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Boogaloo: Wikis


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Stylistic origins The fusion of soul music, rhythm and blues with Cuban mambo and son.
Cultural origins 1960s New York City
Typical instruments Piano - Conga - Trumpet - Trombone - Bass Guitar - Double Bass - Guitar - Bongos - Saxophone - Güiro - Timbales
Mainstream popularity success mid to late 1960s.
Regional scenes
New York and Puerto Rico

Boogaloo or bugalú (also, shing-a-ling, latin boogaloo, latin R&B) is a genre of Latin music and dance that was popular in the United States in the 1960s. Boogaloo originated in New York City among teenage Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other groups. The style was a fusion of popular African American R&B and soul with mambo and son montuno. It included the use of English lyrics as well as Spanish. Boogaloo entered the mainstream through the American Bandstand television program.



In the 1950s and 60s, African Americans in the United States listened to various styles of music, including jump blues, R&B and doo-wop. Puerto Ricans in New York City shared in these tastes, but also listened to genres like mambo or chachacha. There was a mixing of Puerto Ricans, Cubans, African Americans and others in clubs, whose bands tried to find common musical ground. Boogaloo was a result of this search, a marriage of many styles including Cuban son montuno, guajira, guaracha and mambo and most uniquely, American R&B and soul.

Boogaloo can be seen as "the first Nuyorican music" (René López), and has been called "the greatest potential that Cuban rhythms had to really cross over in terms of music" (Izzy Sanabria). Styles like doo wop also left a sizable influence, through Tony Pabón (of Pete Rodríguez Band), Bobby Marín, King Nando, Johnny Colón and his vocalists Tony Rojas and Tito Ramos.

Though boogaloo did not become mainstream nationwide until later in the decade, two early Top 20 hits came in 1963: Mongo Santamaria's performance of the Herbie Hancock piece Watermelon Man and Ray Barretto's El Watusi. Inspired by these two successes, a number of bands began imitating their infectious rhythms (which were Latinized R&B), intense conga rhythms and clever novelty lyrics. Boogaloo was the only Cuban-style rhythm which acquired English lyrics – some of the time. Established Cuban-influenced orchestras also recorded the occasional boogaloo, including Perez Prado, Tito Rodriguez and Tito Puente. Most of the other groups were young musicians—some were teenagers—the Latin Souls, the Lat-Teens, Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers, Joe Bataan and the Latinaires.

The term boogaloo was probably coined in about 1966 by Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz. The biggest boogaloo hit of the 60s was "Bang Bang" by the Joe Cuba Sextet, which achieved unprecedented success for Latin music in the United States in 1966 when it sold over one million copies. El Pito was another hit by this popular combo. Hits by other groups included Johnny Colón’s "Boogaloo Blues", Pete Rodríguez’s "I Like It like That", and Hector Rivera’s "At the Party". Boogaloo also spread to Puerto Rico, where top band El Gran Combo released some material.

The same year as Joe Cuba's pop success, 1966, saw the closing of New York City's Palladium Ballroom, when the venue, the home of big band mambo for years, lost its liquor license.[1] The closing marked the end of mainstream mambo, and boogaloo ruled the Latin charts for several years before salsa began to take over. At the same time several other rhythmical inventions were going the rounds: the dengue, the jala-jala and the shing-a-ling were all offshoots of the mambo and cha-cha-cha.[1]

The older generation of Latin musicians have been accused of using their influence to repress the young movement, for commercial reasons. There was certainly pressure on booking agents by the established bands.[2] The craze was mostly over by 1970, perhaps because of the hostility of established bands and key booking agents; the reason is uncertain. Almost every major and minor Latin dance artist of the time had recorded at least a few boogaloos on their albums. It had been an intense, if brief, musical movement, and the music is still highly regarded today.[2]

Some conjuntos in Colombia and New York continue the style, but it is no longer a major feature of popular latin music.


  1. ^ a b Steward, Sue 1999. Salsa: the musical heartbeat of Latin America. Thames & Hudson, London. p60
  2. ^ a b Roberts, John Storm. 1979. The latin tinge. Oxford.


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