Mambo is a Latin dance of Cuban origin that corresponds to mambo music. Mambo music was invented in 1930s Havana by Cachao and his contemporaries and made popular around the world by Perez Prado and Beny Moré. Mambo music developed from Danzon and was heavily influenced by the Jazz musicians that the Italian-American gangsters, who controlled Havana’s casinos, brought to entertain their American customers.
The modern dance from New York was popularized in the 1980s by Eddie Torres, Angel Rodriguez of RazzM’Tazz Mambo Dance Company, and others, many of whom were 2nd generation New York Puerto Ricans. This style is sometimes danced to mambo music, but more often to salsa dura (old-school salsa). It is termed “mambo on 2” because the break, or direction change, in the basic step occurs on count 2. The Eddie Torres and Razz M’Tazz schools each have different basic steps, even though they share this same basic feature. Eddie Torres describes his version as a “street” style he developed out of what he saw on the Bronx streets. The RazzM’Tazz version is closer to the Palladium mambo (from the Palladium ballroom in the 1950s), whose basic step was in turn derived from Cuban son, with which it shares its timing (234 – 678, with pauses on 1 and 5) both styles derived from the American Mambo with the freestyle steps based on jazz and tap steps