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With a hard-to-miss beat and a simple basic dance step, Cumbia is one of the most accessible dances. Its popularity in San Antonio night spots and Tejano dance events makes it a good addition to your dancing repertoire if you want to spend less time waiting for a dance style you know, and more time dancing. Some clubs will spin nothing but Cumbia for an hour or more at a stretch.

Tejano- and Mexican-style Cumbia differs from the Cumbia that took root and flourished in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. If you hear music and see dancing that might be mistaken for a variation of Salsa with an extra little step on the fourth beat, you’re watching Colombia/Dominican Cumbia.

Mexican and Tejano-style cumbia is almost Samba-like with its rhythmic pulse and weight. All Cumbia variations, however, have four steps to four beats of music, unlike Salsa’s three-steps-and-pause. The basic step is an alternating side step-rock step, side step rock-step pattern.

The other major Tejano-style dance in Texas besides Cumbia, equally confusing in nomenclature, is Latin Polka, sometimes called Ranchera. By either name, this dance style has almost nothing in common with Country Polka.

You don’t have to master the terminology, of course, to feel the beat of the music and apply some fun Tejano dance steps to the dance club floor. The basic step takes only minutes to learn, and will provide hours of enjoyment.

Here are some more samples of Tejano-style Cumbia music

Amor Prohibido by Selena
Baila Esta Cumbia by Selena
Piel Morena by Thalia
Yo Te Amare by La Mafia

Listen to a music sample

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