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"Though boogaloo did not become mainstream nationwide until later in the decade, two early Top 20 hits came in 1963: Mongo Santamaria's "Watermelon Man" and Ray Barretto's "El Watusi"."--Sholem Stein

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Latin Boogaloo aka bugalú (aka shing-a-ling) is a genre of Latin music and dance that was very popular in the United States, Central and South America from the mid to late 1960s. Though Latin boogaloo shares a common root with the R&B dance fad, the boogaloo, its style and sound would become markedly different. Latin boogaloo originated in New York City among teenage Cubans and Puerto Ricans. The style was a fusion of popular African American R&B, rock and roll and soul with mambo and son montuno.



In the 1950s and 60s, African Americans in the United States listened to a number of styles of music, including jump blues, R&B and doo wop. Puerto Ricans in New York City shared in these tastes, but also listened to genres like mambo or cha cha cha. There was much intermixing of Latinos, especially Puerto Ricans and Cubans, and African Americans, and clubs that catered to both groups tried to find musical common ground to attract both. Latin boogaloo was the result of this search, a marriage of many styles including Cuban son montuno and guajira, Puerto Rican/Cuban guaracha, mambo and most uniquely, American R&B/soul.

Latin boogaloo was an off-shoot of a longer Latin soul tradition that crossed R&B/pop hits with Afro-Latin rhythms. The Latin soul sound was exemplified in early/mid 1960s hits such as the 1962 song, "El Watusi" by Ray Barretto, the 1963 cover of Herbie Hancock's, "Watermelon Man" by Mongo Santamaria and Joe Cuba's 1965 single, "El Pito". The direct inspiration behind Latin boogaloo was the 1965 hit single, "Boo-Ga-Loo" by the Detroit R&B duo, Tom and Jerrio. Supposedly inspired by the boogaloo dance, Tom and Jerrio's single spurred the recording of dozens of copycat boogaloo songs amongst R&B musicians, though the fad was relatively short-lived.

In 1966, Ricardo Ray (aka Richie Ray), became the first Latin music artist to directly give the R&B boogaloo a Latin rhythm makeover, dubbing it "the bugaloo" for his album, Se Soltó. One of Ray’s songs on that album, "Looke Lookie," created a basic template for the Latin boogaloo: a central rhythmic riff (known as a montuno), audience-friendly English lyrics and a catchy chorus, sometimes done in a call and response style. Unlike faster Latin dance styles which required a knowledge of intricate dance steps, the Latin boogaloo was simplified and based around R&B rhythms that made it easier for Latin music newcomers to learn.

1966 also produced the first, million-seller in Latin boogaloo history, Joe Cuba’sBang Bang” which was built off of “Lookie Lookie’s” bassline This launched a string of major Latin boogaloo hits, including Pete Rodriguez’s “I Like It Like That,” Hector Rivera’s “At the Party” and Joe Bataan’s “Gypsy Woman.” The same year as Latin boogaloo’s breakout success, 1966, saw the closing of New York City's Palladium Ballroom, a well-known venue that had been the home of big band mambo for many years. The closing marked the end of mainstream mambo, and boogaloo ruled the Latin charts for about two to three years before the early development of salsa music began to take over.

Notably, the Latin boogaloo bands were mostly lead by young, sometimes even teenage musicians from New York’s Puerto Rican community. These included, but weren’t limited to, Bataan, Cuba, Bobby Valentin, The Latin Souls, The Lat-Teens, Johnny Colon, Willie Colon and The Latinaires. As such, Latin boogaloo can be seen as "the first Nuyorican music" (René López), and has been called "the greatest potential that (Latinos) had to really cross over in terms of music" (Izzy Sanabria). Styles like doo wop also left a sizable infuence, through Tony Pabón (of Pete Rodríguez Band), Bobby Marín, King Nando, Johnny Colón and his vocalists Tony Rojas and Tito Ramos. Puerto Ricans (Herman Santiago and Joe Negroni) played a foundational role in the major doo wop group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. Herman Santiago was the author of the groups #1 "hit" "Why Do Fools Fall In Love".

Latin boogaloo also spread throughout the larger Latin music world, especially in Puerto Rico, where top band El Gran Combo released many boogaloos. Latin music scenes in Peru, Colombia, Panama and elsewhere also embraced the boogaloo. Though the dance craze only lasted until 1968/69, Latin boogaloo was popular enough that almost every major and minor Latin dance artist of the time recorded at least a few boogaloos on their albums. That included boogaloos by long-time veteran, mambo-era musicians such as Eddie Palmieri and his “Aye Que Rico” or Tito Puente’s “Hit the Bongo.”

The end of the Latin boogaloo’s reign is held in some dispute. According to several scholars, notably Juan Flores, jealous, older Latin music artists colluded with record labels (in particular, Fania), radio DJs, and dance hall promoters to blacklist boogaloo bands from venues and radio. This allowed the veteran players to make a comeback within the New York scene, culminating in the explosive success of salsa by the early 1970s which saw former giants like Puente and the Palmieri Brothers return to the top while most Latin boogaloo bands went out of business (Joe Bataan and Willie Colon being two notable exceptions).

Latin boogaloo remains extremely popular to this day in Cali, Colombia, where the genre is played extensively, along with salsa and pachanga, in various FM and AM radio stations and hundreds of dance clubs. The Caleños prefer their boogaloo sped up, from 33 to 45 RPM, to match the city's fast dance style.It is also a list available through HLB - part of the WWAVRC group

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Boogaloo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Boogaloo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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