Juan Matos: Mr. Pachanga

Growing up as a young boy in Santa Domingo, Juan Matos or better known as Juan “Pachanga” Matos had dreams of becoming a famous dancer. Although not yet of legal age, he was known to sneak into the Dominican nightclubs of his homeland to watch his parents—the leading Hustle dancers of the time—dance the night away on the steamy dance floor to some of the more popular music of the era. Leaning on the support and inspiration of his parents, Juan decided, in 1996, to set out on his own, landing on the tough streets of New York. He would work by day and dance by night, and although even at this time his dancing skills were quite impressive, it would be in 1997, when he was first introduced to the Mambo, that his dreams of dancing professionally began to become a reality.

 

A high talented dancer

Inspired by his first glimpse of the Mambo, Juan enrolled in a Mambo class being taught by Victor “La Magica” Pacheco, but sadly, after only two months of instruction, a back injury forced Juan to drop the class. But surprisingly, those two months proved to be all the instruction Juan would need to launch his career. When his back injury healed, Juan began to dance the clubs of New York, and his impressive “street style” of Mambo got him noticed by some of the more experienced dancers of his day. Some even claim that Juan was able to put together an entire Mambo routine in less than 7 days. Nevertheless, the hard work, dedication and passion for dancing the Mambo began to pay off.

The Magic Combination Dancers

In 1999, Juan Matos joined a group called the “Magic Combination Dancers,” an opportunity that would soon lead to an invitation to train with the renowned “Santo Rico Dance Company”—a group founded by Wilton Beltre and directed by Thomas Guerrero. It was with the Santo Rico Dance Company that Juan would develop the Mambo style that would make him famous, not only in the New York Mambo scene, but in venues around the world. The style was called “Pechanga,” characterized by rapid foot movements and a smooth classic, style, and as Juan continued to perfect his innovative style, the dance the opportunities and invitations to instruct and perform internationally came rolling in.

Juan Matos nowadays

Today, when not teaching or performing the Mambo to audiences around the world, Juan Matos continues to live and dance in New York, and plans to go on sharing his incredible talent for many years to come.

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