Rumba Lessons


    Rumba is called the "the dance of romance" and remains one of the most popular American ballroom dances today. It is considered the most sensual of all the Latin ballroom dances. Because of its slow rhythm and expressive hip movements, dancing Rumba gives partners the opportunity to move sensually, to flirt and to be sexy.

    Rumba's earliest origins were in African folk dances. It was originally a frenzied fast past dance, with sexually-charged aggressive movements. The Rumba came to Cuba and the Caribbean islands with the importation of slaves as far back as the 1500's.

    American Rumba, like other Latin dances, can be traced more immediately to a Cuban dance called the Son, which developed as a modified version of these original Afro dances.

    The Cuban Son was first introduced in American in 1913. However, real interest in Latin music and dances didn't begin to catch on in the US until 1929 and after. People like bandleader Xavier Cugat performed and popularized Latin music and dance across the United States in the 1920's and 30's and Cugat became the top Latin orchestra leader of the day.

    Movies too helped popularize Latin dance, and the Rumba as well. Cugat and his band appeared and played in feature films and in 1935 George Raft played a suave dancer in a movie called "Rumba" where the hero wins the heart of an heiress (Carol Lombard) through their mutual love of dancing. By now the American Rumba was becoming even slower than the Cuban Son it was derived from and it was being modified to become a socially acceptable ballroom dance.

    American Rumba, like Waltz, is a box step, performed in 4/4 time. But unlike Waltz, it is characterized by a bent leg style, with well timed weight shifts that result in a hip sway know as Latin or Cuban Motion. This is what gives Rumba its sensual sexy style. Three steps are taken to one measure of music, on the two, three and four count. The intervening time is for turns and weight transfer. You can count Rumba "slow, quick, quick."

    A long way from the frenzied pace of its Afro-Cuban roots, Rumba has today become much slower and more stylized, but it still retains it's essential character, the play between the man and the woman and the sexual tension that make it the ultimate dance of passion.