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Mambo Dance Steps

Mambo dance steps involves a bit of sensual Cuban dance moves. It is one of the most popular form of dances in United States. Mambo dance moves are similar to Salsa, but a bit crisper and difficult. If you want to break into a mambo, read on to learn this dance steps.
DancePoise Staff
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Mambo was widely popularized in Cuba by Prado Prez, in the 1940s. When Perez Prado and his orchestra toured United States in 1951, he created a craze on the New York dance floors with his mambo and came to be known as the mambo king. Mambo was second only to the rumba, another Cuban-African dance which spread in the United States like wildfire. Mambo became a popular dance form in dancing competitions in the dance halls of New York. Dancers twist and turn and throw their partners, arms, legs and hands in air when swaying to the mambo rhythms.

Mambo dancing is basically a 4/4 steps dance form. There are no movements on the first step of every 4/4 beat. This is followed by quick-quick-slow beats. When moving forward and backward, dancers sway their hips, which looks like a fluid motion flowing with the music. The fast-stepping mambo gave rise to another form of dance known as the 'cha-cha' dance.

Mambo is easy to learn but these basic steps may take little time to master.

Mambo Dance Moves
  • Stand facing your partner. Place your feet together.
  • Place the right hand on your partner's waist and extend your left hand, palm facing up and arm bent to your side.
  • Hold your partner's hand in a loose grip and wait for the music to begin.
  • Do not move when you hear the first beat. On the second beat, step back with your right foot. On the third beat, shift the body weight to your left foot.
  • Step forward with your right foot and bring both feet together on the fourth beat. The body weight has to be shifted on the right foot again.
  • After pausing for the fifth beat, shift your weight to your left foot and step forward on the sixth beat.
  • Shift the weight back to your right foot on the seventh beat and on the final eight beat shift your weight back to your left and step back, bringing your feet together again.
The female partner dances on the exact opposite dance moves of the male partner. She has to follow her man's lead, dancing backward when he moves forward and moving forward when he dances backward.

Drag Around Mambo
If you wish to jazz things a bit, then you may try the "Drag-Her-Around" mambo moves, also called the cross-body lead. The lead faces the wall and at the end of the move the follower faces the wall. This is a three step dance, where the weight is shifted on the same feet, similar to the basic mambo steps. The variation in this form is the 180 degree pivot turn that is performed after the first weight shift. The lady partner just follows her lead and takes the steps forward and across the leads left side. She also performs the 180 degree turn but she breaks it up in two 90 degree turns in the second and final step.

Crossover Break
The crossover break is a stylish variation, when both the lead and follower keep their hands connected. Their feet turn one-quarter away from each other. They move into the 'ballroom' position, that is, the 'fifth position'. The weight should be completely placed on the rear foot.

Mambo dancing is very energetic and full of life. It has been widely popularized today after the initial cool down brought about by Ricky Martin in the 1990s. This Latin dance is the one from where the term 'shake it' was first coined, due to the hip movements involved. The dancers appear passionate about each other and one can feel the intensity of emotions flowing through their bodies while dancing a mambo. Try the dance steps to liven up your spirits as Lou Bega rightly says in his song:

Mambo mambo eh eh
The babes are all around me
Mambo mambo eh eh
Dancin all night long
Mambo mambo eh eh
The babes are all around me
Mambo mambo eh eh
To the break of dawn
Passionate Tango
Beautiful Couple In The Active Ballroom Dance