Cha Cha Cha
Latin dance has its roots in African dance and
As slaves were carried to various islands in
the Caribbean their dance styles were
blended with those of the local Indian and
Latin dances developed out of the creation of
new musical styles specific to the various
islands and mixed cultures of its inhabitants
Celebrated marriages and
baptisms, and rebellions
West Africans who worked
the suger plantations
along the coast of Puerto
Taino Indians were the
native inhabitant of the
island before Columbus
Dancers took turns challenging the drums, creating a
dialog with their movements that the solo drummer
answered. It is said that women bomba dancers would
typically dance with their skirt raised, showing their slips,
to ridicule the attire worn by plantation ladies.
*click the picture for examples of this music and dance style.
The closest derivative of Salsa comes from the Cuban Son
music. It is a blend of Spanish music and African rhythms.
Political deterioration because of Fidel Castro caused flight
from Cuba, which brought the dance and music style to
Puerto Rico, Columbia, Miami, and New York. Each location
changed the dance and music.
New York musicians added Jazz rhythms which changed the
sound and dancers added dance moves from swing dance
during periods of musical improvisation.
Dominican interactions with African Americans and R&B gave
birth to Reggaeton.
For a more extensive history of Salsa view the following link.
A History Of Salsa
Was first used to
encompass a collection of
Latin dances that were of
Salsa has become one
dance that encompasses
many cultural influences
Click on the picture to
view various styles of
Salsa and Cuban Son
Merengue began in the 19th
century in the Dominican
Republic. It first featured stringed
instruments, but German traders
introduced islanders to the
accordion, and that instrument's
distinctive sound became
synonymous with the dance. It
began in the lower classes,
although a more formalized style
of the dance was later developed
for ballroom dance purposes.
Former dictator Rafael Trujillo
named Merengue the official
dance of the Dominican Republic.
Walking steps and side steps (chasse) are the basic components of
Merengue dates prior to the mid-1800’s. It was imported into the New
York Latin dance clubs in the early 1940’s. An old legend says the dance
got its characteristic drag of the right foot out of respect to an old war hero
who returned home with a badly wounded leg.
The Latin musician Juan Luis Guerra is credited with popularizing the
easy-to-follow 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8 beat.
Merengue is a fun and easy dance made up of simple steps. Primarily a
non progressive dance, it can also travel counter clockwise around the
floor. Noted for its Cuban motion, Merengue is also characterized by its
Click on the image to see examples of the dance style.
The Bachata is another dance whose history is more aptly
described by the history of the music from which it takes its name.
Bachata is a style of guitar music played in the Dominican
Republic. The first song in the genre was recorded in 1961 by José
Manuel Calderón. It was a music of the common people and the
down-and-out, which unfortunately gave it a seedy reputation. With
its frequently bitter subject matter, it has been compared to the
American blues tradition. The dance was created to accompany
these tales of love and woe.
For more in depth info on the dance and variations of the dance around
the world click the word Bachata.
Its lyrics have history.
Bachata is a partner dance
basically comprised of four steps,
with a tap or pop on the fourth
This intimate dance positions
partners close together using a
closed or open frame, and
contains natural hip movement.
There is always a side-to-side
motion with three simple steps
taken during four beats of music.
On the fourth beat, both partners
tap with a hip motion.
Click the picture to hear the music
and see the dance.