The Hemisphere: The Mambo

A new dance craze was sweeping the hemisphere. Part rumba and part jive, with a strong dash of itching powder, the mambo had left unstormed only the tango strongholds of Argentina and the samba-land of Brazil. In all the other Americas, dancers quivered and kicked—sedately in swank nightclubs and wildly in smoky dives—to the mambo beat. This week its originator, Dámaso Pérez Prado, 29, was scheduled to arrive in New York to carry the assault to the U.S.

The mambo's relentless rhythm had already caused at least one homicide (in Mexico), had driven its practitioners to such wild exuberance in Peru that...

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