How to dance mexican cumbia for guys

How to Dance Cumbia | The 2023 Dancer’s Guide

If you’ve been wanting to learn how to dance cumbia, it's time to grab your dancing shoes and get in the groove! This lively and exciting Latin dance is relatively simple, which makes it one of the more beginner-friendly styles of dance. So, even if you don’t consider yourself much of a dancer, you can easily learn how to dance cumbia and master the steps with just a bit of guidance and practice. 

Excited to learn how to dance cumbia, but not sure where to start? Our beginner’s guide will introduce you to the art of cumbia music and dance and provide you with all the resources you need to learn how to dance cumbia, whether you want to teach yourself or work with professional dance instructors. Before you know it, you’ll be dancing away your worries and reaping all the wonderful benefits of dance! As experts at the Better Health Channel state, learning to dance can lead to physical and mental health benefits such as improved aerobic fitness and greater self-confidence. So, let's get started!

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  • How to Learn the Cumbia
  • What is Cumbia?
  • Cumbia Steps

How to Learn the Cumbia 

Dance Classes

One of the best and most exciting ways to learn how to dance cumbia is to take in-person or online dance classes. When you take a dance class, you’ll receive detailed guidance from top-rated dance teachers and have the chance to practice your skills with a partner, all while getting immediate feedback and tips from the professionals. Not only is it a great and effective way to learn how to dance cumbia, but it’s also extremely fun, especially with friends or fellow dancers! Whether you are looking to learn how to dance cumbia or some other style, be sure to check out the dance classes near you, as well as dance classes in NYC and dance classes in Las Vegas.

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Practice, Practice, Practice

Of course, the best way to learn how to dance cumbia and to really perfect your moves is to practice as much as you can! The good news is that cumbia is not a particularly difficult style of dance, which means it is relatively simple to learn the steps on your own and practice, even just from the comfort of your own home. All you need is some cumbia music (and there’s plenty of playlists for free on Youtube), a positive attitude and our handy guide to how to dance cumbia. Keep reading to learn all about how to dance cumbia. We’ll explore the history of this art form, including where cumbia is from, and easily break down all the cumbia steps and counts. 

What is Cumbia?

History: Where is Cumbia from?

Cumbia music and dance traces its origin back to the country of Colombia during the 1800s, and more specifically the coastal town of San Basilia. Cumbia began as a folk dance that blended together the culture of native Colombians with that of the enslaved Africans, who had been brought over by Spanish colonizers. Then, in the 1940s, Colombian singer Luis Carlos Meyer Castandet emigrated to Mexico and started working with the Mexican orchestra director Rafael de Paz, first bringing this lively style of dance and music to the country. It quickly became popular and as more Mexicans learned how to dance cumbia, it gradually evolved into the subgenre now known as Mexican cumbia. Around the same time as the dance was being adapted in Mexico, cumbia dance was also spreading throughout other Latin American countries, including Peru, Chile and Argentina, and now it has become one of the most popular Latin dances performed throughout the world, both by professionals and amateurs.

Cumbia Music

Cumbia music is largely considered by many to be the “mother of all Latin music.” It blends together the rhythm of African drums with the melody of Colombian flutes and maracas, but since its creation has now expanded to incorporate many more instruments, including the guitar, clave, accordion and bass guitar. Cumbia music is lively and energetic, a crossover between salsa and samba. Although it doesn’t feel quite natural to dance salsa to cumbia music, dancing cumbia to salsa music is quite popular among dancers in Central America. So, as you learn how to dance cumbia, make sure you’ve got some authentic cumbia music to play!

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Cumbia Steps

The Basic Cumbia Step

The back-break basic is the main step you need to learn when mastering the art of how to dance cumbia, and luckily, it’s perfect for beginners. It can be broken down into a four-count pattern. So, here’s how to dance cumbia:

First, you start with your feet together, then on count 1, step back with your right foot at an angle – you’ll want to make an approximately 45º angle with your angled right toe almost in line with your back heel (keep a fair bit of distance, though, as you don’t want your feet to be touching). On count 2, step in place with your left foot (easy enough, right?). On count 3, step your right foot back in place with the left. Count 4, just wait and shift your weight. You can even lightly tap your right heel if you’d like to add a bit more flair to your step.

Then, you’ll repeat the same steps, only this time you’ll switch sides, stepping back with your left foot at an angle on count 1. On count 2, step in place with your right foot this time before bringing your left foot back in place again and waiting or shifting your weight for count 4. As you are learning how to dance cumbia, go through the steps slowly to start and then gradually speed up as you get more and more comfortable. Before you know it, you won’t even be thinking about it anymore, and once you’ve mastered this basic back-break step, you’re ready to move on to the more fancier stylistic elements of the dance.

Dancing With a Partner: Lead or Follow?

When you are learning how to dance cumbia, you’ll need to know if you are the leader or follower. Although the cumbia dance doesn’t require leaders (traditionally men) and followers (traditionally women) to learn different steps, in order to dance together as partners, you’ll need to make sure you are on opposite feet. This means that the leader should first step back with their left foot, while the follower should first step back with their right foot. Doing so will ensure that your feet movements mirror each other and flow in the same direction without your feet unintentionally colliding and disrupting your groove. As you dance with your partner, you can raise your arms in front of you and hold hands before gradually introducing some of the more advanced moves together as you keep exploring how to dance cumbia.

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Advanced Cumbia Moves

As you and your partner keep the basic 4-count back-break step pattern going, you can spice things up a bit by adding hip dips, spins and other moves. When learning how to dance cumbia, you must learn how to feel the music, so after mastering the basic 8-count step, you’ll want to spend some time practicing the basic dance pattern to music, letting your hips and body sway to the beat. Once you both feel more comfortable moving to the rhythm in step, you can start experimenting and having a bit of fun with learning how to dance cumbia.

Adding a Turn

Adding a turn is one of the more advanced moves when it comes to learning how to dance cumbia. Starting face-to-face, you and your partner will each step backwards together while continuing to hold hands. Then, release hands. The leader will use their left hand to guide the turn by pulling the follower forward on their right foot.

Important note: the follower should firmly plant their right foot at this point, as this is the foot they will turn on, their pivot point. While the follower is planting their foot, the leader grabs their partner’s right hand, raising up their arm and beginning the turn. Finally, to finish the turn, the leader steps forward and to the side on their left foot to complete the turn and bring you both back to the neutral starting point. 

The counts for the turn are as follows:

  1. Both step back
  2. Follower steps forward and the turn begins
  3. Leader steps forward and to the side, completing the turn
  4. Arrive back at neutral
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Now you’re ready to crank up the music and start exploring how to dance cumbia! Whether you decide to learn on your own, with a partner or at a dance class, the steps are pretty beginner-friendly, which makes this Latin dance a fun and accessible option for everyone, no matter what your skill level. Most important of all, have fun as you learn how to dance cumbia! Keep practicing and before you know it, you just might be a professional Mexican cumbia dancer.

For even more creative ideas and inspiration, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!

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How To Dance Cumbia For Beginners? A Step-By-Step Guide

Tracing its root in Colombia, this alluring dance style – Cumbia – has been a staple in the nightlife of many South American nations. It’s not hard to find a dancer doing the famous steps in discos and clubs, you ever got the opportunity to visit!

Here’s how to dance cumbia for beginners, if you don’t want to miss out on it. Thankfully, the dance itself is quite simple. You can probably master it in a couple of hours if you put your mind to it (and get a partner, too!)


  • Cumbia Dance Style: An Overview
    • History
    • The Music
  • How To Dance Cumbia Solo?
    • Count 1: Step Back The Right Foot
    • Count 2: Step In Place The Left Foot
    • Count 3: Step The Right Foot In Place With The Left
    • Count 4: Wait For A Beat & Shift Your Weight
    • Switch Sides & Repeat The Steps
    • Start From Slow To Quick
  • How To Dance Cumbia With A Partner?
    • Leader and Follower
    • Dancing With A Partner
  • How To Add A Turn?
  • Dance Cumbia In A Circle
  • Advanced Cumbia Moves
  • FAQs
    • 1. What Type Of Dance Is Cumbia?
    • 2. How Is Cumbia Different From Salsa?
    • 3. How Is Cumbia Different From Bachata?
  • Bottom Line

Cumbia Dance Style: An Overview


The term cumbia, according to experts, came from a Bantu word kumbe, meaning “to dance”.

Like many other folk dance styles around the world, there aren’t any exact historical records about it. All we know is that cumbia appeared and picked up steam in the 1800s in the beautiful coastal town of San Basilia, Colombia.

Cumbia is described to be a harmonious mixture of Colombian and African cultures. The latter came from enslaved Africans brought to Latin America by the Spanish.

The big boom for cumbia came in the 1940s when Luis Carlos Meyer Castandet – a legendary Colombia singer – brought the dance style to Mexico. There, it quickly caught the fancy of the masses and soon became extremely popular. So popular, in fact, that the dance crossed borders into many other South American countries from Peru all the way to Argentina.

The Music

For cumbia, music is just as important as the dance itself. The lively music can inspire so much energy that many consider it to be the “Mother of all Latin music”. If you want to imagine what it sounds like, it’s like a combination of salsa and samba.

The music is played by special musical ensembles, known as conjunto de cumbia (or cumbiamba). A cumbiamba can entreat you to a feast of sounds from “conventional” instruments like guitars and bass guitars to more traditional instruments like Colombian flutes and maracas.

If you’re going to practice cumbia, make sure to get yourself a good recording. The spirit of the dance won’t be there if you were to choose some sub-par, non-authentic music!

How To Dance Cumbia Solo?

The basic dance can be packaged into a simple four-count pattern. Once you’ve mastered it, you’re basically ready to take to the floor!

Start from a resting position with your feet together. If you know how to dance salsa, the resting position is the exact same.

Count 1: Step Back The Right Foot

Move your right foot to the side and at a 45° angle. Your right toe should be in line with the back heel of your left foot.

Keep a fair distance between both feet. They shouldn’t be touching one another.

Count 2: Step In Place The Left Foot

The second count is very simple. Just step in place with your left foot.

If you have a partner with you, here’s a good chance to get your game on and be flirtatious. You can even show your enthusiasm on your face and body language.

Count 3: Step The Right Foot In Place With The Left

Bring your foot back to the resting position (both left and right feet side by side).

Count 4: Wait For A Beat & Shift Your Weight

On the last count, pause for a beat. Then, shifts your weight from the right foot to the left foot.

Shake your hips a little to add some extra flair to your movement.

Switch Sides & Repeat The Steps

Re-do the four-count pattern, but this time, on the left side instead of the right.

  • Bring your left foot back on count 1.
  • Step in place with your right foot on count 2.
  • Retract your left foot on count 3.
  • Then shift weight to the other side on count 4.

Like any other dance, the first time you do it may feel a bit awkward. But the more you practice, the more natural the steps will feel.

Start From Slow To Quick

Start out slow and gradually speed up as you become comfortable with the pattern. When you no longer have to think about the steps and your feet feel like they have minds of their own, you’re ready to hit the club!

However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to learn. The four-count pattern is the most basic part of dancing cumbia. If you want to truly wow the crowd, focus on learning more advanced steps and elements of the dance next.

… or learn how to dance with a partner! After all, cumbia was originally a courtship dance. Having a partner is basically half the fun.

How To Dance Cumbia With A Partner?

Leader and Follower

When you set out to learn (or dance) cumbia with a partner, establish which of you will lead and which will follow. Traditionally, the leader is going to be male and the follower will be female. Nevertheless, in the modern age, anyone can be anything.

The reasoning behind this system is to keep both of you in rhythm. Two partners must dance on opposite feet. The leader will start out on the left foot, while the follower will start out on the right. As you go through the dance, the feet will alternate.

Dancing With A Partner

Not much changes when you dance cumbia with a partner. The basic four-count pattern still applies.

The dance will start out with you and your partner facing one another, about 2 feet apart. Gently link both of your hands together in the middle.

Count 1

The leader will step his right foot back, while the follower steps back on her left foot.

Next, the leader will release his right hand and extend it outward or upward. The follower releases her left hand and does the same flourishing motion. Keep the other hand linked between you two.

When you step back, your shoulders should touch.

Count 2

Step your foot. If you’re the leader, step your left foot (right foot for the follower).

Count 3

Come back to one another and link your hands back up again. Remember to move your hips and sway them side to side as the two of you dance.

Count 4

Pause for a beat, then shift your weight to the other foot.

Switch sides & Repeat

Re-do the pattern again. Keep on switching from side to side until the music stops.

How To Add A Turn?

Like we said, the same four counts aren’t all there is to know about cumbia. To spice things up, you can add spins, turns, dips, and other moves to make your performance more exciting, too. The easiest to learn right out of the gate is the turn.

On the first count, step back from one another with the leader on his right foot and the follower on her left foot. But unlike the standard pattern, don’t release one another’s hands. Instead, keep them interlinked as you step back.

Count 2, reset your feet. As you do, assuming you’re the leader, let go of your partner’s right hand. Your left hand, still holding onto your partner’s, will be used to guide the turn.

Count 3 is the turn. Gently pull your following partner by stepping your left foot forward. The follower will plant her right foot in one place and turn on that foot. As you go through the motion, lift your left hand and arm.

On count 4, the turn is finished. As the follower turns, the leader will step forward and to the side on his left foot, bringing him back to the resting position with both feet together. At the end of the motion, the follower will come back to the resting position, too.


Dance Cumbia In A Circle

Cumbia is often danced in a circular pattern, revolving around the group of musicians playing the music. There’s nothing difficult about it, really. As you go through the basic pattern, you will naturally move yourself (and your partner) to the side. Guide yourself in a circle.

If you’re dancing with other groups, the whole party will typically dance in a circle. Just follow everyone else!

Advanced Cumbia Moves

Advanced cumbia moves include turns, dips, and spins. Once you first start out, it’s highly recommended that you focus on getting the basic pattern down. Once you do, get a feel for the music.

Keep practicing until the pattern is ingrained in you. Afterward, you can have a bit more fun by experimenting with different moves.


1. What Type Of Dance Is Cumbia?

Cumbia is a traditional folk dance. As we’ve introduced at the very beginning of the article, the dance style and the music have the spirits of different cultures: African and Spanish.

At first, the dance was more of a folkloric, courtship dance. These days, cumbia has evolved into a social dance that can be done with friends, family, as well as lovers alike.

2. How Is Cumbia Different From Salsa?

Cumbia is a bit slower than salsa. Compared to the frenetic rhythm of salsa, cumbia is more gentle and easier to follow along. The relaxed rhythm and the easy, circular pattern are great for social dancing … but not great for competitions.

Salsa is a lot more preferred in dance competitions due to its showy and technical nature.

3. How Is Cumbia Different From Bachata?

Unlike cumbia and salsa, which shares many characteristics with one another, cumbia and bachata are two totally different styles. Cumbia originates from Colombia, while bachata traces its roots back to the Dominican Republic.

Bachata is danced in a four-step timing, while cumbia dances in either 2/2 or 4/4 dance signatures. Last but not least, the style, music, and moves are totally different between cumbia and bachata, too.

Check more: Types Of Ballroom Dance With Definition & Pictures

Bottom Line

It’s not all that difficult to learn how to dance cumbia for beginners, especially if you’ve had previous dance experience. But even if you haven’t danced before (or think you’re not very good at it), cumbia is still super easy to learn. It won’t take more than a couple of hours to master the basic cumbia steps and move on to more advanced techniques.

Cumbia -

Cumbia is a musical genre and dance born in XVII - m century in Colombia, first called Cumba , then Cumbia . However, Cumbia has spread to South America, especially Bolivia, Peru and more recently Argentina, where it has mingled with the music already there.

Slave drums were originally used to accompany funeral services. The Native American peoples of the West Indies then added in these rhythms ocarinas, reed flutes and gaitas (a type of long Native American flute) to the melodies, lyrics and dance imported by the Spanish colonists.


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Origin
  • 3 Various types cumbia
    • 3. 1 Classic Colombian cumbia
    • 3.2 Cumbiamba from Colombia
    • 3.3 Modern Cumbia from Colombia
    • 3.4 Cumbia Santeña from Panama
    • 3.5 Cumbia Coclesana from Panama
    • 3.6 Cumbia Mejoranera from Panama
    • 3.7 Modern Cumbia from Panama
  • 4 Cumbia outside Colombia
    • 4.1 Interpreters and distribution
    • 4.2 Main artists and groups
  • 5 Notes and references


The word cumbia comes from the Bantu language, derived from the word cumbe , a rhythm and dance from Equatorial Guinea (West Africa), more specifically from the Mbata region. According to Guillermo Abadia Morales, term cumbia refers to the Cuban word cumbancha, which means a party, a small orchestra. Cumbia is a term that means music, rhythm and not a song.

Advocates of the aboriginal origin of Cumbia trace its name from the name of Kumbaga, the symbolic leader of the Pokabui.


Cumbia was born in the upper part of the Magdalena river valley in eastern Colombia in a geographical area called the Momposina depression, more precisely in the area that corresponds to the country of the indigenous Pocabuy.

Cumbia is a dance and rhythm developed from a cultural mix of African culture with slaves, European culture with Spanish colonization in Colombia, and indigenous culture.

The African slaves of this region used songs nominated areítos , which means dancing, singing, to tell the story of their ethnic group and honored to be kept in memory. So these songs were a history lesson, remembered by those who heard them.

The presence of these cultural elements can be assessed as follows:

  • The presence of carnal movements characteristic of dances of African origin.
  • The costumes of this dance are inspired by those of Spanish culture, and are very close to the clothes of the current flamenco : long skirts, lace, sequins, etc. , without forgetting the intense make-up of women and their haircut flowers. Men's clothing is closer to that used during encierros (tradition whereby bulls are led through the city to toril before the bullfight), San Fermin festivals in Pamplona: white shirt and trousers, red scarf around the neck. and a hat.
  • As for the music, the drums are of African origin, the maracas, whistles and flutes are of Indian origin, and the songs and popular songs are taken from Spanish poetry, although adapted to the cumbia.

The first official Cumbia group was formed in 1877. This is Cumbia Soledeña and their most famous song was " Pa gozá el carnaval ".

Popular festival in El Hatillo, Panama, in 1890, featuring traditional instruments.

In Panama, the cumbia dates back to colonial times and has its epicenter in the central provinces. Various regional variations originate in the choreographic and musical composition mainly from Africa. They also celebrate the instruments and original dance steps of the Spanish (Andalusian and Galician) and, to a lesser extent, Aboriginal peoples.

The process that has shaped the culture and characteristics of the Colombian Caribbean in three aspects (Hispanic, Black and Indian) from the Spanish colonial period to the present day also took place in the isthmus. Dropping into the area to talk about their appearance in colonial times, in the evenings the Creole families would gather to recite poetry and play music typical of Spain and Europe, on other evenings they would bring their slaves to play the traditional drums and dance. Among her favorite African dances was El Punto, this performance consisted of internal and belly movements and an African woman dancing alone. The other dance was the cumbia, for this couple points towards the center of the room, men against women, and gradually a circle of couples formed. The man's dancing step was something of a backward leap as the woman glided forward with a lit candle in her hand, holding a very bright handkerchief. There is also mention of a dance during a religious festival celebrated in the month of May which bore the name "Commemoration of the Cross" and people would gather to pray the rosaries, sing litanies and then form the cumbias ran dance, it still exists today in the inner communities and the capital countries.

Various types of


Classic Colombian Cumbia

Colombian Lamador .

Cumbia classical consists of instruments like zigi kuisi and kuisi Bunzi two types of Indian flutes, maracas, originally made in gourd and inside corn kernels or small stones. This is the so-called melody zambo , that is, born as a result of the merger of black and Indian cultures. Thus, in its composition we also find several types of drums that create the rhythm, namely el Llamador (the one who calls) containing a non-standard beat, Allegre, derived from African congas, having a typical cumbia sound, it contains a solo, as well as tambora: a top hat divided by two skins and played with sticks, this one was added a posteriori for its celebratory character. Optionally, you can add a las guacharacas scraper. Thus, the melody is Indian and the rhythm is African. This cumbia only dance but never sing.

Colombian cumbiamba

Cumbiamba is a variety of cumbia that arose from the fact that African slaves began to speak and thus sing in Castilian. The dances also change because women don't wear veils on their arms. Instruments also vary, including accordion, pan flute.

Each member of the group has his own role: the first musician is a flutist, the second plays the drum, the third also plays with sticks, the fourth uses only his voice, he is called lamador (the one who calls), The fifth plays the maracas as well as the flute, and the last is another flutist, but he is not always present.

Contemporary Cumbia from Colombia

This is sung, plus the ocarina, reed flutes and other types of drums, all of which are typical of South America. This cumbia gave rise to other musical types such as bullerenge or saloma .

Cumbia Santeña from Panama

Panamanian Tambora.

Cumbia originally from the Azuero peninsula, the cumbia is traditionally played on the rabel, panama drum, guachar or even churuk, drum " pujador " or " lamador " and guitar. It enjoys great popularity in the country and is the form most developed in Panama. The traditional dance is performed in four movements: Paseo , seguillida , CRUCE and zapateo . A traditional dance of women dressed in luxurious skirts and men in a white T-shirt or shirt and a Pingtao hat. According to the order, time and duration of the four digits, turn. Cumbia Santena has sub-variants.

  • cumbia cerrada (closed cumbia): These are fast chain dance couples in a circle group that close for a short time and then open again.
  • cumbia abierta (open cumbia): slow and steppe, dance in a group.
  • cumbia zapateada : dancers stamp their feet to the beat of the music.
  • cumbia atravesada : lively and fast growing cumbia, traditionally more festive and with freer movement.

Cumbia Coclesana from Panama

In the province of Cocle, song themes may relate to fauna, cuisine, as well as jokes or aspects of everyday life of peasants. The dance is punctuated by hip movements. The peculiarity is that a mortar is used as a musical instrument.

Cumbia Mejoranera from Panama

This cumbia comes from the Amerindian communities of Ocu County and Veraguas Province. La Mejoranera is a typical guitar from Panama. The dancers hit the ground with their soles.

Modern Cumbia from Panama

Cumbia outside Colombia

Many countries created their own cumbia, Argentina - Cumbia villera, Peru - la chicha (the term Chicha was more often used for musical variations up to 1990s), Mexico - cumbia sonidera, cumbia banda or tecnocumbia.

The Peruvian cumbia is popular in Amazonian cities and today is an integral part of the Peruvian identity and goes by names such as Cumbia guaracha, Psychedelic Cumbia, Amazonian Cumbia or simply Peruvian Cumbia.

In 1966, the Peruvian Enrique Delgado founded "Los Destellos" and together with the group decided to resume work with cumbia, but changed the Colombian accordion to an electric guitar. This rock influence is also mixed with the characteristics of Creole music and gives rise to the Peruvian cumbia. The Peruvian cumbia is very popular in Peru today. Residents of the capital consider it the most representative style of their city. Songs La Colegiala and Las Limeñas by Los Ilusionistas have attracted great interest all over the world.

Translators and broadcasts

In 1950, the first cumbia was registered. Lucho Bermudez performs Danza Negra (black dance), also known as cumbia colombiana , performed by Mathilde Diaz.

In 1953, flamenco , cumbia, composed by Soledeno Efrain Mejia were released.

B 1955 the typical group Cumbia by Juan Corralito appears. At the same time, Antonio Lucia Pacheco's cumbia appears with the musical piece Once de Noviembre (November 11).

In the 1970s and 1980s, Mexican musician Rigo Tovar mixed cumbia and rock, using, for example, electric guitars and synthesizers. This alloy was named cumbia-rock .

The main groups that have distributed cumbia nationally or internationally are:

  • Arturo Jaimes with Mexican-Colombian cumbia ;
  • Medardo Guzmán with Cañamillero Machates ;
  • Contemporary Soledad cumbia which is the melancholic song Andalusian dance of Pedro Beltrán;
  • Cumbia Argentinian Alexis Urunde;
  • La Perla Colombiana ( Colombian pearl), romantic Mexican-Colombian cumbia ;
  • Juan Jimenez Guayaspa , composer cumbia cienaguera , in the late 1950s, toured around the world;
  • La Colegiala Rodolfo and Su Tipica, the well-known music from the Nescafé advertisement;
  • La Sonora Dinamita, La Sonora de Margarita, Sonora Skandalo and Sonora Santanera are bands formed in the 1950s-1960s that respect the composition and rhythm of the real cumbia, even if they play other similar musical styles such as merengue ;
  • Los gaiteros de San Jacinto is a band that has been in existence since the mid-1940s and won a Latin Grammy Award in 2007.

Considering all these artists and the impact this music has had, it makes sense to talk about cumbia when talking about Colombian music.

Major artists and groups

  • Andres Landero
  • Aniseto Molina
  • Anibal Velasquez
  • Bareto
  • Celso Pigna
  • Lisandro Meza
  • La Sonora Dynamita
  • Los Destellos
  • Los Corraleros de Majagual
  • Los gaiteros de San Jacinto
  • Manzanita y su conjunto
  • Los Mirlos
  • Nancy Murillo
  • Pacho Galan
  • Los Pakines
  • Pastor Lopez
  • Pepe Richardo
  • Pibes Chorros
  • Supermerk2
  • Chico Trujillo
  • El Hijo de la Cumbia
  • Huanafe
  • Cumbia Kings
  • Quantic (Will Holland)
  • Sergeant Garcia
  • Simya Duyov
  • Sonido Gallo Negro
  • Tato Marenko
  • Tito Del Monte
  • El Asno
  • Egros
  • Chuchuka
  • Toto la Momposina
  • Bomba Estereo
  • Ondatropica
  • Sonora Santanera
  • Los Charros
  • La DeLio ValDeZ (Buenos Aires)

Notes and links

  1. ↑ [1]
  2. ↑ " Introduction to Cumbia ", on Audiofanzine, (accessed 22 May 2021)
  3. ↑ " Introduction to Cumbia ", on Audiofanzine, (accessed 22 May 2021)
  4. ↑ " Introduction to Cumbia ", on Audiofanzine, (accessed 22 May 2021)
  5. ↑ Garay, Narciso, Traditions and Songs of Panama: A Folk Essay, Belgian edition of De Exoansion, 19" From Cumbia to Hookah: Lima, Peruvian Crucible ", on France Culture (Viewed May 23, 2021)
  6. ↑ Last Night in Orient - LNO ©, " Cumbias Chichadélicas: Peruvian Psychedelic Chicha (Infopesa) ", in Last Night in Orient (accessed May 23, 2021)
  7. ↑ Last Night in Orient - LNO ©, " Juaneco y Su Combo - Parranda Selvática -" Cumbias Pegaditas "", in Last Night in Orient (accessed May 23, 2021)
  8. ↑ " Let's Talk About Music - Peruvian Musical Origins and Influence of " on Phima Voyages, (accessed May 23, 2021)
  9. ↑ " Let's Talk About Music - Peruvian Musical Origins and Influence of " on Phima Voyages, (accessed May 23, 2021)
  10. ↑ Last Night in Orient - LNO ©, " Las Limeñas Los Ilusionistas Walter Leon Aguilar ", at Last Night in Orient (accessed May 29, 2021)
  11. ↑ Last Night in Orient - LNO ©, " Cumbia, internationally acclaimed in the 1940s, is Lucho Bermudez' Danza Negra performed by Mathilde Diaz ", in Last Night in Orient (viewed 23 May 2021 g. )
  12. ↑ Last Night in Orient - LNO ©, " Amaneciendo Los Pakines ", in Last Night in Orient (viewed May 23, 2021)
  • (es) This article is taken in whole or in part from the Spanish Wikipedia article titled "Cumbia (Panamá)" (see list of authors) . (partially)

Typical Caribbean dances from salsa to bachata

The typical dances of the Caribbean region have their roots in the past. We call it a vast territory, which includes several peoples, washed by the Caribbean Sea as well as the islands surrounded by this part of the Atlantic Ocean. Among the first are Mexico , Colombia , Nicaragua o Panama , while regarding the latter, we can mention nations like Cuba (if you want to know more about the customs of this country, click here), Dominican Republic o Jamaica .

Thus, the typical dances of the Caribbean region are those performed in this vast area. At present, they are the result of a synthesis of three influences: native, Spaniards and Africans , the latter were brought there by those who persecuted slavery. In fact, many of these dances were held at the end of a hard day's work by both slaves and free laborers. But, without further ado, we will tell you about these rhythms.


  • 1 Typical Caribbean dances: great variety
    • 1.1 Salsa, typical Caribbean dance
    • 1.2 Merengue, Dominican contribution
    • 1.3 Mambo and its African origin
    • 1.4 Cha-cha
    • 1.5 Cumbia, African heritage
    • 1.6 Bachata
    • 1.7 Other typical dances of the less popular Caribbean region

. For example, the so-called they are in black , originally from the island of Santa Lucia; in puya Colombian sexteto or oni palenquero or tamborito born in Panama. But, given the impossibility of dwelling on all these dances, we will tell you about the most popular of them.

Salsa, typical Caribbean dance

Salsa, typical Caribbean dance par excellence.

Interestingly, the most typical Caribbean dance became popular in New York from the sixties of the last century. It was then that Puerto Rican musicians led by Dominicans Johnny Pacheco made him famous.

However, its origin goes back to the Caribbean and in particular to Cuba . In fact, both its rhythm and its melody are based on the traditional music of this country. In particular, its rhythmic pattern comes from cubano son and the melody was taken from montuno son .

Also Cuban - many of his instruments. For example, bongos, pilas, guiro or cowbell which are complemented by others such as piano, trumpets and double bass. Finally, its harmony comes from European music.

Merengue, Dominican contribution

Dominican meringue

Merengue is the most popular dance in Dominican Republic . It also came to US of the last century, but its origin dates back to the nineteenth and is unclear. So much so that there are several legends about it.

One of the most famous says that a great local hero was wounded in the leg while fighting the Spaniards. Upon returning to the village, the neighbors decided to throw a party for him. And since they saw that he was lame, they decided to imitate him while dancing. As a result, they dragged their feet and moved their hips, two typical features of meringue choreography.

True or not, this is a beautiful story. But the fact is that this dance has become one of the most popular in the world, so it was announced on Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity UNESCO.

Perhaps more real is the tradition that connects its origin with the peasants of the region El Cibao that they were going to sell their products to the cities. They lived in an apartment, and one of them was named Perico Ripao. That's where they had fun doing this dance. From here the area was called at that time exactly Perico Ripao .

As for his music, it is based on three instruments: accordion, guira and tambora . Finally, it is curious that the main person responsible for the improvement and development of meringue was a dictator. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo , all the fans of this are those who created schools and orchestras to promote it.

Mambo and its African origin

Mambo performers

Among the typical dances of the Caribbean region, it was developed in Cuba . However, its origin is attributed to African slaves who arrived on the island. In any case, the modern version of this dance is due to Arcagno Orchestra in the thirties of the last century.

Taking Cuban danzón , speeded it up and added syncopation to the percussion, adding genre elements Montuno . However, it would be the Mexican Damaso Pérez Prado who would popularize the mambo all over the world. He did this by increasing the number of players in the orchestra and adding typical elements of North American jazz such as trumpets, saxophones and double basses.

Characteristic also made a peculiar Contrapunteo it made the body move to the beat. Already in the fifties of the twentieth century, several musicians moved the mambo to New York , which makes it a real international phenomenon.


Cha-cha dancers

Also born in Cuba , it is his origin that is to be found in the mambo effect. There were dancers who did not like the frantic rhythm of the dance transmission of Perez Prado. So they were looking for something more peaceful, and that's how cha-chai was born with its calmer tempo and catchy melodies.

It is his creation that is attributed to the famous violinist and composer. Enrique Jorrin , which also emphasized the importance of words in the performance of the entire orchestra or soloist.

According to experts, this music combines the roots of Cuban danzon and his own Mambo , but changes its melodic and rhythmic perception. In addition, he introduces elements of tartan from Madrid. As for the dance itself, it is said that it was created by a group that staged it at the Silver Star Club in Havana. His footsteps on the ground made a sound like three successive blows. And, using onomatopoeia, they dubbed this genre as "Cha Cha Cha" .

Cumbia, African heritage


Unlike the previous one, cumbia is considered the successor of African dances which took those who were sent into slavery to America. However, it also has native and Spanish elements.

Although today it is danced all over the world and is spoken of as Argentinean, Chilean, Mexican and even Costa Rican cumbia, the origins of this dance can be found in the territories Colombia and Panama .

As a result of the synthesis we talked about, the drums come from their African base, while other instruments such as maracas, pito and gouache They are indigenous to the Americas. Instead, the clothing worn by the dancers comes from the ancient Spanish wardrobe.

But what we are most interested in in this article, namely dance as such, has truly African roots. It represents the sensuality and typical dance choreography that can still be found today in the heart of Africa .



This is also a real dance Dominican but has spread to the whole world. It originated in the sixties of the twentieth century from rhythmic bolero , although it also has influences from merengue and son cubano .

In addition, some of the typical instruments of these rhythms have been replaced for bachata. For example, the bolero maracas were replaced by guira , also belonging to the percussion family, and guitars .

Like many other dances, bachata was considered from the very beginning to be a dance of the simplest classes. It was then known as "Bitter Music" , which spoke of the melancholy that was reflected in their themes. It was already in the eighties of the twentieth century when this genre gained international distribution, until it was classified by UNESCO as Intangible Heritage of Humanity .

On the other hand, over the course of its history, bachata has split into two sub-genres. AT Teknoamarg was one of them. He combined the characteristics of this dance with music created with electronic instruments while merging with other genres such as jazz or rock. His top performer was Sonya Sylvester .

The second sub-genre is the so-called pink bachata , which has become much more popular all over the world. It is enough for us to tell you that his great figures are Victor Victor and, above all, Juan Luis Guerra to make you aware of it. In this case, it is combined with romantic ballad .

As far as the genre is concerned today, its greatest exponent is the American singer of Dominican origin. Romeo Santos , first with his group, Adventures , and now solo.

Other typical dances of the less popular Caribbean region

Mapalé translators

The dances we have told you about are typical of the Caribbean, but they have gone beyond its territory and become known all over the world. However, there are other dances that have not been as successful abroad but are extremely popular in the Caribbean.

This is the case, leeks , whose origins lie in the territory of Colombia before the arrival of the Spaniards. It combines the influence of local pipers with African rhythms and has a distinctly seductive component. Nowadays it is a ballroom dance that has a rhythmic and festive rhythm. To dance this, they usually wear typical Colombian costumes. Also belongs to this type of dance fandango , which has nothing to do with its Spanish namesake. Originally from the Bolivian city Sucre , rapidly expanding to Colombian uraba . It's a happy hallway where, oddly enough, women carry candles to reject men's flirting.

mapalé has clearer African roots. In this dance, the rhythm is set by the drums and the caller. Its origins were related to work, but today it has an undeniable festive connotation. This is an energetic and bright dance, full of exotics.

Finally, let's talk about Bullerengue . Like other typical Caribbean dances, it includes dance, song and melodic interpretation. The latter is carried out only with drums and palms. For their part, the song is always performed by women, and the dance can be performed both in pairs and in groups.

In conclusion, we have told you about some of the most popular dances in the Caribbean.

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