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Books on salsa, casino, rueda de casino, timba and more

  • Dancing the Beautiful Wheel - A Guide to Rueda de Casino – a Rueda book written by a member of a UK rueda group Great list of rueda calls
  • The little red book of dancing... Salsa! – a lot of helpful little tips and points to ponder, especially for leads.
  • Casino and Salsa in Cuba - Bárbara Balbuena – Editorial José Martí – I was unable to find a link for the English translation – picked it up in Cuba years ago – the writing/translation is not ideal and exceedingly dry, but there is a lot of interesting history and info here
  • History of dancing ring and casino-salsa – Picked this up on a recent trip to Havana. A history and description of rueda and casino by Alan Borges and Alicia Sardiñas. This is not an awesome book, I far preferred the above title, Casino and Salsa in Cuba. That said, it does have some interesting information on the background of reuda and its origins in quinceanera choreography, and the Casino Del Deportivo club and neighborhood etc. Like Casino and Salsa in Cuba, the translation does not make for particularly smooth reading. Published by Ediciones Cubanas / Artex in 2013.
  • Beyond Salsa for Beginners: The Cuban Timba Revolution: An Introduction to Latin Music for Dancers and Listeners – A music appreciation guide to Cuban music. It features listening tours of pre-revolution Cuban popular music, post-revolution popular music, timba, and afrocuban folkloric music. It’s a bit of work tracking down all the recordings analyzed here, but it’s an interesting listen and read. For each genre and track it will feature background information, info on the band/musicians, a breakdown of the song by section with timings, etc.
  • Cuba and its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo - Ned Sublette – A bit of a history of the world and of Cuba as it pertains to Cuban music. A fascinating book!
  • Origins of Cuban Music and Dance: Changuï - Ben Lapidus – An extraordinary book about changuï and the region from which it comes, namely Guantanamo and Yateras. A fascinating read about the regional music that was one of the ingredients in afrocuban son.
  • Timba: Sound of the Cuban Crisis - Vincenzo Perna – An interesting look at timba culture – music, dance, fashion, politics, socioeconmics, and so on. Looks at the early development of timba in the wake of the special world.
  • Music and Revolution - Robin D. Moore - A fascinating read about music and culture in Cuba in relation to the revolution. Sets the scene with a look at music in the decade leading up to the revolution, and then considers the history of music throughout the various eras – from the early days through the special period and beyond. Looks at various facets of music in the revolution – dance music, afrocuban culture, the amateur movement, sacred music, etc. Highly recommended.
  • Nationalizing Blackness - Robin D. Moore - A well-researched but somewhat dry read, looking at Afrocuban culture in Havana between 1920-1940
  • Rumba: Dance and Social Change in Contemporary Cuba (Blacks in the Diaspora) - Yvonne Daniel – Daniel spent a good deal of time in Cuba, learning and researching rumba. It’s an excellent book, with a good deal of information that I had never come across.
  • Voice of the Leopard - African Secret Societies and Cuba - Ivor Miller - a book on the Abakuá mens secret society, which derived from Ekpé in Nigeria and Cameroon and has been an influence on Cuban music, dance, culture and society. An interesting read with a lot of the history of Abakuá. Being a secret society, there’s a lot that is not explained here abou the actual lessons, practices and beliefs of Abakuá, but Miller – himself an initiate of Ekpé – has done what he can given the limitations on what he is able to say.

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