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Tongolele!

16 March 2020

Mexico’s greatest (and only) Tahitian-Afro dancer, was neither Taihitian nor African, but… as the great Chavala Vargas said, “A Mexican can be born any damn place she wants”… and appparently any damn ethnicity she wants, too.

Yolanda Montes was born in Spokane, Washington to a Mexican-Swedish father, and Ango-French mother.  But crediting her grandmother with having claimed to have some Tahitian ancestry, when Yolanda found herself in Mexico City in the early 1940s, and needing a job, she invented herself as Tongolele, becoming the most famous of the Mexican “exotic dancers” of her era.  Her career was temporary put on hold in the late 1950s, courtesy of the Legion of Decency, but she returned to work in the 1960s, expanding her work into roles in telenovelas and horror movies.

Still sharp and … while not dancing… still with us at the age of 88.

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