Salsa in Japan: A Japanese and Latino Mix
This remarkable documentary on multiculturalism explores the growing subculture of salsa dancing in Japan, where salsa dancing and salsa clubs serve as a source of interaction and cultural mingling between native Japanese and Latino immigrants to Japan.
Each group has a different way of dancing and different reasons for going to the dance clubs. In scenes at the clubs these differences are apparent. However, salsa clubs are also important and popular places for interaction between Japanese and Latinos, places where learning between the two groups and a greater cultural appreciation of one another can occur.
The video examines two types of salsa clubs in Japan. One draws more Japanese and the other draws more Latinos. The key difference between the two is the purpose for going. In the clubs that draw more Japanese, there is a greater focus on dancing well — on looking good. Most of the clientele are students of salsa and some enter competitions.
The clubs that draw a largely Latino crowd have more of a “party” atmosphere. Some of the clientele are great dancers, others not. Some even learn how to dance salsa in Japan, because it’s not in fact a universally “Latin” dance. The main attraction of these “parties” is the chance to get together with other Latinos, blow off steam, and have a good time.
“Salsa in Japan” briefly recounts the history of salsa for those unfamiliar with the dance and examines the many connections between Latin America and Japan through interviews with people involved in the salsa world.
This energetic, vibrant, and accessible video will reward viewing and stimulate discussion in any class dealing with issues of multiculturalism and immigration, and in a wide variety of courses in Japanese and Asian studies, Latin American studies, and cultural anthropology. It was produced by Elizabeth Chamberlin.