American Rhythm

American Rhythm refers to a category of dances in American Style Ballroom competitions. This division includes dances known as the Cha-Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing, Bolero, Mambo, and Samba.
The dance technique used for both International and American styles is similar, but have some distinctions of course. In addition, different sets of dance figures are usually taught for the two styles. For example, International Latin and American Rhythm have different styling, and have different dance figures in their respective syllabus.


The Rumba originates back to Cuba in the late 19th century. It refers to a style of Ballroom dancing included in DanceSport categories of competition. Originally, the term Rumba was used as a synonym for the word “party” in northern Cuba.

The dance known in the United States as the Rumba is a composite of several dances popular in Cuba, including the Guaracha, the Cuban Bolero, the Cuban Son, and the Rural Rumba. All have similar rhythms that can be traced to religious and ceremonial dances of Africa. These rhythms were remembered by the earliest black people transported unwillingly to Cuba and subjected to forced labor by the Spanish colonists.

The American version (American Style) Rumba is danced in a box pattern with “Cuban motion” as it’s chief characteristic. “Cuban motion” is a discreet, expressive hip motion achieved by bending and straightening the legs along with carefully timed weight changes. It’s also often called “the dance of love”.

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he Cha-Cha (originally known as the Cha-Cha-Cha) originated in Cuba in the early 1950’s and refers to a style of ballroom dancing included in DanceSport categories of competition. The Cha-Cha can be danced in either the International Latin Style or the American Rhythm Style. This dance was derived from the Rumba and the Mambo.

The Cha-Cha is danced to the music introduced by Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín in the early 1950’s. This rhythm was developed from the danzón-mambo. The name of the dance is an onomatopoeia derived from the shuffling sound of the dancers’ feet.

The Cha-Cha is danced to authentic Cuban music, although in ballroom competitions it is often danced to Latin Pop or Latin Rock. The music for the International Style Cha-Cha is energetic and has a steady beat. The Cuban Cha-Cha-Cha is more sensual and may involve complex poly-rhythms.

cha cha dance couple


East Coast Swing (ECS) is a form of social partner dance. It belongs to the group of swing dances. It is danced under fast swing music, including rock and roll and boogie-woogie.

The dance was created by dance studios including the Arthur Murray dance studios in the 1940s, based on the Lindy Hop. Lindy Hop was felt by dance studios to be both too difficult and too unstructured to teach to beginning dancers, but there was market demand for training in Swing Dance.

In practice on the social dance floor, the six count steps of the East Coast Swing are often mixed with the eight count steps of Lindy Hop, Charleston, and less frequently, Balboa.

east coast swing dancers


The Bolero is a genre of slow-tempo Latin music and its associated dance. There are Spanish and Cuban forms which are both significant and which have separate origins.

Bolero is a slow dance characterized by smooth, gliding movement, dramatic arm styling and a romantic feel. Bolero is a mixture of 3 dances: Tango (contra-body movement), Waltz (body rise and fall) and Rumba (Cuban motion and slow Latin music).

There is also the concept of ‘drop and drift’ used on forward and back breaks, left-turning slip pivots and extended movements such as larger side steps. The Bolero frame is wider than a typical Rhythm frames and is a blend between the Smooth and Rhythm frame with the distance between the partners only a few inches apart or light body contact. Bolero is often called the “Cuban Dance of Love” and is believed to have evolved from Afro-Cuban and Spanish folk dances such as the Danzon, Beguine and Fandango.

bolero dancers


Mambo is a Latin dance of Cuba. The Mambo dance that was invented by Perez Prado and was popular in the 1940s and 50s in Cuba, Mexico City, and New York is completely different from the modern dance that New Yorkers now call Mambo and which is also known as Salsa “on 2”. The original mambo dance contains no breaking steps or basic steps at all. The Cuban dance wasn’t accepted by many professional dance teachers. Cuban dancers would describe mambo as “feeling the music” in which sound and movement were merged through the body. Professional dance teachers in the US saw this approach to dancing as “extreme,” “undisciplined,” and thus, deemed it necessary to standardize the dance to present it as a sell-able commodity for the social or ballroom market


The Samba refers to a style of ballroom dancing included in DanceSport categories of competition. It is a rhythmical dance with elements taken from the Brazilian Samba, its originator. The history of the dance began in Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century.  The Samba known today in the competitive DanceSport world has been influenced by the original Brazilian dance, as well as the Maxixe, and has subsequently developed independently from its traditional ancestors into having its own unique style.

Most steps are danced with a slight downward bouncing or dropping action. This action is created through the bending and straightening of the knees, with bending occurring on the beats of 1 and 2, and the straightening occurring in between. However, unlike the bouncing of, let’s say, Polka, there is no considerable bobbing.

mambo dancers