My friend took me to a club called Mayers, in the Bronx, to see this girl dance.... they tore up the dance floor... not a soul in the club dared dance when they were on the floor. Her name was Mia," recalled long time friend Mike Babbino.
She was a dancing maverick. Without a dance lesson to her name this extraordinary talent started dancing the hustle in 1971. "I danced the first Hustle exhibits at the 'Connecticut Star Ball,' 'The Dance Masters' and for the 'Dance Educators' organizations in 1971 under the Dance Studio of Sis Anagnostis in Yonkers, NY."
Since the dance was brand spanking new, there were no divisions or competitions for the hustle. The world was just opening its eyes.....peaking at this new phenomenon. Mia Contardi started dancing at the Second Floor in New Rochelle, one of the first discotheques for dancing. At the young age of 17 she had met Paco and the two clicked. "My brain was in my feet" declares Mia. Their dance creativity sprouted out and the two became unstoppable. Dancing became their world. Seven nights a week they could be found creating their magic, perfecting new steps and turns, along with this new generation of young dancers. Monastery, Eliphus, Ripples on the Water, Community Gardens (Queens), Penrods, Rum Bottoms, The Boomba Macaw and Side Streets (Bronx) became their dance playgrounds. "The early days of disco dancing were like those of the Rat Pack days of the 50's & 60's, with our own remarkable leader, George Velazquez." This was a young innovative group of dancers that, unbeknown to them at the time, were laying down the foundation for a dance that today is a house hold name. Saying they were all great would simply be an understatement. The late Danny Llaurado, Javier Rodriquez, Michael Babbino, Jack & Jeff Shelly, Jimmy Yu, James Stanford, Frankie Rodriquez, Colombian Danny and Floyd Chishom. The music was driving... it was new and fresh. Barry White, The Three Degrees and songs like Bad Luck, Sugar Pie Guy, Date With The Rain and 10%. This was six years prior to the motion picture release of 'Saturday Night Fever.' "We had a great experience at The Ipenema Night Club in Manhattan dancing with Ralph Lew & Tito Puente but then, while dancing at the legendary Fudgies (Yonkers, NY) in 1972, Mia's dance compass took a new direction. She was approached by a talent agent that was fascinated with her dancing and the response from the crowd. Mia was asked to join the dance company for national recording artist, "The Andrea True Connection." Over night she became a professional. "It's an overwhelming feeling when you are asked for your autograph for the first time. For me, each time was a first," recalls the gracious Mia.
Quickly, she was recognized everywhere. As a "Show Stopper" with Andrea True
(# 1 song was "More More More"), Craig Yee danced with Hillary Peck while Mia partnered with George Velazquez. Together they became the "Connection" dancers backed up by a wonderful band..... the show was born. The tours began and were non stop. In 1975, the show traveled throughout the United States and Italy. They were then featured in a television film in Germany. The troop also danced in numerous TV commercials promoting popular dance albums. While on the road they had the honor of performing with many famous recording acts and shows including Don Kirschner's Rock Concert, Lou Rawls, and with Chukka Khan while in Canada. When performing in Mexico the Governor invited the group to spend a day visiting his estate. The shows were a great success. The Andrea True Connection lived on for one more year but without Mia. Both Hillary and Mia decide it was time to retire. Mia set her eye on developing a career outside of dance in advertising. It was time to settle down. Returning to NY from her tours revealed a new world of dance. The hustle continued to evolve and new clubs opened like Studio 54 and New York New York. There were also many new faces in the dance scene. "Javier Rodriques & Holly Behrens, Danny Llaurado & Carol Famigletti danced like Poetry In Motion, they had created a street style all of their own" remembers Mia. Long time friend Michael Babbino introduced her to many of the new dancers. One of them was Holly Behrens. "Holly was the best female street dancer ... ever" recalls Mia. They instantly became best friends. "I was so fortunate to have these incredible dancers in my life. Although I had retired from showbiz and competitions, dancing was still a part of my everyday life." But as time passed Mia watched from a far. But the distance grew and before long she was swept into her new career. Her connections with many friends broke off and she literally thought that the hustle had died. Overwhelmed to find out that the Mirror ball never stopped spinning, Mia is back.."25 years later, I learn that hustle never died nor did disco." She feels very blessed to have "another go around" reuniting with many old friends and being embraced back to a dance that she helped nurture years ago.
Today, Mia frequents some of the Long Island hot spots and enjoys dancing and seeing how the hustle has progressed. "I want to say, with all of my heart, to the dance world from then until now, a sincere thanks. The Hustle dance has given me the opportunities of a lifetime....dancing is such an important part of our lives." As part of the fabric that defines the early days of hustle, Mia feels "privileged over the years to be included with the talent that started it all.