Rumba is a dance term with two quite different meanings.
First, it means Cuban event of African style, organically related to the Rumba genre of Afro-Cuban music. There are several styles of this rumba, the most common being the Guaguancó.
Second, it refers to one of the ballroom dances which occurs in social dance and in international competitions. In this sense, rumba is the slowest of the five competition Latin and American dances: the Paso doble, the Samba, the Cha-cha-chá and the Jive (dance) being the others. This ballroom rumba was also danced in Cuba to a rhythm they call the Bolero-Son (music).
Cuban rumba Edit
Afro-Cuban rumba is entirely different from the ballroom rumba: see Guaguanco.
Rumba in the U.S.A. Edit
Ballroom rumba derives its movements and music from son, just as do the salsa and mambo. When son was brought to the United States it was renamed rumba. This kind of rumba was introduced into American dance salons at the beginning of the 1930s, characterized by variable tempo, often nearly twice as fast as the modern ballroom rumba (The Peanut Vendor) and sometimes slower (Siboney (song)).
Ballroom rumba Edit
The rumba as a social dance was introduced first in Britain and America: the versions differ somewhat. It is a slower dance of about 120 beats per minute which corresponds, both in music and in dance to what the Cubans of an older generation called the bolero-son. It is easy to see why, for ease of reference and for marketing, rumba is a better name, however inaccurate; it is the same kind of reason that led to the use of Salsa (music) as an overall term for popular music of Cuban origin.
All social dances in Cuba involve a hip-sway over the standing leg and, though this is scarcely noticeable in fast salsa, it is more pronounced in the slow ballroom rumba. This, at least, is authentic, as is the use of free arms in various figures. The figures derive from dance moves observed in Havana in the pre-revolutionary period, and have developed their own life since then. Competition figures are often extremely complex, and this is where competition dance separates from social dance. Details from syllabi of dance teaching organizations and from standard texts.