The Tango is a flirting dance that was originally performed as a solo by women. It had its roots in Morocco and Spain and later evolved into a couples dance in the night clubs of Argentina. When gauchos wearing sweat hardened chaps would go to the night clubs and ask women to dance, the lady would dance in the bend of the man’s right arm while holding her head back from the stench of the unshowered cowboy. In anticipation of payment for the dance, she would keep her right hand low and the man’s hip. It is a dramatic dance involving walking movements that are sneaking or stalking in nature. Some movements are slow, others are sharp and is marked by quick flicks of the foot and sharp head snaps. It is danced in a counter-clockwise movement around the dance floor.
The Cha Cha
The Cha Cha is danced to Cuban or Latin music and originated in the early 1950’s. It involves a 10 step dance that is a combination of alternating rock steps and chasses (a dance movement that is across, or to the right and left). It is danced to a rhythm of 2, 3, 4 & 1 – and the rock steps are danced on the 2 & 3 counts, and the chasse’s are danced on the 4 & 1 counts. Most of the turns are taken between the two rock steps and the first step of the chasse, and the basic movement of the Cha Cha can be taken with or without a turn.
The Jitterbug became popular in the 1930’s in the United States and by World War II, and was carried overseas in the 1940’s by U.S. troops. Jazz legend, Cab Calloway, once observed that the dancers moving across the floor to the gyrations of the music resembled hyperactive “bugs”. It is danced to a syncopated 4/4 rhythm and is known for acrobatic swings and lifts. Dance patterns are largely performed with dance partners holding one or both hands. The dance is closely related to the Swing dance and Lindy Hop.
Today’s Rumba has slowed considerably from the original versions which originated in Cuba by African slaves. The “Americanized” version became popular in New York in the 1930’s as it was taught in dance studios and gained further fame as it was featured by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in “Flying Down to Rio” The Rumba is marked by slow deliberate steps that are close to the floor, and hips that move from side to side. It is danced to a slow Latin rhythm, in smooth movements, and feet that are almost gliding or sliding across the floor – and with very little rise and fall. It is generally danced to a “slow, quick, quick” rhythm pattern.