Wolfgang and Evelyn Opitz in a segue show 1971, the early disco era By Brigitt Mayer-Karakis

Here you can see how the beat and disco era influenced the movements of the Latin dances. Also if you look at the feature image of the post, you see Wolfgang in one of the first catsuits.

Excerps from Ballroom Icons:

…Interestingly, in many aspects of their dancing, Wolfgang and Evelyn took a lot of risks. Many times they were told, “If you do that, you will be disqualified.” For instance, Wolfgang was the first to come out in a cat suit in 1970. And they were the first couple to really dance with hip-action in the cha-cha-cha and rumba, even before the Americans like Bobby Medeiros, Vernon Brock and Sam Sodano brought it over between 1971 and 1973. Vernon Brock took lessons with Wolfgang to get his take on Latin in Europe. (See also Bobby Medeiros, Sam Sodano and Vernon Brock).

Wolfgang always loved the United States. From 1956 on he frequently went to the Latin clubs and the Palladium in New York, despite the tedious 18-hour flight. He heard Tito Puente playing his great cha-cha-chas. “It was unbelievable,” he says. “Four hundred people, all that smoke and no air conditioning. But when the band started and the people danced, I remember thinking that this is what it’s all about, and I wanted to bring that energy into the competition dancing in Europe.”

 

Contributor
Brigitt Mayer-Karakis is the author of the award winning book "Ballroom Icons", and chief archivist for the WDC Dance History project.
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