afro caribbean dance


Bomba is an Afro-Puerto Rican folkloric music style developed throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries by west African slaves brought to the island by the Spanish. It is a communal activity that still thrives in its traditional centers of Loíza, Santurce, Mayagüez, Ponce, and New York City. The traditional musical style has been diffused throughout the United States following the Puerto Rican Diaspora, especially in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, California, and Florida. It also became increasingly popular in Peru, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil, and has largely influenced Afro-Latino music styles within these countries.

More than just a genre of music, it’s most defining characteristic is the encounter and creative relationship between dancers, percussionists, and singers. Dance is an integral part of the music. It is popularly described as a challenge/connection, or an art of “call and answer,” in which two or more drums follow the rhythms and moves of the dancers. The challenge requires great physical shape and usually continues until either the drummer or the dancer discontinues.

There are several styles of bomba, and the popularity of these styles varies by region. There are three basic rhythms, as well as many others that are mainly variations of these: Yubá, Sicá and Holandés. Other styles include Cuembé, Bámbula, Cocobalé, and Hoyomula.


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Sanse also known as Los Sance or lo Zanci as a tradition began flourishing in Puerto Rico in the center western coastal city of Mayaguez in the 1930s, the old folks tell of a Haitian Houngan “some say Dominican” Papa Boco who migrated to Puerto Rico around this time and saw the similarities between Espiritismo Criollo and Vodou and or 21 Diviciones, so although Sance has similarities in Vodou its roots stem from Espirisitmo Criolla. Unlike similar traditions such as Umbanda and Vodou, Sanse for the most part was an underground and private subculture within a subculture within a culture and did not get its recognition as a tradition until the late and early 1970s and 1980s with the rise of the Newyorican branch known as Santerismo which has similar traits as Sance,

Sanse is the name of a small Afro-Taino Puerto Rican Spirituality that mixes teachings of Alan Kardec` Espiritismo, Catholicism, and sects brought by the African slaves and what little remained of the Taino Spiritual tradition. The practice of Sance usually is directed by a man or a woman called a Sancista, Presidente de Mesa or Padrino, Madrina “Papa or Mama” which is both a medium and a Shaman healer of soul and spirit that incorporate ancestral dead people’s spirits, called “Muertos”, “Seres”, “Guias” and “Entidades”, with that of higher beings known as Misterios.

The Entidades can be Indios often Taino or Arawaque, historical religious figures such as Catholic Saints, nuns, folk saints, healers or folk heroes, Spirits of Curanderos, Yerberos, African Spirits known as “Misterios” “Orichas” and “Loases” and African slaves known as Prietos, Negros, Cimarones, Congos, Madamas and Madamos.

Sancistas like their fellow Espiritista whom follow Santerismo, Espiritismo Criolla and Folclorica gather in Templos and Centros or in small groups in homes or apartments known as Sociedades, where they practice ceremonies such as Sesiones, Misas and Veladas. Similar to Haitian Vodou in Sance the Padrino, Madrina and all who participate dress in white, and use Pañuelos in the color or pattern which honors a certain Misterio or Muerto and are leaders who have gone years of extensive training and ceremonies.

Ceremonial meetings are done both indoor and outdoors during these ceremonias, the Sancista medium are often helped by men and women known as Ahijados or Ahijadas or as Banco Espirituales, where they hold counsels for the entities and are ceremonies filled with Catholic and Espiritists prayers and Afro Caribbean chants, singing and dancing which are also known as Puntos.

If these meetings happen outdoors which they often do in places of nature such as streets, crossroads, forests, beaches, or external places in general, they are called Presentaciones de Puntos which are often ceremonial baptisms to new Ahijados or Ahijadas where the members pray and offer food, flowers, candles, and gifts to the entities.

Sance as well as Espiritismo is a spiritual healing tradition that helps to improve the lives of others often the poor, and is a practice of goodness and a Sancista never uses his or her Dones or Facultades to harm anyone.

C: I was watching Justin Bieber’s Sorry dance video and the song clearly is dancehall inspired. The dance crew, The Royal Family, in the video does their whole ensemble with Jamaican dancehall moves and yet there are no clear black members in the video when they do have black members. Everyone keep making excuses like because they are from New Zealand that it’s hard to find black people but they actually have black people in their group and actively chose not to have them in an Afro Caribbean dance routine. It ticks me off as a Jamaican to have my culture always performed without my people there.