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The City of Musical Memory

Salsa, Record Grooves and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia

Lise A. Waxer

Publication Year: 2002

Salsa is a popular dance music developed by Puerto Ricans in New York City during the 1960s and 70s, based on Afro-Cuban forms. By the 1980s, the Colombian metropolis of Cali emerged on the global stage as an important center for salsa consumption and performance. Despite their geographic distance from the Caribbean and from Hispanic Caribbean migrants in New York City, Calenos (people from Cali) claim unity with Cubans, Puerto Ricans and New York Latinos by virtue of their having adopted salsa as their own. The City of Musical Memory explores this local adoption of salsa and its Afro-Caribbean antecedents in relation to national and regional musical styles, shedding light on salsa's spread to other Latin American cities. Cali's case disputes the prevalent academic notion that live music is more "real" or "authentic" than its recorded versions, since in this city salsa recordings were until recently much more important than musicians themselves, and continued to be influential in the live scene. This book makes valuable contributions to ongoing discussions about the place of technology in music culture and the complex negotiations of local and transnational cultural identities.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Music Culture

List of Illustrations and Tables

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pp. viii-ix

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pp. xi-xix

My husband, to whom this book is dedicated, likes to recount an anecdote about the Brazilian crooner Miltinho, who gave a concert in Cali in 1983. The singer was much loved by local audiences for his three albums ofboleros (love ballads) in Spanish, produced in the 1960s. Long retired from music and with faded, patchy memories of the boleros...

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pp. 1-29

This book is about a Latin American city and its people. More specifically, it is about how those people found themselves—like residents of many Latin American cities—dealing with rapid urbanization and change in the twentieth century, and the ways in which they responded to these transitions in popular cultural practice. The city in question is Cali, the bustling...

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1."In Those Days, Holy Music Rained Down": Origins and Influence of M

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pp. 31-68

Arias Satizabal took me to visit the artisan Hernan Gonzalez. A colorful person much loved by his neighbors, Gonzalez is renowned for the carnival masks he makes in his home in the older working-class barrio of Loma de la Cruz. He is also a veteran of Call's popular music scene during the 1940s and 1950s and maintains his passion for that era by collecting videos...

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2. Memory and Movement in the Record-Centered Dance Scene

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pp. 69-110

One of the most telling indicators of how important recordings are in Call's musical culture was the unprecedented revival in 1995 of the old, record-centered dance scene. Looking for ways to increase flagging profits, local discotheques began holding Sunday afternoon dances called viejotecas, or "old-theques," borrowing the name...

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3. Life in the Vinyl Museum: Salsotecas and Record Collectors

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pp. 111-152

By this time the record-centered dance scene was in decline, displaced by the boom in live music and local media that was clearly oriented toward new commercial trends in international salsa, particularly salsa romantica. In response to these changes, small drinking spots sprang up in working-class neighborhoods, dedicated to keeping alive the older strains of salsa...

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4. "Heaven's Outpost": The Rise of Cali's Live Scene

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pp. 153-187

In 1984 the Colombian salsa band Grupo Niche produced a tribute to Cali titled "Cali pachanguero." The song's title literally means "the partying city of Cali," and its lyrics celebrate salsa, soccer, local sights, and other icons of local popular culture. "Cali pachanguero" was immediately adopted as the city's new unofficial anthem and remains one of the most important Caleno salsa compositions...

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5. Taking Center Stage: The Boom of Local Bands

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pp. 188-221

When I arrived in Cali, musicians and fans were gearing up for the onslaught of salsa performances that enliven the city's year-end festivities. Throughout November and December, I had the opportunity to observe several local orquestas in action—most average, some excellent, but all infused with the ebullient spirit that characterizes Call's self-image as...

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6. "Cali Is Feria": Salsa and Festival in Heaven's Outpost

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pp. 222-255

My memories of the Feria center on its nights, when the city springs to life in a vivid wash of lights, people, music, and laughter. The opening night, in particular, seems to channel the excitement and energy of a town eager to launch itself into five days of nonstop merrymaking. Officiallyknown as La Feria de la Cana de Azucar (Sugarcane Carnival), the Feria was...

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7. Epilogue: Del Puente Pa'll

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pp. 256-262

A few months before completing my primary field research for this study, I performed with a salsa orquesta in the small Afro-Colombian town of Quinamayo, some forty miles due south of Call, as part of the celebrations for the Adoracion del Nino Dios, the most important religious fiesta of Afro-Colombian peasants living in the northern Cauca Valley. Our band, Los Nemus del Pacifico, had been invited...

Appendix 1: Map of Hubs of Salsa and M

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p. 264-264

Appendix 2: Map of Socioeconomic Zones in Cali

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p. 265-265

Appendix 3: Important International and National Bands Appearing at the Cali Feria, 1968–95

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pp. 266-271


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pp. 273-290


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pp. 291-295


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pp. 297-306

Selected Discography

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p. 307-307


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pp. 308-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780819570567
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819564412

Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: Music Culture