The Last Dance

Remembering King Nando's daring salsa/R&B fusion.

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For whatever reason, boogaloo died out in the early 1970s and the period all but disappeared from histories of Latin music. It was as if Nando and his contemporaries were erased from memory. Yet for several years, his bold melding of cultures filled the dance halls and the airwaves – long before Latin-rock and jazz-rock fusions and even today's reggaeton, which connects salsa and hip-hop.

Nando tried to keep his music going, playing fewer boogaloos and more traditional salsa. Then he saw his best friend killed in a bar fight and he was never the same. Yet in the last couple of years, Nando benefited from an unexpected revival. Someone reissued our old records as CDs (we got no money, of course) and DJs began playing the music again. One DJ even tracked me down last year to talk about the era and about Nando's music. It was fresh and different, he said, and people liked to dance to it. Sadly, the resurgence came too late to benefit King Nando.

Joel Dreyfuss is editor-in-chief of Red Herring, Inc.

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