Whether it's salsa, tango or cumbia, dancing is a huge part of the culture in Latin America and having lived here for the last six months, I have come across all different types of genres that I never even knew existed before I arrived on this continent. Here's a guide to my favourite Latin America dance styles:
Everyone has heard of tango, the famous dance from Argentina and known for its foot flicks. Dramatic, passionate and extremely technical, tango originated from Buenos Aires in the mid-19th century.
The oldest tango was written by Rosendo Mendizabal, a pianist in the 1890s. Traditionally, tango music is played with a bass and violin and a bandoneon – a type of concertina that looks similar to an accordion with buttons instead of keys which accompanies the piano.
Tango isn't danced just with a man and women either. You can find groups of girls, boys, and even men dancing with other men. Here's an introduction to Tango:
Popular in Cuba (and it's true when they say that everyone in Cuba can dance), salsa is also known worldwide. This style of dancing is found everywhere and with a few of the basic steps you can easily make your moves on the dance floor whether it's just forward and back or side to side. This couple take it to a whole new level:
This is my favourite style of dance. Romantic, versatile and extremely sexy, Bachata originated from the rural regions of the Dominican Republic in the 1960s and is now one of the most popular genres with Colombia. Telling the story of a man and woman in love, it's traditionally played with a güira – an instrument which looks like a large cheese grater with a handle and has a tinny sound.
Bachata has been made famous by Romeo Santos, the king of bachata, who even collaborated with Usher for the song “Promise.”
Also originating from the Dominican, this is the easiest dance move to learn. Thought to be the dance of slaves who were chained together by their feet, merengue is popular throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. With just two steps to master along with a bit of hip action, the dance style can be found in most crossover bars (bars which play all types of music from electronic to salsa).
Cumbia is the heartbeat of Latin America and the founder of most of the music genres. A fusion of African and native music, cumbia originated from north Colombia and Panama along the Caribbean coast and has now spread as far as Argentina and Mexico.
There are so many more genres of dance to be found here such as regggaeton and porro and these are just a sample of the popular styles that you'll find if you visit Latin America. Being a solo female you don't even need to find a dance partner to take with you on a night out. Just sit there patiently and you'll soon be asked by a local to dance.
What's your favourite dance?