The partner form of Hustle first became popular in 1977 when it was included
in the movie “Saturday Night Fever.” Though that initial popularity faded, Hustle
stayed around and eventually became an accepted “Ballroom Dance.” It is a slot dance,
meaning that the couple dances in a “slot” pattern, with fast changes of places within
that slot. It then expands to have the lady do many spins out and back, and is
characterized by constant movement, especially by the lady.
Merengue is considered to be one of the simplest of all dances found in the
ballroom world. It is danced to music with eight counts to a phrase and consists of
marching steps combined with Cuban hip motion. It started out as a dance created by
African slaves who worked and walked together while being chained together at the
ankles. This movement was then combined with a dance they created after seeing the
masters dance the French Minuet in the big house, a dance which they thought was boring,
so to which they added an extra rhythmic element. The music came from the Dominican
Republic and it was made the official dance of that nation by Rafael Trujillo. Many
immigrants who came from that country settled in New York where it quickly became a
favorite Club dance. The hip action was added as the dance became more Americanized.
If you can count to eight, you can dance the merengue!
Nightclub Two-Step was invented by Buddy Schwimmer in 1965, when he was 15 years
old. He patterned the basic step of the dance after the Cross-Step-Cross-Touch step of
the Surfer Stomp, a club dance popular at that time. The dance is danced to slow 4-count
music with a Quick-Quick-Slow pattern. It is very smooth and lyrical and danced in
traditional closed and/or open dance hold with no Cuban motion. Though not one of the
traditional competition “Ballroom” dances, Nightclub Two-Step has grown steadily in
popularity throughout the years since its inception. It is considered one of the “Club”
dances, joining other such dances as “Hustle”, “Salsa” and “Merengue.” Many of the step
patterns in Nightclub Two-Step are similar to those found in Salsa; Buddy has a list of
123 codified steps! Incidentally, you may recognize Buddy’s name as an award winning West
Coast Swing dancer; he also is the father of “So You Think You Can Dance” second season’s
winner Benji Schwimmer, and the third season’s 4th place finalist Lacey Schwimmer, most
recently of “Dancing with the Stars”.
Salsa dancing originated in Cuba and other Caribbean Islands, and is a mixture of
African Dance with European styling. When people refer to Salsa as being a “Hot Dance”,
it most likely stems from the definition of the word “salsa” in American Spanish which
means a “sauce with a spicy flavor.” Salsa is danced to music with four beats; the basic
step consists of three weight-changes followed by a ‘Hold” on count four. Steps and
amalgamations for Salsa and Mambo are often the same; the main difference is that in Salsa
the dancer dances on 1-2-3 and holds on the four count while in Mambo the dancer holds the
one count and dances on 2-3-4. Salsa is a fun and easy dance; come give it a try!