Guanaco actor stars in new mun2 show

Before I visited Miami and spent time with Telemundo, I had heard of the new show on mun2 called RPM Miami. I knew it had something to do with racing cars, and since that didn’t really interest me, I didn’t look into it any further.

During my time with Telemundo I learned that one of the stars of the show, actor Adrian Bellani, is half Salvadoran. Born in Miami and raised in San Salvador, Bellani plays the character Alejandro who is a soldier returning home from a tour in Iraq. He discovers that his father is missing and while trying to find out what happened to him, gets mixed up in the world of Miami street racing.

Two other things that I liked – First, the characters on the show are all bilingual and the show is a mix of both Spanish and English. And second, RPM Miami is shot on location in Miami.

I had the opportunity to meet some of the stars and of course, my question was, “Which one of you is the guanaco?” … Well, they totally misunderstood me. They thought I was saying “El Guajo” – (which is the name of the antagonist on RPM Miami.) Too funny…Chécalo!

RPM Miami premieres Sunday May 1 @ 10p/9C on mun2.

Disclosure: I went to Miami at the invitation of Telemundo. All opinions are my own.

Shout out from Prince Royce

I have so much to share but this is one of the most exciting moments of my trip to Miami. Prince Royce, one of my favorite singers, gave a shout out to Latinaish.com from the red carpet of the Latin Billboard Music Awards. This was so kind of him, (and qué cute!)

And I’m not sure if that’s me gasping at the end or one of my amigas blogueras. It was probably me because I still feel like gasping every time I watch the video and hear him say the name of my own blog. I can’t tell you how surreal it is to stand face-to-face with famous people you admire. More to come soon!

Botas Picudas

ElVaqueroImports.com

The first time I saw botas picudas was in a WalMart parking lot. The boys piled into the car with Suegra while Carlos and I put the groceries into the trunk. Across the row, a group of young Mexican guys walked by and caught my eye.

I nudged Carlos. “Look at those boots!”

These tipos were decked out – cowboy hats, jeans tighter than I could ever hope to fit into, fancy button-down shirts, big belt buckles, and these pointy toed boots I couldn’t take my eyes off of.

Carlos sneered and went back to putting groceries into the car.

“If we find you boots like that, will you wear them?!” I asked, handing him a bag from the cart.

“No. They look ridiculous,” he answered, before reminding me for the millionth time that he wasn’t Espinoza Paz, he wasn’t Mexican, and he wasn’t even from the Salvadoran countryside – he’s a city boy.

I watched the Mexican guys get into their truck and pouted. That was a year ago and I still haven’t convinced Carlos to buy a pair of botas picudas. In fact, the fashion has gotten so out of hand that now he definitely wants nothing to do with it.

Apparently the men wearing these boots got a little competitive about whose boots were longer and pointier, (*ahem* … we are talking about BOOTS here but it makes you wonder.) … Now, some of the botas picudas can be so long that the wearer attaches the tip of the boot to their wrists to keep from tripping.

This documentary explains how DJ Erick Rincón and the Tribal music scene in Mexico City played a part in popularizing botas picudas, (which can be seen even in the United States – especially in Texas.)

People who wear these boots are sometimes called “nacos” and “chuntaros” – but they’re not ashamed and you have to admire that.

Links:

Chuntaritos.com
¡Que Chuntaro! by JuanofWords.com
ElVaqueroImports.com
Erick Rincón, 16, Spins Mexico’s Newest Craze by ReMezcla.com
[free downloads]
Erick Rincón on Twitter

(Gracias to mi amiga, Elsie, for sharing the video and inspiring the post!)

Miami, regresaré!

(Today is Spanish Friday so the following post is en español. Don’t speak Spanish? No problema! Just scroll down to the English translation below.)


Por tres días no puedo parar de sonreir. ¿Quieres saber por qué? Porque recibí una invitación de Telemundo por venir a Miami para los Billboard Latin Music Awards!

Me cuesta mucho buscar las palabras por explicar cómo me siento yo ahorita – (¡aún en inglés!) … Es casi el mismo sentido que uno siente cuándo está enamorado. No puedo pensar en nada salvo los Billboard Latin Music Awards. No tengo nada de hambre, no tengo sueño – sólo tengo mis ensueños de caminar en la carpeta roja con un vestidito super lindo, la playa que me recuerda mucho, la música, mis amigas, y estar rodeada de hispanohablantes y la cultura Latina – Miami y este evento son nada menos que el paraíso!

¿Y sabes qué? Espinoza Paz está nominado en varias categorías! Ay mi madre! Sí está mi Espinoza, y sí tengo el chance de conocerlo cara a cara – me muero! (Pero me muero feliz!)

La unica cosa es que quiero llevar Carlos conmigo. Él tiene muchos años trabajando fuerte sin irse en vacaciónes y lo merece mucho. Carlos no conoce Miami y ya sé que va a enamorar de la ciudad como yo lo hice el año pasado. Entonces, estoy buscando más trabajo, (escribiendo), y Carlos buscando trabajo en cortar grama o cualquier cosa que puede encontrar fuera de su trabajo regular, para que ahorramos un poco extra por comprar el boleto que necesita.

Así que, a trabajar voy, mis amigos! … Y Miami, mi amor, regresaré muy pronto!

Te dejo con un video: Armada Latina – Cypress Hill featuring Pitbull and Marc Anthony.

Pitbull está tan lindo y chistoso en este video. Chécalo!

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

For three days I haven’t been able to stop smiling. Want to know why? Because I received an invitation from Telemundo to come to Miami for the Billboard Latin Music Awards!

It’s difficult for me to find the words to explain how I feel right now – (even in English!) … It’s almost the same feeling one feels when they’re in love. I can’t think of anything except the Billboard Latin Music Awards. I’m not hungry, I’m not tired – I just have my daydreams about walking on the red carpet dressed in a super cute gown, the beautiful beach I often think of, the music, my friends, and being surrounded by Spanish speakers and the Latin culture – Miami and this event are nothing less than paradise!

And guess what? Espinoza Paz is nominated in various categories! If my Espinoza is there, and if I have the chance to meet him face-to-face – I will die! (But I’ll die happy!)

The only thing is that I want to bring Carlos with me. He has spent a lot of years working hard without going on a single vacation and he really deserves it. Carlos has never been to Miami and I know he’ll fall in love with the city like I did last year. So, I’m looking for more work, (writing), and Carlos is looking for more work, cutting grass or whatever he can find outside his regular work, so we can save a little extra that we need to buy his ticket.

So then, back to work I go, my friends! … And Miami, my love, I’m coming back real soon!

I leave you with a video: Armada Latina – Cypress Hill featuring Pitbull and Marc Anthony.

Pitbull is so cute and funny in this video. Check it out!

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Did you participate in Spanish Friday? Leave your link in comments!
Participaste en Spanish Friday? Deja tu link en comentarios!

Charamusca

When I peeked into the ice cream freezer at the Latino Market, I saw amongst the usual popsicles and choco-bananas, something new.

“What’s that in the plastic bag?” I asked Carlos.
“Charamusca,” he said.

At 50 cents each, I decided to bring one home and give it a try. “Charamusca” in Mexico is a twisted caramel candy – but in El Salvador “Charamusca” is what they call a type of frozen treat. They come in various flavors, (the one I bought seemed to be coconut milk), but they’re frozen in plastic baggies.

Carlos showed me how to eat it: You simply bite a corner of the plastic off with your teeth, and then work it out through the hole while sucking on it.

These would be easy to make with kids over the summer: Just pour juice or a homemade fruit smoothie into plastic baggies, tie closed, and freeze. (I recommend eating them outdoors. They get sticky!)

While trying to find out more about “charamuscas”, I stumbled upon this odd music video. Say what you want about Salvadorans, but they know how to have fun.

Latin Dance 101


(image source: Putumayo.com)

You hear Latin music and it makes you want to dance – but is it a Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, or something entirely different? The beat tempts you to the dance floor, but what do you do once you’re out there?

Today my friend and professional Latin dance instructor, Jennifer Gonzalez, guest posts and gives us the basics!

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Lovin’ that Latin Dance!

by Jennifer Gonzalez

It is hard to believe that just 13-14 years ago I had no idea that merengue, salsa, bachata, or cha cha cha were dances. Ok, maybe in the ballroom world I had heard a bit about cha cha cha or salsa but definitely nothing else. The only type of Latin dance I had ever laid eyes on was whatever came out of Mexico or California. As much as I love the Mexican culture – the dance just didn’t do it for me.

Then one day, I met this man. He was (well, still is) Puerto Rican and he introduced me to ‘his’ music! I fell in love with the music instantly.  For one of our dates, we went to go to see the movie, “Dance With Me” staring Chayanne and Vanessa Williams. In the movie, Chayanne takes Williams’ character to a club where they dance ‘real’ salsa (not the ballroom kind.) My eyes probably popped out of my head at that moment as I watched and saw what I thought looked like the most fun you could have out at a club.

I told my then-boyfriend, “I must learn how to dance salsa!” So for my birthday we went to a tiny little club that we had found in the City Paper. After only one lesson I was hooked. I had no problem with the rhythm or the steps and wanted more. What I didn’t know was that these lessons were going to open up a whole new world to me full of music, dance, and culture. Little by little I started to learn other dances, where they came from, and how they fit into the culture of Latin America.

What intrigues me is that many times people have a hard time distinguishing Latin music. A merengue will be playing and someone will ask, “Is that salsa?” No. They sound nothing alike. To me.  How can you tell them apart? You learn about them!

Merengue
Merengue is the easiest of the Latin dances to learn. It involves just two beats and two steps. 1-2, 1-2. The man and women mirror each other’s feet as they dance and start in closed-position. As they step, there is a slight bend to the knee which will move the hips. They key is to not move your shoulders to the side or to bounce – that will give you away as a gringo (or non- Hispanic person) immediately!   The bend in the knee while dancing gives the hips the movement that everyone wants but works so hard to achieve. Because of the easy steps, the leader can move through series of turns without too many issues.  The dance originated in the Dominican Republic in the 19th century and is considered the ‘national dance’.  If you take a trip to the Dominican Republic and stay in a resort, you will most likely find merengue dance lessons each afternoon or evening (sometimes both).  You can see the basic movement in the videos below:

Bachata
One dance gaining in popularity right now is bachata.  Everyone and their mother and brother want to learn Bachata – especially here in the Washington DC area. Again, this dance comes to us from the Dominican Republic. Many call bachata the ‘country music’ of Latin music. The lyrics are often full of heartache, pain, and love and as a result, the dance itself can portray all of these things. Traditional bachata dancing requires partners hold each other very close in the closed position. Their legs will straddle so as to not step on each other’s feet (with the woman’s right-leg often between the men’s legs while dancing).  The dance involves 4 steps – 4 to the right, 4 to the left with the 4th step being a left-lift or hip pop (see the video).  Although many dance very close together, it isn’t necessary. It can be beautiful danced with space between the man and the woman.

Salsa
Salsa dancing is one of the most complex Latin dances. Not only are the steps harder to learn but there are variations within the dance itself which have caused controversy for years.  Salsa music first originated in Cuba (as mambo) before being brought to the United States by Cuban musicians. The origins date back to Cuban Son. When the Cubans brought their salsa to the states it wasn’t yet considered ‘salsa’.  Only after the United States shut the doors to Cuba and other artists took the music, added their own flavor (like Fania All Stars) was it given the name ‘salsa’.  The style became immensely popular in Puerto Rico due to singers like Hector Lavoe, Willie Colon, Tito Puente, and others and slowly moved throughout the world. Today, you will find that styles of salsa vary from country to country. Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and more all have their own distinct style of moving.

What does salsa look like when danced? Excellent question! As people start to learn they may find themselves confused. The styles to pick from are: on1 (LA style), on2 (New York/Puerto Rican style), casino (Cuban style), or Colombian.  They each have their own way of relating to the music but one thing stays the same: the clave.  All salsa music is built upon the clave. If you dance up the clave or down the clave does not matter – just stay with the music. Salsa is danced in 6 beats: 1-2-3, 5-6-7 with on1 and on2 styles pausing for the 4 & the 8.  However, Cuban and Colombian salsa most often use every beat of the music.  Trying to decide which style to learn can be confusing but I suggest to just pick one, learn it well, and then move on to another.

Video 1 demonstration:

Cuban salsa:

New York Style:

Colombian Style:

Beyond Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata

Beyond the dances mentioned above there are numerous other Latin dances available. The most popular is probably the cha cha cha. Most people are familiar with the cha cha cha from ballroom dancing or tv shows like Dancing With the Stars. Again, cha cha cha was born in Cuba. It progressed from the Danzón and received the name ‘cha cha cha’ from the sound the footwork would make on the floor. And although many people call it just the cha cha – the proper name is cha cha cha. The footwork is most similar to salsa but with a syncopated step on the 4 and 8.  For a feel of the cha cha cha, I might recommend people break out their old Santana music and listen to “Oye Como Va.” This song was written by Tito Puente as a straight cha cha cha but Santana took it and created an incredible rock song. The cha cha cha is still there in the song. Although the cha cha cha can be danced to some popular music (as they show on tv) it is best danced to classic cha cha cha music for the proper feel.

 

Another popular dance is Afro-Cuban rumba. Again, ballroom took what they called rumba and created their own dance. When you say ‘rumba’ in Cuba or in Puerto Rico or other Latin American countries they will most often assume you are talking about the rhythm that originated in Cuba. Because rumba is so diverse and complex, I would suggest reading this article I wrote for Ritmo Bello which explains the types of rumba as well as gives examples.

 

Learning these dances not only gives people the opportunity to connect with a culture (Puerto Rican, Cuban, Colombian, Dominican, etc.) it provides an outlet for exercise and socializing. Some of my greatest friends have come through dancing salsa.  And for me, I know that I still have so much to learn. Watch the videos, pick up some music from Amazon or iTunes, and get in the groove!

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Jennifer Gonzalez has been dancing salsa for the past 12 years and salsa rueda/casino for the past 10. She danced and taught with SAOCO DC for 4 years before having to focus her interests elsewhere due to kids, work, and life in general. She has also taught at the San Francisco Salsa Rueda Festival for two years and independently throughout Northern Virginia. Jennifer dances LA Style on1 and salsa casino but prefers salsa casino. She has trained with Aramis Pazos in Washington DC in AfroCuban dance. She works full-time as a web content manager and in search engine optimization/social media marketing. In addition, Jennifer authors Salsa Casino in DC – a blog dedicated to sharing events, classes, and more that are happening in the Washington DC Metro area as well as teaching people about the Cuban history of dance. Additionally, she is a regular contributor to PlanetTimba.com and The Examiner. When she is not dancing, thinking about dancing, or writing about dancing she spends time with her two children and husband.

Empacho

Lately Suegra has been suffering from “empacho” … This illness has always confused and amused me – And Suegra is equally confused as to how it’s possible that gringos don’t believe in it, and usually have never even heard of it.

“Empacho” is a gastrointestinal illness that many people in El Salvador and other parts of Latin America believe can kill you. I decided to interview her about it for anthropological reasons because it doesn’t seem well documented.

Interview below, (in Spanish.)

Note: The use of the word “chibolitas” in Salvadoran Caliche means “little round objects” or “little balls.” (The word has other meanings in other parts of Latin America.)

(If interested in a translation to English, let me know in comments and I’ll see about transcribing it.)