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During mid-October, I embarked on my annual trip to New York.  As usual I was committed to seeing old friends, checking out hottest Salsa clubs and taking dance lessons in Mambo.  You gotta know how to dance on the “2” to truly hang out in New York. But this time I had a special mission—to visit the “Motherland” of Afro-Latin music and dance in the United States. So, I hopped on a bus and explored the sites and sounds of East Harlem (“El Barrio”).  The sidewalks were bustling with people from all over Latin America.  Boleros, Salsa and Rock en Espanol was blaring from cars and music stores all along the way. Of course, I was also keeping my eyes peeled for stores with slinky Salsa dresses at good prices. (I love bargains!) Finally I reached my intended destination the INTERNATIONAL SALSA MUSEUM.   I want to give special thanks to Jose Obando, Joe Cuba and Efrain Suarez for their knowledge, passion and support.

Founders Efrain Suarez and Joe Hernandez opened the INTERNATIONAL SALSA MUSEUM in February 1999.  Working closely with musicians, historians and Latin music lovers from the community, they were committed to documenting the evolution of Salsa music and dance and making that vibrant history accessible to the general public.  The museum’s board of directors includes founders Mr. Suarez and Mr. Hernandez, Joe Cuba ,boogalu legend and museum director, Afredo “Chocolate” Armentaros trumpet virtuoso and museum co-director and Jose Obando, director of communications.

The purpose of the  INTERNATIONAL SALSA MUSEUM  is to educate young and old about Afro-Latino music and dance, pay homage to artists (living and dead) who are part of the chronological development of Salsa and preserve this rich, cultural heritage.   

The INTERNATIONAL SALSA MUSEUM offers a diverse, unparalleled overview of Salsa history.  Their collection includes vintage LPs, concert posters, musical instruments, T-shirts,  photographs and books.  Especially noteworthy are the life size bronze of Celia Cruz and smaller busts of Yomo Toro and Ruth Hernandez.  Joe Cuba has generously donated his first set of congas (which are suspended in mid-air), and other mementos of his career.  Much of the collection has been donated by everyday people  who were born and raised with Afro-Latin music and culture and want to pass on their joy and pride in that legacy.  

 The INTERNATIONAL SALSA MUSEUM is a meeting place for the living musical legends that are still performing and creating.  There’s no telling who might walk through the doors, if you stay in the museum more than a few minutes.  Musicians and dancers will happily spin tales about everything from the old days at the Palladium to the latest NBC documentary on Tito Puente to upcoming Salsa concerts in Europe and Japan.

 The INTERNATIONAL SALSA MUSEUM sponsors lectures and demonstrations onsite and at variety community based agencies.  They are particularly interested in outreach to Hispanic and non-Hispanic youth. The MUSEUM also endorses over a dozen New York based radio and Latin cable television shows that highlight Salsa history.  The MUSEUM is collaborating with other agencies to develop other museums in Northern California, New York and Japan.  Check out their new website:


 The take home message is —YOU GOTTA GO THERE AND SEE IT FOR YOURSELF.


2127 Third Avenue at 116th ST.

New York, NY

(212) 289-1368

Open Daily 12 noon-7 PM


(double click photos to see larger images)


 A  concert poster from the popular New York nightspot, Corso, with an all-star lineup. 


A seated bronze statue of Celia Cruz “La Reyna de la Salsa” . She recently received a  2000 Latin Grammy Award .  Her musical signature “Azucar” still resounds in concert halls and festivals all over the world.


wpe1.gif (149681 bytes) Yomo Toro ( 1933- ), guitarist, composer and bandleader with his guitar and the Puerto Rican flag.  He has recorded with Larry Harlow, Willie Colon and the Fania All-Stars.  One of his most famous  hits was “Funky Jibaro.”


The “Joe Cuba Corner”  includes his original congas, first gold record  and numerous other mementos of his enduring and vibrant musical career.  He is probably best known for his Boogalu hit “Bang, Bang”.


roots_10.gif (63554 bytes)  A T-shirt advertising the magazine “Latin NY” and featuring the artwork of music historian Izzy Sanabria.  In the 1970's   “ Latin NY” magazine was the premiere news source for the Latin music scene, featuring concert announcements, photos, interviews and political commentaries.

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