Cali Pachanguero: meaning behind essential Colombian salsa by Jairo Varela
Cali Pachanguero is one of the best-known salsa songs that played a big part in the rising popularity of Colombian dance music in the 1980s. It was written by leading Colombian musician Jairo Varela and released by his Grupo Niche in 1984.
It was Cali Pachanguero that made Grupo Niche famous throughout the country and then Latin America where they were recognized to be among the best in the salsa genre—a dance style that originated in the 1960s through the combination of Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican music elements as well as Latin jazz.
The song lyrics praise the city of Santiago de Cali, noting among other things that all roads lead there while other cities like Paris or New York are only small hills compared to Cali. The song's title refers to the city's lush nightlife: pachanguero is the Spanish word for a person who likes pachanga, meaning revelry.
Listen to Jairo Varela's Cali Pachanguero performed by Grupo Niche:
Curiously, the harmony of Cali Pachanguero revolves around the Andalusian cadence which is the defining element of Spanish flamenco music.