If you’ve been to a Latin dance social, you will likely have come across kizomba dancing. It is a popular addition to bachata and salsa, and if you ever get the chance to learn it, it can be a lot of fun. Check out this kizomba flashmob for a great example of the joy that is kizomba dancing.

YouTube video

Its inclusion with popular Latin dances, however, does cause some confusion because many people assume that it is a Latin dance, for obvious reasons. Despite it being included and taught alongside bachata and salsa, kizomba is not, in fact, a Latin dance at all.

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Kizomba originated in Angola and has influences from semba, Angolan merengue, and kilapanda. The music is sung in Portuguese and it is popular in many Portuguese-speaking African countries. In contrast, bachata originated in the Dominican Republic and salsa has Cuban and Puerto Rican roots. So why is kizomba so often included alongside salsa and bachata?

The first dance club that started promoting kizomba alongside Latin dances is unknown, but whoever did so hit the mark in terms of popularity. It fits a slightly different niche from bachata and salsa. Salsa is danced in an open style and bachata is closed and more intimate, but both styles require the dancer to learn intricate steps and be able to execute these to the beat.

Kizomba, on the other hand, is more of an interpretative dance. There are no set sequences of steps to learn and there is a lot of scope for improvisation. So it can be a welcome addition to a social dance night to be able to let go of set figures and be able to let loose a little bit and just connect with the music. And it can be a lot of fun for beginners because they are able to learn to dance socially much sooner than for bachata and salsa. So it looks like kizomba is going to keep being a staple on the Latin dance scene, and a welcome one at that.

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