East African outfit has many songs that command automatic movement, but their latest release is exceptionally good and a slow-tempo call to dancing.
Shekere—Yemi Alade & Angelique Kidjo
When you bring together the High Priestess of World Music—the incomparably good Angelique Kidjo—and the Queen of Afrobeat music—the ridiculously talented Yemi Alade—you get “Shekere”, this beautiful combination of singing prowess and rhythmic magic.
Nigeria’s Burna Boy currently reigns as the king of Afrobeat music at the moment. His latest album, African Giant, was a bestselling and award-winning compilation. There are numerous tracks to enjoy from the album, but if you have salsa timing down, and you want to dance to something unconventional, then “Anybody” is the song for you.
Bolo Ku Pudim — Nelson Freitas featuring Djodje, Eddy Parker & Loony Johnson
The song’s title translates to “cake with pudding” and this melodic offering comes from Cape Verde. The innuendo of the song remains unconfirmed. But what is unquestionable is that this song was made for an open party or for lockdown dancing.
Chelete — Gazza
Local is and will always be lekker. That is why this list of Afrobeat offerings must conclude with Gazza’s “Chelete”—a song that deserves wider recognition. It has made an appearance at one salsa party so far, and its infectious lyrics and catchy rhythm lent itself to easy and experimental dancing. There is a latent salsa rhythm embedded deep with the drum beats, and when you find it it completely takes over.