How to latino dance

Latin Dances List: 15 Popular Styles, Names & History

Latin dances are rather a large group of dance styles that are united by their place of origin - Latin America and invariably passionate rhythms and performances. Latin American dances are a type of ballroom and club dances that spread throughout Europe in the 19th century and became very popular. They owe their wide popularity to curiously mixed cultures of the Americas, including European and local folk dances. Thus, the Spanish folk dance, the elements of which were performed by bullfighters during a bullfight, became known throughout the world as a paso doble. Samba was brought to Brazil, and then to Europe, African influence is seen in rumba and cha cha cha which originated in Cuba and Haiti.


The traditional program of Latin Ballroom Dances, adopted by the World DanceSport Federation, since 1930 includes five dances in the Latin American section. These are Samba, Rumba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Paso Doble and Jive (United States origine). All of them are performed in a pair, a man and a woman and, unlike the European dances, the partners during the performance can either separate the contact, or cling to each other very closely. All Latin American dances are rhythmic and emotional, and some of them are particularly sensual.

The other large group of Latin dances is so-called Social (or ”club” Latina) includes Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Reggaeton, Mambo, Kizomba, Zouk and Argentine tango. It has long been one of the most popular group of mass dance, both in Latin America and in the United States, Europe and Asia. Salsa and bachata, merengue and mambo - these dances do not require perfected skill, it is more important to reveal them completely, turning movements into meaningful love and passionate stories. For many years, the cult for all Latin dancers is the movie “Dirty Dancing” with Patrick Swayze, where the most popular amateur dances are shown in all its glory.

Here is a List of Social Latin American dances:


Salsa dancing initially developed into a particular style in the 1940s and comes from a tradition of Latin dance styles that dates back to the early 1900s. It is heavily influenced by Afro-Cuban traditions and dance styles such as mambo, guaguanco and danzon. The brief history of salsa dance is that people moved to new locations and assimilated into new cultures, where salsa evolved into fresh styles. There are several different salsa styles influenced by cultures of the cities they originated. For instance, most famous in North America in United States are New York Salsa (also known as dancing 'On 2') and Los Angeles Salsa (known as dancing 'On 1'). Many dance aficionados actually claim that New York Style salsa is the original style of salsa, as the term and the dance were coined in the Big Apple. Other styles include Cuban salsa, Cumbia, Rueda de Casino (read more on salsa dance types here). Besides New York and Los Angeles in USA, major cities around the world where salsa is most popular are: Toronto Salsa and Vancouver Salsa in Canada and in United Kingdom: London Salsa. There are numerous Salsa Festivals around the world that attract thousand of Salseros every year as well as Salsa Congress which is a multi-day dance festival featuring workshops, social dancing, performances and competitions focusing on Salsa dancing.


Bachata dance is known for its love stories, and its syncopated rhythm. The dance actually was born of the music in the Dominican Republic during the 1960’s. Unfortunately, a dictatorship that found Bachata to be an art form of low standing held the music and the dance back for decades. The music was first developed with a heavy guitar emphasis and heartrending love stories as its basis. However, it grew primarily within bars and brothels, and this led to Bachata being held back for literally decades. Although the Bachata dance itself is a spinoff of the music, in recent years the music has grown more slowly than the dance. Bachata dance continues to grow and thrive all over the world, and has finally reached a place where it is widely accepted.


The Merengue is a couple dance that has roots in the Dominican Republic. There are many theories of how precisely it became the dance that it is today. It is certain, however, that Dictator Rafael Trujillo deemed it the Dominican official dance and musical style after his rise to power in the 1930’s. A similar style is enjoyed in neighboring Haiti. The Merengue is one of the recognized Latin dance that has evolved over the years and widely enjoyed in many parts of the world.


Mambo is a Latin dance of Cuba which was developed in the 1940s when the music genre of the same name became popular throughout Latin America. The word mambo comes from the name of the god of war. In immemorial times, the Cubans dedicated a ritual dance to him, with the aim of deserving location and ensuring patronage. The mambo dance has much in common with rumba and cha-cha (at first, the famous cha-cha-cha was even called syncopated mambo), but it has a great temperament, freedom in expressing feelings and emotions, luxurious music. Incendiary rhythms of mambo are widely used in cinema. This dance is both a means of seduction and a way to express your feelings. Among the most famous films in which dance is used is the film “Mambo” with starring Antonio Banderas and Arman Assante and the more modern film Dirty Dancing starring Patrick Suezi.


Kizomba is a new direction of latin dance culture that originated in Angola in the 1980s under the influence of French Creole music and African folk rhythms.  And in Europe, it has spread widely in the twenty-first century. Kizomba has similar features with samba, bachata and Argentine tango, but this style is smoother, moderate and calm. Energy of Kizomba is more sensual and romantic, not expressive but rather flirtatious. Nowadays, Kizomba is winning the hearts and minds of modern youth. Everyone wants to learn how to dance Kizomba, everyone wants to shine at parties, to be fashionable and modern. There are numerous Latin Festivals around the world that include Kizomba as one of their featured dances.


In the late 20th century, dramatized concert performances with bright costumes and lively ethnic music were popular in Haiti, Martinique and the Cape Verde Islands. This is how the Zouk dance style emerged, combining the intonation of authentic Haitian music, the calypso style, the sound of “black” Angolan music. “Zouk” in French Creole means “party” or “festival.” Dancing evenings with live music have won wild popularity not only on the islands. France, Canada, Brazil and the countries of Asia and latey United States have not resisted the pressure of the sensual rhythm. 
Zuk dance is a social dance that is performed on three counts and is saturated with beautiful curves of the upper part of the body and deflections, and the steps and turns are complemented by circular rotations, wave-like movements and turns of the head. This style of dance is much more sensual than others, its turns and “falls” are spectacular, so the flexibility of the partner is of particular importance. Acrobatics are allowed. There are many Latin Festival events around the world that include Zouk dance as an essential part of their program.


Reggaeton is a musical style that originated in Puerto Rico and Panama in 1970-1980. It was born under the influence of such directions as reggae, dancehall, hip-hop and very quickly became popular in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. And how a separate style was highlighted in the 1990s, spreading its popularity to the USA, where immigrants brought it. A characteristic feature of this musical direction is overt and even somewhat aggressive sexuality, a clear reggae rhythm and a recipe in Spanish. Nando Boom and El General are considered to be the fathers of this musical direction.

Argentine tango

Tango is a very sensual dance, and is among some of the most famous couple dances today. Prior to the birth of Tango, which happened in the poorer sections of Buenos Aires in the early 1900’s, there were only a few dances that required that a couple become so intimate as to face each other. The history of Argentine Tango is a little muddled, as it began in the lower classes, and it has faced many trials over the years. However, Tango has survived and grown into a dance that is enjoyed worldwide. Around 1911, Tango made the trip overseas and became a sensation in Paris, London and Berlin. 1913 saw it strike New York City in full force, although less authentic Tango dancing was already practiced there to some extent.

Tango scenes have been featured in many tango films. Tango scenes have been featured in many tango films. Today we see many thriving tango communities around the world, with the biggest one in Buenos Aires (Argentina), in USA: New York tango and Seattle tango are among the largest, in Europe: Berlin and more. You can catch the best tango performances at many Milongas (social tango dancing). There are as well many Tango Festivals around the world that attract thousand of Tangueros and fans.


Bomba is one of the traditional dances and musical styles of Puerto Rico, which arose at the intersection of African and Spanish cultures and the Indian culture of native Taino. Bomba got its name from the drums made out of rum barrels. The base rhythm of Bomba is performed on two or more drums. The meaning of bomba is similar to the meaning of Cuban rumba - it is a competition between a singer, a dancer and a percussionist.

The main trait of Bomba is that the musicians in it follow the dancer (and not vice versa). The vocal part consists of the recitals of the soloist and choir (at least three voices). In this case, the soloist will improvise poetry, and the chorus will respond to him.The dance is still extremely popular in Puerto Rico and New York.


Puerto rican style of music and dance, used as a means of social and political expression. This traditional dance uses a panderet (tambourine), has a 4/4 pace and does not follow the clave. Plena was created 100 years ago in the working class barrios of Ponce, Plena's roots could be traced back into the changes in society brought on by Puerto Rico's move from Spanish into U.S. rule. Plena was born of African American roots and has been changed to a distinctively Puerto Rican dance style from the consequences of Jíbaro, indigenous Taino, and European musical traditions, along with the contribution of freed slaves out of English-speaking Caribbean Islands who travelled to Puerto Rico.

Plena primarily existed within folklore nevertheless, in the 1990s Plena has been given new life due to musical bands from Puerto Rico and New York who updated its sound to be fresh and modern. Whether folklore or contemporary audio, it is the panderos -- three or more handheld drums of distinct sizes/pitches (seguidor, segundo, and requinto), along with also the guiro -- a gourd percussion tool of native Taino source -- which collectively create the unique rhythm of Plena.


Here is a list of Latin Dances included in the program of Ballroom dancing (International Latin):


Samba is a dance rich in history, and one that is known for the joy it expresses. The traditional Brazilian Samba is a national favorite each year at Rio’s Carnival Celebration. Both men and women, each known as a Sambista, present the rhythmic celebratory dance throughout the city during the festivities. The Ballroom Samba varies greatly from many of the styles, but does maintain some of the Brazilian Samba characteristics. Ballroom Samba is recognized as one of five International Style of Latin Dancing partner dances. The Samba as seen today developed in Rio near the close of the 19th century. In 1917, Samba was beginning to be viewed as a dance style in its own right. The year of 1930 saw it become an accepted form of ballroom dance -- Ballroom Samba has made a lasting impact on partner dancing throughout the world.


Rumba, one of the five international Latin dances, is a sultry story in motion. This particular Latin dance is widely acknowledged as the most sensuous. Rumba has humble beginnings. As with many others, at least some of Rumba’s roots can be traced back to African tribal dances. However, it is in the nation of Cuba where it became the Rumba that is still so popular today. It is commonly referred to as the grandfather of Latin dance. Rumba hit the United States during the 1920’s, and laid the groundwork for all Latin dances thereafter.


Originally known as Cha-Cha-Cha, the name of this flirtatious and upbeat partner dance has been shortened a little over the years to simply Cha-Cha. This particular dance style was developed originally in Cuba, and then picked up by dancers visiting Havana from all over the world. The dance's fun, flamboyant and quick nature made it appealing then, and certainly adds to its appeal now. The more authentic Cuban style is very sensual, somewhat teasing and a bit contagious. Not only is the Cha-Cha still danced across the globe and is one of the International Style of Latin Dancing partner dances, the musical genre can be heard sung by incredibly popular musical artists even today.

Paso Doble

Paso Doble (Spanish for “two steps”) is a Spanish dance imitating a bullfight. Paso doble was one of the many Spanish folk dances associated with various aspects of Spanish life. The partner represents the torero, and the partner - his cloak (muleta), sometimes - the second torero, and very rarely - the bull, as a rule, defeated by the final blow. The nature of the music corresponds to the procession in front of the bullfight. The dance was first performed in France in 1920, became popular in Parisian high society in the 1930s, therefore many steps and figures have French names. After the Second World War, Paso Doble was included in the Latin-American program of sports ballroom dancing.


Jive is a dance of African American origin that appeared in the USA in the early 1940s. Jive is a type of swing with fast and free movements. Modern jive is very different from swing in style, although it often uses the same shapes and movements. Jive dance is performed at ballroom dancing competitions. Of the five dances of the Latin American program, the jive is always the last and is the apotheosis of the competitive program. This dance is very fast and sparkling. Thus, it allows couples not only to demonstrate technical skills, but also to show their physical fitness.

There is also East Coast Swing that we plan to cover later. Stay tuned!

Learn Basic Salsa Steps

The word 'salsa' literally means 'sauce', usually hot and spicy, and that's definitely how you would describe salsa dance – zesty, energetic, passionate and sexy.

  • Basic steps
  • Instructions & Diagrams
  • Video
  • Recommended Video Lessons »

Quick intro

Salsa is a sensual Latin dance, similar to mambo. Both have a pattern of six steps over eight counts of music and they both share many of the same moves.

The great thing about salsa is that just about anyone can learn it. That's why it gained vast popularity in the last few decades and is now danced in nightclubs all over the world. There is a well known saying that is often repeated by dance teachers - if you can walk, you can salsa.

Salsa is the result of combining many Latin and Afro-Caribbean dances, a fusion of Cuban, Puerto Rican and African rhythms. The basic rhythm is quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow, using the 1,2,3 and 5,6,7 beats (beats 4 and 8 are skipped). The music is typically around 180 beats per minute, although it can be slower or faster than that.

Basic steps

Salsa is one of the most popular Latin American dances, the main reason being - it's easy to learn. At first glance it might seem difficult, but the truth is quite the opposite - basic salsa steps can be learned with less than 10 minutes of practice.

Only three steps are made for every four beats with one step to each beat and one beat being skipped. The skipped beat is called a tag, a tap, a kick, a flick, or the like. The steps can be from side to side or forward-backward and in circles. When dancing you must keep a straight upper body posture and move your hips as much as possible.

Salsa is danced with partners facing each other. It can be danced in closed or open position. Note that salsa steps are very small. The faster the music, which is usually quite fast, the smaller the steps.

Instructions & Diagrams:

Because Salsa allows for a lot of creative improvisation, many different styles have developed over time. But regardless of different styles the basic steps are essentially the same. As a beginner, you should always start at the beginning.

Basic Steps For Men:

You need to start with both feet together. Remember, practice makes perfect.

  1. Step forward with your left foot (first beat)
  2. Right foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  3. Step backward with your left foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)
  4. Step backward with your right foot (first beat)
  5. Left foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  6. Step forward with your right foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)

Basic Steps For Ladies:

  1. Step backward with your right foot (first beat)
  2. Left foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  3. Step forward with your right foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)
  4. Step forward with your left foot (first beat)
  5. Right foot in place, weight shifts to it (second beat)
  6. Step backward with your left foot (third beat + pause on fourth beat)


OK, let's see how this is done. In the following video Leon and Kim will show you the fundamental forward & back basic step from all angles. You will also learn the side basic step. Be sure to master this before moving on.

more videos »

Take your time to master these steps and when you're ready for more, check out the recommended video lessons »

Learn to dance latin at home: is it possible?

Latin American dances have long been in fashion, and probably will never go out of it, becoming an integral, original part of the dance culture and the world's dance heritage.
Almost every girl and every young man (although, unfortunately, there are fewer young people who are fond of dancing than girls), having once seen an energetic, bewitching Latin American dance, cannot get rid of the thought that they would also like to dance also clearly and quickly , also gracefully move on the dance floor, also easily and charmingly perform the most difficult movements, and, in the end, also charmingly smile! In general, Latin American dance rarely leaves anyone indifferent! But it is not always possible to study dance art: sometimes busyness interferes, sometimes restraining personal circumstances, and sometimes fear that it will not work out. And with each of these problems you can fight a little, and still - dance!

Nowadays you can easily find dance learning tips on YouTube. This could help you take the first step: learn the basic steps, understand the nature of the movements in a particular Latin American dance - overcome uncertainty and doubts. Learning to dance latin by watching videos on YouTube is, of course, difficult, because only a teacher in a dance class will be able to approach you, give advice, correct mistakes, support. But the desire to learn how to dance Latin from the tutorial will help you in obtaining basic information on dancing the Latin American program.

In order to learn how to dance latin at home, you need to choose at least two days a week, one hour a day, when you will dance. Be sure to use a mirror. To begin with, watch the video you have chosen for training several times, orient yourself in space: how the teacher’s right leg moves on the screen, how the left one moves, how the right hand moves, how the left one moves, how the body moves (what inclinations are made during the movement, whether dancer right-left or forward-backward). Then try to repeat the movements made by the teacher several times. Remember them. And then go to the mirror. Looking at the movements of your body, remembering the movements of the teacher from the video, try to perform the movements in the same manner. Repeat the movements for at least 15 minutes each so that the body remembers the mechanism of movement, and the movement itself becomes similar to what you saw on your computer monitor.

Learning how to dance latin on your own is difficult, but nothing is impossible – practicing on your own for at least 2 hours a week, you will learn the basic elements of cha-cha-cha, samba, jiva, rumba, which will allow you to perform movements worked out by your body on any dance floor . If your self-study gives you confidence and purposefulness, then your next step may be to move to a dance class, where the teacher can evaluate your work, give directions for development, monitor the correct performance, and, most importantly, where other dancers will also practice with you. with whom you can exchange impressions, knowledge, interests!

We wish you success in your studies!


More articles:

Latin American Dance Review

Latin American Dance Review

Our Latin American Dance Review. Go!

At the mention of Latin American dances, temperamental dancing couples instantly appear in the musical memory, surrendering to the accompaniment melody with every turn of the head, every spectacular step. People in Latin America love and know how to dance, and they are happy to fill their home leisure with dancing, and successfully demonstrate their dancing abilities on the street to random passers-by.

Charming Lambada

Lambada's birthplace is Papa State in Brazil. The appearance of this dance caused at one time a storm of indignation in society. Defenders of morality insisted that the dance almost promotes pornography. However, over time, the passions subsided, and the unpretentious beautiful melody performed by the French group Kaoma has been involving all new couples in an incendiary fast dance for more than a decade. Lambada is refined, gentle, it easily relieves stress and cheers up more

Zouk - a passionate French "party"

There are Brazilian and Franco-Caribbean dances.

Its peculiarity is the execution of movements both in close contact of partners and at a considerable distance from each other in such a way: first - the movement of the hips, then the dancer's body moves, as if catching up with the hips. These characteristic movements give the dance composition a special sensuality.

Depending on the musical preferences of the performers, the dance can consist of a variety of rotations, bends, turning into intricate steps. Another stylistic feature of the pair dance zouk is a special way of leading the partner in the dance, when she, bending, throws her head back below the waist, while swaying her hair from one side to the other further

Passion and bliss Bolero

If speech comes to the bolero, then you need to understand that there are two completely different dances under the same name.

More famous is the Spanish bolero. The restrained rhythm and characteristic melodic structure seem to hold back, do not allow the performer's emotions and passions to break out. Spanish dance appeared earlier and largely influenced the emergence of the Cuban version of the dance.

In Cuba, the bolero is performed in a completely different style. This is a slow dance, romantic, full of grace and languid bliss.

From the Spanish bolero, the Cuban dance adopted several elements of the Spanish habanera and some dance steps of the danzón. next

The attractive charm of Kizuba

The unique characteristic feature of Kizuba is a direct slow -down, as if stretching musical accompaniment performed on modern power tools. This dance gave its name to a whole musical direction. The musical themes in kizomba, which are a cocktail of bizarre African rhythms and romantic languid melody, replace each other every four measures. In terms of musical presentation, kizomba is very similar to zouk melodies. There was a time when it was believed that songs performed in Portuguese in the style of kiomba were kiomba. If the song sounded in French, then this is already a zouk. next

Rumba. A story about real passion

Rumba was a newlyweds dance in Cuba for quite a long time. In it, a loving couple expressed passion and a strong emotional upsurge of lovers. This is a dance of love, full of sensuality and extremely expressive emotions.

Among the entire list of ballroom dances, rumba stands out for its deepest emotional content. Performers and spectators get aesthetic pleasure from dance due to the unique combination of dramatic music and bright, emotional character of movements. Rumba has long been recognized as a dance of love, but unhappy love, with a touch of tragic passion. next

The burning passion of the Argentinean tango

Tango tango is considered the Argentine tango. This beautiful and expressive dance, accompanied by the bewitching sounds of musical accompaniment, cannot but delight. At first, tango was considered an almost immoral dance against the backdrop of cutesy salon dances of the 19th century, but over time, society recognized and appreciated its merits. There are several directions and varieties of this dance in the world, but the Argentine tango has been declared the recognized king of the style.

This is a pair dance filled with juicy musical sound, whimsical melodic turns, combined with an underlined clear rhythm. Further

Cha-cha-cha-dance of Kokoketi

Dance is very popular all over the world, it is part of the professional contest of bell dancing performers (its Latin American unit). Cha - cha - cha in its basic movements is very similar to rumba and in some moments is very similar to mambo. In this dance, a special role belongs to the female party. The expressive rhythm and exquisite charm of flirtatious movements embodies the real grace and passion of the dance, in the movements one can easily read the history of the relationship between a man and a woman. next

Multiciped Salsa

hot and passionate, dance from the first sounds involves the performers and spectators into delightful rhythms of the Latin American continent. Salsa combines several types and directions of modern local ethnic dances, so it does not have any standards and rules. Each option - and there are an incredible number of them - has its own unique pattern and peculiar rhythm. Whatever type of salsa is performed, it is always attractive and interesting for the dancers themselves and grateful spectators. next

BACHATION Musical interweaving

This is an unusually beautiful, sensual, slightly erotic Latin American dance first called “Gorechi Tannaya”. Today, bachata is perhaps the most popular social dance in the world.

The main law of dance is the close contact of partners. This greatly helps the dancers to make sliding air movements in a circle, as if wrapping their arms around each other with intertwined hands connected in a “castle”. The dance step is quite simple, its basic basis is steps forward, backward and sideways (four steps), clearly emphasizing the last of the steps.

Initially, bachata was performed as a folk dance, so the choreography here is quite unpretentious. However, for a good performance of bachata, it is necessary not only to mechanically perform its elements, but it is necessary to feel the dance with all your heart and be able to surrender to the performance with every cell of the body. further

Merengue. Air rhythms of the Caribbean

The countries of the Caribbean are considered the birthplace of the dance composition, it is the national dance of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Learn more