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Latin Music and Its Dance Connections

“One, two, three, four, five. Everybody in the car, so c’mon lets ride…” – Lou Bega, Mambo No. 5.

Its Mambo No. 5! But in all seriousness, Mambo is one of the very numerous styles within the “Latin Music” label and, it is often that each one of these sub-genres has its own accompanying dance.

“What really swings is the music of the United States, Cuba, the Caribbean and vicinity, and, of course, Brazil. The rest is all waltzes” – Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Latin Music, of which Antonio Carlos Jobim is a famous composer, is a label that encompasses a large number of well-known sub-genres (such as Mambo, Bossa Nova, Tango etc.) originating from Spanish and Portuguese speaking nations within America and the Caribbean. This genre of music also encapsulates the influences of African slaves who were brought to the region as well as the influences of the indigenous Native American people.

Carlos Santana recognised this and suggested, “First of all, the music that people call Latin or Spanish is really African. So black people need to get the credit for that”. And it is proposed that more mainstream styles of music such as jazz, Latin pop and reggae are based on the original Latin music forms. 

Coinciding with the various developments of Latin music, were the developments in Latin dance. For every music genre, there seems to be an accompanying dance. Some of the more well-known genres, aside from the dances that accompany the aforementioned well known musical sub-genres (Mambo and Tango), there is the Cha-Cha, Rumba, Salsa, Paso Doble and a large collection of others.

Several critics propose that the term “Latin Dance” is merely a label that is used in ballroom dancing competitions; however, it is a label that has worked its way into popular descriptive vernacular.

The relationship between Latin music and dance is symbiotic. The music genre is ever-enhanced by the accompanying dance, and the dance couldn’t exist without the music. 

 Author: G. McDonald for Jamhouse Creative
© Jamhouse 2014