Salsa choke, an urban salsa rhythm and dance from Colombia, is now being used as a political strategy through jingles.
The population on Colombia’s Afro-Pacific coast brought salsa choke to Cali. Due to the trauma caused by the ongoing civil conflict, internal migrants from Buenaventura, Tumaco, and Chocó moved inland to cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali to escape violence. Marginalized politically and racially, the pioneers of salsa choke brought their rhythms and dance to the center of the world. The 2014 World Cup served as a global platform, where the Colombian National Soccer Team exhibited salsa choke to the world. Basically, if you’re not hip to this scene, then get on it!
Gaining national and even global traction, politicians see this salsa hybrid as an opportunity to call attention. As Colombia’s congressional and local elections are approaching this October, Cali’s political candidates are using the Pacific rhythm to create jingles for their campaigns. And they are a little awkward, to say the least.
Don’t get me wrong, the rhythm is on point and makes people want to dance. But the candidates who are using these tunes are co-opting music that came out of Afro-Colombian and Pacific struggle. Not as bad as imagining Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton rapping for their political platforms, but you get the point.
Political candidate Mauricio Ospina adapted the infamous salsa choke song “Semáforo” to showcase the issues he supports. This one isn’t as bad as others I’ve heard.
Angelino Garzón, former Vice President of Colombia, is running for mayor of Cali, and his song uses salsa choke and currulao marimbas to disseminate his political views. As a former labor and union organizer, his message communicates a more inclusive government. He also actually engages with the Afro-Colombian population through endorsement from entertainers, encouraging Afro-Caleños to vote.
So while Caleños are using salsa choke to gain votes, Costeños are also gaining popularity by posting pictures of themselves with celebrities like El Pibe and Carlos Vives on Facebook. They’re trying to get some street cred and say they’re cool enough to be your leader (LOL).
There’s no doubt that this is a widely-used political strategy across the globe. Last year while living in Rio, I would always hear Mae Lora, baile funk’s ex-queen, and her famous song promoting herself as a local candidate all over the streets. So of course, no judgment to the candidates – I just wish their songs were on point and inclusive, kind of like politics in general.
If you’re trying to hear some good salsa choke tunes, check out ChocQuibTown’s new video, “Salsa & Choke (ft. Ñejo).”
Or if you’re just trying to learn how to dance it, follow this Caleñita and she’ll show you how it’s done.