Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Cha Cha Revolution:



Dance Story Shorts:
By: Mr. Roger M. Christian

The Cha Cha Revolution:
In Havanah, Cuba during the early to Mid ' 50s, several roving bands of Cuban youth went around asking Americans for nickles, times etc. Their torn tee-shirts told their story all too well. Moreover, the city in which they play, beged and lived, Havanah was growing. Populations from the country side fled to Cuba's major cities in the hope to find work. Previous rains and flooding caused problems with Cuban agriculture.

About that time, American popular culture was making significant in-roads into Cuban Middle Class Society - which also meant that it was also American Mob influenced. The Organized Crime Families owned much of the Hotel and Gambling Casinos at that time. The Batista Government was totally bribed by thase thugs- Myer Lansky was the fait accompli Prime Minister and Exchecker of Cuba..

Never-the-less, it was the growing popularity of Elvis, espeically his hip action, which finally ignited the cultural clash. The Cuban teens-who were trying to survive, and whose desires and expectations looked to the Cuab mountains knowing there was Castrol-were about to launch themselves into cultural history.

A couple years earlier. Cha Cha Cha / Chas Chas Chas had already made some initiative forewrays into Cuban culture by those who desired a slower version of the Mambo. This percepitated the : chasse : movement to also appear-for they were not that too old.

Never-the-less, and a couple years later, with the coming of Elvis, along with his hip action , into the picture of Cuban mainstream middle class culture, what also followed was the jitterbug - a Southern version of the Lindy Hop ( then ). The convergence of these cultural developments inflamed the nationalistic passions of these Cuban teens. There was the foreseen vision by these teens of Elvis's radical hip action replacing Cuban Motion ever looming over the horizon.

Then Chas Chas Chas exploded in Nationalistic cultural revival epitones to Latina Musica.

The first appearence of radical street dances first appeared in Cuban cultural history and now " established " traditions, and have not stopped since, and what happended is that these teen started to play a faster form of Chas Chas Chas ( the Cuban word for Cha Cha - etc ), and took of the flare swing and under-arm turns of the Jitterbug and Cubanized it with Cuban hip motions into a full blown Chas Chas Chas street dance. The influence of Elvis, hip and all, was suddenly lost, the only time in popular culture history to have ever occured.

About then Castrol made his move, and when Chas Cahs Chas was at the height of its Cuban popularity, and virtually invading every American urban center where there were Latinas playing Latina Danza - Salsa, Castrol enter the City of Havanah.

At the center where all this took place, the plaza was renamed to Chas Chas Plaza, and adjacent is a dance hall with some of these at one time torn tee - shirted teens, now aged dancers still cling to their dance, and among some of the best cigars in the world. Whose smoke mixes with the most delightful scent of perfumes-all Cuban made.

Since the 50's, and even though the Castrol government tried to curb creativity with in Cuban music, and subsequently dance, the cycle of innovative street dances still is on-going. There are still roving teens with torn tee - shirts, and even though the American mob has left, except for the newer forms coming from Columbia. Thus during every 6 year cycle a new dance appears, and it all started when the first batch of Cuban teens who went into a nationalistic cultural revival to resist the intrusion of popular American culture into the folkways of Cuban society.

Ask any one who is Elvis in Havanah, and you get nothing but a very perplex face.

Mr. Roger M. Christian

No comments: