Salsa Raja

Meet Giju John, 33. Born: Thiruvananthapuram, India. Lives: Silicon Valley. Employer: Intel. He’s an electical engineer who’s got his groove on.

Fascinated by the salsa dancers at night clubs in downtown San Jose, he started taking classes several nights a week. He was so good that his instructors, members of SalsaMania, a Bay Area dance group, invited him to join their professional team and compete in the US, Europe, and Mexico. This was back in 2001. giju.jpg

Today, John has a successful solo Hindi/salsa career. By way of the San Jose Mercury News:

John loved making microchips tick, but he loved his dancing, too. He remembered the Indian dance steps he learned as a boy. He noodled around, adding them to salsa steps and coming up with his own Hindi/salsa genre. He’s left Salsamania for a solo career. Yes, a Hindi/salsa solo career. Why not? John was in Silicon Valley – a place with a prominent Latino population and tens of thousands of Indians and Indo-Americans. He produced a CD, “Rang Rangeeli Yeh Duniya,” … It is a CD of Hindi language songs set to the pulse of salsa, cha-cha and rap. He shot a music video. He launched a start-up, Beyond Dreamz, to produce his music. And he continued to focus on the reliability of the next generation of Intel chips.

In February, John spent five weeks traveling through India offering Hindi/salsa dance workshops and promoting the genre and himself. But he didn’t take vacation. “During the day I’d go around and do my salsa workshops,” he says, “at night I’d log onto my network.” He says his bosses are very understanding. [full story]

Giju John is back in India right now, on a three month sabbatical. He’s giving his salsa career his all, shooting music videos, performing, and attending … the 3rd annual India International Salsa Congress in Bangalore from the 14th to the 20th of August. Who knew Salsa was so big in India?!

Next up, maybe we’ll spot Giju in a Bollywood flick set on the streets of San Jose?! I think we’ve definitely got a Hindi movie there. In the meantime, here’s a salsa music video from his first album.

17 thoughts on “Salsa Raja

  1. A perfect example of how not to fuse genres. Rather pedestrian moves, drab music and pathetic editing. But, there’s always an audience in India for mainstream almost anything if it has an alien name in it – Be it salsa or R&B.

  2. Did you see the “salsa” item in Shabd – starring Aiswarya and Sanjay Dutt (who can’t dance worth PG’s comments)???

    I like the song, but the video is sooooooooooo corny. And check out Dutt! LMKO.

  3. Salsa has grown quite big in India in recent years along with some other western dance forms, so much so that I have heard of classes and clubs for the same in even smaller cities. All thanks to disposable incomes and advent of the call center college culture. I have always wondered though how good these instructors are on an average – the salsa one sees in Bollywood flicks is quite terrible.

  4. the salsa one sees in Bollywood flicks is quite terrible.

    Never mind. Most of the dancing per se one sees in Bollywood flicks is terrible.

  5. As a wannabe Salsero, I am interested in the fusion of Bolly dancing with Salsa. This is very interesting, Thanks :)

  6. 5 · Ardy said

    Never mind. Most of the dancing per se one sees in Bollywood flicks is terrible.

    I think that’s because their naive and unsophisticated (albeit energetic vertigo-inducing movements) are infected with unbridled optimistic fantasy… the leads and their back-up dancers happily flail about, seemingly uncorrupted by the acknowledged Tragedy of the modern world.

  7. Were you referring to this when you mentioned movie sets in San Jose?

    The set looked like a Bay Area architectural firm, furnished with white drafting tables and piles of blueprints, and neat stacks of office storage boxes. View Full Story

  8. 4 · Ardy said

    Salsa has grown quite big in India in recent years along with some other western dance forms, so much so that I have heard of classes and clubs for the same in even smaller cities. All thanks to disposable incomes and advent of the call center college culture. I have always wondered though how good these instructors are on an average – the salsa one sees in Bollywood flicks is quite terrible.

    In Madras there are salsa nights at several of the major upscale clubs(think Raintree hotel etc)

  9. an english friend of mine who is dance teacher in london taught ballet, modern and salsa in delhi for 6 months. her students were from the general public and were mainly kids and teenagers. she said that their standard was just as good as people who go to good dance schools in london. desis are good dancers. we have a sense of rhythm. i have geeky friends who never go out who have shocked me by moving effortlessly well on the dancefloor.

  10. desis are good dancers. we have a sense of rhythm. i have geeky friends who never go out who have shocked me by moving effortlessly well on the dancefloor.

    I agree!. Desi girls are pretty good at dancing, but guys not so. I guess..its to do with the fact that guys are not encouraged to take up dancing (even as a hobby).

  11. “During the day I’d go around and do my salsa workshops,” he says, “at night I’d log onto my network.” He says his bosses are very understanding.

    Thats wicked; I want a boss like that to let me lead a life like batman. In this case, he’s salsaman.