David Gonzalez looks back 30 years, to the moment he saw these dancers in a loving embrace in the streets of the South Bronx.
The Dancers is probably my best-known image, yet it sat in my archives – unseen – for 30 years. I was working at En Foco after graduating from Yale, and had gone to a street fair in Mott Haven with Rafael Ramírez to put up a Street Gallery on August 10, 1979 (my 22nd birthday). While we were there, a salsa band started playing, and a couple started dancing. I shot two frames of them.
And then I forgot about the image.
Thirty years later, I started scanning my old negatives, when I came across the image. Mind you, I had printed other shots from that day, but not this one. Of the two frames, one had them where I could see both of the dancers. It ran with a cover story and slide show I did for the Times’ Metropolitan section in late August 2009. The reaction to it was strong and immediate.
To me, this image speaks of a lot of things, especially given what was happening in the Bronx at the time. Here we have a couple, dressed to the nines, dancing in the streets when the outside world saw the South Bronx as irredeemable. Yet there, embracing and dancing to the soundtrack of an unseen band, they remind us how our roots, our culture, nourishes our souls.
One more thing: always go back to your archives. Your older self will discover things your younger self knew enough to shoot, but not necessarily to print. — David Gonzalez, May 28th, 2014
En Foco offers an exclusive limited edition print of The Dancers through it’s Print Collectors Program, so be sure to collect yours soon while the opportunity lasts.
For more information on David Gonzalez and his work, please click here.