Notes on the making of “MAMBO CITY”

I had just finished making "A Cuban Legend" which had shown in festivals around the world and had opened theatrically. It got great reviews from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Chicago Tribune. I was on a high while itching to find another project and I knew the subject matter would come from my life experience so I just focused on enjoying the moment.

I was born uptown in New York City and had I moved to the lower east side many years ago when no one wanted to be there except to score drugs or go slumming. Gentrification changed all that and the streets became filled with bohemians trust fund babies young professionals and Wall street types The new influx changed what had been a predominately Spanish neighborhood into a melting pot of people.

One night friends suggested we go to The Parkside Lounge, a Bar on Houston Street where a local band called” Group Latin Vibe”, played Salsa music every FridayWe weaved our way towards the backroom where an explosion of music filled the air and couples were dancing to the infectious rhythms of Latin Jazz. Not since the 80’s had I heard music like this. The sounds were spectacular! My feet began to move and my hips swayed to the undulating sounds of the Bongos, Vibraphone Timbales and Congas and in no time someone asked me to dance.

The electrifying stage presence of Awilda Santiago was soulful , the sounds of the Tom Mattiolii on the Vibraphone were gorgeous and Anibal “Tito” Rivera’s singing while he playing Congas was amazing, The pure joy of dancing was intoxicating and I was hooked by the scene and the festive aspect of Latino culture which drew me into its seductive arms.. Before I could count one two cha cha cha I began making my next film, “MAMBO CITY”