Mambo is a fast and fiery partner dance illustrated by strong hip movement, and expression of rhythm through the body. Born in Cuba and made popular by musical greats such as Arsenio Rodríguez, Cachao, Perez Prado and Benny Moré, Mambo features press lines, swivels and spins. It also has points, kicks, and flicks of the feet known as shines.
Note that Mambo is not the same as it’s popular cousin, Salsa – the music is different. They are also stylistically different and danced on a different beat. Mambo dance breaks on the second count of the beat, while salsa dancing breaks on the first.
Boléro is the slowest of all the Latin dances and combines some of the same steps as Rumba with the rise and fall demonstrated in the Waltz to create an elegant gliding movement, dramatic arm styling and a romantic feel.
Boléro” stems from the Spanish verb “Volar” meaning “to fly, and was, in fact, born of poetry. The music, though widely varied across several countries, is often about love and loss.
Cha Cha is playful, energetic and fun. It evolved from slower Mambo and is characterized by the chasses (cha-cha-chas), which typically move side to side in traditional ballroom instead of the forward and back direction often danced socially. Though its roots are obviously Latin, the rhythm has been incorporated into many contemporary pop, country and hip hop songs so it is one of the most versatile of all the dances you can learn.
Slow, sensual and romantic, this dance is another that developed African and Cuban traditions. While shares some characteristics with the other American Rhythm dances, such as Cuban motion and certain patterns, it should be noted that ballroom rumba differs completely from Cuban rumba in both its music and its dance. Even the international style of ballroom Rumba is very different in terms of timing and style. This 4/4 dance is versatile and popular for wedding dances.
The East Coast Swing developed as a “teachable” form of the Lindy Hop done first at Savoy Ballroom in Harlem in during the 1930s. An energetic, fast and fun dance, done usually with triple steps and rock steps is traditionally danced to big band style songs as well as pop and country.
West Coast Swing (developed in California) is danced by partners in a slot typically to slower, bluesier music around 90 to 130 beats per minute. It is characterized by a distinctive elastic look that comes from its basic extension and compression technique of partner connection.