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Compiled by Manny Siverio
The Side Street Kids
Toni & Calros Mendoza

(Originally posted on Salsaweb NY on DATE)

Toni and Carlos Mendoza are the Directors of a non-profit children mambo school in the Bronx called the side street kids. Their passion for one another combined with their love of mambo dancing and children formed the building block for their school. Both have made it a point to separate time from their very busy weekly schedule to run this highly successful mambo school. The couple wants to give back to the "next generation" of mambo dancers because they represent our future. The two use mambo dancing as a tool to educate children about life, about family and about family values. Their motto says it all, "side street kids: more than dance".

On the surface their classes seem to follow the basic structure of most children mambo classes. Students wear a simple uniform designed to eliminate dress competition amongst students and help promote the concept of group unity. Classes begin with a warm up of open floor shines, breakdown of new steps and work on dancing routines which the children do during their regular performing recital. But this is where the similarity ends. There is much more here than meets the eyes. Toni and Carlos use the school as a springboard for education. At the end of each class, they sit the children down and have pep talks, discuss important issue like drugs, education, family, etc. They truly care and love the kids in their school and act more like surrogate parents and guidance counselors than mambo instructors. If any of their kids are going through some problems, the Mendoza’s have been known to separate time for the child in question. They’ll take the child out to dinner and try to discuss the problem and hopefully help the child in question find the answer to their dilemma. While I was reviewing the class, one child came over with some flowers as a thank you gift to the Mendoza’s for their helpful advice. Another interesting rule that the Mendoza’s have is that if the child is not doing well in school, that child will not be allowed to participate in side street kids activities until the grades improve. The Mendoza's also like "promoting from within". They currently have 4 "kids" who are either teaching their own class under our supervision are act as teachers assistants and their names are Damaris Perez, Jocelyn Perez, Izaline Skerrette and Nina Valentin.

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Carlos, Toni & Artie pose with the side street kids during el Congreso Mundial de La Salsa

The school also invites outside instructors to teach and talk about their backgrounds. These guest instructors prove that most mambo dancers are more than dancers. They have outside jobs, work for corporations, lead very important and highly successful lives. The kids are taught to believe in themselves, that if they put their minds to it, they can be anything they want to be. They learn to use "no limitation as their limitation". Children are treated with the respect of budding adults who are learning to cope with the problems of everyday life.

Toni and Carlos also get the parents literally involved with their children by teaching them routines which the parents can perform along side their children. These activities strengthen the bond between parent and child and allow them to share a common activity together. They learn a new skill together, cope with similar problems in developing that skill and have an opportunity to triumph together on stage during performance. Parents also get involved by volunteering their spare time in helping run school operations like answering the phone or helping shuttle kids around during class activities like trips or performances. Imagine accomplishing all this merely with mambo dancing. Amazing isn’t it.

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Carlos & Toni with the side street kids at the Puerto Rican Day Parade

If anyone ever doubts the technical teaching level of the Mendoza’s all I would have to see is just watch the "their kids" during a performance. Its beautiful to see these kids move. Its like you can see them blossom into young adults before your very eyes. The side street kids have performed in places like the "old" Side Street night club in the Bronx, La Maganette (in NYC), at the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade and have traveled to Perform in Puerto Rico during the First Congreso Mundial de la Salsa.

Carlos & Toni's Style in a nutshell:
If I were to describe Toni and Carlos Mendoza’s style of mambo dancing I would say it has a sense of fun, passion and sharing which is channeled into their teaching. The kids benefit and blossom into better dancers and more importantly into better human beings. So if you want your children to learn mambo and grow into better young adults with strong family values, then it wouldn’t hurt to seek out the Mendoza’s and their side street kids.

Social Dance:



Instructional Videos

  • None at this time.

Dance Company

Contact Info:


  • Carlos & Toni do not offer private lessons. Their main goal is to help run the non-profit organization of The Side Street Kids. Click here if your interested in enrolling your child into their academy.


  • Carlos & Toni cater mainly to children (between ages 5-18). As a matter of fact its what they are known for. They do offer an adult mambo class. Click here for if your interested in finding out more about their adult mambo class.

Class Schedule:

Side Street Kids Academy
Side Street Kids Academy
1310 Unionport Road
Bronx, NY 10462 

See their web site for complete listing of classes, prices and schedule - http://www.freewebs.com/sidestreetkids

SSK Adult Mambo is made possible with the public funds from the Bronx Council on the Arts through the NYS Council on the Arts decentralization program.

The side street kids are a non-profit organization. Donations can be sent care of:
The Side Street Kids
61-20 Grand central Parkway #C906
Forest Hills, New York 11375

Classes are subject to change without notice  
it is always a good idea to confirm classes or clubs before heading out




  • MTA/Subway Take the #6 train to Parkchestor Ave. and walk to UnionPort Rd. Street. Or take the #6 train to Castle Hill stop and walk 2 blocks to Unionport Rd. (make a left). Landmarks: turn the corner around the laundry mat and across the street from Ortiz Funeral Home.
  • NYC Transit : NYC Public Transit Authority Website which supplies you info on train/bus routes, transportation, etc.

  • Mapquest.com : Map/direction providing website for those using their own vehicles to get to class location. 
    Yahoo.com: This is the link to the Yahoo maps starting page. According to Steve Shaw, it may be the better of the two Map websites.















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