The world of Latin dance can be somewhat ambiguous and perplexing. We get it. That's why we've put together this succinct breakdown of styles in the genre and how they differ.
When it comes to Dancesport, performers in the Latin dance division compete in the styles of samba, paso doble, cha-cha-cha, rumba, and the jive.
However, in the realm of social dance, there are many more Latin styles that fall under this umbrella. Salsa and bachata are arguably the two most popular styles among social dancers. Festivals and workshops, called congresses, are held all over the world as well as international competitions specific to these styles. Check out the full list of Latin dances below.
1) SalsaSaid to have originated in the Caribbean, Salsa is one of the most entertaining and practiced social dances in the world today. There are multiple subcategories within the genre of salsa.
2) MerengueThe dance and music of merengue originated in the Dominican Republic. Although the music is fast paced, the basic steps are fairly easy to master.
3) BachataThis dance also originated in the Dominican Republic and is known for being a slower more sensual dance with heavy emphasis on body isolation and strong hip movements.
4) Cha-Cha-ChaThis dance originated in Cuba and is similar to the mambo. Its name is derived from the sound the the dancers' shoes make while dancing to this style of music. In the U.S., the dance is simply known as the cha-cha.
5) Rumba The rumba is interesting in that it has changed over the years, and there are varying distinctive styles of the dance. The origins of rumba are rooted in Cuban son music, which has a blend of Spanish and African influences. However, the rumba is danced to various styles that are typically slower in pace and deep in emotion.
6) SambaThis dance is of Afro-Brazilian origin and is very popular in Brazil. The samba is known for requiring quick feet and high energy. It can be danced as an individual or as a couple.
7) Paso DoblePaso doble is known as the dance of the bullfight. This is a strong dance that originated in France but was adopted and molded by the Spanish and Portuguese. It isn't commonly danced in social settings but rather reserved for competition.
8) JiveJive dancing originated in the U.S. and was made popular by the African American community. It is performed with high energy similar to swing dance.
9) Mambo This dance originated in Cuba during the 1940s. Perez Prado is credited as having created the dance, although modern mambo is starkly different from the mambo that was started by Prado. Mambo is less structured than other disciplines in the genre and heavily emphasizes feeling the music.
10) Argentine TangoThe Argentine tango was birthed in Argentina and Uruguay, and although it originated in those countries, its influences span the globe. It's a dance of emotion and depth and relies deeply on improvisation.