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Music is important to the people of Puerto Rico; for as long as there has been people on the island, there has been music. A few styles of music even originated in Puerto Rico. At every gathering and event, there is always music playing and people dancing, so get ready to feel the rhythms of the island when you travel to Puerto Rico on your Caribbean vacation.
Originally, songs were used by the Taínos in the place of written word to pass down traditions and laws from one generation to the next. Instruments similar to drums, flutes, and maracas were played alongside these chants, but when Spain took over the island and outlawed the ceremonies that the instruments were played at, they fell out of use. Today they are almost entirely non-existent.
Once the Spanish took control of Puerto Rico, many outside influences began to infiltrate the music of the island. The guitar and classical music found its way to the island from Europe. African slaves shipped to the island to work the sugar plantations brought with them their native call-and-response style of music, and people from other Caribbean islands contributed to this hodge podge of music as well. Reggae from Jamaica, the meringue from the Dominican Republic, and bolero music from Cuba all permeate the dance halls of Puerto Rico to this day.
The outside influences, as well as the native traditions of the Taíno people helped to create several new genres of music including salsa, plena, seis, bomba, and more recently hip hop reggaeton. These genres tend to be fast paced, lively, and very danceable.
It isn't difficult for visitors to experience the sounds of Puerto Rico. Popular music of the time will likely blare from the stereo of any store you choose to shop in, or play softly in the lobby of the hotel you are staying in. Musical events such as the Puerto Rico Hustle and Salsa Festival or the Le Lo Lai Festival, each in October, are also great ways to experience live Puerto Rican sounds. Puerto Rico is known for its lively nightlife, and you'll find no better opportunity to dance to the island's beats than you will if you spend a night club hopping. If there is a concert going on during your stay, this is also something you may choose to experience.
Music is such a huge part of the lives of the people of Puerto Rico that rhythm seems to seep into their very being. You can't escape the music of the island any more than you can avoid the islanders themselves, but why would you want to? Music has the power to move, to heal, and to aid in making the memories of your Puerto Rican vacation all the more palpable.
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