La Libelula: Salsa with Spirituality & Politics

| 11/03/2010

“La Libelula: Dragonfly: A symbol of spiritual growth and elevation. For Gustavo Monje (leader of the group Gustvo and the Universe), the writer of the new song, “La Libelula”, as he sat in Bolivia over Christmas last year strumming his guitar, the dragonfly flew to a curtain in the room and inspired him to write a beautiful song. A song full of energy and wisdom – just as his spiritual teacher saw the dragonfly. While listening to the song you will feel that energy flow, build and in the video see it demonstrated through the dancing and footage used.

I met Gustavo a couple of years ago at a big salsa event. It was a meeting that seemed to happen for a reason – neither of us can probably say what that reason is – but you can just tell sometimes when the universe is sending you a message. Back then, Gustavo was just learning about salsa casino and taking lessons. I later found out he was a song writer and enjoyed the music he had made up to that point. I was so pleased to see where the music had lead him and wanted to know more about what inspired him to write La Libelula.

As someone who dabbles in Spanish but has a hard time understanding it in song, I needed to first ask Gustavo what the song means…what does it speak to? After watching the video above you’ll know there are images of struggle, immigration reform and more in the video. Gustavo replied, “It is a very political and spiritual song. The dragonfly symbolizes freedom with spiritual grace and not destruction. It reminds us to use our freedom as a way to elevate us and not hurt others, countering how supporters of the “free market” or neo “liberals” have coined the words freedom and liberty. The song mentions that once basic human rights (basic human necessities such as food, healthcare, housing, clothing, and education) are de-privatized, “esta mierda se va abajo,” this shit will go down, meaning the ills of capitalism. The song also mentions the immigration issue in Arizona, and the wars in the Middle East.”

Some may think that is a strong message for a salsa song but musicians from Cuba have been using music for years to send political opinions and messages out to the masses. People are dancing, enjoying themselves, and hopefully a message will sink in as they listen to the song, the words, and grasp the concept the artist is putting forth. Gustavo added that not all their songs are political; they “are also about love, healing, and spirituality.” Not content to only speak messages through music, Gustavo walks the walk by practicing a spiritual life and volunteering his time through service projects – most recently visiting Kenya to work with students in music.

Gustavo often mixes pop music and salsa into his music and this song, La Libelula, was written with casino dancers in mind. In the video (below), as the song builds towards its climax, Gustavo has the DC Casineros dancing in front of the White House and it makes a very bold statement. He felt it was a good place to “centralize the root of many problems in the world.”

Writing music since he was 11 years old, Gustavo’s music tells stories. He is mostly self-taught and by the age of 13 was writing song after song and was influenced by an Argentinian group, “Sui Generis” and Pink Floyd’s album “Dark Side of the Moon”. As he grew, his songs covered many genres but felt that “now the time is right to hopefully bring something new to salsa and to the [Washington] DC area salsa scene.” As he prepares his next release, Gustavo feels that the future is bright for Gustavo and the Universe and promises that “we will make sure to serenade our wonderful home DC…first.” That is good news for their fans who anxiously await the next single. Gustavo would also like to make sure that his band mates also get credit for their hard work. He works with Carlos Barreto and Lelis Cueto who are two very skilled musicians.

Be sure to visit Gustavo’s website and connect with him on Twitter. Contact him for more information or to hire The Universe to perform for your event.
Find Gustavo on:
Visit the site to download your copy of La Libelula!”

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Category: Music, News

About the Author ()

Hello! I love Cuban salsa. While I really love all salsa music my heart, soul, and body just responds best to Cuban salsa. It doesn't matter if it is the early work of Celia Cruz or Ibrahim Ferrer or the current Bamboleo album - I'm gonna move to it! I live in the Washington DC area and work to promote Cuban dancing and music and try to educate people about what timba is... what rueda is... what salsa casino is... and how, historically, it all played a big part in them being able to go to a club and dance salsa.

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