The Foxtrot, the Tango, the Swing Jitterbug. All good to know dances whether you're doing some nightclub hopping, or cruising on the big big swimming pools we call oceans, or at the Palladium, or even at family get-togethers. I mean all kinds of get-togethers...birthdays, weddings, or backyard B-B-Q (the older Filipino generations in the plantation camps had dances at funerals, too). Talk about a happy sendoff.....but then that's another story for later.
Dancing the Cha Cha is one of Lani and my favorite Latin dances. The dance has a flavor so hot that you can actually inject your personality into it. You've seen the dancers do it on So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, and now Dance Your Ass Off. HOW ABOUT YOU?
Here's a short spill on the Cha Cha from partner dancing. The Cha Cha is really a spinoff of the Mambo, which is itself a derivative of the Rumba. When the Mambo evolved from the Rumba in the 1940's, many Americans and Europeans vacationing in Havana had a hard time trying to dance to the racy tempo and off-beat rhythm. To accommodate the dancers, Latin-American bands slowed down the Mambo tempo from 50 to 30 bars per minute, but kept the triple Mambo staccato rhythm. In this slower version, the dances took two slow steps on the beat, followed by three steps in quick succession. Musicians would call out "cha-cha-cha" on the quickies. The heavy hip wiggles were modified to a subtle sway, and the whole affair became much more manageable for ballroom dancers. The Cha Cha has enjoyed popularity from the 1950's right up to the present. This dance shares patterns and styling with its cousins the Rumba and Mambo. The footwork is small, flat, and close to the floor, and the knees are relaxed and a little bent, allowing the hips to move freely, but without exaggeration. You may find this dance easier than the Mambo because you're dancing on the beat. (As I said earlier, the Cha Cha is a hotsy....so hot that you can feel free to innovate and create a few of your own Cha Cha patterns. As Mikey on TV said, "Try it..you might like it!)