An Interview with Micah Boon (Chicago) by Suzanne Perfetto

Micah Boon SalsaSuzanne: Hello everyone, let’s welcome to La Voz de Mambo, Micah Boon.

Micah: LVM! Thanks for having me as a part of your site. I’m truly honored to be part of such a wonderful project!

Suzanne: Micah how did you get started in mambo?

Micah: How did I start…man let me think. Well back in high school some friends introduced me to the basic step of salsa as well as some folkloric dances like cumbia, plena, jarabe de tapatio, etc. All I knew was the basic salsa step and a side step for a few years, then I ordered a “Cool Moves” video by Eric Freeman and learned some moves and that salsa had “counts” to it (wow!). I started going to a club where I lived in South Carolina (whazup to Salsa Cabana!), watching this guy named Gabriel, and making up my own moves.

That was all dancing on1, but then I looked on the internet and saw that you could dance on different beats, so I found some online charts and studied how to dance on2, practicing the basic steps in my mom’s living room (hey Mom!) and transferring all of my on1 moves. When I moved to Chicago a few months later in 2002, I met my first dance partner Suzanne and was finally able to practice mambo with a real person and then with other dancers in Chicago. Since then, for about 3 and a half years, I’ve just been going out, watching people, making up random cool moves (and then forgetting them five minutes later), and teaching others to enjoy this crazy shiznit.

Suzanne: Tell us about your background in dance.

Micah: Micah Boon Dancer friends introduced me the basic salsa step and folkloric Latin dancing, that was my first encounter with dance, other than going to hip-hop parties and standing on the wall like a loser. It’s all good.

Suzanne: You are a undergraduate student at Northwestern University majoring in music. Tell us about that and how your musical background influences your mambo steps on the dance floor.

Micah: I’d say it influences my mambo jambo quite a bit. It helps because it keeps me aware of the music in every aspect. Especially with choreography…like I’ll choreograph a part of a song to some conga slaps in the background and someone will be like “What the fack? I would have never heard that!”

Also, being “musically educated” helps in interpreting musical events within the songs while social dancing. People sometimes ask me in clubs or socials, “How do you hit all the breaks like that? You must memorize all of these songs.” Then I proceed into a 10 minute speech about musical signals, melody shifts, key changes, drum rolls, and changes within polyphonic textures. Haha…just kidding…I just play it off like I know the songs.

Bottom line, I’m very fortunate and blessed to have a background in music and as it very much helps with timing and musical interpretation.

Suzanne: You’ve been involved in a program at your school called Blast. Can you tell our readers a little more about that?

Micah: BLAST, or Ballroom, Latin, And Swing Thing, is…well just what it sounds like. It’s a student group at Northwestern that performs, teaches, and competes in several different types of partner dancing–salsa, swing, tango, waltz, mambo, foxtrot, merengue, lindy-hop, 2-step, bachata, samba, paso doble…the list goes on. Basically, we try to promote all types of ballroom, Latin, and swing dancing to Northwestern and the surround community. It’s a huge thing with a pretty loyal following and I’m glad to have been here for the past 3 years to watch it grow.

Suzanne: You’ve had some experience teaching others how to mambo and salsa. What is the most important and/or difficult thing to teach someone?

Micah: I don’t know about the MOST important thing to teach people, but off the top of my head, one of the most important (and difficult) things to teach someone is lead and follow technique. A great deal of instructors and schools teach patterns and routines but don’t really share how to lead or follow these sequences with random dancers that you’ll meet in a club or congress. Meanwhile I’ll be teaching someone or dancing socially with someone who learned in one of these schools and I’ll attempt a certain move and they look at me like I’M crazy for doing something outside of their repertoire. What the fack? But it’s cool…it’s all about having fun right?

Suzanne: You currently dance with Descarga Caribe. How has that influenced your dancing?

Micah: Well through this group and Sekou McMiller, I learned Afro-Cuban body motion, so it’s always good to be able to bust that out when a song breaks into a rumba section. More generally, I didn’t know that you could use any sort of body motion in mambo dancing, so that inspired me to create some of my own movements and throw those in whenever I’m not busy torturing some poor girl with a series of twisted turn patterns…muahhahaha!. But dancing with Descarga Caribe has been a great experience and I’m glad to have met all of these awesome dancers.

Suzanne: Micah Boon some of your favorite dancers, musicians, and dj’s?

Micah: Favorite dancers? Hmm…I’m not going to play that game. But I will say that some of my favorite ladies to dance with (in alphabetical order) are Kathy Cabrera, Magna Gopal, Ana Massicot, Leah Patterson, and Cristina Zavala.

Musicians–Jimmy Bosch, Jose Alberto, Buena Vista, Oscar de Leon…and more.

DJ’s–In Chicago, Carlos Latilladi is the man and also Luis Rivera. I also have mad respect for Jose Rodriguez, a DJ from Philly. I’ve never heard this guy play a track that I didn’t want to dance to.

Suzanne: Any big plans in store for you after you graduate next year? Joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra? Opening a dance school?

Micah: I’m not really sure what I’m going to do after I graduate or where I’m going to be. Definitely not joining the CSO and opening a dance school, I’d rule out for my immediate future as well. For now, I’m going to continue to focus on performing and teaching locally and abroad…beyond that I’m not too sure.

Suzanne: Thanks Micah for sharing with La Voz de Mambo!

Micah: Much love to Johnny and thanks to Suzanne for this interview. Again, I truly appreciate you guys having me as a part of this endeavor that promotes this music and dance that we are all so passionate about.

Micah Boon