They got hooked on the music during a cultural exchange to Nicaragua in 1984. But when the four original members of Flor de Cana got back to Boston, they decided to spread not only the world beat music they had learned, but also the message.

"We were very moved by the commitment of the people to form a new way in society," says lead singer Rosemarie Straijer-Amador, "and we wanted to support their efforts. So we decided to sing about it. It was the best way we know how to do it, rather than giving speeches and showing movies."

The music the seven-member band produces is definitely Latin -- loaded with complex dance rhythms and percolating melodies. It is called "New Song" or "Pan American World Beat," a style of music born in the '60s and '70s and written by rebellious musicians and poets when the Central American region was going through political upheaval and was subjected to an enormous influx of American and British contemporary music. The New Song movement was rooted in the rhythms of Latin music, but turned to current events and social issues for lyrics. It has mellowed some now, and grown into the Pan American World Beat.

"We feel it is important for people in this country to know what is going on in Latin America," says Straijer-Amador, "and do it in a way that is entertaining and informative but also fun. Fun to listen to."

Flor de Cana performs in both Spanish and English, and invites folks to bring their dancing shoes "because for us, it is the most fun when people can dance!"

Flor de Cana will perform at d.c. space on Tuesday night at 8. Tickets are $7 at the door. For information, call 347-1445.