Afro-Cuban Dance – The Rumba, Salsa and Timba

16 April 2019 Articles Jazz Theory Latest Lifestyle Travel

By Zuko Komisa

The impact of Afro Cuban music can be seen all over the world, with popular dances being exported to many parts of the world. Like many South Africans, my earliest encounter of Latin music came from the likes of Ricky Martin and Carlos Santana.

The swinging of hips, elegant body movements, piercing drum beat with an infectious rhythm, Afro Cuban music has hypnotic rhythms that lifts your spirits, and simply make you want to dance! Here are some of the most prominent Afro Cuban dance styles that have evolved with the music.

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The Rumba

A synonym for “party” in northern Cuba, and by the late 19th century it represented a variation worldly music styles known as Cuban rumba. With the curiosity of the world around the culture in Cuba, much of the 20th century,”rumba” was used to show the rest of the world the culture and to introduce them to Cuban music in North America, as well as West and Central Africa, all this happen before the rise of salsa, mambo, pachanga.


Cuban Salsa:

The Cuban salsa or Salsa Cubana, has been present in the Latin music scene since the 1990s. Cuba is the only country in the Spanish Caribbean that celebrates and nurtures African-Derived roots and culture, you hear the influence in the style of the percussion and how the Afrocentric nature of the music has been revered across the world.


The Timba combines contemporary son with Salsa and hip-hop influences. This form of dance is best explained by Sue Steward who was a prominent authority on Latin and world music in Britain. She was qouted saying:

“Timba is salsa, by any other name, but with an innovative jumped- up rhythm and phat, funky bass”.

This high paced rhythmic timba style influenced the development of salsa at the level of dance. The many societal changes in Cuba has led to the prominence of of Afro-Cuban music in the international dance scene, giving dance that extends from the music a wide international audience.