Mambo originated in Cuba where there were substantial settlements of Haitians. In the back country of Haiti, the “Mambo” is a voodoo priestess who serves the villagers as counselor, healer, exorcist, soothsayer, spiritual advisor, and organizer of public entertainment. However, there is no folk dance in Haiti called the “Mambo”.
Mambo is a fusion of Swing (American jazz) and Cuban music. The actual dance is attributed to Perez Prado who introduced it at La Tropicana nightclub in Havana in 1943. The original dance had to be toned down (too athletic and acrobatic) in order for the general public to be able to do it. A modified version was presented at dance studios, resort hotels, and night clubs in New York and Miami. The Mambo craze of the 1950s did not last long; and today, Mambo’s appeal is limited to advanced dancers. However, Mambo did give rise to two other dances: Cha Cha (in the 1950s) and Salsa (in the 1980s).