Listed below are some of the enduring dances that helped make social dancing forever popular. Read more to learn interesting facts and view videos of these exciting dance styles!
An offshoot of the Mambo, the Cha Cha (originally the cha-cha-cha) evolved out of popular movements in a slow-tempo Mambo called the Triple Mambo. By 1954 it became a dance of its own. The Cha Cha is a must-know style and has become the all-time favorite latin dance.
A kind of dancing more than a specific dance, Disco has strong roots in Swing, Samba, Cha-Cha, Mambo, Merengue, Fox Trot and Tango. The most popular version, the Hustle (of “Saturday Night Fever” fame), is believed to have originated in New York in 1970. This free form style is still one of the most popular at all night clubs and socials.
Created in 1912 by Harry Fox, the Fox Trot was the first dance that permitted people to hold each other closer than arm’s length. If you think the term “dirty dancing” was a product of the ’80s, think again. The Fox Trot was the first to be tagged “indecent behavior.” Today it’s still the most popular of all social dances. Some people refer to the Fox Trot as the “Slow Dance” or the “Two-Step,” or a “Conversational Dance” because of the physical closeness and ease of conversation it allows. The Fox Trot is good for developing smoothness and ease of movement.
Introduced by band leader Anselmo Sacaras in 1944, the Mambo – a merger of Swing and Rumba – didn’t really catch on until the 1950s, but remains very popular today.
Considered too scandalous when it was introduced to the United States in 1941, the Merengue went into eclipse until 1957 when Xavier Cugat resurrected it. Its point of origin is uncertain; both Haiti and the Dominican Republic claim it, and it contains elements of both cultures. It’s fun and exciting.
The Rumba is an increasingly popular romantic Latin dance dating back some 400 years ago, and is better known as the Latin get acquainted dance or the dance with the wiggle. The Rumba sometimes substitutes for those in-between tempos and features a subtle or relaxed (lateral) hip motion and Latin styling. Rumba hip movements are used in most of the popular Latin dances as well as the free-style of disco and nightclub dancing.
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.
A street festival dance that originated in Brazil, the Samba was introduced to the United States in the late 1920s in a Broadway play called “Street Carnival.”
First known as the Lindy (in honor of Charles Lindberg and his historic hop across the Atlantic), this perennially popular dance emerged in the late 1920s. lt combined steps from the Black Bottom and was also known as the Bop and Push, the Hustle and Boot Scoot, Shag, Charleston and Hop. During the war years it re-emerged on the East Coast as the Jitterbug-jive and on the West Coast as Swing. You can Rock & Roll with Swing.
Rudolph Valentino single-handedly danced this Latin import into nationwide popularity beginning in 1910. Although widely believed to have originated in Argentina, it actually may have come from Spain. It’s dramatic, exciting and is known as the dancer’s dance. TheTango, with all its staccato movements, greatly improves a man’s lead or a woman’s ability to follow/respond and develops a strong sense of feeling for music.
This “mother of all dances” originated in Italy in the 1600s as a round dance called the Volte. It arrived in America in the early 1800s and was the first social dance in which a woman was actually held in a man’s arms. Learning to Waltz is elegant. The Waltz develops graceful movement and poise. Every wedding reception, black-tie formal and holiday party includes Waltz steps.
The quickstep is a light-hearted member of the standard ballroom dances. The movement of the dance is fast and powerfully flowing and sprinkled with syncopations. The upbeat melodies that quickstep is danced to make it suitable for both formal and informal events. Quickstep was developed in the twenties in New York and was first danced by Caribbean and African dancers. Its origins are in combination of slow foxtrot combined with the Charleston, a dance which was one of the precursors to what today is called swing dancing.