Let's Dance the Mambo!
by Irv & Betty Easterday
The Mambo is an outgrowth of the Cuban
Rumba, and, like the Rumba and other West Indian dances, uses more of
the body in performing the dance than was formerly thought proper.
The characteristic figure in Mambo is
really a "Rumba Movement." It consists of placing the foot,
no weight, knee bent, followed by straightening the knee and the foot
taking the weight. As one knee bends with that hip low, the other
straightens with that hip high. It is done on both a slow step and a
The leading and following is somewhat
different from conservative ballroom dancing. The partners are
farther apart from each other, and although the man sometimes places
his right arm around the woman's waist, in most cases, he holds his
partner away from him, her right hand with his left, and sometimes
they are completely on their own and away from each other.
The original Mambo started on the
fourth beat of the bar, and this syncopation distinguished it from
all other West Indian dances. However, in Round Dancing, we begin
figures with a "quick" on beat one of each bar. The rhythm
of Mambo for Round Dancing then is "quick, quick, slow." In
common with all other West Indian dances, all Mambo steps are short
and taken on the flat foot, but with delayed weight change, and
danced within a small area. Remember, when one knee bends with that
hip low, the other knee straightens with the hip high.
Most of the figures are taken from the Rumba syllabus. However, the characteristic hip movement, foot placement, and tempo of music make the Mambo an individual rhythm.
Taken from clinic notes prepared for the Roundalab annual convention, 2005.