The wild exciting music, and rhythmical body movements make the earthy Mambo irresistible.


In the 1940s Americans became fascinated by Latin American rhythms.  The original mambo music, El Guardia Con El Tolete, had its beginning in 1944 as a Rumba with a riff improvisation.  The mambo combined American Jazz and the Afro -Cuban beat.  Arthur Murray studios became famous for turning out some of the best mambo dancers of the era.  As the parent of Cha-Cha and Salsa, the Mambo is an exciting challenge for all dancers.


Mambo music is written in 4/4 time with each measure divided into four beats with the important musical accents occurring on the first and third beats.  This dance can be done over a wide range of tempos.


The components of Mambo or rock steps and side steps and foot styling includes points, kicks or flicks.  The Latin hip movement in Mambo is an important aspect of the dance.  The overall flavor of the dance is contained in the translation of the word Mambo which means “shake it” or “say it”.

Teaching elements

  • Mambo breaks                              Combinations and variations of rock steps
  • Shine open position                     Appearance, self-expression
  • Footwork                                       Staccato footwork, kicks and controlled movement
  • Turns                                              Develop momentum control, wait off heels
  • Interrelation                                 Variety of figures adapted from other dancers
  • Amalgamations                            Combinations of figures
  • Compare/contrast                       Salsa, Rumba, Cha-Cha

Mambo songs and artists include:

Tequila – The Champs

Mambo # 5 – Perez Perez Prado

Cherry Cherry – Neil Diamond

Livin La Vida Loca – Ricky Martin