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    Dancer put swing into many a life

    Gilbert Flojo, known well in the Tampa Bay swing dance set, died in a car accident in Kuwait.

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 18, 2003

    Gilbert Flojo was an unpredictable swing dancer, changing his technique with each song and occasionally taking his partners to the floor in a slow, sexy dip.

    Even though Flojo stood only 5 feet 2 inches, women loved dancing with him at the Gulfport Casino and other swing dancing ballrooms around the Tampa Bay area.

    "He danced with everybody," said Arleene Norman, who along with her husband, James, runs the Savoy South Dance Hall in Pinellas Park. "He was a fabulous dancer."

    Flojo, 32, died in a car crash April 9 in Kuwait. He was working for a civilian company that provided security for American companies.

    Flojo lived in Tampa for about five years, said his brother, Andrew Flojo of Lacey, Wash. He previously had been stationed at MacDill Air Force Base as an Army specialist.

    He loved Florida and made dozens of new friends through his love of swing dancing.

    Flojo described it this way in a May 1999 article that appeared in the Times.

    "It's all about feeling the music and finding a way to express yourself. It's about having fun."

    The dance floor was where he found fun.

    "It became his outlet," Andrew Flojo said. "Those people in Tampa were his extended family."

    The Normans certainly were part of that family. They dedicated Wednesday's swing dance session to Flojo, and plan a memorial for him on Wednesday at the club.

    "He was full of life," Arleene Norman said. "He went to everything. Everyone knew him. He had lots of energy. We are terribly saddened."

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