Winding Down

by Pedro Juan Hernández
Translated by Victoria Álvarez

Carlos Arroyo Dámaso Pérez Prado, the Cuban known as the King of Mambo, asked Carlos to choreograph a new dance style – el dengue – which he thought had the potential to replace the twist. They premiered the dengue at the Bronx Casino in October of 1963, doing multiple previews where Carlos alternated dancing with Mike and Marietta, a well-known dance team at the time. Next came The Johnny Carson Show and the Hotel Tropicana in Las Vegas for several weeks. Nevertheless, the new dance style didn’t catch on the way Pérez Prado had hoped. Carlos advised Pérez Prado that the rhythm was too fast even for professional dancers and attributes this as the possible reason why it didn’t attract the attention of the public. Carlos performed with Mike of Mike and Marietta, several times, among them at the Club Flamboyán in the Condado district of San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they appeared alongside the Mexican singer Pedro Vargas and the Puerto Rican orchestra leader and composer César Concepción. During this time Arroyo also worked with Bobby Capó on channel 7 . Carlos Arroyo It was in Puerto Rico that Mike decided to remain and work instead with the group El Gran Combo; meanwhile Carlos Arroyo returned to New York, where he paired up with the African American dancer Mark Scott. During this period he tried to make his mark as a musician with his group Sextette performing at the Palladium Ballroom . , He ditched the idea and dedicated himself to the Cha- Cha Taps, extending his career as a dancer until 1970.
Carlos Arroyo dedicated twenty years of his life to working exclusively as a successful professional dancer. His passion for dance took him all around the world, introducing him and collaborating with some of the best Latin and North American musicians of the ’50’s and ’60’s. Moreover, he can be described as one of the greatest Latin rhythm dancers of the period, as evidenced by his collection of documents at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Despite having “retired” as a dancer in order to dedicate himself to other interests, he reappeared as part of a homage to Tito Puente at Yale University in January of 2000, alongside Mercedes Ellington, Duke Ellington’s granddaughter. In September of 2005 he was recognized by the Pierre Dulaine Dance Club as one of the dance celebrities of the Palladium dance era.

Content credits Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Image Credits: Carlos Arroyo Collection | All Rights Reserved