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The Mambo Men of New York


  • The Mambo Men of New York

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    The Mambo Men of New York
    by Manny Siverio

    They say that New York Men have a unique style of dancing that you can pick out anywhere. Its a blend of clean yet graceful movements mixed with a healthy dose of passion, sabor and good old Latin flare.

    Last month I focused on the Mambo Women of New York. This month we give The Mambo Men of New York their fare share of credit in helping to keep the art of Mambo dancing alive and kicking in the big Apple. For those of you that missed last month's Mambo Women feature, I've taken the opportunity of reprinting the general introduction of that article for the men too (since men have to overcome many of the same problems that plague the female dancer).

    SALSA/MAMBO DANCERS "are" one of our most precious resources yet unfortunately they also "are" one of the most neglected elements in the Salsa Scene. People often over look the importance of the dancer. Everyone is guilty of this crime ranging from Club owners, bands, radio stations, promoters to even the general public. Yet without the dancer, there would be no need for "SALSA CLUBS, SALSA MUSIC or SALSA BANDS". One cannot exist without the other. Its like saying who came first, the chicken (salsa music) or the egg (the dancer). Bottom line its the Salsa/Mambo dancer who makes the music come alive. The goal behind Salsaweb was and still is to produce a site for all Salsa/Mambo dancers. I've seen the work, effort and expense which these dancers put into their craft first hand. The public just doesn't realize the blood, sweet, tears and expense that dancers put into perfecting their skill. I hope that THE WRITER'S FORUM and SALSAWEB NY have become the beacon to shed the spotlight on the SALSA/MAMBO Dancing Community. Whether you are a mambo instructor, mambo performer or a social dancer, this site is for you.

    The New York Mambo Men have worked just as hard as their female counterparts. Its been an uphill battle all the way for them filled with obstacles and pitfalls. Yet like the women, they have hung in there long enough to start up successful classes, get gigs as performers and gradually become experienced dance choreographers. Some of the Mambo Men have been fortunate enough to come along at a prosperous time while others like Eddie Torres have led a lonely battle from way back when (before Computers or the Internet). Eddie Torres is considered by many as being the Grand-Daddy of most mambo dancers. People either have learned directly from Eddie or learned from someone who was taught by Eddie. Other New York Mambo Men (like Jimmy Anton, Mario Diaz, Delille Thomas, and Angel Rodriguez) have been able to distinguish themselves because of a unique style of mambo dancing. These men have persevered, gained experience and created a trademark of dancing which they are identified with and known for. Then there are those that form what I like to call the next generation of Mambo Men (like Nelson Flores, Ismael Otero & Steve Seda) who over the last couple of years have made their presence known in the local dance community. Still others have gained additional notoriety by adding the title of promoter to their mambo skills (i.e. David Melendez: Salsa Cruise 1999 & ownership of Side Street Dance Club & Luis Zegarra: Mambo Showdown). These men have made it a point to go out there and catch the public's eye. Finally we have some Mambo Men that use their mambo skills to teach our children and in doing so help protect our future (like David Melendez of the Starlite Dance Studio & Carlos Mendoza of the Side Street Kids Dance Academy).

    So the next time you go out dancing in New York, take a good look around you. That guys that really stands out in the crowd; the one you’re been admiring on the dance floor, may be one of our Mambo Men of New York.
    - Manny Siverio
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