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The Latin Dances

September 5, 2017

At UEA Dancesport we learn 5 traditional Latin Dances, read below to find out more about each one!




Cha Cha Cha


The Cha Cha Cha (Cha), pictured above, originated in Cuba and evolved from two other dances, the ‘mambo’ and the ‘danzon’. In 1954, Enrique Jorrin was working with Orquesta America in Cuba when he decided to slow down the orchestra’s mambo beat. The orchestra continued to play it and the beat became very popular, and the Cha was created. The Cha is well known for being a lively and playful dance.


The two basic steps that make up the Cha are the rock steps and chasses. The rock step occurs on the counts 2 and 3. The left foot takes the forward rock, where the weight is on the left leg that is straight, whilst the right is bent and tucked behind the knee. The right foot takes the back rock where the right leg takes the weight, with both legs being straight. The chasse takes place on the counts 4 and 1. The dancer steps to the side, brings the other foot in, replaces the weight and steps to the side again.


Popular songs that you can dance the Cha to are ‘Let’s get loud’ by Jennifer Lopez and ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars.




The Samba came from a much faster, solo version performed in carnivals in Brazil. It involved rapidly-moving hips and quick transfers of weight. The samba was introduced to the US towards the end of the 1920s. Eventually the dance became a couple’s dance and in 1956 it was standardised as a ballroom dance. The samba is known for being a fun and upbeat dance that involves bounce and rolling hip action.


Samba walks are a very popular dance step within this style where the dancer steps forward lowering the leg so that it is bent, whilst the other leg is straight with the toe pointed. Another popular step are voltas. The volta involves stepping to the side, crossing the other foot in front of it, in which both legs become bent, and then stepping to the side with the first leg used.


Popular samba songs to dance to include ‘Calabria’ and ‘Mas que nada’ by the Black Eyed Peas.




The Rumba originated from the Cuban dances ‘son’ and ‘danzon’. Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer introduced ‘son’ to America in 1913. During the late 1920s Xavier Cugat, a famous orchestral leader, popularised Rumba music. Then in the mid 1950s, Rumba was introduced to Europe. The Rumba is a very passionate dance, often being referred to as the dance of love for its romantic and sensual appearance.


Common Rumba steps include rumba walks and new yorkers . Rumba walks can be performed by stepping forward, straightening the leg whilst the other leg is behind and the foot is pointed. New yorkers involve stepping away from your partner after facing them, the leg is straight with the other bent. The outside arm is lifted upwards and the other is holding your partner’s hand.


Rumba songs include ‘Halo’ by Beyoncé and ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson.




Paso Doble


The Paso Doble is based on the music that is played at bullfights during the bullfighter’s entrance or just before the kill. The leader of the dance plays the role of the matador, whilst the follower plays the matador's cape. The music incorporates highlights, where the dancers perform a trick and hold a position until the end of the highlight. The Paso Doble is well known for being a strong and dramatic dances with aggressive movements.


A chasse is a very common step within this dance, where the dancers are in close contact. They appel (Stomp) on the right foot, the left foot steps to the side, the right foot closes to the left and then the left foot takes a side step. Walks are also very popular which involve stepping with the heel of the foot to create the paso doble style.


The most popular paso doble song that is usually played at competitions is ‘Espana Cani’.




The Jive originated in the southern parts of America and became very popular among younger people. The dance was brought over to England during the Second World War, but was not socially accepted, which resulted in it only being performed in underground clubs throughout the 1930s. The Jive is an energetic and fast dance with lots of sharp action.


Drunken sailor is a common step within the jive which involves taking one foot behind the other, stepping to the side to replace the weight momentarily and then repeating this on the other side. Kicks and flicks are also very popular, where the dancer lifts one knee up and flicks the lower leg in a quick and sharp motion.


The Jive can be danced to ‘Mambo no. 5’ by Lou Bega and ‘Ain’t nothing wrong with that’ by Robert Randolph and the family band.




Written by Hannah Jones

ChaChaCha Image: Hannah Jones

Paso Doble Image: Marwa Ramsi, taken by Bob'stography




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