Latin Dance Styles 101
Latin dancing is considered one of the sexiest dance styles in the world – it’s intimate, fast, sensual and involves a lot of eye contact, but it’s not nearly as intimidating as many people believe!
In fact, the latin dance genre is as wide as it is old (it dates back to the 16th century) and is full of moves that are suited to dancers who want to have lots of fun while they move around the dance floor.
While each style of latin dance is different, there are many crossovers that mean dancers are able to move from one to the other with ease. But you’ve got to start somewhere, so let’s take a closer look at the different styles of latin dance…
Salsa is undoubtedly the most popular form of partnered dancing in the world, thanks to the wide variety of moves and the fact that it’s well suited to nightclubs and live music venues – making it the ideal style to learn if you’re looking to show off your moves across town. It’s a fast dance style that involves the shifting of your weight through steps, holding your upper body mostly still, although there are arm movements involved, especially during spins.
Salsa is an ever-evolving style of dance and has incorporated many other dance styles into itself over the years.
Originating in the late 1880s along the Argentinean & Uruguayan border, the Tango is a fusion of European & African dance steps that were popular among the lower socio economic groups. It’s a very sensual dance involving the connection of body parts between partners (either chest or thighs/hips) and is a great dance to learn with your husband or wife to bring a new kind of spark to your relationship.
Rhumba, or Rumba, is a style of ballroom dancing that officially dates back to the 1930s when conductor Don Azpiazu and his orchestra recorded the first Rhumba song in New York City. The single went on to be a number one hit and was a (successful) attempt to adapt Cuban music into a style of ballroom dancing.
There are two variations of the steps involved in Rhumba, one being a slow-quick-quick step and the other being a quick-quick-slow step. It’s a slower style of dance than Salsa or Merengue and the steps are quite compact with very little rise and fall. If you’re looking for a twist on classic ballroom, Rhumba might be the right dance for you.
Not to be confused with the base of a pavlova, Merengue is a Dominican style of dance where partners stand close together and bend their knees slightly left to right to make their hips move left to right.
According to Dominican folklore, some of the movements in Merengue originated from the way enslaved beet labourers would drag their chained ankles in the fields. While the music typical of Merengue is frenetic, the movements are relatively slow and can be picked up by beginners with ease.
The Cha Cha hails from Cuba and starts on the second beat of the song, hence the count ‘two three cha cha cha’ that you often hear in dance movies. It involves hip swaying along with the basic steps, which are not too distant from Salsa’s basic steps.
The steps are quite quick, especially when considered next to the slower-style songs the Cha Cha is often danced to, and is a style of dance you can do without a partner, although we recommend partner dancing while you learn the basic steps.
If you’re interested in getting in touch with a more exotic side of yourself, why not step into the Arthur Murray Crows Nest Studio and learn the sensual stylings of latin dancing!