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Originally published on Salsaweb NY
The Mambo King is Back
The King of Mambo is Back with a vengeance. 
- by Manny Siverio  

Eddie and Maria Torres

Eddie Torres, better known in New York as "the" Mambo King, has been a fixture to the New York mambo scene for quite some time now. He has been responsible for producing or helping to produce some of the best dancers to come out of New York.. Its safe to say even today, that most people in New York have been taught to dance mambo by Eddie Torres or by someone that has been taught by Eddie Torres. Among his many accomplishments he has been the subject of feature articles, has performed on stage with such Latin music legends like the late great Tito Puente, has appeared on Television programs, toured the globe, was the receiver of Salsaweb’s 1st Lifetime Achievement Award for Instruction, is the author of an instructional video series on mambo dancing, is the director and choreographer of his own dance company (The Eddie Torres Dancers), runs a very successful school for mambo dancing and is seen as the father (or better yet the Gran Master) of the New York Style of dancing "On 2" (New York Mambo Dancing).

But it wasn’t always like this for this living mambo legend. People see the fame that Eddie has acquired, but forget that he was an overnight success with 20 years in the making. Eddie was ridiculed and ignored for his love of his dance, but like a prize-fighter he would take the blows and keep on fighting the good fight. He arrived in the mambo scene at one of its lowest points in recent history; pushing it when everyone thought it was out of style or a thing from the past. His love for the dance drove him to promote mambo even during the height of the "Hustle Craze". Like the Lone Ranger, Eddie, with his wife Maria, would find, discover, uncover, create or take advantage of any opportunity that arouse to promote mambo dance. I’ve heard some real horror stories from Eddie about dancing on the worst imaginable surfaces which tore up both his shoes and feet. Yet he would continue to dance like the professional that he was and still is. Things only finally took a turn for the better when Eddie joined forces with Tito Puente. Their friendship became legendary. The "King of the Timbar" with the "King of the Mambo Dance". One wrote the music, the other danced to it. One was a musician that knew how to dance, the other a dancer who knew how to play music.

Eddie Torres with 
Legendary Tito Puente



But aside from being a performer at heart, Eddie is best known today as the role model for mambo instruction. He is one of the most articulate mambo instructors in New York. The man invented the method used by all New York instructors to teach mambo classes. He was the one to start giving names to specific floor shines and to break down steps and turn patterns according to the numbering system of the Clave. He is in every sense of the word a true "pioneer" of his craft.

I’ve had the pleasure of learning under Eddie Torres and of dancing with his dance company. To watch him put together a number is truly an awesome sight. He literally feels the music and puts steps and turn patterns together that go with what the music is "saying" at that moment. Yet in all the time I worked with him, people would come and tell me how Eddie had changed. Many would say that he wasn’t taking care of himself anymore, that he had gained too much weight, was out of breathe and had gotten too lazy in class. Others in the dance scene would tell me of a time when Eddie would personally lead the class doing the steps himself and not from a chair as I was use to seeing him do. Don’t get me wrong, the man was still awesome and he taught an ass-kicking class, but it made me feel slightly cheated. I felt like I missed seeing a master at work.

I finally had to move on, I focused on my film work, on writing for Salsaweb NY and helping my wife (Addie Diaz-Siverio) teach her mambo class. After several long months (almost a year to be exact), I finally had the time to visit Eddie during one of his classes and what I discovered took me totally by surprised. Before me, in front of the class was a trimmer, well dress, gleaming instructor. It was Eddie Torres!! He was beaming with energy that rushed through the room like a bolt of lightening. So much energy that it hit me with a sudden jolt at the other end of the room (and I was standing by the door). What I saw was the man in action... the Dancer, the Technician, the Master .......The King. It was like he was reborn. I had been in the scene long enough to respect all the great dancers in New York, so I was kind of use to seeing all these mamberos around me. You could say that I was stuck in a rut. The Eddie Torres that was now teaching in front of me had jump started me once again. By seeing Eddie break steps down and watching him move with such "sabor" and ease, I felt inspired once again to push myself to become the best dancer that I could be.

Eddie & Maria creating a turn 
pattern for one of his classes

At the end of class I had the chance to compliment Eddie. To tell him how great he looked and how much I felt inspired by seeing the "new" him in action. That’s when he told me about how he was taking care of himself by eating better and exercising by swimming laps in a pool. A few months earlier, Eddie had come to realize that he was feeling depressed. He was lost and needed to find himself again. Once he realized about his depression, he took active steps to pull himself out of the hole he had thrown himself into. It worked. He dropped some of the extra weight that was holding down, he improved his stamina, took pride in his overall appearance and the result was the Eddie Torres that was standing in front of me. All I could say was Welcome back Eddie. I look forward to seeing more of you on the dance floor.  -Manny

Click here if you are interested in getting more info on Eddie Torres


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