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RE-VISITING THE PALLADIUM

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RE-VISITING THE PALLADIUM

IF YOU'RE A LOVER OF LATIN MUSIC YOU'VE NO DOUBT HEARD SOMETHING ABOUT THE PALLADIUM BALLROOM ON 53RD STREET AND BROADWAY IN NEW YORK CITY KNOWN AS THE HOME OF THE MAMBO. THE MUSIC YOU HEARD IN THE PALLADIUM WAS CALLED SON MONTUNO, GUAJIRA, GUARACHA, CHARANGA, CHA CHA, MAMBO WHICH HAVE ALL COME TO BE KNOWN AS SALSA.

THE PALLADIUM WASN'T A VERY LARGE BALLROOM BUT IT WAS VERY NICE, A REAL GROOVY PLACE. AS SOON AS YOU WALKED IN THE MAGIC WOULD BEGIN. IT WOULD JUST HIT YOU; THE MUSIC THE EXCITEMENT, THE DANCERS, UNBELIEVABLE! AS YOU WALKED IN THE BANDSTAND WAS STRAIGHT AHEAD, IN THE CENTER OF THE BACK WALL. THE BAR WAS NEAR THE ENTRANCE ON THE LEFT. V.I.P. TABLES WERE ALSO ON THE LEFT CLOSE TO THE BANDSTAND. THE DANCER'S CORNER WAS ON THE RIGHT, ALSO NEAR THE BANDSTAND.

YOU COULD GO TO THE PALLADIUM FOUR NIGHTS A WEEK AND HEAR GREAT MUSIC EVERY ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS. WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY BUT WEDNESDAY WAS THE BEST NIGHT OF THE WEEK. THE EVENING WOULD START OUT WITH DANCE LESSONS TAUGHT BY KILLER JOE TO THE TUNE OF TITO PUENTE'S BAILA DEL PINGUINO. LESSONS WERE ALWAYS TAUGHT ON TWO, (CLAVE). AFTER THAT IT WAS TIME TO GET OUT ON THE DANCE FLOOR AND SHOW YOUR STUFF. LATER ON CAME THE DANCE CONTESTS WITH CONTESTANTS THAT WERE UNBELIEVABLY GOOD. THEN CAME "SHOWTIME", THE FABULOUS DANCE TEAMS, ALL GREAT DANCERS.

MAXWELL HYMAN BOUGHT THE PLACE AND RENAMED IT THE PALLADIUM..IT USED TO BE A DANCE STUDIO..FEDERICO PAGANI DID THE PROMOTING.

I STARTED GOING TO THE PALLADIUM BACK IN 1951. ALTHOUGH PREJUDISM AND BIGOTRY EXISTED EVERYWHERE ELSE AT THE TIME, IT DID NOT EXIST IN THE PALLADIUM. BLACK, WHITE, BROWN AND ANY SHADE IN BETWEEN, YOUNG AND OLD, RICH AND POOR, GAY OR STRAIGHT, WHO CARED? AS LONG AS YOU COULD DANCE, PREFERRABLY ON CLAVE. GREAT MUSIC AND DANCING. THAT'S WHAT IT WAS ALL ABOUT. PEOPLE DRESSED TO KILL. MEN IN THREE PIECE SUITS, WOMEN IN SHARP SEXY OUTFITS. THE ATMOSPHERE WAS GREAT AND SO WERE THE PEOPLE. THE THREE HOUSE BANDS WERE TITO PUENTE, TITO RODRIGUEZ AND MACHITO BUT MANY OTHER BANDS PLAYED THERE AS WELL.

ANYONE WHO EXPERIENCED THE PALLADIUM IN THE 50'S AND 60'S REMEMBERS THOSE EXPERIENCES WITH A GREAT PASSION. THAT GOES FOR ALL THE MUSICIANS WHO PLAYED THERE TOO AS TITO PUENTE ATTESTED TOO MANY TIMES.

I WAS THERE FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END WHEN THE PALLADIUM FINALLY SHUT ITS DOORS IN 1966. I SAW AND HEARD THE BEST OF THE BEST AND I JUST THOUGHT I'D SHARE THESE WONDERFUL MEMORIES WITH YOU. IF YOU WERE THERE TOO, YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.

HOPEFULLY THE MUSIC WILL CONTINUE TO THRIVE AND HOPEFULLY MANY MORE GENERATIONS WILL BE ABLE TO TELL ABOUT THEIR OWN SALSA MEMORIES......RAE ARROYO