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.


  • Cha Cha is lively and fun.
  • It is a nonprogressive dance—it stays in one area of the dance floor and does not progress around line-of-dance (the counter-clockwise direction dances move around the room).
  • It emphasizes Cuban Motion and rhythm expressed throughout the body.
  • The footwork is generally “Ball Flat” throughout the dance. Ball Flat is a term indicating that the ball of the foot is the first part of the foot to come in contact with the floor and will receive the pressure from the weight change before the rest of the foot. The weight is then transferred to the Flat of the foot as the weight change is completed.