Cha Cha Cha

Modified: March 28, 2022


more cha cha cha

stop & go

The Cha-cha-cha (in Spanish chachachá) is a Latin American dance and style of music derived from the rumba and mambo in 4/4 meter. In ballroom dancing it is increasingly popular to call the dance “cha-cha”.
The term "cha-cha" comes from Haiti, where it referred to a component of a bell which made a "cha-cha" noise when it was rubbed. The device was kept and used as an instrument.

The music of cha-cha-cha evolved from mambo. In the late 1940s, mambo was wildly popular across the United States, but it was a very fast and difficult dance. Orchestras slowed down the mambo, and cha--cha-cha was the result. In 1951, Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín introduced the cha-cha-cha rhythms under this name to Cuban dance floors while playing with Orquestra America. Some say that he came to this idea as early as in 1948 while being with Antonio Arcaño's orchestra. In 1953, his “La Engañadora” and “Silver Star” became recorded hits. The dance teacher Pierre Lavelle from the United Kingdom, a founder of the Latin American Faculty of the ISTD, visited Cuba in 1952 to discover mambo (some say, rumba) danced with the triple step in place of the slow one. He brought this dance idea to the Europe and eventually created what is known now as ballroom Cha-cha-cha.             ((mostly) from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

The music for cha-cha is accented on the 1st beat and a percussive accent on beat 4. The cha-cha-chas are taken on beat 4 the 4a and 1. The slower steps are taken on beat 2 and 3. Consequently the dance is normally counted, “2, 3, 4 & 1”.  To begin on “1”, take a prep step to the side (the last beat of the previous chasse).




Feet Positions (man)  / hints


Closed Basic

2,3,4 & 1
2,3,4 & 1

LF forward, RF back (Transfer Weight to RF. Not really back),
LF  Side,  RF close, LF side (LRL)
2nd half: RF B, LF tw, RF side , LF close, RF side (RLR)


New York

2,3,4 & 1
2,3,4 & 1

LF side & fwd to LSP, RF tw, LRL
RF side & fwd to RSP, LF tw, RLR
(lead: drop RH and position LH)


Underarm turn
(Ladies switch turn)

2,3,4 & 1

Man: New York to LSP.  lead is LH up on chasses.
then RF basic (while lady does turn),
Lady: LF side & fwd on 2, 1/2 turn (on LF) on “&”,
RF tw on 3, 1/4 to face man on &,  LRL


Open Basic

2,3,4 & 1
2,3,4 & 1

LF fwd, RF tw, chasse back LRL
RF bck, LF tw, chasse fwd RLR


Shoulder to Shoulder

2,3,4 & 1
2,3,4 & 1

LF fwd Outside Partner, RF tw, LRF
RF fwd OP, LF tw, RLR


Switch turn

2,3,4 & 1

Both do foot work for underarm turn. Both turn outside.
Lead is “wax in” on the preceeding chasse,
 “wax out” with hand on turn side.

Nice beginner routine on YouTube with the figure names as they dance

This couple at Ballroom Guide dance beautifully (but count funny) their basic