5 Evolving Latin American Dance Styles

Latin American dances are influenced by the Hispanic culture as well as by cultures from regions far beyond this region, especially when you look at the evolving Latin dances. These dances are unique in their style as well as stepping. You can tell one from the other even when they apparently hail from the same region.

If you are thinking of learning Latin dance, here are top Hispanic dances. These dances are being taught at dance schools and they are the most widely known Latin dances of the modern era.

5- Cha Cha Cha

The Cha Cha Cha is probably the fastest evolving Latin dance. It has its roots in Cuban culture and it looks similar to Mambo dance style.

Cha Cha Cha dance style has the same basic stepping as Mambo style. However, after the basic movements are completed, this dance style has few additional steps. These additional steps are three steps and they are counted as ‘cha cha cha’. That’s how this dance style got its name.

Cha Cha Cha is being taught at various dance schools throughout Central and South America.

4- Mambo

Mambo is the most popular Latin American dance without a doubt. If someone has heard one thing about Latin American culture, it would be Mambo dance. This dance style started in Cuba but soon spread throughout the Central and South American countries.

Mambo is performed by shifting weight forward and then backwards while changing feet and therefore center of gravity. The dance is performed in pairs.

The most popular factor about Mambo dance style is the way dancers sway their hips. This step has inspired various line-dancing and aerobics projects worldwide.

3- Merengue

This Dominican dance style has evolved to become the official dance style of the country. It is one of the most famous dance styles in the region since it’s easy to learn. A lot of people start learning Latin dance with this style.

2- Salsa

Salsa is also one of the most well known dance styles in Hispanic culture. This dance style has its roots in Caribbean culture. The dance also has influences from African culture as well.

This dance is performed by couples who move to a four-beat composition. The dancers take two quick steps followed by a slow step and a tap. Dancers then turn around and do the basic dance movements on the floor.

1- Samba

Samba dance style has its roots in Brazil. This dance style has its own special music. The special thing about Samba is the number of different new styles that have evolved over time. Some of these dance style are suited to couples while others are developed for individuals. Samba is easily one of the most famous dance styles in Latin America.

If you are interested in learning any of these dance styles, you can easily find a dance school online and learn from anywhere in the world. You don’t have to travel to Latin America to attend a dance school. You can also lookup for dance schools in your area and see if any of them is offering a Latin dance course.

 

5 Latin American women groups that you should know

Women have led various important movements in Latin America. Even during the time of peace, women groups are actively helping to change and redefine culture, politics and values in Latin America. Here is a list of 5 most impressive Latin American women groups that you should know.

Comando Colibri

This is a Mexican group of women who fight violence against women. This group was formed in order to respond to everyday violence events involving women in Mexico City. The group chose of self-defense as their answer to this violence.

The women participating in the self-defense training regimes organized by this group learn boxing and other ways to defend themselves. The group also offers paid technical training to non-member women to cover day to day expenses.

The name of the group ‘Colibri’ means hummingbird. The name was taken from a local story where a hummingbird fights a huge forest fire all by itself. When other animals feared the fire and ran to save their lives, the colibri turned around and decided to save the forest. This story says a lot about the philosophy and underlying principles of this women group.

CFSS health action group

Colectivo Feminista Sexualidade Saude (CFSS) is a women community in Brazil. This group is responsible for providing professional trailing to thousands of women in the region. The group preaches the principles of self-help and free access to information. Based on these basic principles, the group has been able to provide basic health care to the underprivileged women throughout the region.

Flor De Azaela

This group in Ecuador is the oldest sex workers movement in Latin America. The movement was founded back in early 1980s in Machala.

The movement protects sex workers by defending their rights as sex workers. The members get involved in various activities during their work as sex workers and that’s when they need each other’s help. As a group and community, these sex workers are able to negotiate with local authorities and government when there is a problem.

The group doesn’t just deal with day to day problems for sex workers in Ecuador but it also provides opposition to the criminalization of sex work. The group has been publically vocal on the legal oppression of sex workers.

Miles Group

Miles Group in Chile is one of the bravest and courageous groups in this list. These women have come together to fight a major taboo in Chile – abortion. Unfortunately, women can’t chose to have abortion in Chile and anyone who tries to fight against it can be put in jail for up to five years. Miles and some other women groups are showing great courage by fighting against this evil legislation.

Garifuna Culture Group

Garifuna Culture Croup fights against the neoliberal and privatization policies in Hondorus in an effort to protect the Garifuna culture.

The member women try to protect their communities by answering call to ancestors. As a result, these women are usually present at every land takeover and political gathering where they take on different roles.

According to this group, women should lead different rituals. These rituals usually require access to the sea and earth and that’s something only Garifuna women can do.

8 Things You Should Know About Latino Culture

Hispanic heritage is rich with traditions and cultural festivals. Each year, they start the celebrations for the independence of five Latin American countries on 15 September. Hispanic people are America’s largest growing ethnic group.

Latin America has nearly 330 million native speakers who speak Spanish. This makes Spanish world’s second most spoken first language with only Chinese language ahead of it. There are many other amazing things about Latin American culture that one must know.

Latin American dance

When you think of Latin American culture, traditional dance is definitely one of the first few things that come to the mind. It is one of the strongest traditions of this energetic culture. These cultural dances such as rumba and cha-cha-cha have unique individual style and they are easily recognizable.

Spanish isn’t the only Latin American language

Latin American culture is rich not only in terms of its traditions but also in terms of languages. Although the major first language in this culture is Spanish, they are many who speak other languages such as Portuguese, which is spoken in Brazil. Spanish also has number of varying versions.

Unique body language and hand gestures

When you visit Latin America, be sure to learn about different hand and body gestures. A gesture that means something positive in your culture could be equivalent to a rude action in Latin America. The usual OK sign means being rude to someone in Brazil. Similarly, Argentineans would think you mean you don’t know when you are trying to suggest the other person to get lost. That’s pointing under the chin.

Festivity and carnivals

Latin American culture has numerous festivals and carnivals that continue entertaining communities throughout the year. However, the stand out festive season starts late January and continues through March. This is the Carnival season. The Latin people think of it as the last chance to celebrate the good times. They give it all during these festivals, making Carnival season one of the most festive seasons in the entire world.

Holiday of Day of the Dead

This is a special holiday in Latin American culture, particularly in Mexico where it is celebrated widely. If you are curious about Latin culture, this holiday is something for you to attend. Families and friends from around the Latin belt gather in Mexico to remember the ones who are dead. The family members and friends offer their favorite food as a sacrifice for well-being of their friends.

Latin American peppers are special

Latin American peppers are the hottest peppers in the world. There is nothing like that in any other part of the world. They are part of various spicy dishes and give special flavoring to red hot Mexican food.

Latin American people are happy people

A Gallup poll indicates that Latin American countries are the happiest countries in the world. Among the countries with the happiest population, Latin America has all top 10 countries. This makes it a great place for anyone to find happiness, joy, and festivity.

Family values are important

Family is an important unit in Hispanic culture. The Hispanic people give great importance to family and think of it as a close-knit group of people. Religion and social values plays a major role in keeping the families together.

 

10 Amusing Facts About Latin American Culture

When you travel through Central and South America, you notice many different customs and traditions. Odds are high that you will see many cultural values and customs that you have never seen in the United States or Europe. Each country is unique in terms of its cultural norms. You can’t compare culture in one place to its neighbors. However, one can still see the certain common things and some of them are amusing to be least.

  1. You can’t throw toilet paper in the toilet

One of the first things that you will notice when traveling to Central or South America is how things in toilet become challenging. You can’t throw the toilet paper in the toilet. Instead the only way to dispose them is to use the bin that’s placed next to the toilet. The plumbing in these countries isn’t built to handle the paper. So if you throw toilet paper in the toilet when in Latin American culture, you may end up with an overflowing toilet.

  1. Be ready to shop for liquids in plastic bags

You don’t see liquids being sold in plastic bags anywhere in the world. But when you go to Latin America, that’s how you get liquids everywhere. So if you want to buy water, be ready to get it in a plastic bag. Similarly, if you want to buy a local fruit juice, you will need to buy a plastic bag packing. Although international brands make plastic bottles available, they cost considerably high compared to plastic bag packaging.

  1. Street names are dates

Streets are usually named after famous people or events in the world but that’s not the case in Latin American culture. The streets are usually named after important dates in these countries. So be sure to make a note of street names to avoid confusion when traveling to Central or South America.

  1. Buildings with unfinished top floor

You are sure to find a lot of buildings without a finished top floor. You are going to say that because these buildings usually have iron rods sticking out from the top. In fact, these aren’t unfinished structures but the builders have future plans. They want to save cost and therefore they have finished the existing structure in a way that it would be easier in future to build more floors on top.

  1. Be prepared to travel in old American buses

One of the most amusing things in Latin America is how they decorate their buses. You are going to travel in old American school buses. However, it may be difficult to recognize at first sight since most of these have been heavily renovated.

  1. Money change is a problem

You may find it difficult to get change back from large bills. To settle your large bill, you may have to make smaller purchases since retailer will usually refuse to give change.

  1. Motor bikes with carts are common in small cities

You are going to find a lot of them in Central and South American countries. You will also see tuk-tuks in some countries.

  1. Lots of guns

You haven’t probably seen a security guard carrying a short gun in America but be ready to see that in Central and South America. There are lots of guns on public display in these countries.

  1. Be ready to pay to use a bathroom

If you need to use a bathroom when out of your apartment or hotel, you will need to pay for it in Hispanic countries.

  1. Sewers, flooding, and wastewater management are almost nonexistent.

Many Latin American countries are located in tropical areas that receive high rainfall in the rainy season.  Combined with the lack of adequate rainwater management, this means that in the best of times, you’ll end up slogging through flooded streets and may even have a leaky roof or minor flooding in cheaper accommodation.  More rain can result in extensive damage, requiring significant water damage repair, mudslides, and some forms of transportation being cut off.   While in the United States we often have our pick for an established water damage repair company, most of Latin America only has local handymen and smaller companies to help rebuild homes and repair flood damage.

6 Ways to Stay Safe in Latin America

Central and South America is a safe place for travelers and tourists. Only rarely some travelers report safety issues or theft. However, the local crime rate in some areas might affect travelers without targeting them in particular, getting them in middle of petty crime scenes.

The best way to stay safe in Latin America is to observe general safety rules recommended for travelers in addition to a few special tips for Latin America. These tips are listed below.

  1. Know where you’re going

There is nothing like being lost. If you are lost, everyone is going to know that and that’s when the opportunity for those who think of you as a goldmine might come. So be sure to know where you are going before you go there.

Make all the travel plans ahead of time. Read something about the locals. Learn a few tips about dealing with them. Find out about local customs. Know them well before you have to stare at someone.

Find out if there is any travel warning for a territory issued by government. Follow the advice and cancel the trip if there is a warning. Never overlook these signs.

  1. Keeps your eyes open

When traveling anywhere in the world, you should keep your eyes and mind open. Sure you won’t miss a thing of beauty but you will also notice shadowy neighborhood and clumsy figures in crowded parks.

When you are walking around in unfamiliar cities, you need to be sure you look around carefully and familiarize yourself with the surroundings. If you are on a deserted street and you need a bus, don’t wait there even if you spot no instant danger. Find a busy street.

Don’t ignore pickpockets when traveling in Latin America. Just like rest of the world, you’re sure to meet one in every busy shopping mall, train station, and bus stop. Keep your eyes open for them.

  1. Learn to communicate with the locals

When touring Central or South American countries, it’s important that you develop ability to communicate with the locals. All you have to do is to learn a few words in Spanish and understand a few body gestures. That’ll do. You will be able to talk to the locals and they will help you with everything from finding great deals to getting a fair deal on your taxi expenses.

  1. Know that you are in foreign land

You might be the ultimate guy in your local neighborhood but Latin America isn’t your home. You shouldn’t be shy to admit that. Knowing your limits will help you exhibit safe behavior. As a result, you won’t engage in quarrels with locals.

  1. Know when to hire a guide

When traveling outside your home country, it’s important to know when to hire a guide. If you feel like you are going to a totally strange place that you don’t feel sure about, it’s time you consider hiring a guide.

  1. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or take video camera to carnival

When visiting Latin America, you will definitely become a part of the famous Latin American Carnival. It’s the biggest party on earth and things do get a little messy sometimes. Avoid carrying expensive items to stay safe.

 

7 Places You Need to Visit in Latin America

Central and South America is a versatile region that offers a variety of activities for travelers. Since the Latin America is such a large region and every place seems worth visiting, choosing among the best places to visit is a daunting task.

To help you find the most amazing destinations in Latin America, here is a ranked list of top places in the region. The list is based on number of different factors such as food, living, neighborhood, attractions and so on.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the best places to go when visiting Latin America. It’s the home of temples and the region is loaded with historical archeological sites that will leave you amused. There is magic in the air here. Just lose yourself in the mystical environment in this lovely region with verdant mountains setting the tone for the magic.

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is located in the middle of three volcanoes and if that’s not amusing enough for you, this lake is also the deepest lake in the entire region.

It’s one of the most beautiful sights in the entire Central America. That’s the reason it’s in the list.

Rio de Janeiro

If you are going to Latin America and you haven’t added Rio de Janeiro in your list of places to visit, you are definitely going to miss the real party. Rio has some of the best white sand beaches in the world. The nightlife is simply magnificent and the carnival culture is unbelievable.

Rio has a lot of interesting places to see. You can go see the historical landmarks such as Christ the Redeemer or climb the Sugar Loaf Mountain to see the beautiful city of Rio from height of 1299 feet. It’s breathtaking and something that definitely has a lot of magic about it.

Tijuca National Park

Tijuca National park is one of the most stunning sites for exploration in the region. There is nearly 8500 acres of green rainforest, which means you will have a lot to explore here. Tourists should spend a day or two at this park to explore it in its entirety.

There are nearly three million tourists coming to this national park each year. The park offers various attractions and activities for tourists. If you enjoy hiking, there are number of amusing hiking trails in the forest.

Jardim Botanico

If you ever wanted to be in paradise, Jardim Botanico is the place to go. It’s one of the most beautiful parks in the entire Latin America. This botanical paradise covers nearly 350 acres of land and has over 5,000 different species of flora.

Prainha

If you ever get tired of all-night parties in Brazil, the best place to relax is Prainha. This remote paradise is some 20 miles from Ipanema beach. This beach has some of the most magnificent shorelines that you’d ever see. You won’t forget the endless hills and green rainforest in the backdrop.

Barra da Tijuca

Barra da Tijuca has huge coastline and it’s full of things to do. There are shopping malls where you can spend quality time shopping and then there is water sport culture that makes the visitors stay longer than original plans.

7 Ways to Learn Spanish Effortlessly and Without Going Broke

Learning Spanish could be really handy if your career goals take you to Latin America. As a traveler, it can help you understand true emotion of locals. Learning this new language won’t go in vain as its world’s third most spoken language.

The beautiful thing about learning Spanish is that you don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars on college courses or an online Spanish course. You can learn Spanish for free. Explore these 7 ways to do it.

Go out and practice Spanish

The most convenient and practically the most rewarding way to learn any new language is to practice speaking the language. If you go out, you will find numerous opportunities to speak Spanish. Once you start practicing the language with other people, you will learn it quickly. It doesn’t cost a thing to find a similar minded community.

Listen to Spanish music

Spanish music has its unique appeal that would never let you get bored. Buy some Spanish music and start listening to it on your headphones. Once the words go through your ears, you will find it easy to utter them while speaking Spanish.

You can also find free Spanish music online. A quick Google search will help.

Find free online resources to learn Spanish

Internet is your friend when it comes to learning Spanish free. For instance, you can find someone who wants to learn English in an online community. You can then connect with that person and practice Spanish while he practices English. This can work wonders and it’s just one way to use the internet to your advantage.

Free podcasts and radio shows

There are some great free podcasts and radio shows that can help you learn Spanish is days. These podcasts are meant for people like you who are trying to learn Spanish and they can prove great help. Radio shows are great no matter what your level. You will listen to common Spanish words and you will pick up on the accent in just a few days.

Watch Spanish television

This goes without saying. A lot of people spend 3-4 hours watching TV on average. Think if you can turn that time into Spanish time. Spanish TV is fun and you get number of Latin American channels anywhere in the world through free live streams.

Read newspaper and Spanish literature

One of the free or low-cost things you can do to learn any new language is to read newspaper and free literature available on the internet. You can find free online versions of all major Spanish newspapers with just a single Google search. Similarly, you can find free Spanish literature for non-natives. It can help you learn the new words and expressions quicker than you think.

Teach English to Spanish people

If you know English, you can teach it to others who want to learn it like you want to learn Spanish. In exchange, you will be able to learn Spanish. It’s a great way to learn the language in just a few days.

Top 5 Latin American Carnivals

If you want to be at one of the year’s biggest parties in Central and South American region, you need to hurry. Accommodations fill up quicker than you can think. The pre-Lenten festive season is so huge in this region that you will be surprised to see celebrations. These celebrations take place nearly across 70 territories during the Easter holiday.

Latin American carnivals have their roots in Catholicism but they also include elements of traditional Hispanic culture. If you want to be at the party this year, check out these top five carnivals in the region.

Carnival of Participation (Olinda, Brazil)

Attended by an average 2 million people each year, Carnival of Participation in Olinda, Brazil has its own environment. The carnival is perfect for anyone to participate and its fun whether you’re a teenager or a grownup adult.

It’s one of the best free carnivals in Brazil.

When it comes to amusement, Carnival of Participation has everything from fancy parades to colorful costumes. The major attraction at this carnival is bonecos – the huge paper puppet.

Carnival Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

This carnival is rules them all. It’s attended by more than 5 million people each year. Carnival Rio is King of the Carnival without a doubt.

The Carnival offers four-day party time that ends before Lent. The party has its cultural as well as religious significance. People dance to the euphoric tunes and have fun of their lifetime.

When it is Carnival time in Rio, every street and every bar is awake day and night for the four days. It’s party time no matter where you go. If you want to join this massive party, you just need to get a fancy costume and learn to swing your hips.

Salvador Carnival (Salvador de Bahia, Brazil)

The Salvador Carnival is attended by nearly 3 million people each year. With electric environment and massive crowds, it is one of the biggest parties on this planet.

The major reason of fame for the Salvador Carnival is Trio Eletrico. It’s a huge truck runs through the streets. There is a live band and huge lights on the truck. It’s something you can’t miss when in Brazil during the carnival season.

Barranquilla Carnival (Barranquilla, Colombia)

If you’re looking for the biggest party on the planet outside Brazil, it’s in Barranquilla, Colombia. Nearly 2 million people attend the Carnival each year. Festivity at Barranquilla begin with a six-hour long Parade of Flowers.

Montevideo Carnival (Montevideo, Uruguay)

If you want the festivity to never end, then you should go to Montevideo for pre-Lenten celebrations. Celebrations in this festive city last for 40 days. No doubt, it’s the world’s longest Carnival.

The festivity at the carnival is added by number of parade competitions that take place on ‘calls’. The local performers dress up in their cultural costumes for parade.

If you are going to be in Central or South America during the carnival season, be sure to plan your tour ahead of time. You won’t be able to get accommodations and there might be transportation issues in case you haven’t booked in advance.

 

 

 

Best Places to Live in Latin America

Nearly 7 million Americans live overseas and majority of them choose a destination in Latin America. The major reasons for this migration trend are affordability, pleasant environment, and strong family values.

If you are considering living in Latin America, you sure want to follow where other Americans are going. Here is a list of most desirable places to live in Latin America, as indicated by US immigrants.

Mexico

Mexico is the first place that most American immigrants think about when leaving the U.S. Nearly 850,000 Americans live there already and more are adding up each year.

Although the international community talks much about Mexicans moving to the north, more Americans have actually moved to the Mexico in history.

The best thing about Mexico is the affordability. It’s inexpensive and easy to relocate. You can come back to your home country or go elsewhere in the world with usually a single flight. It’s connected to the entire world and there are no major safety issues.

The quality of health care is good and the infrastructure is reasonable in most places in Mexico. The cost of living in Mexico is extremely low compared to what you pay to live in the U.S. Since numerous global retail brands have strong presence in Mexico, you’re never going to feel out of place at a grocery store.

Ecuador

Ecuador is the second most popular Latin American country in the world for Americans living abroad. Nearly 40,000 Americans live in Ecuador and it’s rated as world’s best retirement place. There is no reason that you should consider moving to Ecuador if you want to live in Latin America.

The cost of living is also low in Ecuador. You can actually live with $1000 a month and with $1500 for a couple. This cost includes everything from housing to some essential luxuries. The quality of life at this cost is probably the best that you can get in the world.

The climate in most parts of Ecuador is perfectly serene with pleasantly mild temperatures. The healthcare and other basic facilities are improving all the time. The country has a growing economy and the government is friendly and welcoming.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has perfect weather, it’s safe to live, and there is a great program for foreign retirees living in Costa Rica. It’s definitely one of the best places on planet to live after retirement.

There are more than 10,000 Americans living in Costa Rica. It’s definitely one of the hottest Latin American territories to live. The region has mesmerizing natural beauty and an atmosphere that makes life close to nature. That’s the reason Costa Rica is considered to be world’s happiest country. It was ranked number one on the Happy Planet Index in 2009 and then again in 2012.

The overall quality of life in Costa Rica is probably better than anywhere else in Latin America. If a healthy and natural lifestyle amidst stunning natural beauty is your preference, Costa Rica is your destination in Central and South America.

 

The Pink Floyd Experience

Even the most die hard Pink Floyd fan couldn’t fail to get caught up in The Pink Floyd Experience.

Drawing mainly from the original group’s extensive back catalog, this spectacular musical extravaganza includes all the most well known songs from the best loved albums. All the old favorites are featured: Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Saucer Full Of Secrets, Atom Heart Mother, Meddle, The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall and The Division Bell.

Between them the musicians that make up the Pink Floyd Experience have over 100 (!) years of musical performance under their belts, so they are well seasoned and talented performers in their own right. Add to the mix the amazing musical repertoire they have at their disposal and how could they fail to entertain their appreciative audiences.

Taking the world by storm since 2008 when the band first started to perform, they have taken the music of Pink Floyd to fans old and new!

And it’s not just a musical nostalgia fest. The technical experience from the stage is of the same high caliber as the ‘real’ group’s with amazing quality sound, and on stage projections onto a circular screen. Everyone can see, hear and experience the band, from wherever they are in the many concert halls they perform in, all over the world.

Fans keen to communicate their delight say that the Pink Floyd Experience is:

“One of the tightest bands we’ve ever seen, they never disappoint. Fantastic show every time”

and are:

“Great musicians who clearly love the Floyd. Had a fantastic night.”

As one die hard lifelong Pink Floyd fan put it:

“The musicianship is excellent, the set list is varied and interesting (mixing classic PF songs with more obscure tunes from the PF catalog). On its own terms, this show is really good with over 2+ hours of music” –

But the band doesn’t just delight fans in the USA. Their tours have sold out in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, keeping The Floyd alive around the world.

Of course, the PFE is not the ‘real’ thing but the quality and professionalism of the band cannot be falted. When you get confirmed Floydians, who’ve often been fans for 40 years, saying the PFE is on a par with the original band, that is an amazing accolade to the talents of the musicians performing these well loved anthems.

Tour dates have already been set for 2016 and, given how quickly tickets sell, it might be worth booking a date in your diary, brushing up on your album lyrics and dusting off your old platforms, while you have the chance. They will be touring in the US in Spring 2016 and will be back in Oz for summer next year, followed by a UK tour in the autumn of 2016. Check out their website for details.

Although Pink Floyd hasn’t released an album since The Division Bell in 1994, their legend lives on in The Pink Floyd Experience.