Types of Dances

Definitions from BallroomDancer.com's excellent Glossary of Terms.

Argentine Tango

A style of Tango which originated in the streets and salons of Buenos Aires, characterized by its passionate hold and complex leg and foot movements.

Bolero (96-104 BPM)

A slow Latin dance which originated as one of two forms of Rumba (Bolero Rumba and Son Rumba), and still shares many of the same figures. Bolero differs from Rumba in its tempo and style of music and movement.

Cha-Cha (112-128 BPM)

An exciting, syncopated Latin dance which originated in the 1950's as a slowed-down Mambo. The Cha Cha gets its name and character from its distinct repetitive foot rhythm.

East Coast Swing (136-144 BPM)

A subset of Swing derived from Lindy Hop and Jitterbug, making use of refined (American Style) ballroom technique.

Foxtrot (120-136 BPM)

A smooth dance introduced to the public in 1913 by Harry Fox, noted for being the first dance to incorporate into the rhythm a combination of Slows and Quicks. Foxtrot is characterized by smooth, walking-style movements, but can be adapted to fit a variety of musical tempi and style, or to fit onto small, crowded nightclub dance floors.

Hustle (104-121 BPM)

A fast but smooth-moving dance which originated in the nightclubs of the 1970's disco era, as a modified version of swing. Hustle is noted for its fast and elaborate spins and turns, especially for the lady. It is also very easily adapted to crowded, nightclub dance floors.

Jive (152-176 BPM)

The International version of Swing. In spite of its fast tempo, Jive is still danced in triple-rhythm.


An older style of Swing danced in single-rhythm, to very fast big band jazz music of the thirties and forties.

Lindy Hop

The grandfather of all forms of Swing, named after Charles Lindberg, and originating at the Savoy ballroom in the 1930's as a modified form of Charleston done in dance position. Lindy Hop is currently enjoying a revival with a new generation of swing clubs, musicians, and dancers.

Mambo (188-204 BPM)

A fast Latin dance, similar to Salsa, which comes from Cuba. Mambo was brought to America in the 1940's and 50's and eventually adapted as an American style ballroom dance. Most of the movements emphasize the second beat in the measure, suggestive of the Clave rhythm which is fundamental to Mambo music.

Merengue (58-64 BPM)

An energetic Latin-style march which originated in the Dominican Republic, which emphasizes a straight-ahead 8-count rhythm taken with Cuban Motion. Merengue is now also a subset of the modern club-style Salsa dances.

Nightclub Two-Step (54-64 BPM)

An easy-going social dance, similar in movement to the Bossa Nova, first introduced in the 80's by Buddy Schwimmer and popular amongst the West Coast Swing crowd. Nightclub 2-Step is normally danced to medium-tempo pop love songs and M.O.R., using combinations of Slow-Quick-Quick and Quick-Quick-Slow rhythms.

Paso Doble (112-124 BPM)

A dramatic French-Spanish Flamenco-style march danced in 2/4 time, with man portraying the matador in a bullfight, the lady as his cape. Paso Doble is usually danced to Espana Cani, the Spanish Gypsy Dance.

Quickstep (192-208 BPM)

An English style ballroom dance which is characterized by fast movement, often including a variety of hops, kicks, skips, lock steps and chasses.

Rumba (120-144 BPM)

A slow- to medium-tempo Latin American dance in 4/4 time, which is characterized by sensual, provocative movements and gestures, Latin-style hip motion, and playful and flirtatious interplay between man and lady.

Salsa (150-250 BPM)

A popular Latin nightclub dance which evolved as a modified form of Mambo.

Samba (96-104 BPM)

A rhythmical Brazilian dance in 2/4 time which has been adapted for modern Ballroom dancing and incorporated into the repertoire of the International Standard syllabus.

Slow Foxtrot (Slowfox) (112-120 BPM)

The International version of Foxtrot characterized by long, slow linear movements.

Tango (120-132 BPM)

In the American and International ballroom styles, a dance in 2/4 time, which originated in Argentina and is characterized by catlike walking action and staccato head movements.

Viennese Waltz (150-180 BPM)

A fast ballroom dance in 3/4 or 6/8 meter, often associated with the music of Johann Strauss.

Waltz (84-96 BPM)

A ballroom dance in 3/4 time which first developed in Vienna as a fast paced dance to the Strauss music of the time, and eventually evolved into the slower version we now know as Waltz (or Slow Waltz).

West Coast Swing (102-128 BPM)

A slotted swing dance in 4/4 time, characterized by its smooth and linear style.