Basic Rumba Dance Steps

Updated February 21, 2017

The rumba is originally derived from Cuba. Expressed with sensual movement and smooth swaying hips, this is the dance of romance. The characteristic of the rumba is for the lady to "tease and run." The follow flirts and entices the lead, only to run away and come back. The basic rumba dance steps are the foundation that's necessary to embody the character of the dance.

Music & Timing

American Rumba uses 4/4 timing, with four beats to every measure. Two measures of the music are needed to complete one basic. In rumba music, the heavy beat is the one beat. The basic rhythm is slow-quick-quick-slow-quick-quick. You will be looking for medium tempo Latin music.

The Rumba Box

There will be three steps taken for every four beats of music. Therefore, you will have six steps for a full basic. The follow will mirror his movement. For example, when the lead steps forward with left, the follow will step back with right. Keep in mind that you will be creating the shape of a box during the rumba basic, which is why it is called the rumba box.

On the first slow, step forward with your left foot.

On the quick, step with your right foot to the right and forward, so that your right foot is aligned with your left.

On the next quick, step right with your left foot, so that it comes together with your right foot.

On the next slow, step directly back with your right foot.

On the quick, step left with your left foot.

On the last quick, move your right foot left, so that it will be together with your left foot.


All steps should be taken using the inside edge of the ball of the foot. As with all Latin and Rhythm dances, the movement is ball-flat.

Your feet should be turned out when all steps are taken. Rather than having your feet completely turned out, such as first position in ballet, create a halfway turn out. Avoid the pigeon-toed look. Also, do not have your feet perfectly parallel, remember to turn out.

Cuban motion is important for rumba. For beginners, think of Cuban motion as an alternate bending and straightening of your knee. For intermediate and advanced dancers, hips and body motion also come into play, such as the lateral figure-eight formation for hips, stretching the rib cage, and more.

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About the Author

Kat Consador is a freelance writer and professional competitive Latin dancer. Her work has appeared in eHow and various online publications. She also writes for clients in small businesses, primarily specializing in SEO. She earned a Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology from Arizona State University.