Have you ever done a Zumba class? If not, it’s likely that you’ve at least heard of it. The Latin dance craze has been everywhere for a good decade or two, and millions of people around the world are getting into it. They even have it on gaming consoles now if you’re not someone that likes to embarrass-er, express themselves in front of others. Zumba is certainly not something to do if you aren’t going to throw yourself completely into it, but have you ever thought of where it originated from? The story may surprise you.
An accidental creation
Zumba was created by choreographer Alberto Perez, but he didn’t come up with it intentionally. Instead, it was a way to fill the time when he didn’t have the right mixtape for one of his dance classes. That’s right, Zumba was born from an accident. Perez left his music at home, and because he was already running late, he had no choice but to go with the salsa tape that was already in his car. When he arrived for the class, he improvised everything. We have to admire someone who’s talented enough at their job that they can come up with an hour’s worth of dance moves on the spot like that.
The next step
After everyone responded positively to the exciting new dance class they’d just experienced, Perez realized that he might be onto something. He started to alternate between his usual dances and the Latin style to create some variety in his classes, all the while improving his moves outside of work hours. Eventually, he partnered with Alberto Perlman and Alberto Aghion (it takes three Albertos to make a successful dance craze) to turn the style into a business that could inspire people around the world.
The name Zumba was chosen in 2001 as a way to brand the dances. It has no actual meaning, but was picked because it sounded like fun (which is what they wanted the classes to be). It’s a lot more effective than Rumbacize, which they’d initially considered. Yes, that name comes from a combination of rumba and jazzercize, because not all ideas are good ones.
Once the name and the style were confirmed, the collective Alberto’s started to film fitness DVDs to sell around the world. The more people bought them, the greater the interest became. Eventually, people gained enough experience from these to qualify as Zumba instructors. From there, the classes you probably see at the gym all the time were born, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Is Zumba actually Latin?
Zumba is considered by many to be Latin, but there has been criticism from dancers of this style that that’s not correct. They’re half-right. Zumba uses moves from Latin dances like the cumbia and samba, but it also borrows elements from hip-hop. The point of this craze is to get a good workout and have fun doing it, with accuracy in the moves encouraged but not essential. In contrast, Latin dancing is all about being precise and usually involves two people working together, rather than everyone being solo. Whatever you think, you can’t deny that Zumba has at least inspired people to start showing an interest in Latin music and dancing.
Any kind of craze that gets people moving around and keeping fit gets the thumbs up from us. We’d never risk testing our skills out at an actual Zumba class, but we don’t mind putting on the DVD every now and again. You should try it sometime. You might find you like it.