Bella Martinez and International Salsa Magazine by the hand of www.SalsaGoogle.com. “Salsa has always been that rainbow that shines immediately at the end of the storm”.
During my most recent visit to the north, after the fury of the flooding associated with storm Ida allowed me to arrive in New York, I made my way to El Barrio’s ArtSpace to enjoy a night of salsa. Salsa has always been that rainbow that shimmers immediately when the storm subsides.
I entered the venue with the artist who is the subject of my upcoming book: Henry Knowles, also known as the “World Salsa DJ”. We identified ourselves to the checkpoint girl at the entrance, not before presenting our COVID 19 vaccination card and after receiving a good amount of hand sanitizer. Henry had to fulfill his artistic commitment for the evening, so I put my belongings away to free myself a little and be able to socialize with the crowd behind my mask.
Once admitted to the venue, I completed the regulatory round of recognition, which I took the opportunity to say hello to several acquaintances I had not seen for a long time. I realized that I am honing my skills to recognize my people just by identifying their eyes. I reflected on this detail while I was making the rounds, at the same time that the music caught my attention because of the tasty repertoire. To my surprise, the song “Mejor Que la medicine” by my beloved Víctor García y su Sonora Sanjuanera was playing, which I never imagined I would hear outside of Puerto Rico, in that environment full of connoisseurs. I registered the DJ in front of the dance floor. I realized it was my first time listening to the musical selection of Joe Gonzalez, better known as DJ Paz. I approached him and let him know that his repertoire was “bravo”.
I had gone to listen to Henry Knowles, whom I admire beyond his ability as a DJ, for his musical management and cultural diligence. Henry has been a promoter of our Afro-Antillean culture since 1977. During his artistic career, in addition to DJing, he has been a promoter, producer, and artist manager; successfully working with Ralph Mercado Management (RMM), Sony BMG Music, and Dave Maldonado Entertainment.
The purpose of my visit that night at El Barrio’s Art Space was to set the scene with Henry in the neighborhood, where Knowles himself began the story that I am transforming into my next book. The idea of this next literary proposal is to share it with anyone who wants to read a story of self-improvement and a lot of salsa. It is guaranteed that these lyrics will catch the interest of all Afro-Antillean music lovers.
While I was discovering details, which you will be able to read, later on, I had several surprises. But that’s another story, which I’ll tell you later.
Since 1999, Izzy Rodriguez has focused on the promotion of events where salsa stars, and early on in what was his recently launched event promotion career, Izzy became the most loyal promoter of salsa events on New York soil. As a relevant fact, Izzy had started in salsa long before committing himself to event promotion. Let’s just say that he fell in love with salsa through dancing, becoming one of the most outstanding artists of the great Eddie Torres’ corps de ballet. At the age of 16, Izzy managed to apply his formal training in ballet and jazz to combine it with his love for salsa. While still a teenager, he achieved professional dancer status in the highly competitive Nuyorican salsa scene. That fact, in fact, should not come as a surprise since Izzy is the son of a dancer from the Palladium era: Vivian Saldaña. In his case, one could say that dancing comes to Izzy from the salsa genes he inherited from his progenitor and his maternal grandmother.
Since 1980, when Henry Knowles and Izzy Rodriguez met at Club Epoca, this dynamic duo has been a winning duo. I attribute the success of this duo to the passion they share for the salsa sound, which they both support from their own spaces.
As a bonus, I managed to give a bear hug to my dear Luisito Salgado, better known as DJ Louie Love. As a curious fact, DJ Louie Love was the DJ that several years ago I hired and moved from New York to Puerto Rico to entertain the agape on the occasion of the nuptials of my princess, not only because he is a great DJ. He is also one of my favorite people.
I affirm that the turnout depends on the quality of the artists who share their talent. And this night in reference could be summarized in a meeting of salsa connoisseurs, where DJs had no room to invent; a meeting of DJs in the New York neighborhood where Henry began his successful career as a disseminator of our culture around the world, plus a dance floor adorned with celebrities, among which I managed to highlight Debbie Mercado, daughter of salsa manager and creator of Ralph Mercado Management; Denisse, daughter of the ever-remembered mambo dancer Cuban Pete; Gucci designer Dapper Dan and New York-based Puerto Rican politician Adam Clayton Powel, Jr: Adam Clayton Powel, Jr.
I conclude that we are still in salsa. Fortunately, the alchemy that was given to gestate what is still known today as salsa is still alive and well in the same neighborhood where it all began.
Long live Salsa!
By: Bella Martinez “The Irreverent Salsa Writer”
WebSite: Bella Martinez
Article of Interest: Mel Martinez I come from Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico is Salsero
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