1. Home
Send to a Friend via Email

Discuss in my forum

Cha Cha

All About the Cheeky, Lively Cha Cha


Cha Cha

Cha Cha

Chris Jackson / Getty Images
The Cha Cha is one of the most popular of the social Latin-American dances. Lively and flirtatious, the Cha Cha is full of passion and energy.

Cha Cha Characteristics

The Cha Cha is a vibrant, flamboyant and playful dance. The light and bubbly feel of the Cha Cha gives it a unique sense of fun for dancers throughout the world. The Cha Cha requires small steps and lots of hip motion (Cuban motion), as it is danced in 4/4 time. The fourth beat is split into two, giving it the characteristic 2,3,4 & 1 rhythm. Therefore, five steps are danced to four beats as in the "One, two, cha cha cha" rhythm.

History of the Cha Cha

Also called the Cha Cha Cha, this unmistakable dance originated in Cuba in the 1940s. Composer and violinist Enrique Jorrin developed the dance as a variant of the Mambo and Rumba. The name is onomatopoeic, derived from the sound of dancers' shoes as they shuffled around the floor.

Cha Cha Action

To dance Cha Cha like professionals, dancers must master "Cuban motion," the characteristic Latin body action. Cuban motion is simply a distinctive way in which the hips move up and down. The hip movements come mainly from alternately bending and straightening the knees...as one knee bends (or straightens), the same hip drops (raises).

The basic components of the Cha Cha are triple steps and rock steps. Quick, small steps must be maintained throughout the dance. The distinctive movements of the hips result from the constant bending and straightening of the knees. Dancers must synchronize each movement as they dance parallel to one another.

Distinctive Cha Cha Steps

Because the Cha Cha is very similar to the Rumba and Mambo, several steps coincide with the steps of these dances. The main difference between the dances is that the "slow" steps of the Rumba and the Mambo are replaced with a triple step in the Cha Cha.

Following are a few basic Cha Cha steps:

  • Cha Cha Chasse
  • The Fan
  • The Hockey Stick
  • Manita a Mano
  • The New York
  • The New York Bus Stop
  • El Mojito
  • Underarm Spot Turns
  • The Liquidizer
  • The Alemana Turn
  • El Paseo
  • The Peek-a-Boo
  • The Zig-Zag

Cha Cha Rhythm and Music

Because of the carefree nature of the Cha Cha, its music should produce a happy, party-like atmosphere, with a tempo of 110 to 130 beats per minute. Cha Cha is often danced to authentic Cuban music, but is popular in all music genres, including country, funk, and hip hop.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.