When the Mambo was first introduced to North America from Latin America, it attained instant popularity. Rock ‘n’ roll numbers were being tailored to the tempo, love ballads were written to a slow Mambo beat, and novelty songs to a fast Mambo beat. Across the nation, dancers were clamoring for Mambo instruction.
The work of Cuban bandleader Perez Prado is mostly responsible for the popularity of the Mambo. During the early 1930s, Latin style dance bands were popular with American audiences and filled the radio airwaves with Rumbas, Sambas and Tangos. Then, in the early ’50s, Prado recorded the song, “Mambo Jambo,” and the dance spread rapidly.
The versatility of the Mambo is portrayed by its ability to be danced according to the individual dancer’s temperament. Conservative dancers can easily stay in a closed position, while more daring dancers can perform steps that break apart and completely separate themselves from their partner. Dance expressions like spins and turns are quite popular with Mambo dancers.
Take a look at some Fred Astaire students doing the Mambo: