Ballroom dancing is formal, social dancing. The word "ball" is from the Latin word ballare, which means dance. This type of dancing is done by a couple; one person leads and the other follows the steps. The two main styles are international style and American style. The rumba, mambo, cha cha, waltz, foxtrot and swing dances are some of the most popular types of ballroom dancing enjoyed worldwide.
The rumba style is also known as the Latin waltz. The American rumba is a variation of a slow-rhythmed Cuban dance called son that was brought to the United States in the 1920s. The rumba is danced on the spot, rather than all over the dance floor, with hip and other body movements in a slow-quick-quick beat.
The mambo is also based on a son rhythm, but has its origins in African tribal dancing. The mambo was created in the 1930s by cellist Oresta Lopez. Lopez' band leader, Perez Prado, popularized mambo music.
The cha cha was originally called the cha cha cha as its main movement is based on a triple step. The cha cha style of ballroom dancing originated in the Cuban mambo and became popular in the United States in the 1950s. The cha cha triple step is danced in between two rock beat movements.
The modern waltz style of dancing comes from the Austria waltzen styles popular in Austria and Germany in the early 1900s. The Boston waltz became popular in the United States in 1834 and is a slower version of the Viennese waltz. Today, it still remains as a slow type of ballroom dancing and the slow beat has allowed the waltz to have more figures, dips and steps added to it.
The foxtrot was invented by Harry Fox in 1914 in New York City. The dance involves moving the back leg in a smooth action, although there are many variations. The original foxtrot was faster and not as smooth as some of the variations danced today. However, the faster style of ballroom dancing is still taught in many modern studios and danced in many modern ballrooms.
Swing dances vary greatly depending on the region and country. The origins of swing ballroom dancing go back to the southern United States' Dixieland and ragtime music. The Lindy hop and West coast swing incorporate the active movements of early swing such as the jumps, kicks and energetic jazz moves. Big band swing dancing became popular with the big band music of the 1930s and 1940s.