Origin of Rumba- Courtesy of and by Sonny Watson (streetswing.com)



Uploaded by #guarachon63

Origins of the word Rumba (Room-Bah) was a generic term used to describe a music style rather than a dance style. The Ballroom Rhumba that is danced today is not really the “Rumba of Cuba.” The Ballroom Rhumba of today is really an offshoot of the “Son” (slower) or “Danzon” (even slower)” done in Cuba, a much slower and polite version of the true, sexually “frantic” (& FAST) Rumba and also can be considered Afro-cuban. The “Son” was a popular middle class Cuban dance which is a modified version of the Rumba … and the danzon’ is even a slower version than the Son.

    Originally, it is said that the real Rumba came to Cuba through the African Slaves (Afro-cuban) imported from Spain into that country over two hundred years ago. Cuba eventually banned the dance as being too wild to dance in public. Eventually the law was forgotten about and some people started dancing it which helped people become more aware of the dance during the 1920’s and by 1925 President Machado put the ban back into effect, his decree stated: “this class of music (referring to African music) and the ‘rumba’ are contrary to the good custom and public order of Cuba.” However it was reported that the upper classes in Cuba did not dance the Rumba anyway, as it was to wild and frantic.

   The Son is played in two parts (chorus and verse) while the Son dancers only dance to the chorus. The Claves (instrument) create the mood of the dance. However, it may have been originally a Pantomimic dance of Africa that found its way to Cuba (Afro-Cuban.) The son as a music began to take shape in the latter half of the 19th century in Cuba’s Orient province, and gave birth to several hybrids including the afro-son, guajira-son, son-pregón and son-montuno. The son is perhaps the most important form at the root of today’s popular salsa music. After a period of change and development here in the States, the Son evolved into a popular sensual couples dance known today as the “Rumba.”

Uploaded by #guarachon63

“From “La Rumba” (1978, dir Oscar Valdés)
Interview with Saldiguera & Florencio Street, Columbia performance by the Port of Cardenas, featuring dancer Machaco.”

  Today there are three distinct styles of rumba done in Cuba with the dance primarily being danced as a freestyle or solo (non-lead and follow) dance. The first being called the “Guaguancó,” which is a seduction between the man and woman whereas he can try to get carnal and “attack” her. The second is the “Yambú” which has a flirty woman dancing with a older man (man can be young too) who cannot get carnal or “attack” her and finally the more polite “Columbia” which is more the traditional “Rooster and Hen” dance where the male struts his masculinity around and about the female.” The early Cuban Rumba can at times look like Cha-Cha and Mambo.

Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer are said to have tried the first real attempt at introducing the Rumba to Americans as far back as 1913, followed by Emil Coleman in 1923 and by Benito Collada in 1925 at a club called “El Chico” in Greenwich Village. In 1929 a small interest was growing in Latin-American music and in 1930 a Nuevos Ritmo (new rhythm) song called “The Peanut Vendor” by Don Azpiazu’s Havana Casino Orchestra was released which became a hit as a new DANCE to American dance forms.

By the 1930’s all of America had become knowledgeable of Latin music and the Rumba. The “American Rumba” of today as written about earlier is a version of the son that Quinn and Sawyer tried to introduce years ago. Today it is known as a “Latin-Ballroom” couples dance (lead and follow) and correctly titled the Dance Of Romance.” The American and International styled Rumba’s can be a very beautiful dance when done by a polished couple.

   Many of the erotic movements of the Ballroom Rumba stemmed from the original dancers of Cuba doing the tasks of the day such as “Shoeing the Mare,” “Doin’ the Laundry/Dishes,” “Climbing a Rope,” or the “Courtship of Barnyard Fowls.” The costumes that many performers originally wore, represented this in the woman’s long ruffled train of her skirt (hens feathers) or the mans ruffled shirt sleeves and or chest which represents the cocks hackle feathers. Today’s latin costumes look more like Lingerie. The Ballroom Rumba is a nice dance for dancers to showcase their technique ability and a polite sensuousness and romantic flair on a dance floor, whereas the Cuban rumba is more a rhythmic street dance and can appear to be of a cool, yet hectic and sometimes wild abandon with the technique more about the rhythm, roots and soul of the dance, rather than being a commercially pretty dance form.

    The Jamaican Mento dance closely resembles the Rumba. The Rumba was replaced in popularity by the Mambo, and later the Cha-Cha. The Rumba is sometimes spelt as Rhumba and Roomba.

   Also a new dance (c.1975) called the Night Club-Two Step (NC-2) was originally known as “Disco Two Step” (ala Buddy Schwimmer) is a modern semi-version of the Rumba, (a few say samba), it is done to modern slow music by pop artists such as Madonna, etc. NC-2 is mainly done in the West Coast Swing and Country Western communities.


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