Rumba – June 2016
So, the Rumba then. The dance of love. I was once told that it’s a vertical expression of a horizontal desire… I’m not so sure that’s entirely true especially with some of the partners I’ve danced with! Of course they all lived by that statement and believed in it wholeheartedly!
In our classes we almost always teach the Rumba not long after the Cha Cha Cha. You could certainly call these two dances the twins, as at the basic syllabus level they share almost all of the same figures and actions. The Cha Cha Cha is the feisty, cheeky and naughty little dance that’ll catch you by surprise and wear you out just as soon as you start to enjoy yourself. The Rumba on the other hand is more methodical and laid back, giving you more time to work out what’s going on, but then still catching you out with a sneaky little hip gyration or wiggle when you’re least expecting it!
At class level we certainly don’t expect it to be all lovey dovey. We do of course play on that fact on occasion, purely for my own enjoyment, mostly when we tell you to look at each other during the moves. However, you’re really supposed to do this in the Cha Cha Cha as well but because it’s so much faster, it’s all over and done with before you realise. Perhaps the Cha Cha Cha is more of a vertical expression of a horizontal desire? For some at least…
No – enough of that.
In class we use the Rumba to help you learn the basic movements – forward, backwards, left, right, turn left, turn right etc – that are present in almost all of the Latin American dances. Because it’s the slowest of them all it gives you more time to do this. At times this can be its downfall however, as many a dancer will tell you when you’re faced with a nice pause or a little bit more time before dancing on, it gives you choices and choices aren’t always a good thing! When moves and steps are coming thick and fast, ala the naughty twin, you don’t have much time to think just do which suits a great many of our dancers. When the music is slower and gives you more time, your mind can wander and when you’re in the middle of a dance, with all those pesky dance steps milling around, choice isn’t always a good thing. Standing still too; “surely I look like a prat if I stand still for this long” is often a comment uttered to me when teaching the Rumba but what feels like an age to you is merely a second to us looking on. If I’m really honest, and I am, it isn’t the standing still that makes people sometimes look like a prat… 😉
That was a bit harsh. But SO OFTEN TRUE!
So the history bit of the Rumba we’ve already covered in the Cha Cha Cha blog from earlier (read that here if you haven’t already). Bearing in mind how the Cha Cha Cha came about, there must have been those still struggling with the speed of the music, so they were obviously treated to an even slower version which eventually became the Rumba. Some of the original moves were quite provocative but done quickly, as with the glance, it’s all over and done with quite quickly so no romance can form. If however you do the same moves, but substantially slower, well, who knows what can develop on the dance floor! This is probably why, over time the Rumba has been given the nickname, the ‘dance of love’.
In recent years this moniker has been reinforced with the music that people choose to dance to being all about love. Love songs are typically slow (you’ve gotta take your time over love – don’t rush it!) and if it’s got a 4/4 rhythm, then we can dance to it. Historically back in Cuba, Rumba was also a word used to describe a party, so we can only imagine the kind of parties that were going on in the hot and humid back streets of Havana back in the day!
Needless to say we do try to create a bit of a party atmosphere in our classes and recently it has also been pretty hot and humid too. But for now we’ll leave the romance until after lights out and concentrate on learning the steps and moves beautifully in an effort to improve all of our Latin American dances. Remember fellas, a lady will always like a man who can dance well! So don’t worry and go for it – even if it means looking a bit of a prat!
Next week we’re onto the Quickstep but for now, here’s the latest Rumba Beginners Plus routine: