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Mambo dance

Mambo is a Latin dance of Cuban origin that corresponds to mambo music. It is rhythmically similar to the slower bolero, though it has a more complex pattern of steps. The saxophone usually sets the syncopated rhythm, while the other brass carries the melody.

In the late 1940s, a musician named Perez Prado came up with the dance for the mambo music and became the first person to market his music as "mambo". After Havana, Prado moved his music to Mexico, and then New York City. Along the way, his style became increasingly homogenized in order to appeal to mainstream American listeners.

There were two forms of mambo dance:

  • single, which has been retained as modern mambo,
  • triple (also sometimes called double mambo), which is thought to be an origin of the Cha-cha-cha.

Basic step pattern

Mambo is danced in 4/4 meter at a speed of around 188 beats per minute (45-47 measures per minute). The basic pattern or "Basic Step" of Mambo consists of two halves: Forward Basic and Backward Basic. When a man dances The Forward Basic, the lady dances the Backward Basic and vice versa.

The steps are performed with Cuban hip motion, a weight change while bending the knee - this will result in the hip motion which is typical for Salsa. In mambo however this move is made to appear more sudden and accentuated.

There are three steps per measure. They start on the second beat of the measure and cued "(pause)-Two-Three-Four."

Count "One" is often described as "pause" or "hold," while in fact the body motion and Cuban hip motion do not stop.

Forward Basic

Count 1: Hold
Count 2: Step forward by left foot
Count 3: Replace weight on the right foot
Counts 4,1: Step sideways. (Variant: Step backwards, often used by "Salsa on 2" dancers) Weight is transferred completely on count 4.

Backward Basic

Count 1: Hold
Count 2: Step backward by right foot
Count 3: Replace weight on the left foot
Counts 4,1 Step sideways. (Variant: Step forward, often used by "Salsa on 2" dancers).

The footsteps of the Mambo Basic form on the floor a so-called "diamond pattern."

This step pattern is similar to that of International Style rumba and resembles cha-cha-cha. Rumba is much slower. Cha-cha-cha uses triple step (chasse) on "4-and-1," rather than a single slow step.

The first two steps of the Forward Basic are sometimes called "Forward Break" or "Rock Forward." The first two steps of the Backward Basic are sometimes called "Rock Backwards," rock back, back rock, or simply Rock Step.

Other Moves frequently performed in mambo are cross body lead, scallop, natural top and open break to natural top.