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Miko Blanco was a limbo legend

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Legendary entertainer Miko Blanco teaching then world heavyweight boxing champion Lenox Lewis how to limbo.
Clifton Miko Blanco (centre), the colourful limbo dancer, holds his Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Wayne Cummings, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), at its 49th anniversary awards luncheon, at Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay on Tuesday. Camille Needham (right), executive director of the JHTA shares the moment.
Miko Blanco in 1969. Night club fans stared at Blanco during one of his acts.
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The hotel and entertainment scene on Jamaica's north coast recently suffered the loss of one of its pioneers, Miko Blanco. The extraordinary limbo dancer has performed at almost every major hotel in Jamaica over the past 45 years and, in recognition of his legacy, was given a lifetime achievement award by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association (JHTA) at its 49th Anniversary Awards Luncheon in 2010.

In the 1960s, Miko Blanco's Tropicano Dance Group was the headline performer at Sheraton Kingston's Jonkanoo Lounge. The sight of a pencil-thin Miko Blanco with a colourful turban about two feet high, strutting through the lobby in high heels, stopped all activity. Everyone stared at the eccentric entertainer wearing heavy make-up.

His ability to limbo under a blazing pole set on two Red Stripe beer bottles was the highlight of his show. This had tourists and locals alike in awe of his skill at doing this, even while wearing his turban (which actually caught fire on more than one occasion).

Blanco's legendary, colourful limbo show was in constant demand on the hotel circuit, and his discipline and punctuality were to be admired.

Miko Blanco's passing signals the end of an era when local limbo troupes and cultural groups were at the forefront of the hotel entertainment. "Unfortunately, the more accomplished dance groups are found in Kingston, making their performance on the north coast an expensive undertaking," said Tony Munroe of Northcoastvine.com.

He continued: "Local entertainers need to be more creative and cost-effective in their presentations to take advantage of the opportunities that can be found on the hotel circuit - a great training ground towards developing one's stage craft."

The Miko Blanco Tropicano Dance Group was a very colourful and attractive group on the circuit, which went a far way to creating the exotic experience many visitors seek, His passing was recently observed by friend and former member of his dance group, Weston Haughton, on the rooftop tennis court of Keith Foote's Little Pub Plaza in Ocho Rios.

- Contributed by Northcoastvine.com