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This weekend offers up a number of ways to soak up the musical history of salsa and to dance to it as well. Friday night and Saturday afternoon “Celia the Queen,” will be showing as part of Filmfest D.C. Justin Moyer favorably reviewed this documentary on the late, flamboyant reina de salsa, Celia Cruz, for the Washington City Paper. While I have not seen it yet, if it captures the excitement of the gigs I saw this friendly Cuban powerhouse give, and offers a look at the wigs and shoes that were in the Smithsonian exhibit on her a little while back, it will certainly be worth it.
Saturday night Dominican Republic-born, New York City-based singer Raulin Rosendo will be singing with a band at the Salsa Room (formerly Cecilia’s) in Arlington. This 51-year-old can sing rough-voiced upbeat vocals over a classic clave beat and horns soundscape, or vocalize romantically without getting syrupy. Local salsa dance instructor Eileen Torres has raved about Rosendo’s live show and I have not gone wrong yet trusting her music taste.
Speaking of Torres, while there are plenty of salsa dance teachers in this area, few of them also support learning about the musical genre like Eileen. She has presented archival video footage before lessons and concerts she has promoted, and done interviews as well. This Sunday she presents the grand opening of “Casual Salsa Sundays.” The event begins with dance lessons from 4-5 p.m. Following that will be a Salsa Sabios (means Salsa Sages) presentation by the knowledgeable and entertaining Nancy Alonso of WPFW on the life and career of Puerto Rico’s most prolific salsa composer, Tite Curet Alonso from 5-6 pm. Torres will give a cd with some of Alonso’s greatest hits to the first 40 people to participate in the Salsa Sabios session. You must rsvp at DCsalsameetup.com to receive a CD. Open dancing with DJ Andy then goes from 6-10 pm.
If the weekend did not give you enough Latin tropical flavor, then you can go see “Old Man Bebo,” on Monday April 20 or Wednesday April 22 as part of Filmfest D.C. Known more recently for his Latin-jazz piano stylings, Bebo Valdes first drew acclaim leading a dance band in the 1950s at Havana’s Tropicana Club. Learn his story from this 2008 picture.
Friday 4-17-“Celia the Queen” at 8:45 p.m. at Regal Gallery Place
Saturday 4-18- “Celia the Queen” at 4:30 p.m. at Regal Gallery Place
Saturday 4-18- Raulin Rosendo time tba at the Salsa Room, 2619 Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA
Sunday 4-19-“Casual Salsa Sundays” from 4 to 10 at the Meeting Place, 1707 L. St. NW
Monday 4-20-“Old Man Bebo” at 8:30 at Landmark’s E. St. Cinema
Wed. 4-22-“Old Man Bebo” at 8:30 at Landmark’s E. St. Cinema