NORBEY “KANELO” GIL – TRUE ICON OF OLD SCHOOL CALI STYLE SALSA

Norbey Kanelo Gil Mosquera

Born and raised in Cali, Norbey “Kanelo” Gil Mosquera (46) is the main teacher of Arrebato Caleño. He’s also the man who this year won the 1st prize for non-professional solo dancers at the World Salsa Festival (Festival Mundial de la Salsa). He has been dancing for 36 years and is a true icon of old school Cali style salsa.

The early days of dancing

Kanelo started dancing at the age of 10. He learned the basics of salsa at home, as his father was a non-professional dancer and he had cousins who are professional dancers. After that he learned the art from Maestro Evelio Carabalí (a true icon of Cali style salsa, after whom some steps and turns are named). This was at a time when salsa was not as important in Cali as it is nowadays. It was behind the scenes and very traditional. Nowadays there is a lot more force in it.

When Kanelo was still in school, the school organized interscholar salsa and folk dance competitions and the young Norbey always attended. When he was 14, he started participating in the Feria de Cali (the festival of Cali, organized in December) as part of the Carnevals of Juanchito (Juanchito is a decadent neighborhood in Cali). At the time, the opening event of the Feria was not called Salsódromo but Comparsas de Bailarines de Cali (Troups of the Dancers of Cali). It was only professional dancers then with platforms to dance on. The dancers danced to the music of live orchestras.

Kanelo teaching at Arrebato Caleño

Developing as a dancer

At the age of 22, Kanelo won a dance competition in a touristic hotel, which is also when he got the nickname Kanelo (Cinnamon) for his skin color. In 1986 he won the Championship of the Carneval of Juanchito. This was an important event for him as a dancer, as it was the first time he stood out as a dancer. In those times, he also won many other important prizes and received a lot of recognition.

Kanelo has been teaching since he was 19. In Arrebato Caleño he has been since the very beginning of the school three years ago. In fact, the owner of Arrebato, Alejandra, used to be his student and assistant for a long time. The rhythms Kanelo teaches include Colombian salsa, pachanga, guaracha, boogaloo, cha-cha-cha, charleston, bolero, son, danzón, Argentinian charanga, paso doble, fox trot and L.A. style salsa.

For classes with Kanelo in Cali style salsa

Arrebato Caleño
Carrera 10 No. 1-47 Oeste – B/ San Antonio
Cali, Colombia

Norbey "Kanelo" Gil teaching salsa caleña

Present highlights and future dreams

One of Kanelo’s dreams for the future is to dance at an international dance congress and showcase the real Cali style salsa, which is significantly different from other dance styles. What Cali style salsa differs in is the rapid leg movement and the movement of the hips. There are not as many turns as in the Cuban style salsa, but instead the footwork is the most important element of the dance.

An important event the Cali born dancer recommends to everyone interested in salsa is the Salsódromo. Other events he recommends are the Festival Mundial de Salsa (World Salsa Festival) and the Birthday of Cali. Moreover, as a dancer, he also participates in Caliviejo, The Carnaval de Teatro, Bailes Cívicos, Danzas Folclorísticas and many other events. According to him, the Feria de Cali (Carneval of Cali) is the best way to end the year.


6 Places Kanelo recommends for dancing salsa in Cali

  1. Brisas de Jamundí
  2. Viejoteca Santa
  3. Salsa Night Club
  4. Tin Tin Deo
  5. La Topa Tolondra
  6. Guayabales de Jamundí

Written by Sissi Korhonen

Fascinated by meeting, interpreting and understanding people. Strangerless at soul and heart.