Looking Back at the Mambo Craze of the 1950s

Throughout the 1950s, dancehalls throughout the nation were swept up with Cuban inspiration in the music and dance of mambo. The word mambo has no direct translation, but it comes from the phrase “abrecuto y guiri mambo,” which means open your eyes and listen. In the 1950s, Americans were listening and loving mambo music while embracing the upbeat dance moves that come along with the melody. Below you can get a closer look at how mambo swept the nation and became a lasting legacy in the world of ballroom dancing.

The introduction of mambo music

Cuban music had been introduced to the United States in the 1930s, but the mambo did not become a craze until 1951 with the release of Perez Prado’s Mambo Jambo. This album followed an already existing American fascination with Latin music, and it set the tone for mambo as a genre with a saxophone driven rhythm and brass-heavy melody.

The mambo dance craze

With great music comes dance moves, and with the rise of mambo came an adaptation of the rumba box-step, which was taught in studios across the country. Soon a number of famous mambo dancers came about and competitions at the Palladium further popularized the movement.

The evolution of the mambo  

While the mambo craze itself died down, the roots of mambo dance live on today as the cha-cha, which utilizes the triple-step movement of the mambo. Variations of the dance have evolved throughout the world, though American’s will fondly remember the traditional box-step pattern that was all the rage in the mid-20th century.

If you are considering exploring the world of dance with professional instruction, explore the classes and private lessons offered by Fred Astaire Dance Studio. To get a look at all of the genres you might discover in our studio, visit our website or call us at (520) 300-5490.