Salsa Massage

Salsa Massage

Salsa Massage (also known as "'Cuban Massage") is the practice of massage using the rhythms of what has commonly come to be known as "Salsa music". Salsa music is usually played during a session, not just for the enjoyment of the practitioners and clients, but to aid in maintaining the rhythm of the massage movements.

Salsa Massage is first reported to have appeared in the 1950s in the Hispanic operated parlours of Westside, New York. The "Salsa" naming was certainly an American coining, but the technique itself most likely came over with Cuban & Puerto Rican immigrants and probably has its origins in West and Central Africa, where "chuma", the practice of a vigorous "beating" to the sound of drum music, is still commonly used by men to limber up for a day of hard back breaking work in the fields.

With the 1970s/80s explosion of interest in Salsa music outside the Hispanic community (no doubt aided by films such "Dirty Dancing"), Salsa Massage techniques were combined into some of the newer techniques such as Holistic and Esalen massage. Never considered an actual "technique" in itself by the main schools of massage thought, it is taught in a few schools as an option or a variation on the main techniques. The practice has now largely fallen back into the newly immigrated Hispanic communities.

According to practitioners, the Salsa Massage "experience" consists of

* The basic massage movements are based on whatever is the mainstay technique of the practitioner (Swedish, Holistic, etc)
* All massage movements are made in time to the rhythm, and many practitioners equate it to playing hand drums.
* Gentle rocking of the body and flexing of the muscles by the patient is encouraged
* The patient is encouraged feel the music and move towards an almost trance like state with the music, to "pump" energy around the body

Just as with dance, all practitioners have their own style and some patients may prefer one over another for no obvious reason. Indeed it is said to properly appreciate a Salsa Massage, you need to appreciate the music first.

Salsa Massage is claimed to help various ailments:

* Neck, Back, Hip, Leg and Foot joint stiffness
* Reduce Headaches or migraines
* Improve surface circulation
* Boost energy levels

Sceptics suggest that there is nothng special about Salsa music, and that any "beautiful" music would do as well. However, proponents claim that Salsa is ideal because of its strong beat and simple rhythm, coupled with the rest in each bar. The Dominican Merengue and Cuban Son are generally the favoured flavours for a Salsa Massage.

Some practitioners say that the modern Salsa music (also known as Latin Jazz), most notably that by Carlos Santana, can give the general public the (wrong) impression of a Salsa Massage, as a more sexually orientated one, better practiced in a brothel.


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