The Mambo is a quick and playful dance that expresses sensuality. It requires passion to perform the swift hip and back and forth movements that characterize the dance. Each step of the mambo is fluid and works to create a rocking motion that makes it so fun to perform. Learn how to dance the mambo with free video lessons from Howcast!
Mambo dancing originally appeared in Cuba during the mid-1900s. It was a mixture of the Cuban son dance and swing jazz music that lead to the fast-paced dance known as the mambo. Musician Perez Prado is best known for introducing the music and dance in a Havana nightclub.
Shortly after Prado introduced mambo to Cuba, it spread to Harlem and gained enthusiasm with dancers there. Unlike other dances, the mambo was fairly short-lived as its own dance. It was ultimately used as an inspiration to create two other dances—the cha cha and salsa, both of which became far more popular. But you can still dance the mambo today!
While the mambo is a fairly complex dance, the basic steps are not too difficult to learn. Once you understand the steps and unique count, you can begin to pick up the pace and match the speed of real mambo dancers!
The mambo requires space between partners and positioning similar to rumba and cha cha. The man’s left hand will raise up and out to meet the right hand of a woman. A man’s right hand will be placed below the left shoulder blade on a woman’s back. The woman’s left hand will be above and resting on the man’s right shoulder.
Counting the mambo is unique because you don’t step on the first count. Instead, you only move on counts 2, 3, and 4. The mambo is pretty speedy, which means counts will also be fairly quick. It can be counted as two quick steps and one slow step (Quick x2, Slow x1), because you’ll hold the last step through until the 2nd beat in the next bar of music.
It’s easiest to start by learning the forward and back basic steps of the mambo. This sets a solid foundation to work from and allows you to work on incorporating hip movements and rocking steps into your dancing as you progress. Here’s how to do the Forward and Back Mambo Basic Step:
You should have a clear idea of how to dance the mambo now. Explore the rest of our videos in this series to learn even more mambo moves and steps!