Continuing with our theme of the “history of various ballroom dances“, its time to explore the cha cha. You’ve heard of the popular, and oh so steamy, dance known as cha cha, right? It’s sassy, flirty and tons of fun! Like most Latin dances, the cha cha has an infectious rhythm, a lot of hip action, and plenty of exciting turns.
Unlike salsa dancing, cha cha is all about playing hard to get. There’s this constant flirtation between leader and follower. It’s an off-shoot of mambo and American swing, that originated back in the 1940s, but didn’t gain popularity until a decade later. This dance is more versatile than many people imagine, so beyond the obvious Latin clubs or Mexican cantinas, cha cha can be performed anywhere that top 40 is played. It’s perfect for backyard parties and when you’re cooking dinner with your significant other.
In the 1940s, everyone who was anyone went to Havana, Cuba. It was the destination of the rich and famous, and mambo was at its peak in popularity. Now, we learned about the history of mambo last month here on our blog. In mambo, there was a move called ‘the cha cha cha’, where two slow steps were followed by three quick steps. This eventually evolved into a separate dance entirely and became the basic for cha cha cha, as it was originally called. Since this new rhythm was easier to understand than the complex, ever-varying mambo, cha cha soon pushed out its predecessor.
Dance teacher, Pierre Lavelle of Britain, visited Cuba in 1952. There he noticed this new dance was like Rumba but with extra beats. When he decided to return back to Britain, he taught his version of cha cha. American dance teacher, Arthur Murray, ultimately did the same, and slowed down the tempo a bit, making it easier to learn.
Santana, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias are the typical artists that come to mind when thinking of cha cha. However, cha cha is more versatile than a lot of people realize. For example, all of you Michael Jackson fans out there, next time you listen to “Bad” or “Billie Jean”, do some cha cha! Or maybe you’re into alternative music. “Gives you Hell” by the All-American Rejects is a perfect cha cha song! Maybe top 40 is more your thing. Lady Gaga has a ton of cha cha options including “Poker Face” “Just Dance” and “Telephone” or even Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” would work! Now, I’m sure my country fans out there are thinking, “That’s all fine and dandy, but what about us!?” Cha cha can EVEN be done to Country music! “My Maria” by Brooks & Dunn, “Two Pina Coladas” by Garth Brooks, and “When the Sun Goes Down” by Kenny Chesney would all be appropriate for cha cha!
Have we piqued your interest when it comes to cha cha dancing? Then visit your local dance studio and give Latin dancing a try! Most studios have an Introductory Latin Dance Lesson for Beginners which will help get the ball rolling for you! Spice up your week and learn to cha cha today!