What is Salsa Caleña?
Salsa caleña is a style of salsa dancing that developed in the region of Cali, Colombia. Salsa caleña (also known as Cali-style salsa or Colombian salsa) is known throughout the world for its fast and intricate footwork, as well acrobatic tricks and lifts.
Where did Salsa Caleña come from?
Salsa caleña originated near the city of Cali, Colombia and the name of the dance translates to “Salsa from Cali”.
Salsa caleña developed largely independantly of salsa styles in the US such as New York-style salsa and LA-style salsa. Salsa music originated in New York in the 1960s and was brought to Colombia by sailors via the port of Buenaventura, from which it spread to Cali and other parts of Colombia.
The basic step of salsa caleña is based on cumbia (the national dance of Colombia), which originated in Colombia and is characterized by a back break step, leg kicks & flicks, and dancing in a circular motion, all of which are also present in salsa caleña.
Salsa caleña developed in the nightclubs of Cali where the DJs would speed up salsa records to blistering speeds, with dancers competing to see who could dance the fastest and most intricate footwork.
This competitive element of salsa caleña has carried forward to today, with thousands of dancers competing every year at various salsa dance competitions throughout Colombia.
Salsa caleña has exploded in popularity in Colombia, and Cali is now known as “La Capital de la Salsa” or the “Capital of Salsa” due to the large number of salsa dancers, schools, clubs and the festivals in the city (including the annual “Feria de Cali” festival).
However, outside of Colombia the style of salsa is rarely danced, although that has started to change somewhat in recent years thanks to international Colombian salsa instructors and videos across social media.
Salsa caleña has also spread from Cali to other cities throughout Colombia, with vibrant dance scenes in cities such as Medellin, Bogota and Cartagena.