cumbia art The Central American State of Columbia is credited with the origins of Cumbia music and dance. More specifically, the music is said to have originated in Columbian Caribbean coastal town of San Basilio.

Cumbia music is sometimes called the mother of all Latin music. It is said to have predated and influenced other types of Latin music including Salsa. Listening to Cumbia, we can hear elements of Salsa and Samba and in this sense Cumbia is a bridge between Salsa and Samba music.

North American dancers are known to dance Salsa to Cumbia music, and Cumbia to Salsa music. However, the quick beats are too quick and the pauses are too long, for it to feel natural dancing Salsa to Cumbia music. The opposite, however, is possible. In Latin America, many dancers dance Cumbia to Salsa music. Indeed, some say there is more Cumbia danced to Salsa in Central America, than there is Salsa.

Today, Cumbia is popular in all Central American states and beyond - from Mexico in the north to Argentina in the south. It is fast becoming popular in North America as an alternative or as a companion to Salsa music. location map for Columbia

Cumbia Moves and Steps

A basic step often seen in Cumbia dancing is the back-break basic. Cumbia is characterized by a "wind-up" motion and it is often danced in a circular pattern sometimes called the Columbian or Cumbia circle basic.

Like most Latin dances, Cumbia is closely related to Swing and there are many common moves found in Cumbia and Swing. In Costa Rica, they call the Cumbia, "El Swing".


Cumbia album cover Cumbia music is said to have originated in Columbia during Spanish colonial times.

The Columbian folkloric form known as Gaitero dates back to the early 1880s. The initial instruments used in playing of this genre of Cumbia included flutes (gaitas), maracas and African drums. As the music evolved, bands began to use the guitar, clave, accordion, bass guitar and various electronic musical instruments.

The music - and the dance that accompanied the music - gradually spread north into Mexico and south to Peru, Chile and Argentina.

Types of Cumbia Music

Cumbia music from Mexico is called Cumbia Sonidera (DJ mixes), and Cumbia Pegassera (after the band that popularized this style - Grupo Pegasso).

In Argentina, a style called Cumbia Villera has become popular.

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