Body Movin’ to the Latin Beat

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking to add some spice to your workout routine? Why not try Body Movin’ to the Latin Beat! This high-energy workout is perfect for getting your heart rate up and your body moving. Plus, it’s a great way to learn some new moves and have a lot of fun in the process.


The term “Latin music” encompasses a wide range of musical styles originating in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas and Europe. Latin music is often characterized by a strong rhythm section, which includes drums, bass, and percussion instruments, as well as a melodic lead instrument such as a guitar or piano.

Latin music has influences from a variety of cultures, including African, Native American, European, and Asian. These influences can be heard in the music of Latin America, which is often a fusion of different styles.

Latin music is popular around the world and has influenced many other genres of music. It can be heard in a variety of settings, from nightclubs and concert halls to festivals and parades.

History of Latin Dance

The history of Latin dance is long and complex, spanning centuries and crossing cultures. Its movement vocabulary draws from African, Caribbean, Spanish, and Portuguese traditions, among others.

The term “Latin dance” is relatively new, only appearing in the late 19th century. At that time, it was used to describe any dance originating from a Latin-speaking country. Over time, the definition has evolved to encompass a wider range of dances from around the world with roots in Latin American music and culture.

There are many different styles of Latin dance, each with its own unique history and characteristics. Some of the most popular styles include salsa, merengue, bachata, cha-cha-cha, rumba, and tango.


Salsa is a popular Latin American dance that is enjoyed by people of all ages. The basic step involves moving your feet in a quick and irregular manner while turning your body from side to side.

There are many different varieties of salsa, each with its own unique flavor and style. The most popular types of salsa include:

-Cuban salsa: This style of salsa originated in Cuba and is characterized by its fast tempo and Afro-Cuban influences.

– Puerto Rican salsa: Also known as “plena” or “bomba”, this style of salsa originated in Puerto Rico and is distinguished by its use of traditional instruments such as drums, maracas, and güiro.

– Mexican salsa: This style of salsa has its roots in Mexico City and is typically slower than other types of salsa. Mexican salsa often features trumpet or guitar solos.

– New York-style salsa: This style of salsa was developed in New York City in the 1970s and is characterized by its use of complex patterns and breaks.


Mambo is a popular form of social dancing originating from Cuba. It is a combination of Cuban Son, Afro-Cuban dance, and dance moves from the United States. The original form of mambo was created in the early 1930s by Cuban-born Arsenio Rodriguez.

The basic mambo step is simple: start with your feet together, then take a big step forward with your left foot and a smaller step forward with your right foot. Bring your feet back together and repeat. The mambo can be danced with various partners and creative movements.


The Cha-Cha is a Cuban dance that emerged in the early 1950s. It is danced to 4/4 music, either instrumental or with vocals, and is characterized by its quick, sharp movements and latin flavor.

One of the most popular dances of the 20th century, the Cha-Cha has been performed by everyone from celebrities to school children. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s no wrong way to Cha-Cha – so get out there and give it a try!


Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia, Brazil. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival. Considered one of the first examples of Afro-Brazilian music, samba has become an emblematic genre of Brazilian national identity.

The sounds of samba can be traced back to the 16th century with the arrival of African slaves in Brazil. Samba takes its name from “semba,” a West African word meaning “invitation to dance.” The earliest form of samba was known as lundu, a solo dance accompanied by drums and clapping. Over time, lundu evolved into a partner dance called maxixe, which became popular in Rio de Janeiro in the late 19th century. Maxixe was characterized by its quick steps and turns, and it was often danced to polkas and waltzes played on Western instruments such as the violin and flute.

In 1917, Ernesto Nazareth composed “Pelo Telefone,” considered the first true samba song. The popularity of “Pelo Telefone” signaled a change in musical style, as composers began to experiment with different rhythms and instruments associated with Afro-Brazilian music. This new style of samba was popularized by candomblé percussion groups known as batucadas. The first batucada was recorded in 1930, and by the 1940s batucadas were commonplace at Rio de Janeiro’s annual Carnival celebration.

Samba schools are community organizations that prepare elaborate costumes and floats for Carnival parades. Samba schools often have their own marching bands (known as baterias) and compete against each other for prizes. Today, samba is enjoyed all over Brazil and around the world, with each region putting its own spin on this iconic Brazilian dance genre.


In conclusion, there are many different types of Latin dances that you can learn and enjoy. Each one has its own unique steps, rhythm and flavor. As you become more familiar with the different styles, you’ll likely find one or two that you prefer. But don’t be afraid to try them all! Dancing is a great way to exercise, socialize and just have fun. So put on some Latin music and start moving your body!

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