El Gran Bailar

Roberto Roena y su Apollo Sound to blast the Salsa Congress, 5.28

By Dena Burroughs
Published on LatinoLA: May 24, 2004

El Gran Bailar

Roberto Roena is ?El Gran Bailar?n? to some, ?El Se?or Bong?? to others, and both to many.

Born in Mayag?ez, Puerto Rico, in 1940, he was taught to dance early on by his uncle, Anibal ?Andy? Vazquez, a well known dancer both in the island and New York at the time. By his teens, Roena was already dancing weekly on a Puerto Rican TV show.

It was on one of its tapings, a few years down the road, that bandleader Rafael Cortijo saw him, and pictured how great it would be to have a musician in his band that could dance like Roena. He was thereafter hired for the ?Cortijo y su Combo? band, first as a dancer and singer, and later, after Cortijo himself trained him, as its bongocero.

Roena played for the Cortijo y su Combo for seven years, after which he joined a couple of other groups, one of them being the famous ?El Gran Combo?.

When he left El Gran Combo, Roena put together his own band and named it the ?Apollo Sound?, acknowledging that its birth coincided with the first human journey to the moon on the Apollo 11 spacecraft, on June, 1969.

Since then, Roena y su Apollo Sound have delighted their fans with their innovative choreographies and their music, which includes hit songs such as ?Tu loco, loco y yo tranquilo? and ?Con los pobres estoy?.

Roena has lived a colorful 64 years so far, with many highs and even some lows, but with music as its stable factor. He could have had a career as a dancer, and surprisingly, he might have had a career in baseball as well, but he chose music, his bongos and his band, and today he continues to be a delight to see.

For the second time performing at the West Coast Salsa Congress, Roberto Roena y su Apollo Sound are scheduled to play this Friday, May 28th at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood. The $40 tickets can be purchased by calling 310/445 9705, logging to http://www.atpevents, or at the door.

Here is your opportunity to enjoy a bit of Roberto Roena?s ?ag?ita de ajonjol??!

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