Each Latin dance style is packed full of history, nuance, and culture. There is a strong sense of Native Latin, African, and European roots in all Latin styles of dance. Learn how to Latin dance with free video tutorials from Howcast, taught by professional dancers and instructors. It’s so easy to follow along and learn any style you want. Start dancing today!
Originating from Eastern Cuba, the Salsa is a mainstream form of Latin social dancing. It’s influenced by Afro-Cuban, Folk, and Jazz styles of dance and gained serious credibility in New York in the 1960s.
Characterized by swinging hips, shifting weight, and intricate footwork, Salsa dancing is fast and exciting. Many different areas of Latin America and the United States have introduced their own flavors to the dance, making it a little different in every location. Learn how to dance the Salsa with our free video tutorial series!
Invented in the suburbs of Buenos Aires in the early 1900s, the Argentine Tango is both a style of social dance and music. The nine styles that fall under Argentine Tango are Tango canyengue, Tango orillero, Salon Tango, Tango apilado/confiteria stylem, Tango nuevo, Tango traditional, Tango con corte y quebrada, Tango de fantasía, and Show Tango.
The Argentine Tango has been showcased in many films, TV shows, books, and Operas since becoming a popular style of dance. Learn how to do it yourself!
The 1940s in Brazil were an exciting time for the world of dance. The Samba was born into the Ballroom dance community, and it became hugely popular. With its simple movements and flow, it is a treat for dancers everywhere.
Performed by couples, the dance also allows for creative freedom, where one partner can step away in order to deliver more stylized moves. The current style of Samba is quite different from the original form of the dance, but it maintains the history and beautiful style of previous versions.
The main difference that makes the Samba unique to other Latin dance styles is that the hips have a specific choreography, where other dances allow the dancer to move their hips freely.
The classic African influence style of Samba is still performed in Brazil today.
Rumba, or Rhumba, is a style of dancing with deep Afro-Cuban roots that has been around since the 1930s. American Style and International Styles are the two primary variations that are performed today. The Rumba we know is a combination of the bolero-son, which is a Cuban dance that is no longer performed, conga dancing, and the stylings of traditional Rumba.
In the International Style of the dance, there is a quick-quick-slow pattern to the movements. The International Style is similar to the Cha Cha. Subtle side to side hip movements and a straight torso are specific characteristics of this style. Dancers all over the world continue to compete in dance competitions with the Rumba!
In the 1940s, a new style of Latin dance emerged, called the Mambo. It was immediately a sensation and even replaced the Rumba as the mainstream style of dance at the time. It originated in Cuba and spread across Latin America.
Cuban dancers describe the Mambo as “Feeling the Music,” insisting on letting the music talk through the body. Mambo is an exciting style of dance that feels sensual and fiery!
Bachata is a Latin style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. Each region the dance is performed in has a slight variation of the original form. Typically, the movement of Bachata is concentrated in the hips and legs, leaving the upper body stable.
When partners are dancing the Bachata, the lead has the freedom to decide if they want it to be in an open or closed position. The way the dance is performed depends on the rhythm of the music, the setting, the interpretation, and the mood the dancers want to portray.
Bachata is a very versatile style of dance and is commonly perceived as a sensual style—but it doesn’t have to be that way unless that’s what the dancers want. If the dancers are entirely in sync, it’s said to display the level of connection between them. Learn how to do this popular Latin dance today!
Merengue, combined with the style of music by the same name, is the national dance of the Dominican Republic. Partners hold hands at chest level and slowly move in semi-circles to the rhythm of the music. It’s a sensual and moving style of dance.
During the 1960s, a large number of people from the Dominican Republic moved to New York City, which brought this style of dance over to America. It became hugely popular in the United States, and soon the rest of the world.
Merengue is a versatile style of Latin dance, allowing for both open and closed positions, separate turns while holding hands, twists and turns, and other intricate movements. Let’s get dancing!
Capoeira is a style of Brazillian dance and martial arts that has African influences. This unique style combines music, acrobatics, and dance to create an extraordinary experience. Since the 16th century, Capoeira has been known for its complexity combined with the smooth flow of the rocking step.
Capoeira features fast-paced movements combined with kicks, elbow strikes, swirling kicks, and sweeps. It avoids fixed stances, so the dancer (or fighter) keeps a constant, steady flow of movement. Music is essential to the Capoeira style, as it sets the tempo for all the techniques that are used in the routine.
Have you discovered your favorite Latin dance moves? We hope you’re having fun with our video lessons on how to Latin dance. For even more great dance tutorials, check out our main How to Dance page, or discover new styles in our guide on the most popular types of dance.