Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rumba in the West

By Philip Mirikitani, Waipahu

Back in the days when Arthur Murray knew everything about dancing, he liked the rhythmic bolero, danzon, beguine music. but he felt that the American dancer would never get that hip action and he was wanting to create his own dance.

"Only hungry minds can become educated"

He then created the slow, quick, quick box basic with the slow over the first and second beats and the quick, quick on three and four. Most of the others steps and patterns he copied from what he saw in the native dancers and made his own syllabus. Of course he had his own ideas to contribute and made changes in many of the original steps. It was pretty natural to understand that the entire thing was his creation - and a masterpiece.

 "Green Eyes" by Jimmy Dorsey

Along came Fred Astaire and he didn't want to argue with anyone and used the same box in his studios. Naturally Arthur did not like that and he took Fred to the courts and he won. Fred would not be allowed to use the Arthur Murray invention.

"Por El Amor De Una Mujer" by Julio Iglesias

So Fred responded by using the guaracha quick, quick, slow starting with side together step. This puts the slow step over the three and four count. And he got away with it. Although the Arthur Murray box does not make more sense musically Fred Astaire owned the U. S. Ballroom Championships and the quick, quick, slow box became the recognized American standard for competitions, and more people dancing American Rumba started this way. Although in Hawaii, the standard is the Arthur Murray version.


Fortunately, the "Alternative" basic is seeping into Oahu. The closest thing to it is the International Style basic. A rock step and a slow step, with the lead breaking on the accented beat,1 or 2. All the rest of the steps and pattern follow easily enough as long as you are both dancing the Rumba. The Alternate basic is used more often in the Night Club circuit than in our regular social club dancing.