Mambo is a Latin dance of Cuban origin that corresponds to Mambo music. Mambo music was invented in 1930s Havana by Cachao and his contemporaries and made popular around the world by Perez Prado and Beny Moré. Mambo music developed from Danzon and was heavily influenced by the Jazz musicians that the Italian-American gangsters, who controlled Havana's casinos, brought to entertain their American customers.
In the late 1940s, Perez Prado came up with the dance for the mambo music and became the first person to market his music as "mambo". After Havana, Prado moved his music to Mexico when the reactionary dictatorship at the time did not like his non-traditional style of music and expelled him. From there he moved to New York City. Along the way, his style became increasingly homogenized in order to appeal to mainstream American listeners.
Modern Confusion About What Is or Isn't Dancing Mambo Edit
The Mambo dance that was invented by Perez Prado and was popular in the 1940s and 50s Cuba, New York and right around the US and latin America is completely different to the modern dance that New Yorkers now call 'Mambo' or 'breaking on 2'. The original and pure form of the mambo dance contains no breaking steps at all, whether on 1 or 2. To see the real mambo dance, have a look at the dance scene in 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. This form of dance matched mambo music very well. The modern dance from New York they call 'Mambo' or dancing 'on 2' whilst a very attractive dance is not Mambo. This dance was invented in the 70s by Eddie Torres and his contempories who were 1st or 2nd generation Puerto Rican immigrants. This dance they called 'Mambo' (for lack of another name) has nothing to do with the original form of the dance. The Eddie Torres dance is not danced to Mambo music, for which it is poorly suited, but instead to Salsa music or some forms of early Son music.
The original form of the dance and music are alive and well in Cuba and some ballroom variations of the original dance are taught in dance studios.
Films such the 'Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights' being an American movie filmed in Puerto Rico show the post 1970 New York invented 'on 2' dance. The reason for this? The film contacted none of the original New York Mambo dancers of the 40s and 50s or Cuban choreographers but some of the new generation of 'Mambo' dancers from post 70s New York.
The origin of the confusion Edit
Although Tito Puente has been billed as 'The King of Mambo', he never actually recorded Mambo. Most of the music he recorded were variations on Son and Cha Cha Cha and fusion type rythms. Eddie Torres and Tito Puente were great friends and as the music Puente was recording was billed as 'Mambo', Torres probably legitimately believed his dance, which matched Puente's style of music well, was Mambo. However, both are Puerto Rican (not Cuban) and as a result of the U.S. cutting itself off from Cuba since 1959, where the real Mambo (music and dance) is alive and well, these distortions can easily happen.
- Mambo (music)