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Jai Catalano
Candy Mena


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by Jai Catalano

Tito Puente - "El Rey de Timbal"
Candy picked up the telephone at a quarter to 2 on that special Monday in late fall 1999. I was in the other room watching television when the phone rang, so I made no effort to see who was on the other line. When Candy finished she took a few moments to come tell me what the message was. I was a bit curious but I was too lazy to get up and hear mundane news like we have rehearsal tonight or would you like to try a free subscription to the New York Times. Then she slowly entered the living room to give me the news. I could see on her face that this was good news, but not the kind of good news you get when you pass your history final or when the dentist tells you that you have no cavities. This was the kind of good news that would stay with you for the rest of your life. Candy finally explained that Maria Torres wanted us to do a show with her, Eddie, and Tito Puente at Brooklyn College. We jumped at the chance to be the only dancers on Stage with Tito Puente and his orchestra. However, there were 2 problems. Eddie and Maria were bringing the costumes and we had 45 minutes until the show started.

Eddie Torres - "The Mambo King"
Thirty-Eight minutes later we were standing breathless at the dressing room waiting to do a show with "El Rey de Timbal" and "The Mambo King." We had heard that Tito was already there, but not surprisingly, Eddie and Maria were late. That is when I realized I had only a few minutes to change into a costume that Eddie was bringing to me. Now anyone who knows Eddie, and I say this with the utmost respect and love, knows that the words late and Eddie Torres are synonymous. Fortunately, for Candy, she still had the costume that Duplessey (Eddie Torres’ niece) had loaned her the week before, however, she looked like a million dollars and I looked like an over dressed bus boy. We quickly came to the conclusion that I needed to put something around my neck or waist to give the illusion that I belonged on stage with Candy.