Five Traditional Latin Dances

Five traditional Latin dances


Observe Hispanic Heritage with Dancing


Pay homage to National Hispanic Heritage Month with Fred Astaire Dance Studios by kicking up your heels and learning the five traditional Latin dances.

Modern-day ballroom dancing is heavily influenced by traditional dances from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Latin ballroom dancing is characterized by sensual, high-energy steps. The roots of many Latin dances can be traced back to African slaves, brought to the New World by European colonists to work on plantations. Over time, the dances evolved to incorporate the influence of jazz music.

The World Dance Sport Federation, the governing body for international dance competitions, officially adopted a lineup of traditional Latin dances around 1930. The expressiveness and intensity of Latin dances make them a popular choice for couples who want to improve their physical fitness and add some spice to their relationship.


Five Traditional Latin Dances


Here are the five traditional Latin dances taught at Fred Astaire Dance Studios’ local studios.

  • Samba. The samba is a traditional Brazilian dance performed during Carnival, a raucous festival held before the beginning of Lent. The dance follows the box pattern of a waltz and features syncopated rhythms, bounces, and rolling hips.
  • Cha-Cha. The cha-cha is a lively dance that hails from Cuba. It is characterized by a triple step and rock steps, combined with exaggerated hip movements.
  • Rumba. The rumba is the slowest of the traditional Latin dances and features walking steps.
  • Paso Doble. The steps from the paso doble were originally invented for Spanish matadors to use as a celebration when they won a bullfight. Male partners mimic the sharp movements of the bull as part of the dance.
  • Jive. The jive originated in America from dances such as the Jitterbug, Boogie-Woogie, and Lindy Hop. The upbeat dance features kicks and twirls.

In addition to the five traditional Latin dances, Fred Astaire Dance Studios’ instructors teach a number of social Latin dances that are popular on dance floors across the country. Some of the common Latin social dances include salsa, merengue, mambo, and Argentine tango.


Latin Dances in Action


Defined by its flowing movements and seductive undertones, Latin dance performances are riveting. Take a look at these performers from the last season of “Dancing With the Stars,” a competitive celebrity dance television series, as they twirl their way around the dance floor to some lively Latin numbers.

In the first clip, Nev Schulman and professional dancer Jenna Johnson perform the cha-cha to the song “Dynamite” by BTS. Schulman is a TV producer and director, best known for his documentary film, “Catfish.”

Check out Monica Aldama’s jive skills with partner Val Chmerkovskiy as the pair performs to one of Taylor Swift’s catchy tunes. The widely acclaimed cheerleading coach uses her athleticism to capture the heart of the upbeat Latin dance.

Television host Jeannie Mai and Brandon Armstrong take center stage during their performance of the rhumba to “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree.

History of National Hispanic Heritage Month


National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 and is a time to highlight the history and culture of our nation’s Hispanic citizens. Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off each year on the anniversary of the day when a group of Latin American countries gained their independence, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

The United States population includes more than 62 million people who identify as Hispanic. Their ancestors came to the United States with rich cultural traditions, dances, and history. President Lyndon B. Johnson launched a weeklong celebration of Hispanic heritage in 1968 and President Ronald Reagan extended the event to a month in 1988.


Celebrate Hispanic Culture at FADS


Fred Astaire Dance Studios offers both group and private ballroom dancing lessons to help empower participants and honor cultural traditions. Celebrate Hispanic culture by learning the steps to a traditional Latin dance at your local Fred Astaire Dance Studios location.