Latin Dance Styles

In today’s blog I am going to talk about several styles of Latin dance that you can expect to find in the bars and nightclubs of the Riviera Maya. There are many opportunities to practice all of these, so this guide will describe several of them in detail so that you can better choose which one appeals to you most for when you hit the dance floor. Note that many establishments also offer lessons, so if you wish to try one and lack the experience you can learn how and begin practicing right away.

Salsa is most well known of Latin dance styles, a combination of different dance styles, mixing them together just like a ‘salsa,’ which is where it derives its name. It is the most popular and recognized Latin Dance in the world. Salsa is in 4/4 time with a syncopated rhythm known as the “Clave” rhythm, consisting of 3 steps-2 quick ones and 1 slow or a pause. There is an LA style and a NY style, defined by whether you start your first step on the first beat or the second beat. Although the footwork is the same they differ due to the steps, making them either flashy and exciting or relaxed and smooth.

Bachata originated in the Dominican Republic and it slower and more romantic than salsa. The main instrument in this style of dance is the guitar, compared to salsa’s use of trumpets and drums. Bachata is also in 4/4 time and consists of 3 steps and a tap, enhanced with a hip motion or a lifting of the leg during the “tap” step. Bachata can be danced in two-hand hold, but is often danced in close embrace.

Cumbia is also slower than salsa, with movements that are more circular in shape. It is considered to be a more relaxed dance and is not featured in dance competitions as often as some of the other styles. You will hear a lot of piano, guitar and percussion in cumbia, and does not feature salsa brass instruments.

Cha Cha comes from Cuba and is danced in 4/4 time and consists of intricate footwork, quick spins and flashy moves. The basic step consists of a rock step and a chasse step, which makes the dance look more intricate and stylish. Similar to other Latin dances, in Cha-Cha, dancers keep their feet close to the floor and let their hips move freely throughout.

Merengue is a traditional folk dance originated in Dominican Republic and is lighthearted, casual and festive. Merengue has a marching feel to it due to its being in 2/4 time. The basic dance step involves dancers keeping their knees slightly bent, with feet constant contact with the floor.

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