"The Mambo #5" is a song originally composed and recorded in 1949 by Pérez Prado. Dance steps were created to accompany the song, comprised of two dance styles: Mambo (originating in Cuba) and Jive (a faster version of the Swing). The dance may be performed as a line dance or as a couple's dance. The dance features various choreography, depending on the level of performance. A newer version of "The Mambo #5" by Lou Bega on his album "A Little Bit of Mambo" gained popularity in 1999.
First, begin dancing when the lyrics begin. However, you may choose to improvise with walking steps and moving hips at the instrumental opening. Once the lyrics start, bring the left knee up, cross over the right, stepping forward. Then bring the right knee up, cross over the left, stepping forward. Proceed to a Mambo step by touching the left toe forward in front of the right foot and then crossing the left toe behind the right foot, stepping back. Reverse to initiate with the right knee coming up and following the rest of this section. All of these steps may be done alone or by holding the partner's hands.
Movement with Turns
Proceed to a left and right Mambo with a quarter turn to the left. This is done by rocking to the left and then to the right, stepping the left foot beside the right foot and holding the position. Then, place the left foot on its ball and make a quarter turn left, stepping forward with the right foot and holding the position.
Where the Jive Comes In
Proceed to rocking forward on the left side, rocking back onto the right side, stepping back to the left and holding. Then step back to the right and on the ball of the right foot make a quarter turn left, stepping to the left side with the left foot. Repeat on the ball of the left foot and make a half turn to the left, stepping the right foot next to the left. These sections may be repeated or added on to by going in diagonal directions and adding sways or more difficult turns. The more comfortable you become with steps, the more you may want to add your own stylistic gestures and mood. Check out Lou Bega's "Mambo #5" video, which can be seen on VH1 or on Youtube.com.
- Martine Garai, BA Dance, UCLA; Dance Teacher
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