The mambo dance is an intricate Latin dance invented in the 1930s in Havana, Cuba and has developed to become an important part of Cuban culture since.
The dance itself ranges from a few basic steps to complicated moves for the really advanced mambo-ers.
Today, we are breaking down the mambo for you to learn in a few simple steps.
Learn the difference between Mambo and Salsa
At first glance, these two dances look very similar, but once you get into it, you’ll find that the mambo is a much more rigid dance, quick paced dance.
Some things the dances do have in common are flashy hip movements, similar four count and overall fluidity. It is recommended that you wear suede footwear.
Forward and backward basic step
The key is to remember to step on beat number TWO. It will help to count aloud.
Start by taking your left leg and going forward, stepping it out on two and placing your weight on that foot whilst picking up your right foot. On three, place your right foot back down and on four bring them both together.
Then do the same with your right leg but in a backward direction. Here it is again:
One: stay put with legs together
Two: Left foot out (put all of your weight on it)
Three: step back onto your right leg
Four: bring the left back to meet the right
Then do the same going backward on the right foot.
The challenges of the mambo
Right off the bat, you’ll probably notice how hard it is to not move on the first count! Allow your body to feel the movement by doing this basic step and counting aloud over and over again.
It is important to remember that you move on count TWO.
On the one count, your feet are always together and your weight is shifting from left to right and right to left. So while it may not look like you are moving a lot on this count, the weight shift is an integral part of you landing this dance!
Eventually, you will be able to quicken the pace and perhaps even add more advanced moves. For example, you can take this same step side to side and even add turns!
The upper body
Maintain good posture and a happy face. At least make it look like your enjoying yourself, even if your brain is thinking really hard about these moves!
A good place to start is to have your arms on your hips and then slightly lift them off the body. Having your arms at this bent angle and moving them with the body is the goal.
The arms follow the legs in a natural way. However, if adding arms is too complicated for you, in the beginning, just keep them on your hips until you are down with the fancy footwork.
Final notes before you get dancing
Keep your steps close and compact underneath your body so that you don’t lose balance and can keep up with the music.
That being said, the mambo is a fast and fun dance and having music alongside your rehearsal can help you nail the moves faster.
We taught this dance as if you are a solo dancer, but if you are lucky enough to have a partner, remember that you will be mirroring each other.
Typically the male starts moving backward on the right and the woman going forward (towards him) on the left.
Good luck and happy dancing!