Latin is among the world’s most enjoyed and exciting types of dance, and under its umbrella is a diverse range of dance styles. While a plentiful selection can be a plus to some, the array of options can be a bit overwhelming to others, particularly for those who are new to dancing. So where do you even begin your search for the kind of Latin dance that is just right for you? That’s simple: You start here! Learning about the different kinds of dance that come with this territory is the foremost step in targeting the one that you should get started with. Not to mention, the more you familiarize yourself with them, the further away you get from confusion and the closer you get to comfort!
Taking on a new style of dance should be treated just like any other important decision that you make in life, because, when you really think about it, learning is an investment of your time and energy (and if you take lessons, your money, too). Of course, that means you’ll want to be sure that you’re actually enthused by the one you decide to start practicing first. You’d also need to ask if you could see yourself keeping up with it for a while. So, to help you figure things out, we’ve compiled an introductory list of some of the most popular kinds of Latin dance to consider, and they’re all linked to other pages that cover each style in more detail, too, should you decide to keep exploring.
Sultry, romantic, passionate, intimate, and dramatic are just a few words that describe the Argentine Tango. It’s a dance with lots of personality on its own, bringing with it striding steps, geometric patterns, and lots of upper body contact.
Hip motions are the soul of bachata and this trait comes through very pronouncedly when danced. At a basic level, it is danced to a three-step count with a tap on the fourth beat. Some might describe bachata as romantic, mellow, or sensual.
Danced in a closed dance position to counts of slow-quick-quick, the Bolero is a beautiful, amorous dance embodying traits of grace and romance. It’s characterized, as well, by controlled movement and poignant interpretations of the music.
💃 Cha Cha
With its characteristic triple repetitive foot rhythm (cha-cha-cha), the Cha Cha’s style is a very fun kind of dance to explore. Exciting, sassy, and flirty are other words that convey the type of energy it brings to those dancing it.
The forefather of cha cha, mambo is fun, flirty, and boastful. Sometimes confused for the commonly referenced salsa dance, which starts on the one-beat, mambo starts on the two-beat and, like most Latin dances, hip movements are one of the key ingredients to this dance.
Danced to a marching tempo with emphasis on the hips, taking a walking step with each beat of the music, the Merengue avails itself generously to improvisation and spontaneity, which can be a lot of fun! It’s lively, upbeat, and also easy to catch onto.
Danced in a role-playing fashion, the Paso Doble centers around the individual undertaking the role of a Spanish bullfighter (matador). The other partner assumes the role of a bull, cape, Spanish dancer, or a number of interchangeable roles. As you’d imagine, it’s entertaining to both dance and behold!
Rumba originated as a dance of courtship, so, watching it performed, you might find yourself thinking that it’s one of the flirtiest kinds of dance that you’ve seen! Hip-swaying and slightly bent knees are characteristic features here.
Salsa is a fast, smooth, and fluid dance style largely associated with mambo. Travel across the dance floor typically isn’t a necessary ingredient, so it’s easy to occupy a small area and carry out a full routine. Patterns usually involve three steps during each four-beat series (one beat gets skipped).
Samba is a lively, energetic dance involving elaborate footwork, rapid steps, pelvic and hip movements, and a swaying motion between dancers. Advanced samba dances are often seen adorned with acrobatics and multiple turns.
Remember that the information above only touches the tip of the iceberg, so if you do decide that Latin dancing is for you and feel pretty confident about which kind you’re going to learn, then keep doing your research. Tutorial videos and self-taught moves at home are great, but nothing beats the first-hand experience gained through a complimentary lesson at a local Latin dance studio near you.
While you’re exploring which kind of dance to learn, have you thought about venturing into other partner styles, like those in the broader realm of ballroom? In our first segment on this topic, we covered the basics of several types of ballroom dance with enough detail to get anyone in the exploratory stage started on the right foot, so, if you’re open to it, head over to “Part 1.”
What is it about Latin dancing that piques your interest? Have you learned other styles of dance before? Let us know in the comments section below!