As you may know, incredible human being and Pulse Nightclub survivor Angel Colon took the stage at #ZINCON 2016 to show off his dance moves and speak about the love and support he’s receiving from the community. ZLife took the opportunity to get to know him a bit better. Read on to discover his passions and to find out how a simple conversation between Angel and Zumba Community Manager Gina Graziani led to the most inspirational ZINCON moment of all time.
ZLife: So, Angel, tell us about yourself. What’s something you want everybody to know?
Angel: Well, something I haven’t shared with everybody is that my family and I are very music oriented. We all play instruments or sing, and I have done both since I was very young. I’ve been singing in church my whole life and I’m all about music, rhythms, beats, and dancing.
ZLife: Why do you love to dance so much?
Angel: It just makes you feel free. It takes things to another level of happiness. You forget about anything negative going on that day or week. You’re just happy and you always end up with a smile on your face.
ZLife: How did you become a part of the Zumba community?
Angel: Last year, I was hired by a marketing company to work at the Zumba Wear store during Convention and I completely fell I love with it. The energy was so amazing and I was like “Oh my gosh, I have to start taking classes right away!”. So, I started to take classes in the Orlando area and found out that I actually knew a lot of people in the Zumba community, so that was awesome.
ZLife: So, what was your reaction when Gina Graziani asked you to be our guest at this year’s Convention?
Angel: Well, I had so much fun working the Zumba Wear store last year that I was totally planning to do it again this year. But then the massacre happened and my plans changed. I remember I was at the hospital when Gina came to visit me and ask me to be a part of Convention, and I was so shocked. I started crying. I was so happy that I was invited to be a part of this event and that I wouldn’t miss out on it this year.
ZLife: Gina, we heard that there was a mix-up about whether or not Angel was a Zumba Instructor. Can you tell us about that?
Gina: Oh gosh, it was such a silly oversight on my part. After the tragedy happened, everyone was kind of in a state of shock and mourning and because it occurred in Orlando, our worst fear was that members of our Zumba family had been directly affected. So, in the next few hours after the massacre, we started to contact community members in Orlando and surrounding areas trying to ensure that our Zumba family was safe. I immediately started receiving messages from ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) Members showing me a video of a beautiful man dancing like crazy in the Zumba Wear store at ZINCON 2015. I discovered that man’s name was Angel Colon and looked him up in our database and saw that Angel Colon was a ZIN Member in Puerto Rico. I also discovered that a hospital in Orlando was treating a Pulse survivor named Angel Colon and I was lucky enough to go visit him.
I remember walking into the hospital room and seeing this beautiful man surrounded by his parents, sister, friends, and so many flowers and balloons. And there he was, looking so exhausted but so happy, and he gave me the best hug ever.
I actually didn’t realize Angel wasn’t an instructor until right before Convention started! At the hospital, Angel told us his dream was to teach Zumba classes and spread a message of love around the world, and help people heal. We’re excited to now welcome Angel to our ZIN family, and we humbly thank him for being a part of our Orlando tribute – it ended up being one of the most incredible ZINCON moments we’ve ever had.
Angel: Yeah, it was such a dream come true for me to be at Convention. And also, since I worked the event last year, I was totally inspired to become an Instructor myself. I thought, “I’m really fun! I could do this!”. And I actually just took my B1 Training last week! It was so, so much fun. I’m very excited about teaching once I’m fully recovered. I think salsa and reggaeton will be my jam!
ZLife: That’s so awesome, we can’t wait to take your class! What was this year’s Convention experience like for you?
Angel: It was completely different than last year. I was so overwhelmed with all the love and everybody wanting to take photos with me. My cheekbones were hurting from all the smiling I was doing. I did not feel anything negative at convention at all. In fact, it made me feel so positive and excited about my future with Zumba. It was a weekend I will always, always remember.
ZLife: If you had to pick one favorite ZINCON moment, what would it be?
Angel: Oh my gosh, there are so many. I had no idea Officer Delgado would be on stage with me, so that was an amazing surprise. And Jennifer Lopez had a special video message for me. It was so awesome. I was completely shocked!! I’m still getting messages from Instructors all around the world and it’s really incredible to see that so many people care about me.
ZLife: Gina, what is your favorite thing about Angel?
Gina: I don’t know that I’ll be able to articulate this the right way, but he has this immense strength that exudes from him in such a gentle way. He’s like a quiet warrior. Also, he’s just so much fun! He really knows how to have a good time.
ZLife: As our Zumba Community manager, what has the reception towards Angel been like within the community?
Gina: They are proud of you, Angel. They are inspired by you. They want to offer you their strength and their love on your journey to recovery. They just want to make sure you know how much you’re cared about. And this is the exact thing that has always drawn me to Zumba. The sense of community is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s so beautiful!
Angel: It’s really amazing and it means the world to me. Thank you guys so much for such an unforgettable experience.
Angel, you’re the one we have to thank. Thank you for your light, your spirit, and your optimism. We can’t wait to meet you on the dance floor!