An Interview with Jareau Almeyda from (NY) by Johnny Johnson

Jareau AlmeydaJohnny: First and foremost, I would like to thank you for granting me this opportunity to interview you. I have been a fan of for sometime. was the first website that allowed me to get a taste of some of the best salsa dancers in the world without traveling to LA, NY or PR. I’ll even admit that I have studied some clips and learned some really cool moves. Nevertheless, I have to applaud you and your partners for the fabulous work you have done with this website. It is a tool that has definitely brought the salsa/mambo scene much closer.

I have checked out some of your clips and you are a great dancer. How did you get into Salsa dancing and who were your most influential instructors?

Jareau: I moved to NYC in 1999 after spending 7 1/2 years in Puerto Rico. Being new ‘the city’, I needed a hobby, friends, and a social life, so dance opened that and many other doors for me. My first instructor was Maria Torres, Eddie Torres’s wife, and then Eddie Torres himself. After about 1 1/2 years with ET, a slew of other instructors crossed my path; the most influential has and always will be Eddie.

But the magic did not happen with any particular dance instructor, the magic happened in rented rehearsal studios with my video camera. A small video camera, a tripod, and countless hours of music helped me reach my dance goals. I would dance, then watch the tapes and compare myself with people of all dance levels. I learned by comparison from everyone, if a beginner did something cool, I’d take that in, if a pro did something I did not like, I learned not to do it.

Lots of people asked me where I learned how to dance, usually followed by comments about my dance style, how it is unique and unlike the popular dance instructors. Well, that’s a good thing. I paid Eddie Torres to teach me how to dance, not to teach me how to look like him. I also did my share of performing, competing and teaching, but nothing satisfies me more than being a captivating social dancer. The spontaneity, chemistry, and challenge of ‘dancing to (or with) the music’, as opposed to choreography learned in dance class, is really a nice feeling.

Oh, and, before I forget, dancing with beautiful women is cool too.

Johnny: Did you ever think would be so successful within the Mambo community when you started out?

Jareau: My goal for the first version of was for it to be viewed first by dancers from NY, and then by salsa lovers from all over the United States. People would see us with our cameras at local events and ask to be video taped. So we did, then they got all their friends and family to view the videos. It was cool way of networking.

But when I started to see web visitors from Israel, Singapore, Argentina and other countries from around the world, I started to get very excited. In short, from the beginning I new it would be popular, but when it reached a global scale, we had to rethink the ultimate goal of the site.

Johnny: I love the new! What has motivated you to continue working so hard to keep the site top-notch?

Jareau: My day job is in web development/eMarketing for a very large firm, so I know there are always bigger and better things to produce on the internet; and having a perfectionist personality, I’m always striving for improvement in just about every facet of my life. I’ve noticed that most salsa sites are very similar- a few words, some PhotoChopping, and *poof* a website. I just can’t do that… my co-workers would ridicule me.

Johnny: What is your favorite dance clip?

Jareau: I can’t say that I have a favorite; I have many favorites, but not just one. Being that I edit the clips, I try to give most of them their own flavor. So my favorite tends to change with each new clip that I edit. As of this writing, my favorite is a Frankie Martinez’s clip at The Parlour in NYC – it has some cool lighting effects. As time goes on my favorites will change.

Johnny: Salsa dancers have become ultra-sensitive about taping. How has this affected iMambo?

Jareau: It really hasn’t hindered our efforts. People tend to recognize the iMambo video cameras, and know that the video will be used for a good cause: mainly, for their own promotion on a global scale. If I may, I think this sensitivity is unnecessary.

One thing that makes NYC dancers so advanced is the fact that they “see” each other so often. So when a new move comes out people SEE it, copy it, change it, and thus progress is born. People in Ohio, Australia, and Japan do not have that luxury. When a dancer asks me not to video tape him/her I concede, and go on to video tape the guy or girl next to them. Eventually, the person who said no will watch the video clip of the person I did video tape.

Johnny: I read your personal page “” and you have a lot of accomplishments outside of salsa. You also have a lot of interesting things to say. What is the most interesting thing about you outside of your Salsa endeavors?

Jareau: “The most interesting thing” is a bit difficult to answer, since some people might find one thing more interesting than another. If I were to choose one, I would say my story about September 11.

I worked in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center… I was sitting in my office on the 85th floor when the first plane hit the towers. 1 hour later I was running away from a falling skyscraper, and immersed in a plume of dust. It is a very touching story that everyone can relate to, however, I find the longer story about how it changed my life to me more interesting.

Johnny: Where would you like to see 5 years from now?

Jareau: 5 years is a very long time in internet years. Our goal for the next 18 months is to provide additional content and functionality, as we monitor visitor trends and experiences. Our hope is to provide a clean, unbiased and trustworthy web experience for everyone who loves salsa.

Johnny: The first time I met many of the well-known dancers in person, I was previously exposed to them through your website. How does it make you feel to know that your site can make someone very popular within the salsa/mambo community?

Jareau: It’s a good feeling. People work really hard on their dance ability (I know from personal experience), providing a channel for them to get global exposure, which in turn translates into a feeling of accomplishment, is one of the principal reasons was created.

Our website was built on the love of dance and a desire to provide exposure for dancers. As time went on we decided to implement more advanced goals and even a business model; dancers have and always will play a pivotal role in that.

Johnny: Any additional comments:

Jareau: One thing that has stayed with me after experiencing the events of September 11th is: We are on this planet to make a difference; we must progress, excel, produce and grow. If we do not, then why are we here? If you love to dance, buy instructional videos, get a video camera, practice, go dancing, and do what ever it takes to reach your highest potential.

If you love to take pictures, read book, subscribe to a magazine, take a class, do what ever it takes to reach your highest potential. Cooking? Karate? Raising children? What ever it is you love to do, do not ever, ever stop getting better at it – ever. Thank you very much for this opportunity to share my thoughts with the salsa world.

Jareau Almeyda