MR. EDDIE TORRES / The Mambo King

He was born July 3,1950 in the same hospital as Tito Puente; raised by his Puerto Rican parents in Spanish Harlem, a.k.a. El Barrio, New York City. Torres’s mother, a hospital worker; his father an inventive plumber, sparked Eddie’s knack for inventing. No dancers or musicians in the gene pool to Eddie’s best knowledge.

The idea of learning “to dance Latin” became an obsession. Schooling took the form of going to all the clubs and hanging out with all the good dancers–watching, imitating, asking, and being a pest. Slowly he started to learn the foundations of the dance.

In those days, not many clubs allowed teenagers in, but the famous Hunts Point Palace opened every Sunday from noon to midnight, and for $5, they presented five top Latin bands, back-to-back, on two stages. Fifteen-year-old Eddie punched the clock when the club opened and sauntered out at closing time, exhausted but determined to learn.