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A Guide to Popular Dances



America can claim this lively dance as its very own. The dance and its music were first heard and seen at the old Savoy Ballroom in New York City’s Harlem. Since its beginning, the Swing has evolved through many changes and tempos, bringing forth the Jitterbug, Lindy, Jive as well as Eastern and Western versions. Swing is a spot dance with a relaxed carefree style that many people love. After mastering the patterns, everyone will find it fun and exciting.

Cha Cha

The Cha Cha was first part of the Mambo and since it was introduced to the U.S. in the early 1950’s, it is perhaps the most popular of all the Latin dances today. It gets its name and character from its distinct and repetitive foot rhythm. Every good dancer should learn the Cha Cha.


As a perfect spot dance, the Rumba is another popular and useful Latin dance. Originally from Cuba, the music has a seductive, primitive charm and yet, when correctly performed, it is as smooth as a Foxtrot. The dance demands a discreet but expressive hip movement called Cuban Motion. The man will show off his partner as she moves smoothly from one figure to the next.


In its original form, the Mambo was wild, free and expressive. Mambo music is a combination of African, Cuban and American Jazz rhythms all mixed together and then rearranged. America saw its popularity in the 1950’s. Since it helps develop rhythm and response, everyone should try the Mambo.


Foxtrot has been described as a “social must” and we believe this to be true. Originated in the early 1900’s, by a New York vaudevillian named Harry Fox; it has since become one of the most popular and easiest of the ballroom dances to learn. Its ability to adapt to any size dance floor has made this a “must” for anyone’s dance program.


Since it originated in Austria and Germany almost four centuries ago, the Waltz has become one of the most recognized and beautiful dances in the world today. It is a popular dance played at many weddings and other social events, and because the box step that the Waltz teaches you is common to many other dances, you should learn to do the Waltz well.


Tango evolved in the early 1900’s from the streets of Buenos Aires. You’ll recognize it by its highly dramatic steps and staccato head movements. Add to that, a sense of mystery and romance. The Tango is a wonderful dance to work on leading and following. It is essential towards making one a good dance partner.

Viennese Waltz

The beautiful dance became popular in the 16th century in southern Germany. Its popularity contributed greatly to the music of Johann Strauss. It is danced to the same ¾ rhythm as the Waltz with one main exception: it is considerably faster in tempo. This dance is still very popular in ballrooms across the world.


This dance that originated in Brazil became an overnight sensation in 1929. It is perhaps the liveliest of all the ballroom dances. It gradually developed from a carnival dance to its present style today. The Samba incorporates the Latin hip motion and it’s own unique style called “Samba Bounce.”


Being a product from the West Indies, the Merengue received a most enthusiastic welcome in the United States in the mid 1950’s. It progressed from a wild, half-savage folk dance to its more suave and sophisticated form of today. It is a very easy dance to learn, and many of its figures are very simple. This is one dance that everybody should learn. You will find many uses for it.

Two Step

Probably Country Western’s most popular dance, it is characterized by multiple turns, executed by both the men and ladies alike, while dancing along the line of dance.

West Coast Swing

Traditionally designed to be danced to slower, jazzier music, this type of swing now varies in its tempos. It is done in slotted fashion, using minimal floor space while encouraging fancy footwork and syncopations.


This is a 1970’s disco modified version of Swing. It is noted for its fast, smooth spins, and turns. It marked the return to “touch dancing.” It is as popular today as it was back then because of its ability to adapt to many different beats.


This is a very popular Latin nightclub dance, which evolved from the Mambo. It finds its roots from Puerto Rico to Cuba. All across America today, people are learning how to do the Salsa.


Originating in Poland, this step lively dance is characterized by consecutive triple steps, followed by a slight lilting action on the last steps of each triple. It also follows a line of dance.

Paso Doble

In Spanish, this means “two step.” Based on a bullfight, the man portrays the matador and the lady is his cape. This is as dramatic as the Tango and very exciting to watch as well as dance.


Bolero is probably the most romantic of all the Latin dances. It is a slower version of the Rumba, combining techniques and patterns from the Waltz and Mambo. Its tempo, style of music and movement makes Bolero a dance in its own right.

Argentine Tango

A style of Tango that is recognized by its close dance hold, with slow to extremely fast patterns. This Tango usually involves complex leg actions.

Night Club Two Step

This dance is similar to the Bossa Nova. A gentleman named Buddy Schwimmer first introduced us to this easygoing nightclub slow dance back in the 1980’s. It is finding its popularity among the East and West Coast Swing crowd.

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