Rumba refers to a form of dance but it has two distinct meanings involving the overall style and rumba ballroom dancing. The first meaning refers to a Cuban experience with a conspicuously African influence and it is mostly associated with Rumba music which is a fusion of African and Cuban elements. There are various sub-genres of Rumba with the most popular considered to be guaguanco.
The second reference to rumba has to do with a type of ballroom dancing which takes place in social events as well as international contests. In this regard, rumba is considered as the most subtle of the 5 American and Latin dances that can be contested by participants. The others are the samba, Paso Doble, jive and the cha-cha. Ballroom rumba was practiced in Cuba using a rhythm known to locals as Bolero-Son. The international version was a derivative of Cuban dance research which was done in the period prior to the revolution.
The Rumba that is Afro-Caribbean totally, differs with rumba ballroom dancing in rhythm. Rumba ballroom dancing acquires its music and motion from Bolero-Son just as the mambo and salsa. The Peanut Vendor happened to the initial recorder of music from Cuba that gained international acclaim. On the record, it was described as rumba maybe because the term Son was not likely to be comprehended in English. The identity stuck and in the 30’s it got a huge following among revelers. This type of rumba got introduced to dancing salons within Europe and America in the 30’s and was distinguished by a wavering tempo that was almost two times faster than the ballroom rumba practiced today.
The rumba dance styles practiced currently originated from research done by Pierre Zurcher Margolie who was a dance teacher that partnered with Doris Lavelle. Pierre who at the time was staying in London took a trip to Cuba in the year 1952 to discover the dance styles of Cubans during that period.
The international version of the rumba ballroom dancing is much slower with approximately one hundred and twenty beats in a minute. This is able to correspond with the earlier generations known as Bolero Son. It is not hard to see why for marketing purposes and easy recalling, rumba happens to be a preferable name even if it may be inaccurate. A similar kind of situation happened when salsa was considered to be an overall name to represent music from Cuba.
All recreational dances in Cuba have a sway of the hip above the supporting leg and although this may not ne easily noticed when salsa is danced fast, the dance is more prominent in the ballroom Rumba that is slow. Generally, the steps are kept minimal and there is no much rise and fall. This dancing style is genuine as the free-arm use in several figures. The fundamental figures come from dance steps that were observed in Cuba’s capital Havana before the revolution and from that time they have developed a life of their own. Competition figures tend to be difficult and this is the point where the distinction between social dancing and competition dancing can be noted. The details are obtainable from the curriculums of dance and other standard texts.
There is yet another variation that is sometimes danced within the USA and has box like figures. This style has been displaced by an international style in contests but nonetheless, it could be danced in a social setting like standard ballroom rumba dancing.