Growing up in Spanish Harlem in the '60's and '70's, I can honestly say that I do not remember Boy's Harbor or any school that, at that time, paralleled Johnny Colon's school of music. I remember Johnny Colon's school of music and vividly remember Sonny Bravo teaching me the piano.
Salsa dura's brink of fame started, IMO, in the '60's. I'm pretty sure that Johnny, being a barrio boy (and still is) saw that there were, and to this day, are no prominent schools (i.e., Julliard) with the exception of Boy's Harbor and the classes that Bobby Sanabria teach at New School of music -- that taught conga, bongo, timbales, Afro-Caribbean instruments, the Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Cuban folkloric musics. The musicians and artists that are now teaching at the Harbor were students of the Johnny Colon School of Music, i.e., Jimmy Delgado, Sonny Bravo, Gilberto "Pulpo" Colon, Jr., Harry Adorno, Johnny Almendra, etc.
Most of the musicians of my era (as young as 12) were already experimenting with bands of their own before they joined Colon's school of music, playing (by ear, which most still do...lots of the artists back then, and still today, do not read music, but are natural talents, and/or have studied music late in their careers) and did so because THEIR parents were musicians (either from Puerto Rico, which made up and still do, most of the artists today). They grew up listening to folkloric Afro-Caribbean, Jibaro music as well as, Soul, Jazz, Rock 'n Roll, Calypso, Reggae, top 40's (cousin Brucie), and our beloved Symphony Sid. Statistically, Puerto Ricans were the ones who spent their money at these venues (Palladium, Caborojeno, etc.) and who were the ones who mostly bought the music.
When the U.S. cut ties with Cuba, the market in Latino music was not coming in anymore for my father's generation. In comes MY generation and we take the jibaro music, Cuban Afro music and mix it with our neighbor's (Harlem) music creating Boogalu, Salsoul, Salsa, Latin-Jazz, Shingaling, etc..which is basically what Salsa is comprised of. Salsa was amalgated by the Puerto Ricans and NuYoricans in Spanish Harlem...this makes it an American musical genre.
In the '60's and '70's, there were at least 35 clubs in NYC alone (not counting the "after-hours") and that gave musicians the opportunity to enjoy gigging (back then, for most musicians, gigging was more important that the pay!) almost every night of the week! By the '80's, Salsa "dura", as well as Salsa venues, was waning significantly and replaced by Salsa "monga".
Everything, including Salsa, evolves and unfortunately, at times, not for the better.
Please visit www.salsasight.com