Rumba: An Exciting, Sensual Dance

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The Rumba is an exciting, sensual dance with several influences responsible for it’s evolution throughout the years. African soul has a stronger presence in the Rumba than any other Latin American dance. It originated in its present form in poor districts of Havana and Matanaza, not long before slavery was abolished in Cuba around 1880. But, surprisingly, it actually first began around the time of the arrival of the first African slaves back in the 16th Century. The original rumba rhythm is the Yambú, which can be traced directly back to ancient West African dances. Only percussion from several different kinds of drums, gourds, and claves were used for the music. The rumba was originally a sexual, erotic courting dance, and is actually more of a generic term for different rhythms like Yambu (which is the original rumba rhythm, and can be traced directly back to ancient West African dances), Columbia, Son, Bolero, Guaracha, Guagira, Naningo, Mambo, Beguine and Guaguanco (which is the most popular of the rumba rhythms today.) Despite its African origin, the rumba is the slowest of the Latin American dances. “Rumba” means “party” or “dance”. Like the blues did for slaves in the South, and rap music does for musicians in some urban areas, and even like Tango does for dancers and musicians in Argentina, the rumba helped the people to express their social conditions. It wasn’t until the 1920’s and 1930’s that the rumba became commercialized and adapted to the listening habits of Europe and North America. An artist named Pierre Margolie played a huge role in the sculpting and spreading of Rumba. He really started to further develop the rumba after World War II. Early on, he spent most of his time in Paris dance halls, where he met Cubans, Argentineans, Brazilians, and Spaniards who danced to their own music. In the mid 1920’s, Pierre opened a dance studio in London. Around this time, Alcedes Castellanos, a bandleader from Cuba, moved to Paris. In the...
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