An exciting, syncopated, Latin dance, which originated in the 1950s as a slowed down Mambo, the Cha Cha gathers its personality, character, rhythm, basis, and charm from two major dance sources. It is a derivation of the Mambo through its Latin music, and it is also a stepchild of the Swing, as it is danced to a 1-2-3 step rhythm. The Cha Cha gets its name and character from its distinct repetitive foot rhythm.
The Cha Cha grew in popularity under North American influence. While it shares many similarities with the formerly mentioned Mambo, the Cha Cha has its own distinct characteristics to be considered a separate dance. The history of the Rumba and the Mambo runs deep, while the origins of Cha Cha still have yet to be explored as widely, even though it has a reputation of being a dance with individuality.
The Cha Cha’s tempo can be slow and staccato or fast and lively. It is an on-the-beat dance and allows the dancer the opportunity to easily be expressive. This characteristic, more than any other, makes the Cha Cha a joy to dance for people of all ages. Most dancers find it easy to “let it all out” on the dance floor with this dance.
Since the dance is compact, Cha Cha is danced in place. The dancer’s feet usually go no more than 12 inches apart. Made popular with music by such artists as Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez in the 1950’s, today it is danced to easily danced accompanied by night club music.