Interview with David Melendez – Bronx, NY

David MelendezJohnny: First and foremost,, I would like to thank you for doing this interview for LaVoz de Mambo. I have the utmost respect for your endeavors with the Salsa community. Individuals like yourself and Albert Torres make it possible for people all around the world to come together to perform, dance, and indulge in Salsa/Mambo environment. You are responsible for providing memories to dancers that will last a lifetime. When you began dancing, did you ever think you would get into events and promotions?

David: No that was a total accident. I started a dance company and I wanted them to have money for costumes and shoes because all that stuff is expensive, so together with Judy and Toni members of the group we put together the first party at Side Street. From that point on I just took it and ran with it.

Johnny: What initiated your involvement in promoting the NY Salsa Congress and Congresses throughout the world? Can you name some of your upcoming Congresses?

David: Luis kept asking me to partner with him and get the NYSC started and at the time I used to do small parties. We did but I realized that I could not continue with him so I did it on my own. After the successful endeavor a friend asked me if I would help with another congress and I did. From that point on it was just like a snowball effect. In 2005, I will be part of 8 different Salsa Congresses.

As far as upcoming Congresses, I have Bermuda in Feb 10-13, Texas in March 18-20, Boston in April 7-9, Washington DC in June 10-12, Children Teen in Orlando Florida, July 1-4, of course the New York Congress on Sept 1-4, Canada Oct 7-9, and I just added the Philippines Salsa Congress for Dec 1-4 of 2005. Those are all the congresses that I am involved with.

Johnny: You founded the Starlite Dance studio in the Bronx, which specializes in teaching youth. What made you focus on this area and what is the most satisfying aspects of your efforts?

David: Well I used to be a school teacher and I had a little boy in my dance company, so people were always asking me “do you teach children” until finally I said yes. Next thing I knew I had a dance school and taught kids.

The most satisfying aspect of teaching kids is watching them grow up. I have had my dance school for 13 years and I’ve seen many kids come and grow up in my school. I am happy to say that some have gone to college with some effort. I used to make sure that school was number on in their life.

The other satisfying thing about teaching kids is how their eyes light up when get that step that has been giving them problems. All that makes teaching children worth while.

Johnny: You have danced on stage with many legendary performers; performed, directed and choreographed for many great companies; you are also considered to be one of NY’s premiere dance instructors. First, how did you get into dancing? Second, how did you achieve so much? Lastly, what advice do you offer to aspiring dancers and instructors?

David: Now I won’t say I am one of the premier dance instructors in NY because I am not. I am a simple guy with simple turn patterns and by no means consider myself as a premier instructor. However, I am okay and can teach a person from A to Z about dancing and have them on the dance floor. I started dancing when I was 16 years old. Just saw a friend dancing and thought how cool. So I wanted to be cool too.

Now for achieving so much, I’m not sure what you mean by that but I am still growing in my field and still trying to improve. I guess I was lucky and at right place at the right time.

Johnny: Although many aspire to be great dancers and performers, some aspire to be great event promoters. In addition, some people have aspirations within Salsa/Mambo that exceed the dance floor. What advice do you offer to these individuals?

David: Be honest, trustworthy and sincere with everything you do. As a promoter you must be a people person. Be a politician! People will judge you for what you have done for them lately, not for what you done in the past. Hey, didn’t they make a song out of that phrase.

Smile, laugh and have a good time and you will enjoy the hard road of event promotions.

Johnny: Any additional comments:

David: First, thank you for this short interview and I look forward to seeing many of your readership at the next New York Salsa Congress. I am working on making this year congress the place to be!

Take care and thanks.

David Melendez