The Dance Store HomeAbout the Dance StoreOrdering from the Dance StoreThe Dance Store FAQsContact the Dance Store
View Cart or Checkout
Rumba See also:
Rumba DVD's & Videos >>

<< Learning Center Intro

Free rumba lessons & introduction!

A Basic Description of The Rumba

The rumba is a slow, sensuous, romantic dance with much flirtation. Many of the basic figures of the dance have a "tease and run" theme in which the lady first flirts with and then rejects her partner. The sexual overtures can be very aggressive. The Rumba spotlights the lady and in particular her rhythmic body action and sexuality. The slow Latin beat, the rhythmic body and hip action, and the steamy tease and run figures result in routines that can be close to X-rated. Unlike the Cha-Cha which effects a happy, carefree, party-time-like dance expression, the rumba effects a more serious and intense expression. Need Cuban Motion? Our free online video will help you achieve this essential element of great rumba dancing.

Free Video Instruction
An Introduction to Rumba

Windows Media
Video Help

Rumba Learning Area


The Basic Step of Rumba

Rumba music is written in 4/4 time, with four beats to each measure. Two measures of music are required to complete one full basic step. In the music, the heavy beat is the one beat, the first beat of the measure. The music tempo is typically 104 to 108 beats per minute.

In Rumba, three steps are taken during each measure of music. In other words, three steps are taken to four beats of music. The steps are actually taken on beats 2, 3, and 4 of each measure and knee straightening, weight transfer, and turns are performed on the intervening half beats. No step is actually taken on count 1, but hip movement does occur on count 1. In American style Rumba, the step timing is sometimes counted quick, quick, slow; quick, quick, slow.

In International style Rumba, the step timing is counted 2,3,4-1, 2,3,4-1. Recall that stepping action only occurs on counts 2,3, and 4. Hip movement and spiral turning actions occur on count 1. Learning to count the music correctly is the first big hurdle for beginners. Students are seldom able to dance the Rumba correctly until they are able to count it correctly.

All steps should be taken to the inside edge of the ball of the foot. As steps are taken, the pointed toe of the moving foot skims the floor as it moves into place. As with all Latin dances, the footwork is ball-flat, ball-flat for all steps. All steps are taken with foot turn out. Cuban motion is an essential element of the dance. Cuban motion, especially the hip action, comes mainly from the alternate bending and straightening of the knees.

Like the basic for mambo, a full basic of the Rumba can be thought of as having a forward basic, which takes 4 beats of music, and a backward basic, which takes four beats of music. So, eight beats of music are required to complete one full basic.

Each forward and backward basic can be considered to contain the following three steps: a break step, a replace step, and a slow step usually taken to second foot position.
<< Back to top


Rumba Music

Good Rumba music is hard to find from mainstream artists. To really be good, rumba music needs to be highly and correctly accented.

Click on the link below for examples of Rumba songs and CD's featuring feature Rumba music.

Rumba Music Examples >>
<< Back to top


History of the Rumba

Sometimes called the grandfather of the Latin dances, the Rumba originates from Cuba and it was first seen in the United States around 1920.
<< Back to top


Tips & Info

Beginners usually make the following mistakes.

  • Dancing on the wrong beat of the music making their break step on the first beat of the measure.
    The break step should occur on the second beat of the measure, not on the first, third, or fourth beat of the measure. As the music is slow, it is almost impossible to become a great rumba dancer without disciplining yourself to count the music and to dance strictly in conformance to the tempo.
  • Rushing the beat and moving onto each foot placement abruptly.
  • Beginners fail to use leverage and compression connection to effect and to follow leads.
    Instead leading is often self-initiated. Finally, beginners usually do not develop the Cuban motion that is essential for characterizing this dance.

Advice & important points to remember when dancing the Rumba

  • Cuban motion.
    As with all Latin dances, the key to making the dance look great is in the styling and in the Cuban motion. The professionals can make even the simplest patterns look outstanding due to their styling. Achieving the soft hip action is most important. Here's a way to think about it. First, think of the dance in terms of slows and quicks. The foot should be placed on count 1 of the slow, but do not place any weight on count 1 of the slow. Most beginners move weight too quickly onto the slow step. The second half of the slow step assumes the weight as the same knee straightens, and, as the same knee straightens, the same hip will rise, creating the desired hip action. A helpful verbal queue is Quick, Quick, Slow - O; Quick, Quick, Slow - O. By saying "Slow - O," you might be able to remind yourself not to transfer weight until the second half of the slow. Hips move as a result of the bending and straightening of the knees, NOT by a conscious swinging of the hips. As a knee bends, the same hip drops. As a knee straightens, the same hip rises. This can be practiced by standing in place and alternately bending and straightening the knees.
  • Never use a heel lead.
    As with all Latin dances, the footwork is ball-flat for every step, never using a heel lead. Some teachers say, "place the foot, then move weight to it, place the foot, then move weight to it." Every step should be taken with pressure on the inside edge of the ball of the foot, with the knee flexed. As the weight is taken onto the foot, the heel should lower, the knee straighten, and the heel of the opposite foot should be released, as the hips move softly sideways in the direction of the stepping foot. This hip movement is used in almost every step of Rumba.
  • Understand connection.
    Connection in either leverage or compression (as appropriate for the figure) must be maintained at all times. The lead generally entails the building of compression or leverage. A mistake is for the lady to "fail to connect" or to initiate a figure prior to the development of the compression or leverage lead.
  • Gentlemen: never let a free hand dangle or fall below your waist.
    If you open up and you are moving away from your partner, allow your arm to flow out, away from your body, but keep it above waist level. As you move back toward your partner, bring your arm in, across your body.

<< Back to top

The Dance Store Online Your Source for Ballroom and Latin Dance Instruction P.O. Box 72732, Richmond, VA 23235, USA