Apart from the Rumba, an emotional dance of love, the latin dances are fast and exciting. Cha Cha Cha is the easiest dance for beginners to learn. Salsa and Argentine Tango have become popular dances and have more of a freestyle feel.
The Cha Cha
Cheeky, flirtatious and carefree, the Cha cha is usually one of the first latin dances a beginner learns and is a social favourite. Cha cha music originated from Cuba and has a strong easily recognised rhythm with a tempo of 30 bars per minute. The Cha Cha arrived from the US about 1962 and proved to be tremendously popular straight away.
The Samba and the carnival from Brazil go hand in hand. Again it is a flirtatious dance which captures all the excitement of the Rio carnival and is danced at 50 bars per minute. The samba requires the ‘Samba tick’ which is quite a difficult technique to learn but is what gives the samba its unique look. The Samba was introduced to Europe from South America in the late 1930’s but generally caught on after WW2. It became incredibly popular due to the infectious music and lively rhythms.
The Rumba is the slowest of the latin dances, danced at 27 bars per minute. It is based on the age-old story of the woman’s attempts to attract, reject and ultimately dominate the man of her choice! It is a popular dance much in use at social dances and again tends to be a dance that is taught early on to beginners. A good example of the feeling of the Rumba can be seen in the film ‘ Shall We Dance’, starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez.
This dance originated from the Jitterbug and Boogie Woogie which were popularised by American and Canadian servicemen during the 40’s. It was originally banned from ballrooms for being too wild and abandoned but was made into an acceptable dance with figures that could be taught and was renamed the Jive.
The Paso Doble
The Paso Doble is another dance that is mainly danced in competitions, though it is danced more socially on the continent. Originating from Spain it depicts the drama enacted in the bullring, where the man is seen as the matador and the lady depicts the cape. The film ‘Strictly Ballroom’ has an excellent Paso Doble.