Rhumba, or some variation of it, has
existed in Cuba for the last 100 years.
The true rhumba is African based and
was usually relagated to the lower
classes due to the lacivius nature of the
dance. The native rhumba folk dance is
a sex pantomime with the man being the
agressor and the woman on the defense.
There is much exaggeration of hip
In the second world war, the "son" was the popular dance of the
middle class Cubans. It was slower, more refined version of the
native rhumba. It was played in two parts, with dancing only
during the chorus. The dancers preferred to fan themselves
during the verses due to the warm climate.
The American rhumba is a modified version of the "son". It took
over 15 years after it's first introduction in the US in 1913 for
the rhumba to gain strong popularity. In the 1930s, increased
American tourism to Latin America and the publishing of the
book, "The Peanut Vendor" by the Edward Marks Music
Company brought widespread attention to Latin-American music
in the United States.
But the real empresario of Latin music was Xavier Cugat and his
orchestra. He appeared in early sound movies and later played
at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. In 1935, George
Raft played the part of a suave dancer who wins the heart of an
heiress through dance in a movie called "Rhumba".
The Rhumba is characterized by Cuban Motion, a hip movement
achieved by transferring from one foot to the other. This hip
movement is combined with very smooth steps, giving the dance a