Echale salsita

Passion and pride ignite upon the dance floor of Dallas' salsa community

"I want to play the music of my race," he says. "I want to play salsa. I could play Latin jazz three or four nights a week, but I don't want to do that. I want to play the music of my roots--and I don't mean today's roots, I mean the real music."

De la Vega has watched as a few clubs have tried to host live salsa and watched as they closed down and became restaurants or parking lots. The problem, he concludes, lies with the lack of promotion outside--and even within--the Latin community.

"In order to get a live salsa club we have to take our great music to the largest segment of our community--Anglos," he says. He stresses the need for a radio program featuring salsa; after all, Tejano only became popular with a larger audience once it became a mainstay on FM stations like KRVA and KNON, attracting audiences who have few easily accessible outlets to the music. And de la Vega stresses the need for a high-profile salsa club once again--a place like Genaro's Tropical of a decade ago, a joint so extravagant and classy people will line up by the thousands just for a peek inside.

"You just gotta imagine [that] here in Dallas," says Silva, who imagines such a time again. "Some old, big, ugly, crushed velvet curtain opens up slowly, they pull them back, and you like to see some guys. Pow! Stand up and throw that trumpet back and blare it out. You like to see them bend back--pow!--for that first beat and knock down that timbales and that salsa and get after it.

"And then the saxophones lean back. Bam! Hit it! You want to see a baby grand--you don't want to see an organ--and those guys in double-breasted white suits. Four guys right there in front with microphones coming down, their feet are already moving. Maybe one will have a big trombone..." His voice trails off as he describes his fantasy.

"The salseros have to stick together to stay alive," Silva insists. "I've made my mark, but I want to help create a movement. If we don't support each other one way or another, you'll kill the music. You'll kill the movement.

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