Cha-cha (or Cha-cha-cha): The mid-tempo Cha-Cha is a spin-off of the Rumba and the Mambo. With its two slow steps followed by three quick ones (rock step, cha-cha-cha), this sensual, energetic dance is extraordinarily popular with old and young alike. The tempo is slow and staccato, making it easy for dancers to inject their own personality into the patterns. The Cha-Cha-Cha rhythm can still be heard in the music of contemporary performers like Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Gloria Estefan.
Rumba: Steamy! The most famous Latin American dance to gain popularity in North America and Europe is, without doubt, the rumba. Slow and romantic, the Rumba is the most sensual of the Latin dances. Motion is produced through a transfer of body weight and not from direct movement of the hips. Couples dance very closely together, using their body language to express emotion between them. The Rumba is sometimes referred to as the "Dance of Love" because couples stare deeply into each others eyes while they dance.
Mambo: Cuban bandleader Perez Prado popularized the style, in the late 1940s. The dance includes rock steps, side steps, and distinctive hip movement. The Mambo is a Rumba with a break on 2 and 4 in 4/4 time, danced according to the individual dancer's temperament. While conservative dancers can maintain a closed position, daring dancers can perform breakaway steps and completely separate themselves from each other.
Bolero: Originating in Spain, the Bolero is danced to a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. With its slip pivot and body rise danced to dreamy music usually accompanied by vocals, the Bolero has a very romantic and soft feel to it. The Bolero is all about being one with your partner in a slow, sweeping motion.
Merengue: The national dance of the Dominican Republic, Merengue was created in the mid-1950s. With its simple steps and 1-2 march-like rhythm, it was rumored to be initially performed by the guests of a crippled general in the Dominican Republic who wanted to imitate him as he dragged his lame right leg across the floor! The Merengue is known for its liveliness, with a step on every beat, knee action, and wiggles from side to side. Since it doesn't move around the dance floor, it's perfect for small, crowded dance floors.
Salsa: A fusion of Cuban, Puerto Rican and American styles, Salsa describes the fast, Latin music coming out of New York City in the late 1960s. Salsa dancing is characterized by a complicated rhythm, small steps, Cuban motion, and a compact hold. Salsa has a recurring 8-beat pattern, with patterns using 3 steps during each 4 beats. The skipped beat is usually marked by a tap or a kick. Salsa dancing is always sassy, sexy, and fun! Samba: The spirited Samba always gets feet tapping! Originally from Brazil, the festive Samba was popularized in the movies of Carmen Miranda. The Samba is characterized by a steady bounce in 2/4 meter achieved by flexing and straightening the knees while weight is transferred from the ball to the flat of the foot. This happy and bouncy dance is always fun!
Tango: A sensual, dramatic dance made famous by Rudolph Valentino, Tango originated in Buenos Aires and was stylized by the Gauchos in Argentina before making it to the United States. The Tango is known for flexing steps and posed pauses. Widely considered to be the "dancer's dance," it has become even more popular due to its presence in films like The Scent Of A Woman and Evita.