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Updated: May 30, 2020

We have so many beginner students asking us what are differences between these popular Latin dances. We decided to write some basic explanation clearing some of the mystery around Cha Cha, Salsa, Rumba and Bachata. The majority of these styles are enjoyed by social dancers in Latin clubs all around the world. They are usually performed to authentic latin music or sometimes to more modern pop music. Sensual, electrifying and sexy are words that often associated with these dances and thats why so many people are drawn to them.

What is Cha Cha

Characteristics: Playful, staccato music, slick, energetic.

Music: Cha Cha is danced in 4/4 timing. Most of the time is counted as "1-2-3-Cha-Cha" where 1,2,3 represent the full beats and the Cha Cha's are half beats. Sometimes we can count this dance as "1-2-3-4-and" or "cha-cha-cha-2-3". This dance style can be danced to authentic Cuban Music or modern Latin Pop. It has steady but yet energetic beat.

Origin: This dance style originated in Cuba. It became popular in the United States and around the world in the late 50s and it's still one of the most popular Latin dances today. Most people are familiar with the Ballroom dance version used at dance competitions in the International Latin or American Rhythm divisions or they might've seen it on Dancing With The Stars.

What is Rumba

Characteristics: Sensual, lyrical, intimate,celebrative

Music: Rumba is also danced in 4/4 timing. That simply means that there are 4 beats in one bar of music. The music originated in the northern parts of Cuba, mainly in urban Havana. The rhythms is based on African music as well as the Spanish-based coros de clave.

Origins: This danced is considered to be a sister dance to Cha Cha. It also originated in Cuba where in the late 19th century it was popular to see Cubans making drums out of wooden stools and tables and erupt into a spontaneous dance gatherings along with singing. The meaning of Rumba is "party" so it is very fitting to say that people were celebrating life and freedom.

What is salsa

Characteristics: Exciting spins, vibrant, sudden

Music: Traditionally based on the 4/4 time signature grouped together in phrasing of 8 beats or two bars of music (1234-5678) which is often counted as 1-2-3 silent 4 then 5-6-7 silent 8. Typical instruments used are piano, conga, trumpet, claves, guitar, cowbell.

Origins: Many people believe that Salsa originated in New York City in the 1970s. The style was born out of mixing Cuban Cha Cha and Mambo and some north American Swing. Salsa is a mixture between many different dance styles.

what is bachata

Characteristics: Relaxed, sensual, intimate

Music: Also danced in 4/4 Bachata is a style of dance that is danced widely all over the world. In it's early days the only musical instrument that was used was a guitar where nowadays you can hear some modern versions of it including electronic sounds making it sound more contemporary.

Origins: Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced all over the world in it's slight styling variations. The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap including a hip movement on the 4th beat.

For more information join our group dance classes or schedule a private dance lesson with one of our instructors.


Image Ballroom Dance Academy's instructors are passionate about dance and helping people learn how to enjoy partner dancing more. We offer ballroom dance lessons, wedding dance instruction and private dance parties. Dance styles we teach include Cha Cha, Salsa, Rumba, Swing, Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango. Sign Up Today for your first dance class with us.

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1 commentaire

Dress4 Dance
Dress4 Dance
14 nov. 2021

Same dance "family" latin dances but with completely different style and flavor!Even if you take International Latin Rumba and American Rhythm Rumba that has different basic step and count.

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