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Streetswings Dance History Archives: Rumba History Origins
Rumba Dancers
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      Origins of the word Rumba (Room-Bah) was a generic term used to describe a music style rather than a dance style. The Ballroom Rhumba that is danced today is not really the "Rumba of Cuba." The Ballroom Rhumba of today is really an offshoot of the "Son" (slower) or "Danzon" (even slower)" done in Cuba, a much slower and polite version of the true, sexually "frantic" (& FAST) Rumba and also can be considered Afro-cuban. The "Son" was a popular middle class Cuban dance which is a modified version of the Rumba ... and the danzon' is even a slower version than the Son.

    Originally, it is said that the real Rumba came to Cuba through the African Slaves (Afro-cuban) imported from Spain into that country over two hundred years ago. Cuba eventually banned the dance as being too wild to dance in public. Eventually the law was forgotten about and some people started dancing it which helped people become more aware of the dance during the 1920's and by 1925 President Machado put the ban back into effect, his decree stated: "this class of music (referring to African music) and the 'rumba' are contrary to the good custom and public order of Cuba." However it was reported that the upper classes in Cuba did not dance the Rumba anyway, as it was to wild and frantic.

   The Son is played in two parts (chorus and verse) while the Son dancers only dance to the chorus. The Claves (instrument) create the mood of the dance. However, it may have been originally a Pantomimic dance of Africa that found its way to Cuba (Afro-Cuban.) The son as a music began to take shape in the latter half of the 19th century in Cuba's Orient province, and gave birth to several hybrids including the afro-son, guajira-son, son-pregón and son-montuno. The son is perhaps the most important form at the root of today's popular salsa music. After a period of change and development here in the States, the Son evolved into a popular sensual couples dance known today as the "Rumba."

   Today there are three distinct styles of rumba done in Cuba with the dance primarily being danced as a freestyle or solo (non-lead and follow) dance. The first being called the "Guaguancó," which is a seduction between the man and woman whereas he can try to get carnal and "attack" her. The second is the "Yambú" which has a flirty woman dancing with a older man (man can be young too) who cannot get carnal or "attack" her and finally the more polite "Columbia" which is more the traditional "Rooster and Hen" dance where the male struts his masculinity around and about the female." The early Cuban Rumba can at times look like Cha-Cha and Mambo.

   Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer are said to have tried the first real attempt at introducing the Rumba to Americans as far back as 1913, followed by Emil Coleman in 1923 and by Benito Collada in 1925 at a club called "El Chico" in Greenwich Village. In 1929 a small interest was growing in Latin-American music and in 1930 a Nuevos Ritmo (new rhythm) song called "The Peanut Vendor" by Don Azpiazu's Havana Casino Orchestra was released which became a hit as a new DANCE to American dance forms.

   By the 1930's all of America had become knowledgeable of Latin music and the Rumba. The "American Rumba" of today as written about earlier is a version of the son that Quinn and Sawyer tried to introduce years ago. Today it is known as a "Latin-Ballroom" couples dance (lead and follow) and correctly titled the "Dance Of Romance." The American and International styled Rumba's can be a very beautiful dance when done by a polished couple.

   Many of the erotic movements of the Ballroom Rumba stemmed from the original dancers of Cuba doing the tasks of the day such as "Shoeing the Mare," "Doin' the Laundry/Dishes," "Climbing a Rope," or the "Courtship of Barnyard Fowls." The costumes that many performers originally wore, represented this in the woman's long ruffled train of her skirt (hens feathers) or the mans ruffled shirt sleeves and or chest which represents the cocks hackle feathers. Today's latin costumes look more like Lingerie. The Ballroom Rumba is a nice dance for dancers to showcase their technique ability and a polite sensuousness and romantic flair on a dance floor, whereas the Cuban rumba is more a rhythmic street dance and can appear to be of a cool, yet hectic and sometimes wild abandon with the technique more about the rhythm, roots and soul of the dance, rather than being a commercially pretty dance form.

    The Jamaican Mento dance closely resembles the Rumba. The Rumba was replaced in popularity by the Mambo, and later the Cha-Cha. The Rumba is sometimes spelt as Rhumba and Roomba.

   Also a new dance (c.1975) called the Night Club-Two Step (NC-2) was originally known as "Disco Two Step" (ala Buddy Schwimmer) is a modern semi-version of the Rumba, (a few say samba), it is done to modern slow music by pop artists such as Madonna, etc. NC-2 is mainly done in the West Coast Swing and Country Western communities.

 

Birth Place

Creation Date

Creator

Dance Type

Havana, Cuba c.1910s Folk Latin / Couples
 
1978 director Oscar Valdés "La Rumba" Doc. Film on Cuban Rumba. Ballroom Rumba by Slavik and Hanna.
 

Night Clubs

Sheet Music Covers

Posters, Lobby Cards etc.

Club Bali (Philadelphia, PA) Gerardo dancers 1866 - La Paloma 1949 - Holiday In Havana
Coconut Grove (1940s - L.A.) 1929 - Siboney 1956 - Rumba Caliente
El Chico (1925 - NY.) 1930 - The Peanut Vendor  
Riobamba - (NY.) 1931 - Cuban Love Song  
San Souci Nightclub (1940s- Havana) 1931 - When Yuba Plays The Rumba  
The Glass Hat - (1940s - Chicago) 1931 - Mama Inez-Celebre Rumba  
Versailles Hotel - (1930s) 1935 - Rhythm Of The Rumba  
Waldorf - Astoria Hotel - (NY.) 1935 - I'm Yours Tonight

Theaters

  1935 - Midnight In Santiago 1917 - Colonial Theatre (Flame)
  1937 - Doing The Reactionary 1917 - The Oliver (Flame)
  1938 - Jamaican Rumba  
     
 
Song Clips

Vintage Rumba or Son Music Titles

A Little Rumba Numba (1941)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Peanut Vender (Don Azpiazu 1930)
Play Sample Chica Chica Boom Chic [MP3] (Gilberto) Mama/Chica medley Sample Not available Rhumba Baca (Bock)
Play Sample Con un solo pie [MP3] (Son) Cuarteto Caney
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Rhumba Blues (Nat King Cole) 1949
Play Sample Cuban dance [MP3] (org. 1905) (a version by Andrei Krylov) Sample Not available Rhumba Swing (Cyd Charisse)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Cuban Pete soundie (noro Morales) 1941 Sample Not Available Rita, The Rumba Queen (Roy Fox)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Cuban Pete (Arnaz) Sample Not available Rose Rumba (S. Betchet)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
de Rumba del café (Manuel Penella 1933) Sample Not available Rumba-Rumba
Play Sample Doin' The Rhumba [MP3 Cab Calloway 1930]
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Rumba Rumbero (Cugat 1941)
Play Sample Echale Salsita [MP3] (1933) (1950 Septeto version)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Rumba Serenade (Heinz Sandauer Orch. 1930's Hawaiian)
Sample Not available El Charro (1938) Sample available Rumba Yambú [MP3] (Ballet Folklórico Cutumba)
Sample Not Available Edskin Rhumba
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Sibonay (Paul Godwin 1931)
Sample Not available La Pachanga (Son) Sample Not available Sola Y Triste by Morales
Sample Not available La Paloma (1866) Sample Not available Son de la Ma Teodora (Teodora Gines c.1580-1630)
Sample Not available Lavuna Rhumba (Bock) Sample Not available Una rumba y una Guaracha
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Miami Beach Rumba (Cugat)
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
Voodoo, the (Don Azpiazu 1930)
Sample Not available Oh, Donna Clara
Video Clip Pop-Up Window
When Yuba Plays the Rumba on His Tuba (Vallee) 1931
 
Video Clips (pop-up)

Rumba Films and Movies List

Video Clip not available at this time 1930 - Fifth Avenue Girl (Tropicana # Ginger Rogers) DVD |VHS Video Clip not available at this time 1946 - Let's Rhumba
Video Clip not available at this time 1930 - In Gay Madrid Video Clip not available at this time 1946 - Viewmaster reel #572 - Cuban rumba dancers
Video Clip not available at this time 1931 - The Cuban Love Song Video Clip not available at this time 1949 - Barkley's Of Broadway DVD |VHS | Download
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1933 - a Havane (Don Aspiazu)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1949 - D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival) DVD | VHS | Download
Video Clip not available at this time 1933 - When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1949 - Holiday in Havana (w/ Desi Arnaz) [VHS]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1935 - In Caliente (de Marcos) Video Clip not available at this time 1949 - Marakatumba...ma non è una rumba
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1935 - Rumba(Raft/Lombard)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1951 - Cuando las mujeres mandan
Video Clip not available at this time 1937 - Universal Newsreel(Ronrico dance)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1951 - La reina del mambo
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1938 - College Swing DVD | VHS Video Clip not available at this time 1952 - Rhumba Caliente [???]
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1939 - Another Thin Man (Renee & Stella) Video Clip not available at this time 1954 - Que Bravas Son Las Costenas
Video Clip not available at this time 1939 - Rumba Video Clip not available at this time 1966 - Crazy Quilt
Video Clip not available at this time 1939 - Rumba Land Video Clip not available at this time 1982 - Rumba
Video Clip not available at this time 1941 - Cuban Rhythm Video Clip not available at this time 1987 - La Rumba
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1941 - Weekend in Havana Video Clip not available at this time 1989 - Last Rumba in Paris
Video Clip not available at this time 1942 - Harlem Rhumba Video Clip not available at this time 1990 - Rumba
Video Clip not available at this time 1945 - Rhythm of the Rumba Video Clip not available at this time 2001 - Cuba - The Forgotten Island DVD | VHS
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
1947 - Angels or Demons (Pons)
Viewable thru a Youtube Video Pop-up window.
Cuban Rhumba Queens trailer (Pons)
Video Clip not available at this time 16mm - Shoeing the Mare (Varios & Vida)    
 
Video Clips (pop-up)

Rumba Instructional DVD's

Video Clips (pop-up)

Television

Video Clip not available at this time You Can Dance Rhumba! [VHS] Video Clip not available at this time 1946 - Let's Rhumba
Video Clip not available at this time RUMBA, an Instructional Cuban dance [DVD] Video Clip not available at this time Arthur Murray - Let's Dance
Video Clip not available at this time Learn To Dance Rumba, Beginners Volume 2 [DVD] Video Clip not available at this time  
Video Clip not available at this time Bailar en Cuba : Rumba-Zapateo-Danzon vol.1 [DVD]    
  See all Dance Instructional DVD's in our Store .. Click Here    
       
       
Video Clips (pop-up)

Other Videos, DVD's

Video Clips (pop-up)

Other Videos, DVD's

Video Clip not available at this time Roots of Rhythm [DVD] Video Clip not available at this time Roots of Rhythm [DVD]
Video Clip not available at this time Como Se Forma una Rumba [DVD] Video Clip not available at this time Como Se Forma una Rumba [DVD]
Video Clip not available at this time Son Sabroson 1 - History [? VHS ?] or try [2-VHS] Video Clip not available at this time Son Sabroson 1 - History [? VHS ?] or try [2-VHS]
Video Clip not available at this time Son Sabroson 2 - History [? VHS ?] (These 2 are occasionally Available). Video Clip not available at this time Son Sabroson 2 - History [? VHS ?] (These 2 are occasionally Available).
       
 

Stage / Ballets

Newspaper / Magazine Publications

1917 - The Flame (Cuban Rumba Dance) 5/2/1916 - Marion Star (Only Thing Missing is a Rhumba Band)
1930 - Artists and Models (Paris-Riviera Ed) 10/5/1917 - Lincoln Daily Star (Cuban Rumba Dance comes to the Oliver)
1930 - There's A Crowd (Albertina Rasch) 12/26/1924 - The Bee (Story that includes Rumba)
1930 - Third Little Show 1/1924 - Dance Lovers Magazine
1930 - Vanities 4/9/1925 - Oakland Tribune (Saw Cuban Rhumba and Danzon)
1937 - Pins & Needles 1/26/1926 - Appleton Post-Crescent (Cuban President Bans Rumba)
1941 - Let's Face It 1/25/1928 - The Gleanor (Prof. Geraldo Leon dances Rumba at Melbourne Park)
  10/27/1930 - Dunkirk Evening Observer (Cuba says Real Rumba to Frantic for US)
  11/6/1930 - Daily Courier (Cuban says US mistaken, doing the Son not Rumba)
  5/1952 - Pix Magazine
  8/1960 - Ballroom Dance Mag
 

Other Related Dances of the time...

Bambuco Flamenco/ Spanish Maxixe Ronrico (new Rhumba 1937)
Bolero Guagira Mento dance Salsa (aka: mambo)
Bossa Nova Guaracha Merengue Samba
Carioca La Conga (Conga) Mexican Hat Dance Spanish Dance
Cha-Cha La Cucaracha Naningo Tango
Chorro La Rhumba Night Club (or disco) Two-Step Tropicana, the (Ginger Rogers)
la Cucaracha Little Boat Dance Pachanga The Son
Danzon Mambo Paso Doble Waltz
Jamaican Mento      
 

Dancers, Choreographers etc.

Political

Al Toneatti & Marion Laure Haile & Andre 1925 - Cuban President Machado's decree
Alfredo de Flores(Havana) Marge & Gower Champion  
Carole Lombard Maria Antonieta Pons (6/11/1922-8/20/2004)  
Clifton Webb Marquita Rivera  
D' Avalos and Aleida (Let's Rumba) Mrs. Nora Osorio  
Esterlita France(Havana 1930) Ramon & Rosita  
Fred Astaire Ramon Navarro  
George Raft Ramon and Renita(the Ronrico)  
Ginger Rogers  Renee & Stella  
Gluck Sandor(Pins & Needles) Rosa Carmino  
Gomez & Winona The De Marcos  
Gerardo Rumba Dancers (1941) Veloz and Yolanda  
Geraldo Leon (1928) Varios & Vida  
Irene Castle    
     
 

Books, Magazine Articles on the Dance...

Title

Author

Published

Publisher

$ Cuban Music: From Son and Rumba to the Buena Vista
Social Club and Timba Cubana
May Roy 2002 Markus Wiener Publishers
Down Memory Lane Murray, Arthur 1954 Greenberg
Let's Dance (The Champions) Thomas, Bob 1954 Grossett & Dunlap
$ Rumba: Dance and Social Change in Cuba Daniel, Yvonne 1995 Indiana University Press
$ Rumba Dance Encyclopedia: and related dances Nelson, Thomas 2009 Author House
       
 

Musicians

Singers

Poets / Writers

Arthur Benjamin Blanquita Amaro n/a
Caney Daniele Serra  
Chano Pozo Jennifer Lopez    
Edmund Ross Rumba Band Edyie Gorme    
Igna Zio Cervantes Lola Flores    
Jon Bock Mel Torme    
(Ernesto) Lecuona Boys Selena    
Machito        
Perez Prado        
Ralph Rainger        
Rumboso Orquetra (1807)?        
Tito Puente        
Xavier Cugat        
 

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Afro-Cuban Flamenca Mambo / Salsa Timba Rigurosa
Apache Dance Guaguaguancó Oya Yambu (yambú)
Cajon Latin Rhythm Zoot Suit (also Riots)
Columbia      
 

The Clave:
         A five-note, bi-measure pattern which serves as the foundation for all of the rhythmic styles in salsa music. The Clave consists of a "strong" measure containing three notes (also called the tresillo), and a "weak" measure containing two notes, resulting in patterns beginning with either measure, referred to as "three-two" or two-three." There are two types of Clave patterns associated with popular (secular) music: son Clave and rumba Clave. Another type of Clave - 6/8 Clave - originated in several styles of West African sacred music. (from: Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble, Mauleon, R. (1993)

 

Other...

Couples Basic Step:
      (Leader starts Left foot, Follower starts Right foot, Face Partner, Ballroom Hold)
Quick---Quick........S l o w (= 3 STEPS or 4 BEATS)
---1,------2, ---------3----4 (repeat again with other foot backward).
(3 steps starting forward then 3 steps backward = 8 Counts of music, 4+4).

note:
Can also be done "Side to Side" or in a "Box Step"
(see waltz) pattern.
Exaggerate hip movements, Leads are very smooth. Dance is done slow and romantic (original VERSION was DONE FASTER). Dance is done in place (doesn't travel).
Can be done S l o w.... Quick-Quick

Rumba Diagram
April 5, 2013
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