Dancing cha-cha on 1

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by salilsurendran, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. Ray Sison

    Ray Sison New Member

    Good post. Some things to think about. And welcome to Dance Forums... :)
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Those that teach Cha on "1" are generally club types who are looking for expediency ( it ties in with Salsa on "1" ) .

    Directionally there is more of an issue.. Amer. studios were generally taught to commence back on the 1st bar, which again, followed a precedent ( Bolero ) .
  3. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    There is no 5.

    Also, beginners never count, and most social dancers never count as well. So, they start every dance with some form of a 'basic step' that starts on the first beat that they hear as one.

    Easiest way to teach this correctly is to teach beat one as a side step, followed by 2, 3 as the 'rock' step (beginners are many times shown all steps as this rather than a check) so 4 and 1 are the cha cha cha. Calling it cha cha cha rather than the americanized cha cha helps too.
  4. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member


    Do you know why "they " call it Cha cha ?.. because its where musically the Conga "slaps" on 4and, which essentailly is more correct. Like most things "Latin ", the anglo world did what they normally do .. Anglicise things ( they did it to ALL the latin dances ) .
    I would of course accept the fact, that using the Cha cha Cha for teaching purposes , is expedient.

    And what they mean by 5, is the " and "..
  5. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I agree, and always teach it thus to beginners. I usually tell anyone with a good sense of rhythm, or previous experience, that it is perfectly OK to start on 2, as long as they can hear when 2 is!

    You may very well be right, but the alternative story is that the name is onomatopoeic, from the noise of the feet shuffling on the floor in the side-close-side. Not very convincing, but if true, it would account for the third Cha.
  6. Ron AKA

    Ron AKA New Member

    I'm just a beginner, so take this with a grain of salt... Cha Cha Cha music is basically 4 beats to the measure, BUT, beat 4 is really split into two 1/8 beats. The dance is made up of rock steps between the chasse or triple step. The chasse is three steps in two beats. The Cha Cha Cha music obviously lends itself to have the split beat as part of the chasse. So to my beginner thinking the split beat could either be the first two steps of the chasse or the second two steps. Or in beats in the measure count the chasse could be 3 4&, or 4& 1. I presume that is because there is emphasis on beat 1 of the music so it matches the Cha Cha CHA. But I wonder if it could not be done either way.

    Which beat you break with is another matter and somewhat arbitrary. Assuming you want the cha cha cha on the 4& 1, then the rock step has to be 2 3. But there is no reason not to break on 1 with a side step (the third CHA), then rock step cha cha CHA. So in fact that is my preferred way to count, because I like to break with my left; Side, Rock, Step, Cha-Cha CHA. The other option is to start the rock step on 2, which I find more confusing. But both methods give the same end result with Cha Cha CHA on 4& 1.

    On the Cha Cha vs Cha Cha Cha, based on a quote from a book written by Arthur Murray's wife, it appears to have been Murray that shortened it to Cha Cha to suit his preferred count method of one, two, three, cha, cha.
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    It actually comes from the way " front " men in latin bands shuffled their feet FORWARD.. you can see ( and hear ) this ,in old clips from the 40s and 50s
  8. Simi-Lanjiao

    Simi-Lanjiao Member

    I used to say CHA-CHA until my Cuban friends told me off.

    "There is no such thing as cha-cha," they all said. They explained the shuffle has 3 steps and because it is an onomatopoeia it is called CHA-CHA-CHA.

    Seems to make sense to me.
  9. timberamayor

    timberamayor Member

    There is a big difference in the use of names between Cuba and the US-influenced dance world. Chachacha is still called chachacha (I expect they just shortened the name for expediency in the US), mambo refers both to the music genre as well as to the repeated horn patterns in salsa/timba. Rumba is afro-cuban rumba, not son or son-bolero or whatever it is in the ballroom world. Rueda de Casino isn't shortened to casino, but to rueda. I expect there are other terms that are also used differently but those are the ones that come to mind.

    The Cubans I know dance son contratiempo, chachacha on2 and casino either on1 or on3. Obviously I don't know every Cuban but the ones I know don't dance chachacha on1.

    I'm sure there are Cuban dancers who do and I have a 68-year-old Cuban friend, i.e. from the son days, who can't dance contratiempo no matter how hard he tries. So there are no absolutes. But it's interesting that based on my experiences (which is vastly less than Tangotime's but pretty much 100% Cuban for 10 years) I would have said "Of course Cubans dance chachacha on2".

    Jorrín specifically said that he was trying to make music that would be less difficult to dance to. Jorrín's idea was
    1) make the bell straight instead of clave-aligned, like it was in the danzón montunos that "sound like chachacha".
    2) take the coros and leads, which, like their sources, changüí and afro-cuban rumba, were mostly on the offbeats and put them on the onbeats
    his litmus test was: "you should be able to remove the rhythm section and just sing the coro and people should be able to keep dancing".
  10. Simi-Lanjiao

    Simi-Lanjiao Member

    Senor, I totally dig your reply!
    :cheers:
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Its actually senorita .
  12. Simi-Lanjiao

    Simi-Lanjiao Member

    Ahhh...! My apologies to Ms Timberamayor.
  13. timberamayor

    timberamayor Member

    No problem. I am often mistaken for a man on-line :)

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