When you think of New York City nightlife in the 1970's, things like the infamous Studio54, drugs and disco-techs may pop up in your mind. But, you may just be recalling Saturday Night Fever and other films from that era because, despite the cinematography that strove to capture that generation, movies never tell the whole story. If you’re lucky enough to know someone who experienced the 1970’s NYC club scene first hand you will 100 percent of the time hear stories about the influx of Puerto Ricans and the Salsa music they brought along with them.
From 103rd street to the Lower East Side from sidewalks to rooftops, salsa, in its myriad of genres, spilt onto the streets of NYC in the late 1960’s taking the music industry by storm. Club owners of the time gladly booked the then trending acts knowing the exotic rhythms and style of dance would attract club goers looking for an alternative to the excessively popular disco beat. Salsa continued to remain popular throughout the 70s and into the 80s with popular venues like Roseland Ballroom and Palladium scheduling weekly Latin nights. However, as its popularity diminished among first generation Latin Americans, who found themselves experimenting with the budding sounds of hip hop, the required pianist, trumpeters, and percussionists, needed to form the traditional eight-man orchestra became virtually non-existent.
Traditional salsa music can still be heard in NYC today, performed mainly in concert by the old legends of salsa’s heyday and although a hand full of young musicians still strive to keep classical salsa alive, Latin rhythms in the NYC club scene are predominantly heard in the form of reggaeton, a fusion of hip-hop, reggae and salsa melodies. The inexpensive facility with which music can be produced using digital technology has definitely hindered any prospective salsa resurgence.
Club promoters are reluctant to shell out hefty band fees in the hopes of attracting club goers to a music that has lost its general audience. Despite this reality the recent culture clash in the culinary and arts industries provides testimony to the possibility of an untapped market and potential salsa revival. Experience NYC striving salsa scene Tuesday nights at Copacabana and Saturday nights at LQ