The origins of the Mambo

The Mambo grew from the Danzon, a Cuban national dance, but not before serious influence by the Cuban Haitians, (in Haiti, a Mambo in a Voodoo Priestess) and American Jazz. The Mambo is a fusion of Swing (American jazz) and Cuban music. The actual dance is attributed to Perez Prado who introduced it at La Tropicana nightclub in Havana in 1943. Tito Rodriguez, Tito Puente and Xavier Cugat also made significant contributions to Mambo’s growth and development.

mambocoupleMambo arrived in New York around 1947, quickly becoming the new dance craze. Mambo was taught at dance schools, resorts and nightclubs, reaching it’s height of popularity by the mid 1950’s. The original dance had to be toned down (too athletic and acrobatic) in order for the general public to be able to do it. A modified version was presented at dance studios, resort hotels, and night clubs in New York and Miami. The Mambo craze of the 1950s did not last long; and today, Mambo’s appeal is limited to advanced dancers. However, Mambo did give rise to two other dances: Cha Cha (in the 1950s) and Salsa (in the 1980s).


Danced in 4/4 timing the music has 4 even beats to the bar. Sometimes described as a fast Rumba, the emphasis will often be on the 2 and 4 beats. The combination of Swing/Jazz and Latin music has however made this music quite distinct.

Dance Characteristics
Mambo is a fast and spicy dance characterized by strong Cuban motion, staccato movement and expression of rhythm through the body. The dancer holds on counts 1 and break on count 2. Mambo also features press lines, many swivels and spins. The Mambo frame is the same as the Rhythm frame.
Musical Information
Time signature: 4/4
Tempo: 47-51 measures per minute
Timing: 234(1)
Beat value: 1-1-2

To Learn How to do the Mambo, click Here


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