Latin American

Before the influence of North America had made itself felt, the possibilities of Europe had been exhausted, such as the “Minuet”, a famous court dance which originated from the peasants of “Poitou”; The “Gavotte”, from the people of “Provence”, both in France, the Viennese Waltz from the “Lûndler” or folk songs of Southern Germany, and the “Polka” from “Bohemia”. In the East and Europe, man, as he progressed towards civilization, evolved more complicated music for its own sake, but in Africa, the Negro wedded his music to his dancing and his dancing to his religion.

The drum in Africa became more diverse in form and complex in structure, than all the musical instruments of the Western world put together. True Jazz is the product of these centuries of evolution in drum playing, brought to its highest form in the school of the African jungle, under the critical and sensitive ears of the highly emotional Negro people. Thus the Negros in the new world, during their bondage and since their emancipation, have come under the influence of four distinct European cultures: Anglo-American, French, Spanish and Portugese, and for the first time in history, Negro Jazz began to circulate everywhere. Since then, the dances of Latin America have gained tremendous popularity in the Ballroom; The Tango from the “Gauchos” of the Argentine, the Rumba, Mambo, the Cha Cha Cha, & Salsa, finding their roots in the Bolero-Rumba, the Danzon & the Son, originated in the fertile mixture of Afro-Caribbean & Latin-American cultures found on the island of Cuba; the country which had always been able to boast an amazing diversity of dances and rhythms.

During the 1930s Jazz started to influence the purity of traditional Cuban music, and after the war, Jazz bands played Cuban music more in their own style than that of the Cubans. Perez Prado, originally a Cuban, but then based in Mexico, managed to combine both the flavor of Cuba with the tradition of Jazz. The Danzon, another Cuban dance, absorbed other rhythmic influences and its music, in the hands of Perez Prado, evolved into what we now call the Mambo. In 1948, the new composition by Enrique Jorrin called “Enganadora”, suggested a new rhythm which was immediately seized upon by the dancers and the Cha Cha Cha was born. In New York, the music of Cuba became inextricably mixed with the musical variations of Puerto Rico and American Jazz, which gives a world new dimension to the development of Salsa. Then in 1962, with the release of “Love me do” the Beatles changed everything. They became the new sensation of the era and their fans grew, latin music fell into decline during this period. Since 1970, Puerto Rico continues to be a major source of Salsa music, and the influence from Colombia has also been increasingly marked.

In the western world, five Latin American dances have been standardized for teaching to the general public amateur medal tests, professional examinations, and competitions, namely the Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble, Cha Cha Cha, and Jive. Although it is difficult to ascertain precise dates for when these dances were first seen in Europe, the following are probably reasonably accurate : Samba 1913 (as Maxixe), 1923 (as Samba); Paso Doble 1916; Rumba 1931 (as Square Rumba), 1948 (as Cuban Rumba); Jive 1943; Cha Cha Cha 1954.