Learn about the history of the Mambo. Perez Prado, Tito Puente, Eddie Torres, Orestes Lopez. Find information about the kings of mambo.
Mambo is a Latin dance and music that originated in Cuba. Cachao invented Mambo music in the 1930s in Havana and it was later made popular by figures like Pérez Prado and Beny More. Mambo music and Mambo dance would reach great heights and dominate the industry for 20 years.
Lou Vega began the famous Mambo movement with the song: Ladies and Gentlemen this is Mambo Number Five! Antonio Banderas contributed to Mambo´s success in the United States with the film Mambo Kings. From early on, Mambo was performed by some of the greatest Latin artists, especially from Cuba, Mexico and the U.S.A. Some performers like Pérez Prado, Tito Puente or Eddie Torres are among the greatest of this musical genre.
Mambo is a word of African decent that means something like “conversation with the gods”. It is the same word that invites us to dance with its smooth jazzy sound.
The Mambo, as a musical rhythm, was born in Cuba. It was, and continues to be, a word that the orchestra musicians used to invite an improvisation during a musical piece when they shouted “give it mambo”. Orestes López and his brother Cachao gave the name “Mambo” to a danzón, which at the time was an official Cuban dance. The new Mambo had an innovative rhythm that combined syncopation and silence in each measure. In 1938 both musicians formed part of the Orchestra known as “Arcaño y sus Maravillas,” which greatly contributed to the proliferation of the new music genre.
In 1951, Pérez Prado triumphed in Mexico with Que Rico Mambo, for which he became known as the King of Mambo. He began introducing North American Swing influences into his music. This new influence took Mambo to new heights in the 1950s when it would reach the dance floors of New York City.
So, during that decade, Pérez Prado turned songs like Mambo número 5, Mambo Número 8, Mambo del Politécnico, Que Rico Mambo and Ruletero into big hits, especially during Carnival festivals.
Meanwhile in New York the Mambo was living out its golden age. Many New York orchestras featured Mamba music at lat night concert halls, such as the famous Palladium. There was a real dance fever that accompanied these great shows; combining dance steps, hip movements and sensual dancers.
At the height of the Mambo's success, the orchestras Tito Puente and Tito Rodriquez also made a name for themselves as Kings of Mambo.
The Mambo dominated the music scene for 20 years until the 1960s when other rhythms, such as Salsa and Pachanga, started to be incorporated into the tunes. However, even today the Mambo is an undisputed star in ballroom dancing contests.
The Mambo dance steps can be performed individually or with a partner and the genre allows new combinations to be created, making it an appealing dance. The dance is dynamic, with an inimitable style of pelvis swinging, reminiscent of African rhythms, swing, jazz, Cuban aroma… all mixed up into something unique and recognizable, even to a novice of Latin music.