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Message Subject: Salsa Update #199: El Caney Thur. plus Puerto Rican Festival/Parade this Sunday

Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 12:09 PM
To: 'salsaupdate@salsaboston.com'
Subject: Salsa Update #199: El Caney Thur. plus Puerto Rican Festival/Parade this Sunday

Hola Salseros!
     Formatting messed up?  Read this on the web at

This issue:
- Important Announcements:
       Salsa Competition, El Caney this Thursday! (free champagne and buffet)
       Puerto Rican Festival Parade: come be on the Salsa Float Sunday!
       Salsa Soiree at Bomboa Aug 5, buy tickets now!
       Cheap flyer printing now available through SalsaBoston
- Salsa Notes
- Salsaboston Events (BCCA, Sophia's with Casino Rueda)
- Sponsor News
- This Week's Mailbag
- Guest Column: Cindy Rodriguez, "Celia Cruz Guided this Harlem Kid"


It is a sad week for Salsa with the passing of Celia Cruz.  I had the pleasure of seeing her last performance in Boston a year ago at Symphony Hall where even at 85+ she brought down the house.  But Celia's music will live on forever. "Azucar!" Be sure to read former Boston dancer's (now Denver transplant) tribute guest column at the end of this issue.

*** This week's preliminary round for the 3rd Annual Salsa Competition will be at El Caney Nightclub in Lynn!  I am told that there will be free champagne and a buffet, so get there early before the food is gone!  If you always wanted to explore some clubs in the outskirts, here's another great chance! 64 Baldwin St., Lynn  (Take Rt 1A North from Boston or Rt 128 East from Rt 128 in Lynnfield, and then you'll need a map for Lynn Center  http://www.mapquest.com)

11 Couples have advanced so far!

More details below or at http://salsaboston.com/competition, but if you want to compete, or if you have competed and you want to try again, preregister so we can get you into the club for free! Registration form on the website, or email kelly@salsaboston.com with your names.  Note: you must be amateur status, which most people in the grey area so far have been.  Contact Kelly if you're not sure.

*** Puerto Rican Festival Parade, Sunday, July 27
    This was *the bomb* last year!!! Come join us!
    Check out the pictures from last year and you'll get the idea
    Float Decorating from 9am-noon
    Dance on the float and hand out flyers as the parade moves, 12-2
    That night, SalsaBoston's dancefloor at the Festival!  Volunteers needed.
    Email kelly@salsaboston.com for details

*** Salsa Soiree at Bomboa!
Click here to get to the official evite and ticket ordering
More details below as well.

*** NEED FLYERS?  We have a deal now, 5000 1/4 page flyers for only $180 *with shipping*.  You supply the artwork (or check out the page to hire someone).
  Details: http://www.salsaboston.com/flyerprinting.html

Salsa Notes this week:

- 3rd Salsa Cruise rocked!!  Over 250 people attended--it was our biggest one EVER!  Pictures online later this week at www.salsaboston.com/gallery/cruise   Reserve tickets now for the next cruise, Sunday, Aug. 3.  www.salsaboston.com/cruise

- if you haven't head, the Air Conditioning is FIXED at Sophia's! In fact, they patched the old one but have put in BRAND NEW BIGGER AC's.  Be careful of frostbite...  Ha! Also, don't forget to come early for Casino Rueda with JAM'NASTICS!  We want to start seeing it in the clubs!  www.salsaboston.com/sophias

- NB: both Sophias and Ryles are going to be opening earlier in the next few weeks in response to the survey (all you early risers, thank Jeff!)

- come support Viernes con Clave with DJ Hernan every Friday! www.bostonsalsero.com


3 more preliminaries confirmed around the area!!  Enter now for free admission to the competition.  Email kelly@salsaboston.com http://www.salsaboston.com/competition

Coming up rounds:

El Caney(free buffet and champagne), Lynn Thursday July 24

Union Street, Newton Tuesday July 29
Sophia's, Boston Wednesday July 30  (last chance round!)

SEMIFINALS: BCCA, Brookline Saturday, August 2 (THE BIG PARTY part I!)
FINALS    : Knights of Columbus Hall Charlestown
            Saturday August 16 (THE BIG PARTY part II!)

  Semi's and finals are all ages events

We still are looking for a TITLE SPONSOR!  If you would like to associate your business with the competition, please contact us asap.

Also, pictures from the preliminary competitions:
Sophia's:  http://www.mamboston2.com/Images/index24.htm
Platforms: http://www.mamboston2.com/Images/index4.htm

  **** Results: congratulations to the winners of the preliminaries!

Congratulation to the winners of the Preliminaries to Date! These couples advance to the semifinals on Aug. 2.

El Bembe 6/13:        Roberto Figueroa and Lindy McQueen
                      Mark Szretter and Rita Kraner
Sophias 6/25:         Michael Black and Sara Halpert
                      Brian Somoano and Leah Velazquez
Platforms 7/12:       Fredy Trejos-Donahue and Diana Torres
                      Arismendy Oisla and Michelle
Punto Final 7/17:     Juan Salazar and Sandra Tejada
Viernes Con Clave:    Will Sa-Onoy (competing from NY) and  Carrie Rubinstein
Liquid Sky  7/19:     Jose Montanez and Maria Montanez
                      Luis Soto and Melissa
Wepa Salsa Sunday!:   Grey German and Juna Simon

 Salsa Soire at Bomboa
 benefit for the BCCA
 Tuesday, Aug. 5

TUESDAY, August 5th, 7pm

The hot weather is finally here!
And... so is this Summer's Sizzling


WHAT:           Bomboa restaurant will host a benefit to raise money for
the newly opened Brookline Community Center for the Arts (BCCA). Proceeds will also support youth dance programs produced by JAM'NASTICS and conducted at the BCCA, a culturally integrated venue where members of all ages and abilities can participate in world dance forms, martial arts, fitness, acting, music, and other arts.*

BCCA??:      Tell me more...
Boston's hottest new DANCE CENTER in Coolidge Corner, Brookline All kinds of domestic and international Dance, Fitness, Martial Arts, Yoga, Health, Music, and more.  Visit the BCCA website to learn more about taking classes, attending events, or even teaching.


Ajay Bam M,  Carlos Hidalgo John Ryan
Olaf Bleck Jerry Johnson Amy Salzhauer
Doug Brown Karen Krause Samantha von Sperling
Jay Essner Dan Marshall The Brothers White (Dave  & Sam)
Anara Frank Laura Mather Melissa Yakel 
Michael Goldstein Ana Morales  

WHERE:       Bomboa, 35 Stanhope Street, Boston, MA, Back Bay,

WHEN:           Tuesday, August 5th, 2003

                7:00 – 8:00pm             Mojito sampling and light bites offering

                8:15 & 10:30 pm           Dance Performances

                8:30 – 9:30pm             Salsa Lessons: Group lessons for
                                                            beginners and advanced

                9:30 – 2:00am             Dancing & Open Lounge


TICKETS:     Call Sharon or Alicia at the BCCA (617-738-2800) to reserve
your advance tickets with payment. We accept MobileLime payments at the Door.  Online tickets available at http://www.bccaonline.com/registration.html

QUESTIONS:   Olaf @ (617)513-9841 or email KRAUSTER2000@YAHOO.COM

BOMBOA ( www.Bomboa.com ) -- has been recognized as one of five notable Nuevo Latino restaurants in the country by Bon Appetit, as well as recognized in the Top 10 Best New Chefs in the Country issue by Food & Wine Magazine, featured in the “Place to be Seen in Boston” column by People Magazine, and given the Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator.

BCCA ( www.bccaonline.com ) -- a non-profit organization, is a newly renovated, state of the art cultural center located in Brookline, MA. The center offers world dance forms, martial arts, fitness, acting, music, and other arts for children and adults.  The center supports the development of artists by providing continuing education, practice facilities, instructor training and new teaching opportunities.

 JAM'NASTICS ( www.jamnastics.org ) ­­-- a non-profit organization, offers dance and gymnastics instruction to cultivate self-esteem, life skills, health, non-violence and drug prevention for youths. JAM'NASTICS also offers a wide range of dance programs for adults.



Harbor Cruise Tickets are now on sale.  www.salsaboston.com/cruise   4th
cruise leaves the dock at 8:15pm, Sunday August 3!  Wrap up your weekend with some Mambo under the Stars!  Every other Sunday this summer.

6-8 Preparty at "The Landing", Dockside!  Lessons with Johnny and Kelly from 7-8 7:45, boarding begins 8:15, THE BOAT LEAVES!  Don't be swimming at 8:16! Return around 10:30 Afterparty at either Il Panino or The Point, TBA at the cruise.

Upstairs, Salsa Deck with DJ D. Martinez
Downstairs, Latin Mix with DJ Mike Mercado

Tickets, $15 advance or 4/$55, $20 each at the dock.
Lessons #2 extra, pay at the dock.
Tickets online at www.salsaboston.com/store

Note: block of 4 tickets can be used on one or several nights (as a group on one cruise or as individual on several).

  Salsa Night at the BCCA
      Every Saturday!

BCCA's Salsa Night is now open with a modest crowd but very fun!  This is a new a weekly event, plus it stays OPEN LATE, afterhours!

14 Green Street, right in the heart of Coolidge Corner.
Lessons at 9pm
Dancing until 2am+
$10/$12 with lessons
Plenty of street parking
1 block from Green Line
All ages
More info and directions: http://salsaboston.com/bcca

If you haven't heard about it already, there's a new dance space in
  Brookline Community Center for the Arts (BCCA)
  Opening April, 2003
  in Coolidge Corner, Brookline
The BCCA website is being updated daily.  Please log in to www.bccaonline.com and add yourself to the mail/email list to get all the latest info.

  -- Burju and Victor (Hacha y Machete)
  -- Johnny and Kelly
  -- SalSalort
  -- Dan Marshall

Schedules and registration online

The BCCA is interviewing instructors (dance, yoga, martial arts, dance
fitness) If you're interested in a new place to instruct, or better hours, contact the center at bcca@salsaboston.com

    SalsaBoston.com presents
    Salsa Night at Sophia's
       Every Wednesday

"Boston's original all Salsa, 'by Salseros for Salseros' hotspot!" 1270 Boylston St., Boston (near Kenmore Sq. and Fenway Park)

Every Wed:
NEW!  Casino Rueda classes with JAM'NASTICS 7:45-9:15, introductory and intermediate.  Details: www.salsaboston.com/sophias/rueda.html or scroll down a bit

Follwing that, Salsa Lessons with Johnny and Kelly at 9:15, beginnner and intermediate, no partner necessary.

Salsa until 2am!  Featuring each Wed. each month:
1st    DJ Nik
2nd    DJ Antonio Ortiz
3rd    DJ D. Martinez
4th    DJ Hernan
5th    Guest (when there is a 5th Wed.)
21+ Proper ID and Dress
$10 Cover, $2 extra for lesson (i.e. $12 before 9pm, $10 after) http://salsaboston.com/sophias

Salsa Night at Sophia's new includes a Casino Rueda class from 7:45 to 9:15, as part of the night.  We're doing this because Casino Rueda is a blast and we don't see much of it around here. In other words, we want to get it going in this area!  The lessons will be taught by members of JAM'NASTICS.  There will be an introductory lesson concurrent with an ongoing intermediate level class. If you've never done Casino Rueda but know basic Salsa, take the introductory class once or twice and graduate up to the intermediate level.  If you've never danced Salsa at all, Johnny and Kelly's regular Salsa class will of course still be happening as usual from 9:15-10:15.  $12 covers you for the whole night ($10 after 10:15).  If you're an expert and don't plan to take Johnny and Kelly's class, you will have an hour inbetween to practice, have a drink, or get a bite to eat downstairs.

If you've never heard of Casino Rueda, it's an "exhilarating" dance that comes from Cuba via Miami, that can best be described as "Salsa meets square dancing", or "sychronized Salsa".  It's a group Salsa dance, with partners in a circle, there's a caller and and a bunch of moves that everyone knows.  As the dance progresses, everyone does the same moves together, often trading partners as part of it.  The whole thing is a blast!  If you ever danced in Miami, it's extremely popular down there.

More details will be posted in www.salsaboston.com/sophias/rueda.html,
with a video clip as well.

 SalsaBoston T-Shirts are in!

T-shirts are in stock again!  Thanks to all who have made purchases! Just in time for the holidays, SalsaBoston.com T-shirts are in, and they look great!  Check them out at http://salsaboston.com/shirt Pick up 2 or more for $17.50 each, $2.50 off the $20 price. Show off your SalsaBoston colors wherever you dance!  Also, why not pick up some extra's to trade or give as gifts?

Anyway, 2 styles, regular T's and Girly-T's, standard sizes, 100% cotton. These are high quality shirts.  Proceeds help support salsaboston. com.  You can even order online.

             Sponsor News
  (please patronize the establishments
   that help bring you SalsaBoston.com)
"What's a sponsor?" email: info@salsaboston.com

- ! Viernes Con Clave !
Salsa Social/Party at the Brazilian Cultural Center.
DJ Hernan and the BCCNE invite you to this all salsa event Every other Friday

BCCNE is located at 310 Webster Ave, Cambridge
Ph. 617 547 5343 email bccne@mindspring.com
Near Inman Square, 1/2 block off Cambridge St. Depending
where you are coming from turn left or right at the Shell Station.
subway Red Line (Harvard) or Green (Lechmere) followed
by a walk or short ride on the 69 bus.
bus Stops include CT2, 83& 91.
Parking Free street parking is available.

Look for Hernan for Free Passes Hernan@bostonsalsero.com
Details: www.bostonsalsero.com


World Rhythms(TM) Dance, Health & Fitness Center
 and Salsalort.com

-Martial Arts
-World Dance

Keystone Plaza, 221 Chandler Street, Worcester, MA 01609.
This is near the intersection
of Park Avenue, in the same lot as Standard Electric.
If you are coming from Main Street, the Center
will be on your right just before you come to
Park Avenue.

(508) 792-0263, WorldRhythms@SALSAlort.com,
www.WorldRhythmsCenter.com (currently this domain re-directs
 to www.SALSAlort.com ... we will have the new World
Rhythms(TM) web site up soon!)

 This Week's Mailbag

1) "Viernes Con Clave", Fridays
2) Waterfire in Providence, Sat. July 26
3) Hector Cuevas & The Boston Latin Band at the Regatta Bar, Aug 3
4) SALSAlort classes start Monday
5) JAM'NASTICS new class schedule and Join us at the PR Festival Parade!
6) Sue Katz, Private Lessons
7) 4th annual Manchester, NH Salsa Latin Festival
8) Mango Blue is BACK at Ryles, July 25
9) Hacha y Machete Auditions

Plus, Guest Column:
Cindy Rogriguez "Celia Cruz Guided this Harlem Kid"

- ! Viernes Con Clave !

Salsa Social/Party at the Brazilian Cultural Center.
         Every Friday

July 25,  Salsa Lesson By Javier Salort and Jen Brown
                from Salsalort Dance Company

Coming in August... Salsa y Control, Melaza Dance Co. and others.....

Lesson 9:00PM - 10PM 
Latin Party ‘Till ... the last dancer goes home...promise.
Cost $10  CASH BAR

BCCNE is located at 310 Webster Ave, Cambridge
Ph. 617 547 5343 email bccne@mindspring.com
Near Inman Square, 1/2 block off Cambridge St. Depending
where you are coming from turn left or right at the Shell Station.

subway  Red Line (Harvard) or Green (Lechmere) followed
              by a walk or short ride on the 69 bus.
bus         Stops include CT2, 83& 91.
Parking  Free street parking is available.

  Look for Hernan for Free Passes Hernan@bostonsalsero.com


2)  Hi Olaf,

How are you? I met you at BCCA a few weeks ago.  I just wanted to let you know there is a Waterfire event in Providence on Sat. July 26th, and the featured style that night is, what else, but salsa!  For anyone who has never been to waterfire, it is a very cool free outdoor event along the
downtown area of Providence.   See www.waterfire.com  for more info on
waterfire itself.  In addition, on certain occasions of waterfire, Sovereign Bank sponsors a dance night.  They drop a dance floor in the middle of the street, hire a live band, and then there are lessons, demonstrations, and open dancing under the stars until midnight!  And all for FREE!  What could be better than that?!

Happy dancing!

Hector "Bomberito" Zarzuela, New York's famous trumpetista joins Hector Cuevas & The Boston Latin Band for an ELECTRIC, ECLETIC, ROMANTIC evening of Latin music AUGUST 1 at the Regattabar, Charles Hotel, Cambridge. Salsa, merengue, boleros, Cuban danzon delivers the BEST, MOST VARIED Latin big band sound in Boston. "We've never heard a band like this in Boston" was heard all over at the Peruvian Independence Day celebration. Call 617-876-7777 for shows at 7:30 and 10 p.m.

SALSAlort Salsa/Latin Dance Classes
           START NEXT MONDAY, JULY 28! ****

   *** Intro to Latin Dance:  8 weeks (10 hours) TBA
   *** Latin Dance/Salsa II:  8 weeks (10 hours) Mondays, 7:30-8:45 PM (Advanced Beginners)
    *** The SALSAlort (Multi-level) Workshop: 8 weeks (10 hours) Mondays, 8:45-10:00 PM
     (Turns, turns, turns!  Unique turn patterns and shines ... the SALSAlort way!

The SALSAlort "On2" New York Style Mambo Workshop!
- Smooth, powerful Mambo with Sharp Turn-patterns and Footwork.
- This is "On2" for the "On1" dancer.  Traditional Mambo Timing makes it easy to start dancing "On2"!
-       Location TBA.
- You want to take this workshop?  Let us know!  Send and e-mail to SALSAlort@juno.com with "SALSAlort Mambo Workshop" on the Subject line. (Javier Salort is a member of New York's Razz-M-Tazz Dance Company & a Razz-M-Tazz International Salsa/Mambo Instructor.)


REGISTER ONLINE:  <http://www.salsalort.com/registration_form2.htm>

REGISTER by PHONE:  (508) 792-0263

COST/PAYMENT:  10 hour program is $125/person.

DISCOUNTS*!!!:  Full-time Students w/valid ID $110
                         Couple's in SAME Dance course $10 off total!
                         Multi-course registration discounts available!

The Brookline Community Center for the Arts is located at
14 Green Street, Brookline, MA, 02446 / Green Line / Coolidge Corner.


*Restrictions may apply.

Hello Friends of JAM'NASTICS

I hope you are all enjoying your summer. I am writing to remind you that our new 5-week session of classes begins this week, and to invite you to join us for the Puerto Rican Festival!


If you would like to sign up for the entire session (and receive a discount!), please feel free to call our office to pre-register or you can register on site, right before the class. Last session there were lines to register, so please get there about 15 minutes early-- we don't want you to miss any of your first class!

at the Community Arts Center, 119 Windsor St. Cambridge (in the rear of the Windsor Street Health Center)

 Salsa Basics (Level 1)
 Footwork & Partnering With Style (Levels 2-3 & 4-5)
 A Latin Workout (Get fit Latin style!) (All Levels)

at Sophias, 1270 Boylston St., Boston (Kenmore Sq.)

 La Rueda de Casino (Levels 1, 2-3 & 4-5)

at the Brookline Community Center for the Arts, 14 Green St., Brookline - Directions

 *Salsa for Youth (ages 8-14) (Levels 1-3)
 Men's Footwork & Body Movement (Levels 1-2 & 3-5)
 Ladies' Styling (Levels 1-2 & 3-5)
 Spinning & Partnering With Style (Levels 1, 2-3 & 4-5)
 Footwork Challenge! (Half an hourhalf price) (Levels 3-5)
Puerto Rican Festival:

Salsa Boston is organizing a float in the parade and a dance floor at the concerts again this year--and you're invited! Last year we had a wonderful time, so we wanted to invite you to join in the festivities! Please sign up by responding to this email by Thursday, July 24th, and let us what you would like to do. Everyone who signs up by Thursday will get a return email with details. The schedule is as follows:

Sunday, July 27th

9:00-12:00 Come early to help decorate the float (near Roxbury Community College) or sign up to be on the Floor Set-Up Team at Franklin Park

12:00-3:00 Be a part of the parade down Columbus Ave

Late Afternoon and Night Dance to the music of Ray Sepulveda, Michael Stewart and Johnny Rivera, and help get more people to join us on the dance floor

I hope to see you soon!

Take care,


Sue Katz


You can do it!
Learn to partner dance; it's the most sensuous exercise.
Dance cheek-to-cheek to some of your favorite music.
Whether you are experienced or fresh, you can quickly get those hips moving.

Have private lessons at my home (or yours, if you're nearby.) I work at your pace, always pushing you. You can come alone or with a partner. I am also available to teach at your event or celebration.
Prices are reasonable.

·       Merengue
·       Salsa
·       Cha-Cha
·       Bossa-Nova
·       Swing
·       Rhumba

My approach is systematic with a strong emphasis on how to lead or follow (you chose which you want to learn).

Each Latin dance has its own narrative: The Merengue is energetic and friendly. The Salsa is fast and exhilarating. The Bossa Nova is sexy and languorous.

Sue Katz instructed & performed for 10 years in Britain and is now teaching around the Cambridge area.

(617) 776-1233

Myra Caruso


4th Annual Latino Festival to be held on August 16, 2003 at Veterans Park Manchester NH Starting at 11:00 am - 8:00 pm. The festival includes live music and dancing from several Latin American countries, ethic foods and arts and crafts among other events.

Dear Friends of Mango Blue,
I'm very happy to announce that after a long absence from the Boston music scene, Mango Blue is returning for a special appearance at Ryles.  It would be great to see you there and share our old and new material with you. Please help us spread the word about this rare Boston area appearance. Thank you in advance for your support and I look forward to seeing you there. Cheers! Alex Alvear

M A N G O    B L U E


Appearing at:

212 Hampshire Street  
Inman Square, Cambridge, MA
(617) 876-9330  
website:    http://www.rylesjazz.com/

date : Jul 25
door : 9:00pm
genre : Jazz/R&B/Latin

venue : Jazz Club
tickets : available
cost : $12pp

 YOU MUST ATTEND BOTH DAYS!  To audition you must
attend Burju and Victor's class at the BCCA on Tuesday
July 29th from 8:45 to 10pm(drop in cost $12).  The
material learned at this class will be used at Fridays
audition as well so make sure you practice on your own
time.  A meeting will follow to discuss the group
dynamics and our expectations as well as rehearsal
times and dues.  Fridays audition (August 1st) will
begin at 9pm at the BCCA as well.  You are welcome to
come a half hour early if you are interested in
watching HYMs rehearsal prior to the audition.  Only
those auditioning may watch.  You will be tested on
Tuesday's material as well as new material.  By the
end of the rehearsal you will perform the material to
music.  If necessary we may have call backs the
following week before a decision is made.  Please
email Burju if you are interested but for some reason
can not make these auditions.  Go to
www.bccaonline.com for directions to the studio.

<p>We are looking for dedicated, hard working dancers
with positive attitudes to join our PROFESSIONAL Team.
 Are you ready to take your dancing to the
professional level?  Well the opportunity is now here
with Boston's only professional "On 2" company.  We
are looking for individuals who meet the following
requirements:  1. must have prior "on 2" training at
high level classes (Level 3 or 4), 2. may NOT be a
part of any other dance group (student, semi pro, or
pro), 3. able to learn material quickly,  4. is able
to commit to 2 to 3 rehearsals per week and willing to
travel to the different locations (Lawrence,
Brookline, Lowell), 5. positive attitude and
willingness to be taught.  Spots on the team are
limited to only a few who meet all the above and go
through an audition process.  We encourage all those
that are interested to come try out!  Please email or
call Burju for more info 617-733-6592 or

a semi pro group in the fall.  This is an excellent
training opportunity for those that want to eventually
be on the professional team.  The requirements are the
same as above.  Auditions will be held some time in

Burju Hurturk Director, Choreographer, Instructor, Performer Hacha Y Machete Dance Stylists



Celia Cruz Guided this Harlem Kid
By Cindy Rodriguez, Denver Post Columnist
[and formerly Boston dancer]

I'm staring at her picture. It's taped to my refrigerator, alongside a photo of my sister Denise and my brother Eric.

It's next to a photo of my mother, Carmen Mara, hugging my white-haired, 98-year-old grandmother.

Staring out, amid the montage of photos of the people I love, is Celia.

Every morning when I stumble into my kitchen, reaching for my Cafe Bustelo, she's there, flashing that gap-toothed smile.

Celia Cruz.

She's not family, yet she was always there.

As a kid, when my mom would play her 33-rpm vinyl records, I covered my ears. I didn't want to hear old-people music. I was busy grooving to the funk of The Ohio Players.

But my mom insisted on two things in her house: respect when she spoke, and respect for her music.

So Celia Cruz's sultry voice filled our tenement apartment in Harlem, drowning out screeching cars, arguments from our upstairs neighbors and the incessant waah-waaaahs of the firetrucks from the station up the street.

They couldn't compete with Celia when she screamed her endearing, trademark phrase: "Azcar!" (Sugar!)

Saturdays were clean-house days. Well, for las damas, the ladies of the house. My brother didn't have to clean. Mom would turn on Celia Cruz and we'd start scrubbing.

To the ca-cha-ca, ca-cha-ca of the guiros, and the rat-tat-tat-tat of the clave, we'd wash everything, from the kitchen table, sticky with pancake syrup, to the forever-grimy windows. We even washed our two little dogs, Ginger the mutt and Awesome the blind Pomeranian.

As we cleaned the linoleum floors, Celia sang to us about love. Denise and I goofed around, twirling the mop as if it were a dance partner. Mom would interject, showing the real way to dance.

My sister and I giggled. To us, salsa dancing seemed so Fred Astaire. We put it in the category of "old people" music, dismissing it as irrelevant because society-at-large ignored it.

Years later, in high school, I'd take those scratched records and play them on my brother's turntables when he wasn't home. I'd pull off the Eric B. & Rakim and throw on Celia.

Listening to "Ccala," with Celia imploring me to enjoy life above all else, fantasies rolled through my mind.

I looked at myself in the mirror, a skinny girl with a punk-rock hairstyle - close-cropped on the sides with a foam of curls on the top - and three earrings dangling from one ear, and imagined myself as Celia, dressed in an elegant, shimmery dress.

During those years, I was struggling to figure out the kind of woman I should become. I felt pulled in different directions. Part of me wanted to be like white kids I saw on TV, who seemed so happy. Another part wanted to emulate my black friends from the block, who were strong and outgoing.

My mom had her own vision: a "lady" who studied, and cleaned, and didn't stay out late.

But I felt the only way I could make that happen is if I stepped into a time machine and pressed "1955."

I later figured that I had to take the best of what I was exposed to from my mother's culture, and from American culture, and discard the stuff that hindered me.

Through Celia I saw that as possible.

She was a modern woman who traveled the world, singing coyly about sexuality. Yet she managed to stick to traditional roots, true to her husband, Pedro, who had been at her side since they married in 1962.

During her 50-plus years of entertaining the world with her infectious melodies and playful improvisations, Celia became a premier ambassador of Latino culture to the world.

She was a woman who could infuse passion into any song. When she parted her lips to sing, it was as if she were channeling the voices of African gods.

Through more than 70 albums, she offered simple, yet sage advice: Ignore gossip, help others, love with conviction and, most important - live every day as if it were your last.

As a journalist, I've met celebrities from Busta Rhymes to Bonnie Raitt, and world leaders from Bill Clinton to Mexican President Vicente Fox.

But two years ago, I got my biggest thrill: meeting Celia backstage after a concert.

She was drinking water when a promoter introduced us. She looked up at me, smiled that gap-toothed smile, and I melted. I blurted the first thing that came to mind: "Tu eres tan hermosa." (You're so beautiful.) And, with that, she reached out and caressed my hand.

A camera flashed, preserving that moment.

When I heard of her death Wednesday, I walked out of the newsroom. I didn't want to be around ringing phones, or hear anyone carrying on as if it were another day. I rushed home and lit candles - just as my mom would have done.

I slipped her CDs into the player. I thought it would bring tears. But a surprising thing happened. Congas throbbed, horns blared, and Celia let out her throaty yell: "Azcar! Azcar!"

I couldn't help but smile.

Cindy Rodrguez's column appears Monday and Friday. She can be reached at crodriguez@denverpost.com .

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