Mambo! Cha-cha-chá! Pachanga! The Palladium!: Video interview with Carlos Arroyo

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Previously in Centro Voices you read about Carlos Arroyo, one of the greatest dancers on the Palladium’s floor. We now bring a video interview with this magnificent dancer, “the man with the fastest feet” at the Palladium. In the video interview segments that follow you’ll see and listen to Arroyo’s stories about the Palladium’s dancers’ corner—the area in front of the band where only the best dancers showed their moves—and his recollection of some of the greatest dancers to grace that famed dance floor. He will discuss his participation, with dance partner Carmen Frank, in the now classic film Mambo Madness.

In another of the short film clips that we’ve divided the interview, Arroyo will name his favorite orchestra for dancing and discuss the rivalry between the Palladium’s three main bands: Tito Puente’s Orchestra, Tito Rodríguez’s Orchestra and Machito and His Afro-Cubans. He continues by talking about two of the popular dances of the late 50s, el dengue and la pachanga, and gives us his take on the “dancing on 2” controversy. Finally, we will all enjoy the dance 'lessons' with Carmen Frank, one of his former partners and also a famed Palladium dancer, as they 'do' the mambo and the cha cha cha.

The interview, conducted by folklorist and frequent Centro Voices contributor Elena Martinez, took place at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies on October 1, 2010 during an event celebrating Carlos Arroyo’s donation of his papers to Centro’s Archives.


Dancing at the Palladium: the dancers' corners and some of the best dancers:

 

On the now classic mambo film Mambo Madness:

 

His favorite orchestra and the rivalry between the Palladium's "big three":

 

On a new dance, el dengue, and why it failed to catch and on the New York popularity of la pachanga:

 

Carlos' take on 'dancing on 2':

 

Carlos Arroyo and Carmen Frank do the mambo:

 

Carlos Arroyo and Carmen Frank do the cha cha cha:

 


© Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Published in Centro Voices on 9 October 2015.

Centro Voices (ISSN: 2379-3864).
The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Centro Voices, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies or Hunter College, CUNY.