What is the Mambo?
The Mambo is a rhythm or Latin dance, that is fast, fun and often known as Salsa on 2. It follows the same rhythm as Salsa, but starts on the second beat. It is a very traditional dance, preferred by communities in Mexico and Cuba, with accentuated hip movements at each step. Mambo means ‘shake it’ and has evolved to include influence from Bolero and Rumba.
Rhythm: 2,3,4,(1) or Hold, 2,3,4.
Energetic, instrumental music with Cuban and Afro-Caribbean influences. It is in 4/4 time with a tempo of 44 to 51bpm.
History of the Mambo
The Mambo began in Haiti in the 1940s when Perez Prado developed a dance to suit Mambo music which was first composed in the 1930s. Mambo means ‘conversation with the Gods’ in Kongo language.
The original Mambo included complicated foot work, with no basic steps and no break steps at all, so dance teachers didn’t prefer to teach this free style dance, dictated by ‘the feeling of the music’. Perez did introduce the Mambo in Havana, Mexico and then New York, each region now stamping their own version of Mambo.
The most popular today is the Americanised versions, with clear basic steps and moderate steps, compared to the original Mambo which included acrobatic lifts and spins.