These dances are favorites of nightclubs and ballroom champions, ranging from tango to salsa and samba. These dances grew with the music that inspired them, including African rhythms, European styles of storytelling, and music from Central and South America.
Tango is the most popular dance in Argentina and other countries in South America. In Argentina, there are two types of tango: the traditional style, which is fast and furious; and the son tango, which is slower and more sensual.
In Uruguay, Brazil, and Chile, people like to swing to the music from the 1940s to the 1960s. This is called forró, and it comes from northern Brazil where it is played with guitar and bass guitar. The beat is provided by hand clapping and foot stomping.
In Venezuela, people like to move to merengue or cumbia. These two dances originated in Cuba, but they have become very popular all over Latin America. Merengue is a fast dance usually used as an introduction to the night club scene or as part of a contest. Cumbia on the other hand is a slow dance that uses Colombian music as its foundation.
Salsa is a combination of Spanish and Cuban music that came into its own in the 1950s.
These are dances from Latin American and Caribbean countries. The most popular include salsa, bachata, merengue, cha-cha, rumba, and samba.
Salsa was born in Puerto Rico and has become one of the most popular dances in the world. It is known as a "guajiro's dance" because it originated among farmers who would meet on weekend trips to visit relatives in rural areas of Puerto Rico. They would socialize, have drinks, and then dance until early morning. Today, salsa can be found everywhere from New York City to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Bachata is a slow dance that came about during the poverty period in Dominican Republic. It started as a way for poor farmers to get money from women waiting for their husbands to finish working in the fields.
Merengue is a heavy rhythm used in many parts of the Caribbean. It became popular in the 1940s when American musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie played songs that included this type of music. Nowadays, it can be found at anyone's birthday party worldwide.
Cha-cha is a dance that originated in Cuba. It uses fast foot movements back and forth between partners as a way to communicate without speaking a language. This dance is very popular among teenagers everywhere.
Some Latin American dances are derived from and named for the music to which they are performed. Mambo, salsa, cha-cha-cha, rumba, merengue, samba, flamenco, bachata, and, most notably, tango are among the most popular. All of these dances have their origins in African rhythms and styles that were brought to South America by enslaved people.
Tango is very popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It is considered a national dance in Uruguay where it is known as the tanguero (tango dancer) because of its elegant nature. In fact, during Montevideo's World Tango Festival, which takes place every year in late September or early October, participants are judged based on their ability to dance tango well.
In Mexico, there is a type of dance called norteña that originated in Northern Mexico and the United States. It is characterized by its fast rhythm and bold styling. Women are expected to wear tight clothes that show off their figure while men should dress formally.
In Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador, cumbia is widely popular. This dance was born in Colombia when Colombian immigrants returned home from Europe and made their own versions of European dances such as waltz, mazurka, and schottisches. The colombian version is known as vallenato.
Latin American dances are all rhythmic and emotive, with some being very sensuous. Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Reggaeton, Mambo, Kizomba, Zouk, and Argentine Tango are among the other major groups of Latin dances. All of these dances can be done slow or fast, with or without a band, at social events or in nightclubs. All of them require partners.
The most popular dances in Mexico are Salsa and Merengue. In Cuba, it's Salsa and Cha-cha. In Puerto Rico, it's Salsa and Rumba. In Colombia, it's Salsa and Bachata. In Venezuela, it's Salsa and Mambo. And in Guatemala, it's Salsa and Chontel.
Dancing is very popular in Latin America, especially among young people. In many countries, there are clubs where you can go to dance, play music, have a drink, and meet new friends. These clubs are called "reuniones de baile" (dance reunions) in Spanish. You often need an invitation to go dancing, but once you're in the club, you can ask the staff for suggestions on what to do next.