(1950s - Present)

The 1950s

Mambo Styling

Basic Steps

Most descriptions of the basic step of Mambo approximate this basic shape:

There are differences, however, in the starting point, both in terms of step, and timing:


These are variations of the basic step that break in different directions:

If the Lead is dancing the steps described above, what are the Follow's steps? There are four different options in Mambo:
  1. to dance opposite (or in other words, in parallel), with the Follow doing the opposite footwork (replace "forward" with "back") with the opposite feet (replace "left" with "left")
  2. to dance with the Follow doing footwork that mirrors the Leads
  3. to dance in an alternating fashion, with each partner doing exactly the same footwork, one after the other
  4. to dance something totally different from your partner*
* As Martin Sterney writes in How to Mambo (1955), "participants dance apart to a great extent, and the step patterns do not necessarily have to be the same. One is literally 'on his own.'"

Different breaks will lend themselves to each way of dancing them.

The Music

Here's a sampling of early Mambo music:


© 2018 Nick Enge

For more dance descriptions, see our three books on dancing:
The Book of Mixers: 100 Easy-Teach Dances for Getting Acquainted (2022) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge,
Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge, and
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge.

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