Spanish, African and Cuban rhythms mixed and the Habañera was born. The name Habanera [abAnerah] is from the capitol city in Cuba (Havana) and is named as such. The Habañera was originally known as the Contradanza with some African influences and was only called the Habañera outside of Cuba, in New Orleans it was known as the Creole Country Dance.
On leaving Cuba, the Habañera made its trek thru Spain then onto Argentina and finally arrived in France in the early nineteenth Century. Buenos Aires (in Argentina) was founded by a Spanish expedition in 1536, then again in 1580. Immigration brought many French, Spanish and Italians to Buenos Aires and later would become a major city. By 1816 the Waltz was introduced to Argentina, then came the Polka, Mazurka and Schottische.
Eventually the Habanera would join with the Milonga and form what we call the Tango. In the States the Habanera became a part of some Ragtime music and in Mexico was just called the Danza. When the Contradanza came to Havana, it would be known as the Contradanza Habañera. Georges Bizet (1838-1875) used the Habañera in his opera Carmen (1875) which helped spread many dance styles of this theme. The distinguishing musical feature in the Habañera is its short, repeating 2/4 rhythmic figure in the bass line.
Maurice Mouvet created a dance called the Habañera in 1912, which is what his version was of this dance (see bottom), he created another dance called the MAURICE WALK, which was used for this dance as well as the sheet music of the same name. His walk in the Tango, Maxixe, One-step and his Habañera was a close resemblance to the Tango-walk of today.
The Habañera was one of the first Latin rhythms widely used and as a music form crossed many borders from Ragtime to Blues and Western Swing to Rockabilly and Rock and Roll rhythms.