Culture Guide Int'l Lifestyle

7 Latin Dances with Moves to Turn Heads

You’ll find several popular Latin dances throughout different countries in Central and South America, with most of the dances having influences which extends beyond this region. Although Latin dances have a flair that is adored around the world, some of them are not as easy to learn like the others.

Today’s styles of Latin dances were influenced by the convergence of European and African dance traditions, with those of native countries during colonization of South America in the early sixteenth century.


Settlers merged their own cultural daily lifestyle activities into the stories typically incorporated into native dances, and together these collective influences formed the modern Latin dances we know today.

Get to know them here first and then you can pick up these popular Latin dance moves at a social dance workshop, class, Latin music night, or by watching a Latin dance show on a TV.

These are 7 Latin dance styles you gotta learn if you’re into Latin culture.


The Salsa dance style, although considered to have a strong African influence has its roots in the Caribbean. The Salsa dance is normally performed by couples and it focuses on a four-beat combination of two steps, which is then followed by a pause. Dancing partners can subsequently add other turns to the basic footwork to add more fun to the dancing style.


Cha Cha Cha

This dance is a Cuban-born dance and it’s also called Cha Cha. It’s somewhat similar to the Mambo style of dancing. Nevertheless, the difference is that after the basic forward and backward movement, the Cha Cha Cha includes a set of three steps that is done quickly. This is where the dance got its name from because many performers of this dance style count out these steps as “cha cha cha”



This is a dance style that originated from the Dominican Republic. When performing Bachata dance style, dancers move sideways in a four-beat pattern. Dancers move three steps to the side and then followed by a pause. The Bachata dance is more of stylish moving of the body than the simple moving of the legs back and forth.


This dance is recognized as the official dance style of the Dominican Republic. Those looking to warm their way into Latin dances consider the Merengue dance a great option because it’s easier to learn. The basic movement of the Merengue dance goes thus; stepping onto the inside edge of your foot, and rolling the foot in order to shift your weight, then pull your other foot to join the first foot. One can always learn the basic Merengue dance technique from other dancers performing it or an instructor.



The Mambo is one of the Latin dances that has its origin from Cuba. It’s dancing style is a three-beat step forward and backward movement, while the dancer shifts his/her weight from one foot to the other. One partner of the dancing pair performs the forward movement, as the other does the backward motion. However, what really gives Mambo its unique style is the hip-swaying action, which the weight-shift creates during the forward and the backward movement.



This dance too has its origin from Cuba as well. Performers of the Rumba Latin dances make use of a box-like pattern to direct their movements. The dance style includes two quick steps, followed by a slower step that takes two beats to execute.



The Samba dance, with it’s origin in Brazil can be danced as a couple or as individuals. There are many different forms of Samba dance with different combination of musical styles. The Samba dance is one of the most popular Latin dances, mostly because individual dancers perform the dance style during Carnival events.


If you’re interested in these Latin dances, go ahead and try them out! You will find out that once you start learning about a particular dance style, you definitely want to know what the other Latin dancing styles have to offer.