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American Rumba vs. International Rumba – what is the difference?

Rumba History and Meaning | Rumba Lessons | Arthur Murray NYC

Rumba is both a family of music rhythms and a dance style that originated in Africa and traveled  via the African slave trade to Cuba and the New World At Arthur Murray NYC we offer Rumba lessons as part of our selection of daily dance classes. Read on to learn more about Rumba to see if you think Rumba might be one of the dances you would like to pursue.

The term , Rumba may refer to a variety of unrelated music styles. This term originally was used as a synonym for party” in north Cuba and by the late 19th century it was used to denote the complex of secular music styles known as Cuban Rumba. Since the early 20th century the term has been lead in different countries to refer to  distinct styles of music and dance, most of which are only tangentially related to the original Cuban Rumba, if at all.

Technique and difference between American and International Rumba

Learning the rumba is a 0prerequisite for good Latin Dancing. The Cuban Motion is essential in most Latin dances.The Rumba is used by good dancers everywhere and provides interesting variety suited to a limited space. Neat, attractive, precise footwork gives you confidence in your dancing.

There are several social dances which can be subsumed under rumba name: rumba itself, bolero – based on Cuban rumba, and son.

There is American ballroom rumba with the term ,,ballroom” as begin understood in the more general meaning of the world. American Style Rumba was imported to America by band directors like Emil Coleman and Don Aspiazu between 1913 and 1935. American Style Rumba is taught in a box step , known for its slow-quick-quick pattern danced on the 1,3 and 4 beat music. Every step in American Style Rumba is taken with bend leg first , and than is transforming into a straight leg as you shift your weight while you are doing the cuban motion with your hips. Most of the time you are dancing in a closed partner position which creates a nice frame.

Rumba is one of the ballroom dances which occurs in Social dancing and in International competitions. It is slow of the five competitive International Latin dances. This International Ballroom Rumba was delivered from Cuba rhythm and dance of the old generation called Bolero (American style dance) . This Rumba style is a slower version danced of about 120 beats per minute. International style is taught in a quick-quick- slow pattern danced on the 2,3 and 4 beats of 4 beat music. Hip – sway over the standing leg or Cuban motion is used in this style too. In general , steps are kept compact and is danced generally without and raise and fall. This style is authentic , as is the use of free arms in various figures.Competition figures are often complex , and this is where competitive dancing separates from social dancing.

Journalists and teachers alike refer to the rumba as a ,,woman’s dance” because it presents a female’s body with arms, foot and leg lines very stylistically. But the male also has an interesting part in conjunction with his partner. These interactions demonstrate the emotions and the mutual dependency of soft rhythms and quick movements. The change of movements from being close together , to suddenly dancing away from your partner , create another name for rumba or ,,Love Dance”.


Rumba began to be used by American record companies to label all kinds of Latin music between 1912 and 1915. The history of Rumba as a specific form of Ballroom music can be traced back to May 1930 when Don Aspiazu and his Havana Casino orchestra record their song ,,El manisero” The song attempted to adapt the Son Cubano to the style of Ballroom music prevalent at the time in the East Coast. As we already mentioned there are several different types of rumba , which says that there is a different tempos when we are talking about rumba , but here is a small list of well known Rumba music:


  • And i love her- The Beatels
  • Its Now or never – Elvis Preasly
  • Besame Mucho- Xavier Cugat
  • Neon Moon- Brooks and Dunn
  • Under The Boarwalk – TheDrifters



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