Derrick Allen - Hustle / Disco WCS + Salsa

Alex Kim -
by Ron Bess




        Thirty years ago, he won the most prestigious hustle dance of it's time. Truly the brass ring of dance, but the curtain would fall, as his time in New York would be cut short. Alex Kim moved to Korea to work in the family business. Alex made a name for himself in 1977 winning the very first Hustle title held at the Harvest Moon Ball.
Throughout his high school days, Alex was an active free style dancer but the new wave of partner dancing was catching his eye. He grew up in Westchester County in Larchmont, NY.  It wasn't until he was 19 that he began to learn the hustle." There was a fabulous Hustle dancer from the Dominican Republic living in Westchester County, his name was Paco Cordero," recalls Alex. Paco taught at Rollyn Dance studio in Yonkers along with Sis, a ballroom instructor. Sis was a very accomplished teacher and was an active member of Dance Masters of America. Alex began to study the hustle with his cousin, Hyela Kim, who lived in New Rochelle.  Hyela was a ballet teacher that taught at Rollyn. She began to learn the hustle first and encouraged Alex to join her. Growing up, Alex was greatly influenced by his "all time favorite couple" Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers.  "When I started dancing, I was always studying other dancers from different areas to see what they did differently". Alex was able to take bits and pieces of various styles to mold his own look. He realized that most of the top competitive dancers were Hispanic and were physically superior to himself. To over come this, Alex began to take ballet and jazz classes to improve his all around skills. The time paid off as he strengthened his legs, improved his spins, developed his lines and made his dance movements smoother. "We used to go to Alexis dance studio on Monday nights, all the dancers went there" explains Alex. That is where he would see Artie Phillips, Maria Torres, and Kenny Gonzalez dance. In addition, he would go to clubs in Westchester County: Peachtree, Milkyway, Lollipop as well as clubs in Manhattan: Ipenema, Library and Adam' Apple.  Alex and Hyela began to create a look all their own. In addition to being Asian, they began to stand out from all the other dance teams. "I feel that I had a great mix of influences, we had Latin styling from Paco Codero, a classic ballroom look from Dance Masters of America and a high energy punch - speed, spins and aerial work courtesy of Eddie Vega" recalls Alex.  Growing up in NYC had its ups and downs. Money was not plentiful and automobiles were not common among teenagers. Alex was the only one in his circle of friends that had a car. He became the main transportation for his good friend and mentor Eddie Vega.

        
    "I used to pick up Eddie and Lourdes every night from his apartment in the Bronx and then we would go to clubs every night" explains Alex. Being the guy with the wheels had additional benefits. Eddie Vega was extremely creative and constantly developing new moves. Everytime that Eddie would whip up a new step or dance pattern, Alex was one of the first dancers to learn it. Hyela and Alex continued to grow as a team. "Sis, told me to enter a prestige contest and she choreographed the routine for us. I later found out it was called the Harvest Moonball" remembers Alex. It was the 1st year that they put hustle in the event. Holding the winning trophy in front of all the people, packed into the Madison Square Garden, was a cherished memory and achievement for him.  After this great victory, Alex and Hyela would continue to compete in many other competitions, sanctioned by the Dance Masters of America. Their skills strengthened and they maintained an undefeated record. His  trophy cabinet was full and he couldn't get enough of the hustle. All in all, he had over 400 trophies at home, a collaboration of dancing, bowling and golf.  In addition to his dancing talent, Alex was a member of the Professional Bowler's Association and carried a 2 handicap in golf.  But the mirror ball would come to a screeching halt for Alex and Hyela. In 1979, Alex left New York to fly to Korea to work for his father's fishery company. Unfortunately, hustle never reached Korea. Dancing came to an abrupt end for Alex. "I have nothing but fond memories for the time that I spent with Eddie, learning, leading him and going out to eat after dance". In 1994, Alex moved to Los Angeles, to take over an auto body center. He had been living in California for nearly 12 years before he realized that there was still a hustle faction alive and well. Alex has been dancing ever since. "The measure of a great dancer is the hunger to give back" shares Alex.  He is now trying to spread the hustle to the salsa community, "I find it much easier to get salsa dancers to do the hustle than trying to get non dancers to learn the hustle" explains Alex. On a trip to NY to attend Lori Brizzi's Hustle Congress, Alex was reacquainted with friends from nearly 30 years prior - Billy Fajardo, Kenny Gonzalez, Diane Nardone, Maria Torres. " I think it was amazing that at NY Hustle Congress, I was talking to a friend when Nelly Cotto walked by and she stopped, and was staring at me, the only time that I ever saw Floyd and Nelly was at the contest, and 30 years later she remembered me" explains an overwhelmed Alex.  


        Today, Hyela still live in NYC but stopped dancing around 1979. She became a very successful business woman in the clothing industry. Alex has been teaching salsa dancers in LA, for free, for the past 2 years. He has been working very hard to get back into top shape and form so he can compete in the US Open and at the World Hustle Championships. Alex Kim has been working and sharing notes with Salsa Champion Alex DaSilva, (best known from the hit show "So You Think You Can Dance").  Alex K. has been teaching hustle, lifts and tricks to DaSilva.  Mr. Kim continues to live in LA along with his 17 year old son who is an avid hip hop dancer. Alex, is a credit to the vision and determination to grow and give back his love for the hustle. Look out for the return of Alex in 2008. 


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