Review Of "Spinning Mambo Into Salsa: Caribbean Dance In Global Commerce" By J. McMains

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McMains's first book, Glamour Addiction: Inside the American Ballroom Dance Industry (CH, Jul'07, 44-6162), won the Congress on Research in Dance's Outstanding Publication in Dance Research award. In this second book McMains (Univ. of Washington, Seattle) focuses on the evolution of mambo and salsa in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, emphasizing the history and shifts of salsa in each locale from the 1940s to the present. She notes that her major focus is comparing 1950s mambo to millennial salsa. McMains anchors her work in her own extensive experience as a salsa practitioner and in her interviews with more than a hundred dancers who represent a wide range of ages and approaches to the forms. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, the author traces salsa’s migration history in the US and investigates the relationship between local and global developments. Deftly partnering her physical dancing presence with her theoretical investigations, the author poses significant questions regarding the competing perspectives of national and commercial interests relative to salsa. In addition, she looks into how issues of racial discrimination and gender identity are negotiated through the dance, and what the interactions and shared influences are between staged and social settings. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.


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