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Introducing A Dance:

Rumba - The Latin Waltz

"Rumba" is sometimes spelt as Rhumba and Roomba. The word "rumba" comes from the verb "rumbear" which means going to parties, dancing, and having a good time.

This dance is universally recognized as the dance of love. It is danced to slow, sensual music with a Latin beat and features a hip action known as "Cuban Motion."

The Rumba is sometimes known as the 'Latin Waltz', because many of the figures in Waltz can also be danced in the Rumba, using Rumba timing and Cuban hip action. Rumba is danced to music in 4/4 time and the count of the steps is slow-quick-quick, that is three steps to four beats.


Ballroom rumba is a sensual dance to romantic music. It evolved from the Africo-Caribbean "Son" and "Danzon" which come from Cuba and has been popular in the U.S as a ballroom dance since the 1930s.

"Son" is a modified version of Cuban rumba along with other African influences. Cuban rumba is a folkloric dance performed to a fiery orchestra of drums and came to Cuba in the 16th century with the black slaves from Africa.

"Son" music began to take shape in the latter half of the 19th century in Cuba. The "Son" dance is danced by middle class Cubans. It is slower and more conservative and refined than Cuban Rumba. The hip movements are less exaggerated than Cuban rumba. The wealthy Cuban society did not dance Cuban rumba but danced a slower Danzon where very small steps are taken, women producing a subtle tilting of the hips by the bending and straightening of the knees.

"Son" was introduced to Americans in 1910s and then in 1920s but it did not take off. At some point "Son" was renamed to "Rumba". In the late 1920s Xavier Cugat, a famous orchestra leader popularized Rumba music and then "The Peanut Vendor" by Don Azpiazu's Havana Casino Orchestra was released in 1930 which became a hit as the new dance craze.

Rumba Characteristics

Rumba is often called the "dance of love", distinguished by its romantic feel. It is a non-progressive dance with continuous, flowing Cuban motion which gives Rumba its sensual look.

Rumba is the spirit and soul of Latin American music and dance. The fascinating rhythms and bodily expressions make the Rumba one of the most popular ballroom dances.

Ballroom Rumba is a nice dance for dancers to showcase their technique ability and a polite sensuousness and romantic flair on a dance floor, whereas the Cuban rumba is more a rhythmic street dance and can appear to be of a cool, yet hectic and sometimes wild abandon with the technique more about the rhythm, roots and soul of the dance, rather than being a commercially pretty dance form.

The American Rumba is a modified version of the "Son". In Europe, the introduction of Latin American dancing (Rumba in particular) owed much to the enthusiasm and interpretive ability of Monsieur Pierre (London's leading teacher in this dance form). In the 1950s with his partner, Doris Lavelle, he demonstrated and popularized Latin American dancing in London.

The Rumba was replaced in popularity by the Mambo, and later the Cha cha. Also a new dance (c. 1975), called the Nightclub 2-Step, was originally known as "Disco Two Step" (a la Buddy Schwimmer) is a modern semi-version of the Rumba, (a few say samba), it is done to modern slow music by pop artists such as Madonna, etc. NC 2-Step is mainly done in the West Coast Swing and country western communities.

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