Tony Garretonby Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
WEST BATH — The ongoing scandal involving a prostitution ring based out of a Zumba studio in Kennebunk has nothing to do with him or Zumba, declares Tony Garreton, known locally as “Tony Zumba” for his roll as a Zumba instructor. Garreton’s studio is located in West Bath on State Road.
Garreton was originally the first person to bring Zumba into the midcoast and one of the first Zumba instructors in the state. Since the story on Alexis Wright’s use of a Zumba studio as a front for a brothel broke, Garreton has had to deal with rumors surrounding his role in the scandal.
“I was just as shocked as other people,” said Garreton of the news. “I didn’t know anything.”
Although Garreton knew Wright due to her involvement in the Zumba program, he didn’t know anything about the current scandal.
Garreton says that he has gotten emails and phone calls about the scandal, and that other instructors have even been harassed and had property vandalized by people attributing Zumba to the scandal.
“I have a great friend, she’s a wonderful Zumba instructor, Adriane Kramer in Lewiston, her tires got slashed,” said Garreton. He suspects her association with the program could be the cause.
Another problem he has faced in quelling the rumors is the timing of his new dance program, called Tony’s Dance Fiesta, which started just months before the news about Wright’s prostitution broke. According to Garreton, some people have asked whether he created the program because he knew about the scandal and wanted to distance himself from Zumba.
The reality is that Garreton didn’t enjoy some of the newer aspects of the Zumba program, and wanted to move back towards a program based more on Latin dance then the current Zumba program is.
“I still think Zumba is a great program,” said Garreton. “I just wanted to have my own, that’s it. It has nothing to do with the whole scandal. I’m tired of jokes and calls.”
Garreton originally started with the Zumba program because he enjoyed the Latin aspects of the dance, which identified strongly with his own culture, and because his original career plans didn’t pan out.
“I am an interior designer, but when I moved to Maine I wasn’t able to make it as an interior designer because the economy is different,” said Garreton. “I couldn’t find any Zumba here, so I decided to become a Zumba instructor. I saw the opportunity, for being Latino and understanding the moves and stuff, that it would be easy for me to teach.”
Garreton has taught the program consistently and still plans on holding Zumba classes at his building, but is branching out into his own program to focus more on Latin dance.
“I enjoy Zumba, especially at that time, because it is more Latin,” said Garreton. “Being in Maine, where there aren’t many Latinos here, that brought my roots back, I enjoyed it.”
Kennebunk Police assure that there is no involvement by Garreton or any other Zumba instructor in any illicit activity connected with the prostitution case. In fact, they are also getting tired of inquiries about it as they have never even asserted that was a possibility.
“We’re not investigating the Zumba business itself,” said Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee of the Kennebunk Police Department. “It’s just an isolated incident as far as we know. It just so happens that she [Wright] was a Zumba instructor.
For Garreton and Zumba instructors across the state, this scandal can’t end soon enough.
“I admire anyone who decides to become a Zumba instructor, because they have found a passion,” said Garreton. “I don’t want their reputations to be ruined because of one individual.”