Cha Cha evolved from a version of Mambo called Triple Mambo or “chatch” step. When a slower version of Mambo music was played, it allowed time for triple steps to be inserted between the forward and backward breaks. These triple steps were 3 quick changes of weight preceded by 2 slow steps. By the early 1950’s, this figure had developed into a new dance all its own.
The name of this new dance reportedly was derived onomatopoetically from the “ch-ch-ch” sound the ladies’ shoes made during the triple steps. Much of the styling of Cha Cha was inherited from its parent dances: the Rumba and the Mambo.
Cha Cha was introduced to the United States in the early 1950’s and promptly sparked a dance craze. After arriving in the U.S., the traditional violins and flutes were often replaced by Big Band instruments such as trumpets, trombones, and saxophones.