For a few months at the end of 1963, Eddie Palmieri spent every Wednesday evening outside a small dance hall in Midtown Manhattan, barking in the street and trying to draw foot traffic to his gigs. That meant luring away dancers en route to the nearby Palladium Ballroom, where famous acts like Machito, Tito Puente and his own brother, Charlie Palmieri, performed. “Not there, folks!” he remembers hollering. “Over here, folks!”
The pianist had been gunning for a gig at the Palladium with his eight-piece band, La Perfecta, but the venue’s owner dragged his feet, so Palmieri adopted a guerrilla strategy. “La Perfecta was hot; people knew about the band. So I started drawing people,” he says. “Any people I took away from [the Palladium] was hurting them.” It wasn’t long before he had the attention of the ballroom’s owner, who finally buckled and booked Palmieri for 90 dates over the following year. It was his Rubicon.