The Mambo

'Mambo' is a word which is now considered a little bit old fashioned. The mambo is (arguably - and there is always someone to argue with when it comes to music history) a type of music which has origins in both Cuba and Puerto Rico, which was (again arguably) musically solidified in New York at the end of the 1940s and all through the 1950s.

The dance form mambo, which is simply a dance interpretation of the mambo music, was developed throughout this era and has been developing ever since. Its origins are rich and cross countries and oceans. In the modern day mambo, there are hints of African dance, dances of the indigenous people of the Caribbean, jazz dance, ballet, hustle, ballroom, swing, tango and, more recently added, contemporary dance.

In the 1970s, when mambo was seen to be the music of the post war generation, Latin music had a revival and the mambos of yesteryear became the salsas of today. The basic musical structure was the same, but they were made richer, drawing in ideas from rhythm and blues, disco and funk.

Fania Records were to Latin music what Motown was to black music, at a time when both groups were treated as second class in the USA. Fania pushed salsa music into the mainstream and the kids were dancing a whole new form of mambo, and they were dancing it all over the United States.

In Los Angeles they were dancing the LA-style salsa, which was developing its own set of moves, lightning spins and tricks. In Miami, the exiled Cuban population danced their own style, much more like the traditional Cuban dances of the earlier part of the 20th Century, but to a new groove. In New York, Eddie Torres, who had grown up with the mambo from the Palladium Ballroom era, was building on the New York style which had developed in Spanish Harlem and was dragging it, kicking and screaming, towards the 21st Century with the Eddie Torres dancers. The New Yorkers didn't change the name of the dance style and it is still called the mambo today. This is a form of salsa dance which has, associated with it, a very distinct form of movement. It is smooth, sophisticated, calm, but then also sometimes wild. It is sometimes called salsa On2, but it is so much more.

Mambo Fantástico aims to keep the tradition of the New York mambo alive, both in the music and in the dance. As mambo dancers we focus on technique, musicality, interpretation and harmony between leader and follower. Of course, Mambo Fantástico also focusses on having classes which are inclusive for all members of the LGBTQ+ community and in an environment which is safe and welcoming for all.

The Palladium Ballroom

The Palladium Dancers

Last updated: Wed Aug 10 2016

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