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First Dance Specialists



Cha Cha Cha - When Pierre Lavelle visited Cuba in 1952 he realised that there was an alternative rhythm being used for the Rumba.  This alternative rhythm contained an additional two beats.  On his return to the U.K., he started teaching this as an alternative dance, this then became known as the Cha Cha Cha. In the mid 1950's this dance was described as a "Mambo with a guiro rhythm". The guiro is a musical instrument consisting of a dried gourd rubbed by a serrated stick.


Samba - Evolved in the 1830's from the plait figures from the Negro dances and the body rolls and sways of the indigenous Lundu, or Lundum, brought to Brazil by Bantu slaves from Angola and surrounding areas.  Carnival steps were added later. Gradually Rio's high society embraced the dance which was later popularised by 'Fred Astair' and 'Ginger Rogers' in their first film together; "Flying down to Rio" and  by 'Princess Margaret' in the 1950's who played a leading role in British Society.


Jive - Originated with the Negroes in the South East of the U.S.A., where it had an affinity with the war dance of the 'Seminole' Indians in Florida. The exuberant dancing and music of the Negroes contrasted with the limited and dour dances of the upper class in  the U.S.A. and U.K.  In the wake of the deaths of 'Prince Albert' and 'Queen Victoria', the English speaking society felt more free to engage in exuberant and energetic dances.  This brought along a series of simple dances; Turkey Trot, Bunny Hug, Eagle Rock to name a few. In 1910 these individual dances were brought together and heralded a change of interest from steps to rhythm.  This coincided with the publication of Irvin Berlin's "Alexandra Ragtime Band", and the International Jive was born.


Rumba - Has it's origin with the African Negro slaves imported into Cuba, whose dances emphasised the movement of the body rather than the feet.  It evolved in Havanna in the 19th Century by combination with the 'Contradanza'. La Contradance has a very interesting ancestry.  The "Country Dance" of England became popular on the Continent and as it became accepted into court society became more formal.  It was danced at court functions during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I at the end of the 17th Century. From there it became popular in South America and Mexico. This dance was introduced to the U.S.A. in the 1930's as a composite of the rural Rumba and the Cuban Bolero along with a few other dances for good measure! The British dancer 'Pierre Lavell' visited Havanna in 1947 and discovered the Rumba and how it was danced with the break step on beat one of the bar rather than beat two, as danced in the U.S.A. This then became the standard "International Cuban Rumba".


Paso Doble - The name 'Paso Doble' in Spanish means 'Two Step'.  This dance is derived from the many Spanish folk dances associated with Spanish Life. The gentleman portrays the Torero, (Matador) whilst his partner, the lady portrays the cape.  It is danced to a characteristic march music.



Mambo -  Originated in Haiti and  introduced to the West in 1948.  The word "Mambo" is a voodoo priestess in the religion brought by the Negroes from West Africa to the U.S.A. There are three forms of Mambo: single, double and triple. The triple has five steps and is the ancestor of the Cha Cha Cha.


Charleston - This is said to originate in the 'Cape Verde Islands' of the west coast of Africa. It evolved into a 'round' dance done by the Negro dock workers in the port of Charleston, South Carolina. U.S.A.  This dance became popular in white society after it's inclusion in the stage show "Running Wild" in 1923 by the Ziegfield Follies.


Salsa - A dance with 3 steps danced, to music with 4 beats per bar.  This results in a rhythm that is either Quick, Quick, Slow, or the fourth beat can be taken up with either a tap or highlight.  The dance is extremely flexible in that almost anything goes.


Merengue : This dance has two obvious very different 'roots', the Lady/Gentleman hold is very Western European, whereas the 'hip' action has very African origins.


Ceroc - This dance is a very modern version of the English Jive.

The Five Dances of Latin American

Alternative Rhythms...