Listed below are some of those enduring dances that help make social dancing forever popular. See below to learn exciting facts and view video of these exciting dance styles!
Originally a Spanish dance in 3/4 time, it was changed in Cuba initially into 2/4 time then eventually into 4/4. It is now present as a very slow type of Rumba rhythm. The music is frequently arranged with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually implemented with Conga or Bongos.
An offshoot of the Mambo, the Cha Cha (originally the cha-cha-cha) evolved out of popular movement in slow-tempo Mambo called the Triple Mambo. By 1954 it had evolved into a dance all its own. It’s a must style to know, the all time favorite latin dance.
Country Western Two-Step
The Two-Step originated in the 1800’s by people who arrived here from Europe. It was an offspring of the minuet and they danced it as QQSS. In the old Western days when women were not allowed to dance with men, men danced together and that is the reason for the hard on the shoulder holding a can of beer and the other hand to the side. The only women who eventually danced with these men were Indian Squaws and that is where all the turns came about, because Indian women loved to spin. Two-step is a Western dance whose popularity has spread all over the United States
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 its closeness and conversation ability at the same time. The Fox Trot is good for developing “smoothness” and “ease of movement”.
Named by Ray Bolger, after Colonel Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. This Swing had as much “getting into the air” as possible. However, the violently acrobatic style used for exhibitions is not the same as the quietly rhythmic Lindy enjoyed by good dancers on the ballroom floor. The rhythmic patterns takes place over two measures of music. The more acrobatic versions were limited to ballrooms of which the most famous was the New York’s Savoy Harlem. NOTE: At one time the Jitterbug included the Charleston, Black Bottom, Shag and Lindy Hop. It has now been consolidated into Lindy Hop in Eastern U.S. and on the West Coast the West Coast Swing.
Introduced by band leader Anselmo Sacasas in 1944, the Mambo – a merger of Swing and Rumba – didn’t really catch on until the 1950s and it 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 ever 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 1920’s in a Broadway play called “Street Carnival.”
A dance similar to the Polka. It is characterized by the clapping of hands after having taken three hopping steps. It is written in 4/4 time.
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 1920’s. lt combined steps from the Black Bottom; it was also 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 known as the Dancer’s Dance. The Tango 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.
With such wonderful composers as Johann Strauss and others, the Waltz became more and more refined. The steps became smaller with the turns smoother and more compact. Adding the graceful lilt of the flowing skirts we have today’s Viennese Waltz.
This “mother of all dances” originated in Italy in the 1600’s as a round dance called the Volte. It arrived in America in the early 1800’s 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, social “black-tie” formal and holiday party includes Waltz steps.
West Coast Swing
A stylized Swing dance popular west of the Mississippi from Kansas to California. Danced in a slot to medium to slow Swing or Disco music and characterized by slot movements, taps and shuffles, coaster steps, and push and pull action of the dancers.