Most accounts say Rumba came from Cuba, although versions existed elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rumba is a broad term referring to multiple music and dance forms, including Danzon, Guaracha and Son. These forms are a blend of African slave and colonial Spanish culture. The livelier forms feature fast hip movements and sexual strutting performed to a fiery orchestra of percussion. However, ballroom Rumba comes from Son, one of the slower, less eroticized versions of the dance.

By the late 1920’s, America’s appetite for Latin music was whet. Orchestra leaders such as Xavier Cugat introduced the popularized Rumba music and dancing, which continued to grow in the 1930’s and 40’s. After much debate, Rumba was finally standardized as a ballroom dance in the mid 1950’s.


Sometimes called the “dance of love”, Rumba is distinguished by its romantic feel. It is a non progressive dance (remains on one part of the floor). Perhaps its most important characteristic is the continuous flowing Cuban motion, which gives Rumba its sensual look.