A few minutes later, [Albert Torres] moderated a dazzling salsa-dancing contest, and the audience laughed approvingly at all his jokes. Before inviting local band Son Mayor onstage for a set of live Afro- Cuban combustion, Torres took the time to leisurely introduce and thank those of his guests who, he felt, had contributed to the advancement and promotion of tropical music.
There are those who look down on the Las Vegas-style touches that Torres infuses into his productions, the salsa cruises he organizes every year, or his occasional gigs at Inglewood's carnivalesque Hollywood Park Casino. In other words, at Torres events, you won't find the kind of Latino yuppies who frequent the more upscale clubs. Still, the promoter has, together with the fancier Conga Room, turned Los Angeles into one of the world capitals of tropical music, a city where on any given week you can see some of the genre's most important names.
Torres always manages to surprise with his eclectic taste. One night he'll bring a group from Cuba, like the traditional ensemble Sierra Maestra or the all-female Anacaona. Then again, he might go New York on you and explore the jazzier side of salsa with artists such as pianist Wayne Gorbea or timbalero Johnny Almendra. An accomplished dancer himself, Torres hires only those groups whose music inspires him to spend most of the night on the dance floor.