Albert Torres – Creating unity throw Salsa
Updated: May 10, 2019
I am so proud, honored and humbled!
I was invited to play as an international guest DJ at the Los Angeles Salsa Festival.
This event marks an end of an era!
The longest running salsa event in the world will end after this one!
In memory of the person who is responsible for this event and sadly is not with us any more, Mr. Albert Torres R.I.P
I have decided to translate an interview I made with him back in 2002.
The interview was posted in Hebrew on Salsa.org.il
Please know that this translation is for the entire article as was published.
Please take a few minutes to honor a remarkable person who have influenced the entire Latin world.
If you are embedded in the world salsa scenery, the name Albert Torres is a well-known name. There is almost no one in the salsa community who haven’t heard his name or was visited/partnered/represented by the one who is considered the biggest producer in the salsa world today.
Here in a revealing interview for this site readers, we will find out an amazing life story as was given to our music section Editor Ronen Paco Biran conducted at the salsa congress in Amsterdam 2002
Albert Torres – Creating unity throw Salsa
"Salsa is colorblind, it doesn't care of any political opinions, what is the color of your skin, where you are going or from where you have come, what you like and what you hate. All that matters is this strange vibe, some kind of a feeling that happens in your body, It starts with the tip of your toes and ends at your heart. And when you feel this sensation whether you dance on the One or on the Two, all you care about is to keep dancing, because if we were all dancing there would be no war.
This amazing quote comes from a man whose life story could have easily had the potential of becoming a Hollywood film. You will find in it everything you need for a perfect movie. Music, drags, dancing, crime, prison and anything you would like in a Hollywood blockbuster, but in his case it was all reality.
I meet Albert Torres for the first time in 1998 in LA.
At that time all I knew about him was that he is one of the leading “Salsa Party’s Promoter” and that’s it. In the next years the name Albert Torres became a synonym attached to the biggest salsa productions in the world.
And although we have meet over the years a few times, I could never have imagine the story hidden behind the person. I wanted to give the readers of the site an insight on how salsa is being promoted and how events are produced, but instead of talking about salsa, the interview became a life changing lesson, one who taught me and I hope I will be able to pass some of its message through the words.
The interview will be as a story and not in the form of Q & A as I usually do, as I was so overwhelmed from his amazing life story that I forgot about the rolls of interviews and just wrote every word he said and sheared.
The Albert Torres Story - World biggest salsa producer.
He was born in New York on the Hasidic side of Brookline.
His father born in Puerto Rico and his mom a New Yorker born of Puerto Rican origins.
Albert mentions his mom and you can immediately see his intense love to the woman whom he describes as “The biggest and most important influence in my life”.
“At the age of 16 (the 50) mom would borrow clothes from her bigger sisters and run out from home to dance at the legendary Palladium. Every-time she came back home her father would beat her for daring and running out of the house. But all she cared about was, what she is going to wear for the next Wednesday when she's going to dance at the Palladium”.
Albert grew up on this stories, at the age of five he would have sat on his mother's knees while in the background you can hear the music of Tito Puente. On those times his mother told him about the older days while he was rocking to the rhythm of the Latin beat.
"Who was my first date?" he asked with a smile and immediately he adds; "the Rope of the curtain at home, yes I was imagining that the rope of the curtains was a girl and I was practicing on that rope with turns and leading partner".
When Albert was 7 years old, his mother got closer to religion they move to a better neighborhood but the music became more religious and less salsa. His parents got divorced and his mother decided to go and move to Puerto Rico
"There was music everywhere but I was a young boy I didn't like the Spanish language and I preferred to be a New Yorker. I didn't want to fit in".
He started to rebel and wanted to live his life in his own way.
At very young age he went back to New York there he got mixed up with the wrong people and got into drugs and crime.
At the age of 15 he heard the performance of the Fania All Star at the "Cheetah" nightclub and although on these days he was dancing mostly disco the music did something to him and a window was open to the Latin world
Albert felt the need to learn the language and to know as much as he can about his Origins from Puerto Rico.
Being a rebel Albert continued in his wildlife on the dance floor. His Salsa dance was special, he danced his freestyle with no rules, exactly like he danced the disco, but this time it was on the rhythm of salsa.
Albert grew up with the sense that if he's not going to change his life, he is going to die young, just like many of the people around him at that time found there death through drugs and crime. these feelings brought him one day to go to an AA meeting the date was December 4th 1985 one night before Albert was still smoking drugs but after that meeting and from that day on he did not touch drugs anymore.
Albert was 29 in after many years without any point or direction in his life and everything he knew was the criminal life Albert was standing at a turning point, he did not know what to do and decided to go to the university and try and help others who have been in this situation Albert learned to be a guide and Rehabilitation counselors guide he managed to succeed to ending a 2-year learning in one and got a job as the manager of a rehabilitation program in a hospital who manly treated famous people and celebrities.
But from now life doesn't starts to be pink, "When you take a bad man and rehabilitate him" says Albert "he still stays a bad men, bad but sober, even if you're clean of drugs you still a bad man, I kept doing nonsense and bad things and started gambling".
Very soon Albert found himself in a lot of gambling debts, in his attempts to repay his debts Albert broke the trust he got in his workplace, and tried through embezzlement getting the money to cover he's gambling debts.
One day he was driving in LA passing by the "Miami Spice" Club. The music that came from the club return him to his past and very soon the music was the only place where he could hide from his life.
Albert danced on he's unique way and style, and very soon became one of the most popular, recognized leading dancer in the city.
One night entered Armand Assante & Antonio Banderas to the club they sow him dance and immediately asked him to join them, they told him about a movie they were doing and asked him if he would like to dance and perform on that movie.
(The movie was the Mambo Kings the story of two Cuban musicians coming to the United States seeking for Glory, in the movie you can also see some of the all-time Legends like Tito Puente and Celia Cruz and many others).
Albert started working hard training for his performance in the movie along with Laura Canellias (one of the leading teachers and dance instructor in the world and especially in LA) Again a window of opportunity to get out of his bad life was open but Albert was still in debts and the story of is embezzlement haven't been discovered yet.
In spite of that getting into the show biz interesting him ant at 1993 he auditioned for the Oscars and was chosen as one of the dancers participating in the show.
"I realized that every good thing it happens in my life I find the way to mess it up, even Salsa & Salsa dancing became an addiction but this time it was another kind of addiction a good one".
He's embezzlement affair was discovered, it made Albert think about ending his life!
It was the salsa and the dance that made him choose a different path. He went into rehabilitation once more this time from gambling and instead of going to jail he was sentenced for community service.
Albert understood that dancing is not a profession that he could practice for a long time and started getting interested in producing events in relation to the Latin world.
In 1996 he was the first one to bring Los Van Van from Cuba to perform in LA and slowly became one of the biggest promoters in the field.
"I believed in salsa and it rejuvenated me and gave me a reason and a cause to live a different life, the past 8 years have been a Journey for a new life with a purpose and direction. So far it's been the setting up and now the goal is to preserve and get more awareness for salsa so that others may experience it and enjoy it just as I did".
Albert declares and also do he's trying in any way to make people respect the music and at Legends such as Tito Puente will not be forgotten Music is the leader and the power struggle between the different dance styles does not interest him. Albert also tries as hard as he can delivering the positive message of salsa on to the next generation. And in almost everything he's involved in, you can find a spot where children are involved such as the La Salsa Kids whom he runs.
"If we take them from the street and let them dance they will preserve the salsa and stay away from crime"
If you really want to understand the message of Albert all you need to do is take a good look on the unique logo of his production company. In The logo you can see 2 hands one white one black in between them planet Earth in the slogan
"Creating Unity Through Salsa"