How To Dance the Cha Cha

While some of us have been blessed with the ability to easily adapt to dance steps with grace and flow, there are still those who cower at the idea of dancing. If you're one of those who have little or no experience in dancing, fear not because we will provide you one of the most basic ballroom dance anybody can show off. And the best part here is that you can learn it with minimal effort.

Before you jump into your dancing shoes, let's have a brief background on the dance that is called Cha-Cha. Tracing its roots from Cuba's fun and energetic Mambo and the famous Swing from the U.S.A, Cha-Cha, sometimes referred to as "cha-cha-cha," began to be popularized in the 1950s.  The dance picked up the feet movements of Swing and the beat of Mambo; later on, they realized that their feet made peculiar sounds that sounded like "cha-cha-cha" and thus cha-cha was born.

Today, the cha-cha is danced with music with 4/4 time with a tempo usually ranging from 110-112 BPM (beats per minute).  This is the ideal speed but you could groove to slower Latin tunes for a more seductive effect or a more upbeat music that's fun and energetic.

Now enough of the preliminaries, let's Cha-cha!  If you've seen any instructional videos, you'd be familiar to how they put counts to the basic steps or if you remember your high school teacher saying "one-two-three and one-two" which would later be specified as quick-quick-slow-quick-slow, meaning quicker steps and slower enunciation of the steps. If you're having trouble as to how the counting works, you can try saying it in time with a cha-cha song--it'll give you clues with its tunes on how fast or slow you should count.

1.      Get a hold of cha-cha music. As you progress, you will realize that you can adapt cha-cha to any tune with 4/4 time. But for now, it's best to start with the classic cha-cha songs until you can figure out the steps with the timing. Ask your local music store for suggestions. 

2.      The count often used for the cha-cha is 1,2,3,4&1,2,3,4 &... for the pacing, it goes a little something like "Slow, slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow, slow, quick, quick.." some also refer to it at one, two, three, cha, cha, cha (this refers to brisk steps or when your feet tap on the ground with slightly quicker movements similar to tap-tap-tap or left-right-left). Sounds confusing? No worries, you do not need to understand this right away as this counting will fall into place as you learn the basic dance moves.

3.      The basic step.

  • Our starting position. Stand up straight feet parallel or your normal standing position. Remember the beats we were talking about before? Each step would be equivalent to a beat.
  • STEP 1. Step your right foot forward, not too much as you might lose your balance if you step too far. Bend your left knee like it was mimicking the movement of your right knee but keep your left foot intact.
  • STEP 2. Transfer your weight to your left foot--this will straighten your left knee and step your right foot back to its original place, giving you a more fluid transition to step three
  • STEP 3. Then step your left foot backwards, this is just an inverted version of your STEP 1.
  • STEP 4.  A quick reminder: steps 1-3 correspond to the slow-slow-slow. This one, as you may have guessed, falls on the quick pace or the cha-cha-cha. For beginners, finish the sequence off by pulling your left foot back to place and tap your feet in place as right-left-right.

Voila! That's your first sequence. You can continue the dance by going back to step one. Once you're comfortable with this basic routine, you may add variations like which foot goes forward first and so on. When you partner up and you're a girl, your first step would be the reverse the steps of your partner or simply sing the order STEP 3, 2, 1 then connect it to STEP 4. And that's how you do the Cha-Cha!


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