History of Bolero
The Bolero is a musical genre that was born in Cuba, inheriting the rhythms introduced by settlers arriving from Spain who merged with those of African slaves.
The Spanish Bolero dates back to the end of the 18th century. Played with instruments such as guitar and gaita, it is a rather monotonous music enhanced by the sound of castanets, the drum and the tambourine.
Arriving in Cuba, the ternary rhythm of 3/4 of the Spanish Bolero will move to a rhythm of 4/4 more cheerful thanks to the use of other percussion instruments such as bongo and conga.
Origins of Bolero
It is undoubtedly in the years 1840 that will appear the Bolero Cuban, but the first Bolero listed as such is entitled “Tristeza” and was composed by Jose Pepe Sánchez in Santiago de Cuba, in 1883.
José Pepe Sánchez had no particular musical knowledge, but he learned to play the guitar with great talent and sang marvelously. In 1883 he composed “Tristezas” which would launch the style of Bolero Cuban and will be known at the time under the title of “Me entristeces, mujer” and whose words refer to the sorrow of a man in love with a wife.
Evolution of Bolero
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Bolero arrived in Havana thanks to singers from Santigo such as Sindo Garay and Alberto Villalón, two of the greatest representatives of the Trova in Cuba.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Cuban Bolero spread to other Caribbean islands and Mexico, giving birth to other genres such as Bolero Son, Bolero Chacha, Bolero Mambo, Bolero Ranchero, Borelo Moruno , and a little later, Bachata.
In the beginning, the Bolero was played with guitar trios, then the tropical orchestras brought him more rhythm with the introduction of percussion like bongos and congas.
Among the artists of the time is the Matamoros Trio formed in 1925 by Miguel Matamoros, Rafael Cueto and Siro Rodriguez whose best-known song is “Lágrimas negras”.
As for the orchestras, we will remember those of Casino de la Playa with singer Miguelito Valdes, Sonora Matancera, Aragon, or Lecuona Cuban Boys who will triumph not only in Cuba and the Caribbean, but also in the United States and Europe.
While certain musical genres represented a potential danger for dictatorial governments, the Bolero was, on the contrary, very well regarded by the dictatorships of these West Indian countries, isolating the inhabitants in a romantic culture that kept them away from political issues. As a result, the Bolero enjoyed widespread distribution through radio, television and cinema.
It will be necessary to wait until the 1990s to see resurgence this musical genre in the form of romantic strolls interpreted by artists such as Cristian Castro, Alejandro Fernandez, Charlie Zaa, Manuel Mijares, Edith Márquez or the very popular Luis Miguel.
Luis Miguel is a Mexican singer born on April 19, 1970 in San Juan de Puerto Rico. His family moved to Mexico and Luis Miguel will record his first album at the age of 12 in 1982.
It is in 1991 that Luis Miguel will embark on the interpretation of boleros with his album “Romance” which will be sold more than 7 million copies. He becomes the first Latin singer to get a gold record in the United States for an album in Spanish.
By interpreting boleros, Luis Miguel triumphs in many Latin American countries and thus becomes one of the main craftsmen of the revival of this musical genre passed into disuse in the 1960s.
If the Bolero was born in Cuba, nowadays it is more successful in countries like Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia.
Recently, Colombian singer Shakira sang a bolero entitled “Hay amores” recorded in 2007 for the film “love in the time of cholera” directed by Mike Newell after the famous novel by Gabriel García Márquez.
Slower than most Latin dances, the Bolero is based on a four-stroke movement and its simplicity has made it popular in the Caribbean, Latin America and around the world.
With a hip movement identical to that of the Rumba, the Bolero is a sensual and erotic dance since the dancers are face to face, the body practically glued to that of the other.
At first we only move the pelvis, then we make a quick step to the second and third time to finish with a slow step to the fourth, all this by turning slightly to the left. The movements are identical for both people, one performing only the opposite action to the other, ie move back the left foot when the other dancer advances the right foot.
To better visualize these few dance steps that will introduce you to the Bolero dance, just look at how the dancers do in the video below.