Cha Cha Basics – Cha Cha Cha is Fun Fun Fun!

Here are a few of the basics you need to know about Cha Cha Cha. It arrived on the scene in the 1950s when some performers began to slow down the Mambo tempo. The result of this change was the creation of what became known as ‘Triple Mambo’ or Cha Cha Cha, named after the shuffling sound the feet made when dancing it.

Which musicians have dabbled in Cha Cha music over the past 50 years?

Let’s see, we have some modern artists like Santana, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Marc Antony, and the Black Eyed Peas. There are old school talents such as Dean Martin, Xavier Cugat, Richie Valens, Harry Belafonte, and Della Reese. Also, many Latin musicians, including Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Perez Prado, Johnny Pacheco, Tito Rodriquez, and Willy Chirino have all recorded Cha Cha songs. In fact, each has gifted us with the rhythm we need to move our hips and lift our hopes. And, for that we thank them.

Check out this Jennifer Lopez tribute to the premier female Latin artist of all time, Celia Cruz.

Image result for celia cruz with tito puente

Celia Cruz & Tito Puente
album cover from 1969.

What’s the timing that’s used in Cha Cha?

It’s important to have a good knowledge of the basic elements of Cha Cha timing. A common way to count Cha Cha is, “one-two-cha-cha-cha“. However, educated dancers use “one-two-three-cha-cha“. This is slightly different but more in rhythm with the actual timing of the Cha Cha music.

Speaking of music.

Songs like Oye Como Va, Bang Bang, Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha, Pata Pata, Smooth and I Like It Like That are examples of great Cha Cha songs. In addition, let’s not forget to mention the super-fun line dance, the Cha Cha Slide. As you can see, there’s something for everyone. Cha Cha’s good like that.

By the way, some people have a bit of trouble figuring out what dance goes to what music. If that’s you, refer to this Dance Safari post, “DJ, I Love This Song. What Dance is It?

Why should you learn the Cha Cha?

The Cha Cha is a fun, flirty dance.

If you’re doing it right, there’s an element of the lady teasing with her sexy moves and the man chasing her to try and catch some of those moves. Furthermore, just to give you an idea of how common that theme is, there’s a classic step in Cha Cha called ‘The Chase’.

cha cha basics

Also, along with Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue, the Cha Cha is a dance that you’ll use in Latin clubs. So, if your interest is in dancing the night away, learning it will guarantee that you won’t have to sit some songs out. Unless you want to.

What’s the best way to learn it?

The method you choose to learn to dance the Cha Cha depends on when you want to use it.

For example, if you’re getting ready to go on a cruise next month, then this is a ‘dance emergency’ and the fastest way to learn some Cha Cha basics would be to hire a private coach. This is someone who will cater to your individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s concentrated learning and it’ll get you moving quickly. Don’t forget to keep your lessons close together to make it easier to remember what you’re working on.

The next choice would be a series of group classes.

It’s considered a group class when you’ll have one instructor working with a number of students. In most cases, you won’t need to bring anyone with you as you’ll be rotating partners throughout the class. Make sure you’re faithful in attendance because if you miss a lesson you’ll be behind. The constant repetition done in a group class setting is great practice. The only thing missing is the individualized attention that you get with private lessons.

Of course, if money’s tight you’re gonna want to go online.

You’ll need to find an instructor who is teaching Cha Cha basics. Depending on your learning style, some will find this a great option and will pick up very quickly. Others may struggle with the videos. The good thing about learning online is that you can go at your own pace and it’s easy to review the course whenever you like.

The Cha Cha is a dance for everyone, young and old alike. It can be fast and energetic or slow and sensual. It’s up to you to interpret the music and express how it makes you feel. You don’t have to knock yourself out doing it, either. You can put as much or as little energy as you like into it. Give it some time and you’ll feel that Cha Cha beat in every song you hear.

cha cha basics


  1. That’s really interesting, thanks Barbara love the history 😀 We’ve just learned the basic Cha Cha Cha along with the Rhumba they are quite fun, we’ve started the Samba and I’m wondering if they are actually very good calf exercise because my running is improving lol.

    • Thanks for reading, Charlie. Cha Cha and Rhumba are great dances and isn’t it nice that they share some patterns? For sure working on Latin will bring attention to the lower leg, especially the pulse in Samba, don’t you think? Always glad to hear how much you’re enjoying the dancing and seeing the benefits in your running as well.
      Carry on!

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