History of the Cha-Cha
Like the rumba, the cha-cha can trace its roots to the Afro-Cuban community in Havana. Big bands from the U.S. mainland made their way into the exciting clubs that populated the capital and developed a unique fusion of rumba music and American jazz that eventually came to be known as the Mambo.
When famed dance teacher Pierre Lavelle (aka “Monsieur Pierre”) arrived in Cuba to study local dance in the early 1950s, he noticed the additional steps that many performers added to the typical mambo and rumba. He returned to England and began teaching these extra steps as an entirely different dance, which later came to be known as the cha-cha. A number of theories attempt to explain the origins of the name: the Cuban dance known as the guaracha, the gliding steps of the chasse, and even supposedly the sound of a type of Haitian bell. Whatever its true source, however, there’s no question that the cha-cha has become one of the most popular Latin dances in the world.