Albert Torres: The Ambassador of Salsa

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Albert Torres: The Ambassador of Salsa

A sympathetic boy with blushing cheeks who born in Brooklyn – New York – never suspected what his destiny had prepared him, to be the father of the Congresses of Salsa worldwide. His name would resound from North to South and from East to West, by the continents: American, European and Asian; in the different important scenes of the Latin music movement and would be the inspiration for many dancers of this branch. His legacy would belong to the astonishment and shelter of the artists and the public that would applaud his talent, vigor and semblance to the rhythm of the phrase “Una Bulla”. This cheerful infant, without a doubt, was going to be a legend of Afro-Caribbean music. I’m talking about Albert Torres, The Ambassador of Salsa!

Albert began to listen to the salsa genre from the age of 5, staring in astonishment at the whole scene, sitting, of his first dance lessons … At the famous Palladium in New York, where his mother danced and liked the music of Mongo Santamaría and Tito Puente.

This child, future congressman of Salsa, grew up when the history of Latin popular music (salsa) was being written in the South Bronx, where Puerto Rican communities were having a great explosion of creativity and musical activity.

At the age of 12years old his family decides to move to Puerto Rico, “By that time I did not want to speak Spanish, I did not want to be Puerto Rican. I did not want to be part of that environment”, said Torres. He only danced disco and Hustle. However, at the age of 15 his life took a dizzying turn when he heard:

“Oye que lio que lio se va a formar
cuando mi gatito sepa
y es tan simple la razón
El que a su gata le cuenta que el que a su gata le cuenta
no es nada más que un ratón un ratón…

…Échale semilla a la maraca pa que suenen
chacucha cuchu cucha cucha
échale semilla a las maracas pa que suenen
échale semilla a esas maracas oye chacucha cucha cucha cucha
y hace rato está sonando sonando chacucha cucha cucha cucha…”

Albert Torres simply fell in love with the Salsa thanks to this theme: “El Ratón” of Cheo Feliciano together to Fania All Stars. “The legends of salsa changed my life. When I heard these legends, that August 26th of 1971, in the Cheetah, something happened inside me. The music entered by the feet and came to my heart”. Thus, declared his beginnings in the Salsa, Albert Torres.

In 1991 his passion for Salsa took him to impress the girls of the neighborhood by his incredible steps to a Hollywood celebrity when he, first time, participated in the movie Mambo kings in which he was chosen as one of the main dancers. There he not only helped Antonio Banderas with the dance steps, but also with the English by that time for Banderas was very hard. In addition, during the filming of the movie Albert had the opportunity to share with big of Salsa like Celia Cruz, José Alberto “El Canario” and his great idol Tito Puentes.

That film was the hit that catapulted Torres to world fame being chosen by Debbie Allen as one of the 4 dancers (of more than 400 couples) to participate in the Academy Awards (1993) and to dance “My beautiful Maria” whose Singer was Plácido Domingo and where he stood out as the first Puerto Rican to dance in the history of the ceremony.

Then, he returns to the cinema being the choreographer and dancer of Salsa scenes in the romantic film “Dance with Me” with Vanessa Williams and Chayanne during 5 months. Later he worked on the movie “Out to See” (1998) with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matteau and in the same year he also made a guest starring appearance on the Keenan Wayan’s Show where he performed with Jennifer Lopez. Everywhere there was Salsa, Torres seemed to be there.

Albert Torres: The Ambassador of Salsa At the time and with all this like trajectory Albert Torres in 1991 also began his stage as a producer. He started promoting Salsa clubs in Los Angeles, “I lost a lot of money. Nobody wanted to know about Salsa”, said Albert. Nonetheless, he began to handle Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad, which were the best-known salsa group in the Western United States.

In 1992 he founded his own company, Albert Torres Productions Inc. (ATP) and began to organize salsa parties in several places in Los Angeles. The most important were the Boathouse in Santa Monica, St. Marks in Venice and Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City.

At that moment the genre of salsa was losing popularity. However, Albert Torres with his wit, insight and a lot of intelligence pulled him forward on his own. He revived it in such a way that he became the most influential salsa promoter in the United States. He was who brought to Los Angeles some of the most important names in the Latin music such as: Fania All-Stars, El Gran Combo, Oscar D ‘León, José Alberto “El Canario” and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, among many others.

In the late 1990s, after the administration of President Clinton relaxed the laws restricting presentations by Cuban artists in the USA, Albert Torres was the first promoter, who brought to the famous and the notorious Van Van group to Los Angeles in January, 1997. The show, which took place in a night club in downtown LA, was a success. Since then, Los Van Van has received major media awareness with prestigious publications such as Los Angeles Times, New York Times, among others and including the most coveted music honor, a Grammy and Latin Grammy nomination. Torres’s passion and promotional skills have played a key role in the U.S.A Latin Entertainment explosion.

Ricardo Lemvo, musician and singer living in Los Angeles, founder and leader of the salsa band Makina Loka said: “Personally, I have a great deal of gratitude to Albert. In 1996 when I released my first album, Tata Masamba, he was the one who presented my music to the Latin audience in Los Angeles. He also placed my band at Sportsmen’s Lodge, Grand Park and many other venues. Albert was also who recommended me to film director Randa Haines and as a result, my band, Makina Loca came out in the movie “Dance with Me” with Chayanne and Vanessa Williams. I will be eternally grateful to Albert Torres for giving me a hand at the beginning of my career”.

1997 was crucial for Albert and the world of Salsa in Los Angeles because began the dream of Mr. Eli Irizarri of Puerto Rico, the concept of the Salsa Congresses in San Juan. “I was not the first year, but I heard a lot of nice things even though it was a financial failure. I attended the event in 1998 and was the master of ceremonies. Then, I started the same concept in Los Angeles beginning in 1999 and in the next 8 years following the Los Angeles Congress stood out as the largest in the world. There attend more than 6000 people daily arriving from more than 42 countries”, said Albert for an Argentine media.

Tito Puente with Albert Torres at 1st LA Salsa Fest IN 1999In 1998, at the head of ATP, organized the first edition of Los Angeles Salsa Congress and in May 1999 was carried out, with the presentation of Tito Puente in the opening. In this first congress Albert transformed the event into an exciting music and dance venue that attracted 20,000 Latin Music enthusiasts from all over the world and USA and with such great success that he immediately became co-producer Salsa Congresses in over 32 countries. “My most important desire to be a promoter of the Congresses would be that this can be used for dancers, can realize their dream of dancing on a stage and also find a way to respect the dancers as they deserve it. This is extremely important”. Albert Torres.

In LA Salsa Congress the stars are born, many of the world renowned dancers have their start at this event. The mission of LA Salsa Fest is to pass on to the next generation through educational seminars, dance workshops and being able to perform on stage.

Since then, Albert Torres Productions has created and produced the World’s Largest Salsa Music event. In addition to this, ATP is the co-producer of the World Salsa, broadcast from Las Vegas every year by the ESPN TV network being watched by more than 20 million homes worldwide, where more than 1000 competing dancers will be known on the planet. “On ESPN told me that if I wanted to see it on TV I had to do competitions. I do not like it, but for the dancers to get to know each other worldwide, I decided to make the World Salsa Championship, the biggest and most important salsa tournament in the world. Now, since April (2012) I decided to do it alone, without partners, and now it’s called World Latin Dance Cup. I added other categories like cumbia, bachata, casino, children and people over 45 years. We have about 20 categories”. Torres Said in an interview with a Peruvian media.

In the World Latin Dance Cup No requirements. You have to take stock and follow the world rules. These are of time, originality of the dressing rooms, of musicality. If you drop the wig, the earring (while dancing), points are removed; if you do not wear stockings, too. A wig will not give points, but if it falls it will take the points. In this championship there is not a world champion, so there is a champion in each category.

Albert TorresAccording to his friends, Albert was a “workaholic”. He was always on the road promoting salsa music through all the congresses he organized around the world. Always in transit, he spent one night in Istanbul, the next in Paris and the following week in Tokyo. For example, at the beginning of 2007 he had 48 weeks of travel and in one year he could travel to 48 exotic countries such as Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania, China, Colombia, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico, Peru, Holland, Hamburg, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia and Puerto Rico. Therefore, it is not surprising to see on your Facebook wall, the immense and felt messages of thanks from dancers from all corners of the earth.

His latest project called “The Legacy Project” is an initiative to combine our music culture with the latest technology tendencies in order to reach and unite more people so future generations can appreciate, preserve and be part of the history of Latin dance and music around the world.

In 2011 Albert Torres was honored to be accepted as a Member of the Council for Dance of UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) and Elected Grand Marshall at the National New York Puerto Rican Day Parade in front of 2 million spectators lined up on 5th Ave that past June 12 of the same year.

This past May, 25th the world of Salsa and entertainment received a huge impact, the news of the death of Albert Torres, victim of a Stroke. Family, friends, national and international press as well as web portals lamented and reviewed this regrettable fact.

Rudy Mangual, creator of the famous magazine Latin Beat Magazine commented to an international media that before this terrible fatal outcome, Albert was very delicate of health in the last months; he had diabetes and had an infection in the pancreas. He also said that he regretted his gone because he and his wife Yvette Mangual had a very special affection to Albert.

Albert Torres’s family wishes to thank all of our Salsa Family for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes during this difficult time. Albert passed away today May 25th, 2017, peacefully, surrounded by family and loved ones. We all find comfort knowing that he is now promoting and dancing alongside his Idols, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Cheo Feliciano, Tito Rodriguez and Ray Barreto. As well as his close friends Johnny Polanco, Rudy Regalado, Alicia Gomez and many others. We would love nothing more than for you to help us continue keeping his legacy and DREAM OF UNITY alive by supporting the great event that he started 19 years ago: The LA SALSA FEST.

Thank you again and may you all be blessed.

UNA BULLAAAA!

Rest In Peace ALBERT TORRES

6/14/1956-5/25/2017


On the other hand, different personalities of the artistic world expressed their deep pain:

“La salsa y yo perdimos a un buen amigo.  Al igual que todos los demás en el mundo de la música, quedé en estado de “shock”: Albert era una persona exuberante y llena de vida.  Parece injusto que haya dejado el planeta en pleno apogeo de su vida con solo 60 años.

Recuerdo que en una de nuestras muchas conversaciones expresó su gran deseo de traer a los Estados Unidos al famoso grupo africano de salsa llamado Africando.  Africando tenía una cancion, “Yay Boy”, que estaba de furia no solo en New York sino también en Latino América pero no muchas personas habían visto el grupo en vivo.  Fue un proyecto enorme organizar un concierto con Africando ya que los vocalistas principales vivían en Senegal, Togo y otras partes de África.  Cuando Albert finalmente logró traer a Africando a Los Ángeles en el 2004, se sintió en la gloria.  Ese fue uno de sus grandes triunfos.

Albert, tu muerte es un gran golpe para todos nosotros en el mundo de la salsa.  Te vamos a extrañar muchísimo.  Gracias por todo lo que has hecho por promover nuestra música, la salsa.  Nunca te vamos a olvidar.

Que descanses en paz, hermano”. Ricardo Lemvo

“Creating Unity through Salsa”, words from my brother Albert Torres. That’s exactly what we are trying to do, will keep this in my heart forever… Your legacy lives. Thank you Albert! Thank you Edwin and the #LASalsaFest team for this”. Tony Succar

Albert Torres Famed Salsa legend, dancer and Hollywood choreographer turned mega event planner Albert Torres is already part of our history. His continuous efforts to globalize Salsa have made a major impact on the preservation and accessibility of both Salsa Music and Salsa Dance around the world. To achieve this, he was constantly traveling around the world, encouraging conferences and festivals, discovering talents for dancing.

No doubt, Albert Torres brought the music it in the blood. He had his own vibration and constantly he was being a role model. He played that key role in the confluence of people and places that created an environment for the growth of Latin music in America and the world. For that reason, on the Facebook wall of Albert thousands of emotions multiply. And the messages coincide in the gratefulness and the claim of “una bulla”, una bulla salsera para Albert. Today on some side of the Salsa´s Big, sure, you’re dancing and singing!

“Before I was an event producer, I handled 50 beds in a hospital helping people with drug, alcohol, and mental problems… I have been sober since December 14, 1985. For that, I can live and help others to live their Dreams”. Albert Torres.

Albert Torres in solidarity with charitable causes

Albert Torres con JeremyGreat dancer and Champion fell ill last year after the WLDC. With the support of dancers worldwide he was able to beat leukimia and will be back this year. What an inspiration and great story. Let’s all appreciate each day that we are blessed with. Welcome back Jeremy.

ATP continues with the Albert’s legacy and offering top-notch quality events with world-class performers. His bands are legendary and his events feature some of the finest musicians and dancers the world has ever known.

“Para mí la salsa no es latina sino mundial. No tiene barreras de colores ni de país. Es increíble ver niños chiquitos bailar como los de los 80 que bailan… Para mí la salsa es como si fuera una paella, una comida increíble: tiene tantos condimentos y tantas cositas. La salsa es así: con un poquito de rumba, jazz, tango, y si le pones swing, ballet y se mezclan todos con una bella canción de Óscar de León, algo sucede que nos afecta desde los tobillos hasta el corazón… Los problemas siempre van a estar esperándonos en casa, pero qué cosa bonita llegar a un lugar donde todo el mundo se lleva. Cuando empieza esa música todos tenemos algo en común. Ojalá el mundo aprendiera de eso”. Albert Torres (June 14, 1956 – May 25, 2017)

To learn more about Albert Torres and his events, please visit:

http://www.worldlatindancecup.com, www.mysalsacongress.com and http://www.alberttorresproductions.com

To read more about Albert Torres’ work with Baile de Los Niños, providing cultural outreach programs to at-risk youth and low-income families, visit:

www.alberttorresevents.com/bailedelosninos/mission.asp