Rumba is a slow 4/4 time romantic dance with flirtatious movements. The American Style Rumba is danced with the “box” step pattern to a slow-quick-quick timing with Cuban Motion (hip movements). This dance is often called the “dance of love”. Rumba is a spot dance and therefore does not travel around the room. International rumba is more highly styled and is commonly seen in ballroom dance competitions.
Samba is an energetic, fun rhythm. It is characterized by the basic “Samba Bounce “ and many of the popular Latin songs today are Sambas. The dance is written in two quarter time and is basically counted 1 a 2. This is a dance which makes dancers and non-dancers alike want to get up and move to the contagious pulsating rhythm.
Mambo is an exciting dance that has patterns in common with other Latin dances. It is a flirty and fun social dance. The steps are small and are taken on the ball of the foot with the knees flexible to allow for the hip action. Salsa is a street version of Mambo. Musically the main difference is that Mambo music holds on the one beat and Salsa music hits on the one beat. The steps are pretty much the same. In Mambo more time is spent in closed hold and the man breaks on 2. In Salsa more time is spent in a two handed or open position and the man breaks on 1.
Whether you call it Mambo or Salsa, it is fun to dance.