The energetic Latin style of dance usually keeps the couple in one spot on the dance floor. This style includes several dances including the Rumba, Cha Cha, Mambo, Samba, Merengue and the Salsa.
Rumba is universally recognized as the dance of love, and is generally known as the “Latin Dance of Romance”. Danced to slow, sensual music, sometimes with a Latin beat and features a hip action known as Cuban Motion. Rumba is derived from the Afro-Caribbean dance called “Son”, and has been popular in the US as a ballroom dance since the 1930’s.
The flirty Cha Cha became popular in the 1950s. It is based on a lively chasse step. Cha cha may be danced to authentic Cuban music, or to Latin Pop or Latin Rock. The music for the ballroom Cha Cha is energetic and with a steady beat. The Cuban Cha Cha is more sensual and may involve complex polyrhythms.
The Mambo is one of the most sensual and emotional Latin American ballroom dances. Swaying hip movements, facial expressions, arm movements and holds all add to the sensuality of the dance.The Mambo dance that was invented by Perez Prado and was popular in the 1940s and 50s Cuba, Mexico City, and New York. It is completely different to the modern dance that Americans now call 'Mambo', which is also known as Salsa "on 2".
Salsa is a popular form of social dance that originated in the mid-1970s in New York with strong influences from Latin America, particularly Cuba and Puerto Rico. The movements of salsa have its origins in Cuban Son, Cha cha, Mambo and other dance forms. Salsa is 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.
The Samba is popular with young people as well as older generations. In the US, Samba evolved into a couple’s dance performed in most ballroom and was standardized as a ballroom dance in 1956. In Brazil however, samba remains a solo form, danced at street festivals and other celebrations with nationalistic pride. Samba is a fun, upbeat, lively dance that progresses counter-clockwise around the floor. It is characterized by its syncopated timing, bounce, rolling hip action and pelvic tilt and a great deal of rhythm is expressed throughout the torso.
The Merengue is, without question, the most popular dance today among Latin dancers in the USA. It has African and Spanish origins, though it is claimed as the National Dance of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.Merengue is characterized by Latin hip movement known as Cuban Motion. Merengue is considered a "fun dance", since it's so easy that almost anyone can do it right away. Its simplicity also lends itself to improvisation, encouraging the leader to be spontaneous.