Originated in the West Indies where it was danced only by the lowest classes. The name is from the African Tanganya. The dance found its way into Argentina and then to France and finally into the United States in a modified form about 1914. Latin American ballroom Tango is danced in 4/4 time.
Note: See also Tango.
Bachata is a type of music and dance originally created in the rural countryside of the Dominican Republic. Similar to the blues, Bachata music is often sad, relating tales of heartbreak and bitterness. Bachata dancing is relatively up-tempo though, and consists of basic back and forth or sideways motions. Because of its history as a dance between lovers, there are many sensual hip and body movements, with the opportunity for dance partners to move very close to each other.
Originally a Spanish dance in 3/4 time, it was changed in Cuba initially into 2/4 time then eventually into 4/4. It is now present as a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. The music is frequently arranged with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually implemented with Conga or Bongos.
An offshoot of the Mambo, the Cha Cha evolved out of popular movement in slow-tempo Mambo called the Triple Mambo. By 1954 it had evolved into a dance all its own. It's a must style to know, the all time favorite Latin dance.
Disco dancing is a dance style popularized during the 1970's. Disco dancing is usually associated with John Travolta's dance style in the movie "Saturday Night Fever."
Disco dancing is characterized by hip and pelvic moves, along with raised arms, performed in time to the beat of the music.
Country Cha Cha/Country Three-Step/Polka
Many different dances are done to country-western music. These dances include: Two Step, Three Step Waltz and Traveling Cha Cha and Polka. The Two Step and various Western promenade or pattern couples dances are unique to country western dancing.
Country waltz consists of gliding steps that are consistent with wearing cowboy boots, rather than "on the balls of the feet" quick steps of the classic version. Neither foot is lifted completely from the ground.
The Two-Step originated in the 1800's by people who arrived here from Europe. It was an offspring of the minuet and they danced it as QQSS. In the old Western days when women were not allowed to dance with men, men danced together and that is the reason for the hand on the shoulder holding a can of beer and the other hand to the side. The only women who eventually danced with these men were Indian Squaws and that is where all the turns came about, because Indian women loved to spin. Two-step is a Western dance whose popularity has spread all over the United States and Canada.
Created in 1912 by Harry Fox, the Fox Trot was the first dance that permitted people to hold each other closer than arm's length. If you think the term "dirty dancing" was a product of the 80s, think again. The Fox Trot was at first to be tagged "indecent behavior". Today it's still the most popular of all social dances. Some people refer to the Fox Trot as the "Slow Dance" or the "Two-Step", or a "Conversational Dance" because of its closeness and conversation ability at the same time. The Fox Trot is good for developing "smoothness" and "ease of movement".
A kind of dancing more than a specific dance, Disco has strong roots in Swing, Samba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Merengue, Fox Trot and Tango. The most popular version, the Hustle (of "Saturday Night Fever" fame), is believed to have originated in New York in 1970. This free form style is still one of the most popular at all night clubs and socials.
Jive is a dance style in 4/4 time that originated in the United States from African-Americans in the early 1930's. It was originally presented to the public as 'Jive' in 1934 by Cab Calloway. It is a lively and uninhibited variation of the Jitterbug, a form of Swing dance, and is one of the five International Latin dances. The Jive is a very happy and boppy dance, where the lifting of knees and the bending or rocking of the hips often occurs.
Named by Ray Bolger, after Colonel Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic. This Swing had as much "getting into the air" as possible. However, the violently acrobatic style used for exhibitions is not the same as the quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by good dancers on the ballroom floor. The rhythmic patterns takes place over two measures of music. The more acrobatic versions were limited to ballrooms of which the most famous was the New York's Savoy Harlem.
Note: At one time the Jitterbug included the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shag and Lindy Hop. It has now been consolidated into Lindy Hop in Eastern U.S. and on the West Coast the West Coast Swing.
Introduced by band leader Anselmo Sacaras in 1944, the Mambo - a merger of Swing and Rumba - didn't really catch on until the 1950s and it remains very popular today.
Considered too scandalous when it was introduced to the United States in 1941, the Merengue went into eclipse until 1957 when Xavier Cugat resurrected it. Its point of origin is uncertain, both Haiti and the Dominican Republic claim it, and it contains elements of both cultures. It's fun and exciting.
The Spanish March or One Step. It makes an especially good exhibition routine when the man styles his body movements to look like a bullfighter and leads his partner in and out of the patterns as if she were a cape. It is usually in 2/4 time.
The Quickstep evolved in the 1920s from a combination of the Foxtrot, The Chase G Chug, Charleston, Shag, Peabody, and One-Step. This dance gradually evolved into a very dynamic one with a lot of movement on the dance floor, with many advanced patterns including hops, runs, quick steps with a lot of momentum, and rotation. The tempo of Quickstep dance is rather brisk as it was developed to ragtime era jazz music which is fast-paced when compared to other dance music.
The Rumba is an ever increasingly popular romantic Latin dance dating back some 400 years ago, and is better known as the Latin get acquainted dance or the dance with the wiggle. The Rumba sometimes substitutes for those in-between tempos and features a subtle or relaxed (lateral) hip motion and Latin styling. Rumba hip movements are used in most of the popular Latin dances as well as the free-style of disco and night club
A peppery version of the Mambo laced with steps from other Latin dances. The Salsa is performed to a fiery, faster tempo. Some call it a form of Latinized Rock and Roll. It's high-energy and all fun.
A street Festival dance that originated in Brazil, the Samba was introduced to the United States in the late 1920's in a Broadway play called "Street Carnival". Samba is a very fun, energetic with a strong rhythmic beat.
Rudolph Valentino single-handedly danced this Latin import into nationwide popularity beginning in 1910. Although widely believed to have originated in Argentina, it actually may have come from Spain. It's dramatic, exciting and known as the Dancer's Dance. The Tango with all its staccato movements, greatly improves a man's lead or a woman's ability to follow (respond) and develops a strong sense of feeling for music.
A variation of East Coast Swing where the triple step is replaced by a single step forming a slow, slow, quick, quick rhythm common to Foxtrot.
With such wonderful composers as Johann Strauss and others, the Waltz became more and more refined. The steps became smaller with the turns smoother and more compact. Adding the graceful lilt of the flowing skirts we have today's Viennese Waltz.
This "mother of all dances" originated in Italy in the 1600's as a round dance called the Volte. It arrived in America during the early 1800's and was the first social dance in which a woman was actually held in a man's arms. Learning to Waltz is elegant. The Waltz develops "graceful movement" and "poise". Every wedding reception, social "black-tie" formal and holiday party includes Waltz steps.
West Coast Swing
A stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to California. Danced in a slot to medium to slow Swing or Disco music and characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.