How To Tell The Difference Between Popular Types Of Latin Dances

Ballroom dance is enjoyed all over the world in a variety of forms, many having common roots.

This is particularly true of the popular Latin dances. While we often think of them as South American specialties, their histories are more complicated than that. Many derive from African rhythms and patterns that were later adapted in South America.

These are culturally rich, exciting, passionate dances such as bachata, tango, salsa. They don’t all use the same time signature, but they are all incredibly fun and we teach them at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, from beginners to experts. We love all of them.

But you are probably wondering exactly what the differences are between these many styles of dance. And so we will tell you …

BACHATA: This has become an incredibly popular dance in recent years. It has its origins in the Dominican Republic and incorporates three steps and a tap to a 4/4 beat. This is an intimate dance with quite a bit of hip emotion. It can be danced with a two-hand hold but often becomes a much closer dance of embrace, especially late at night.

CHA CHA: This dance became a staple in the United States during the 1950s when the U.S. had an open relationship with Cuba and honeymooners visited Havana. The music is in 4/4 time but with a staccato feel – hence, 1-2-3, cha-cha-cha. The rock step is at the core of this fun dance.

SALSA: The exact origins of salsa are not known but the general school of thought holds it began in New York sometime during the 1970s. It’s roots are in the earlier Latin dance styles, such as cha cha and mambo, but it got a little infusion of other swing dance styles as well. Salsa packages different dance styles and may be the most popular of the Latin dances. It is danced world-wide.

TANGO: This popular partner dance dates to the 1880s and came from the border areas of Uruguay and Argentina. Tango draws upon many cultures – European, African, North American, with a whole lot of Argentine input. The tango is a close dance of many styles, but it is marked by close contact between the dancers, from chest to hip. It is passionate and sexy. Argentine tango is danced to a 2/4 beat.

At Fred Astaire Dance Studios we teach all of these dances (Bachata at select locations), and encourage our students to try as many as possible in group ballroom dance classes, in private ballroom dance lessons, at FADS practice parties and other social events.

These are all vibrant, exciting dances. They’re fun to learn, and fun to practice.

Contact Fred Astaire Dance Studios for the best in instruction in tango, salsa, cha cha, bachata and many other styles of dance.