Meet the 2 El Pasoans Who Made It Onto ABC’s American Bandstand
Last week I wrote about the El Paso couple that appeared on American Bandstand over 50 years ago. I wasn’t expecting a quick response on who they were or where they are now. But I did...
Via Facebook message, Jesse Hernandez who was the SON of the woman who appeared on the show reached out to me. He told me exactly who his mother was, her partner on the show & how she got on the show. And now... you’re about to meet them.
But first we need to find out HOW they got onto American Bandstand. Back in the day KELP's Steve Crosno, a radio DJ El Paso is VERY familiar with (and misses very much), used to have a show called The Crosno Hop. Essentially it was the El Paso version of ABC's American Bandstand; people would dance to the biggest hits of the day & there would be dance contests.
It was through Steve Crosno's show that we now get to meet Virginia Ruiz & Nando Gallardo, the man & woman who would later appear ON American Bandstand. Virginia won first place for a dance contest when she was 15 years old & that's how she got onto the show. Nando would also have a similar experience by winning a dance contest on The Crosno Hop. They were both flown out to Hollywood & stayed there for about 4-5 days for filming. That's how they were selected to be on American Bandstand.
Their first appearance was back in 1969 & they would reappear on the show the following year in 1970. Jesse even sent me a photo of a newspaper clipping showing Virginia & Nando, with the legendary host, Dick Clark right in the middle.
He doesn't remember what year the news paper clipping came from or which publication but judging by the outfits, that might have been their first appearance in 1969 as their outfits in 1970 were a little different. But regardless, this DOES CONFIRM that yes... these are the two SAME people who appeared on the show.
Here's a black & white clip with both Virginia & Nando in 1970:
And here's what they looked like in color (skip to the 12:46 mark to see Virginia & Nando). In case you're wondering what place did they get; they got 3rd place on the show (which is amazing!).
So where are they now? Well Nando is still living in El Paso, he's a musician that performs in town & he's the proud owner of the Lucky Boy Bar & Grill on Piedras (right across from Kiki's Mexican Restaurant).
When I reached out to him on Facebook to confirm that was him who appeared on the show, he would indeed say "yes". He even told me that after his appearance, he would become a drummer & would tour with many musicians in the US & Europe. He graduated from UTEP & would even meet one of his heroes, James Brown, in 1992.
Sadly Virginia Ruiz passed away on February 1, 2020. She had 3 sons: Jason, Alex & Jesse, who was the one who gave me all this information so I can make a follow up to my original post. I asked if Virginia ever kept dancing after the show; he told me that she did indeed keep on dancing at parties & family gatherings where she always was the center of attention.
I want to give a HUGE thank you to both Jesse Hernandez & Nando Gallardo for reaching out to me. Now we can forever remember the time that El Paso was on tv & that we got to see both Virginia's & Nando's amazing dance moves.