Types of Caribbean Dance and Music

There is a vast amount of islands that are part of the Caribbean and associate themselves as being a location in the Caribbean. For this reason, there are many different cultural influences that make up the Caribbean culture. One thing that is influenced by the variety of cultures is the Caribbean music and dance.

There are many different dance styles associated to the Caribbean, as well as a variety of music with a Caribbean influence. Here is a rundown of the different music and dance styles in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Dance Styles

mambo dance


The mambo is a Latin-inspired dance that was created in 1930s Cuba by Arsenio Rodríguez. The word mambo can be translated to a conversation with the gods deriving from the name of a priestess in Haitian Voodoo. The name originated from the language of the African slaves who were imported to the Caribbean. The mambo was created to provide a fun upbeat, but still elegant, couples dance.

The mambo contains both the culture and religion of the Caribbean people. The dance represents the unity and harmony of the Caribbean people that encountered and embraced different cultures and regions.

The combination of swing and Cuban dance style created a new memorable dance that integrated both traditional Cuban dance style and American swing.


The rumba integrates both rhythms and dance styles that originated in Cuba. The rumba varies from complex movies to simple beats, making it dance that everyone can enjoy.  This dance was created to be a couples dance, full of romance and passion with an exciting flair.

The word Rumba originates from the Cuban for ‘party’, suggesting that the dance is exciting and enjoyable. Since the early 20th century the meaning of Rumba changed and is now used in different countries to refer to distinct styles of music and dance. Most of the music described as Rumba have originated from the Cuban Rumba.

Cha Cha Cha

The cha cha cha originated from the Caribbean island of Cuba by Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrin in the early 1950s. the dance was introduced to the Cuban dance floors while Jorrin was playing with Orquesta America.

The name, cha cha cha, derived from the sound made by the dancer’s shoes on the wooden floor. As according to Jorrin they sounded like “cha cha cha” when the dancers were trying to follow the new rhythm. This dance has become extremely well known and popular in the dance world.

Caribbean Music Styles

Caribbean music


How could we talk about Caribbean music styles without talking about reggae first! Reggae was developed in the late 1960s in Jamaica and it is till hugely popular now. The term reggae spans across other genres of music; ska, dub and rocksteady.

Reggae includes two subgenres; roots reggae and dancehall reggae, which originated in the late 1970s. reggae superstar Bob Marley took reggae to the next level and it became known all over the world as Jamaican music style.