Definition of rumba in US English:


(also rhumba)

nounPlural rumbas

  • 1A rhythmic dance with Spanish and African elements, originating in Cuba.

    ‘to see an authentic rumba you must go to Havana’
    • ‘That, in turn, leads to rumbustious popular numbers, dances and choruses, notably a riotous rumba.’
    • ‘When the English dance teacher Pierre Lavelle visited Cuba in 1952, he realised that sometimes the rumba was danced with extra beats.’
    • ‘I was looking for the Havana of rum, tobacco, and the daily hustle of everyday life, with a little rumba and an oceanfront view on the Malecon.’
    • ‘Latin dances - mambo, cha-cha, rumba, samba, tango, and so on - are Afro-Euro forms defined by the coming together of black, brown, and white peoples in the Americas.’
    • ‘African rhythms were inserted into popular music, and the Eurocuban dances ‘danza’ and ‘contra-danza’ and the Afrocuban dances ‘son’ and rhumba became popular.’
    • ‘In the 1930s and '40s, the rumba, which originated in Cuba, became popular in America and Europe.’
    • ‘The Latino rhythms are very passionate and the rumba is known as the dance of love.’
    • ‘There are also two-days of intensive workshops in flamenco rhythms, singing, guitar, children's Spanish, rumba, castanette playing, men's flamenco and much more.’
    • ‘In the documentary Born to be Wild he dances a rhumba in the streets of his native Cuba.’
    • ‘The salsa, the tango, the rumba - it is said that dance is the most important non-religious ritual in Cuba.’
    • ‘The scene where the dancers build a little tropical hut and dance a joyous rumba inside it is still talked about.’
    • ‘Also included is the rumba, which is said to be the heartbeat of the Cuban people.’
    • ‘The rumba - which originated in Africa - travelled from Zaire via the slave trade to Cuba and the New World, then back to Barcelona, where it was adopted by the gypsies.’
    1. 1.1 A piece of music for the rumba.
      • ‘Blanche turns on the radio and begins to dance to a rumba that is playing.’
      • ‘Culturally, our riches extend far beyond the celebrated African- and Spanish-influenced rhythms of calypso, reggae, dancehall, salsa, rumba, merengue, or son.’
      • ‘The Latin American community is once again geared up for an evening of sequins, salsa dancers and rumba beats.’
      • ‘The bass piano keys and bass combine for a duet that suggests a rumba feel.’
      • ‘The first volume concentrated on eight West African countries, but this second selection is an entirely Congolese mixture of rumba roots and early soukous.’
      • ‘It has a unique rhumba sound that calls for a performance rather than just singing.’
      • ‘Ten piece band Havana Che, the result of a collaboration between the best Cuban and Irish musicians playing Latin music in the country, will provide the swinging salsa and rumba soundtrack for the evening.’
      • ‘Archipelago is a rhumba that was later reworked into the composer's Second Symphony as its third movement.’
      • ‘The project has formed a band which fuses reggae, African rhythm, calypso, rhumba and rock.’
      • ‘It sounds like a wild street party featuring a Latin percussion band whose bells, shakers, electric piano, and flute combine to create an infectious rumba groove.’
      • ‘Other influences on popular music include church music, gospel, Zairean rhumba, and South African mbaqanga and mbube.’
      • ‘A virtuoso pianist, he taps not only Cuban rumba and yanqui jazz but digs deeper into his African heritage.’
      • ‘The group will perform music from the new album, United We Stand, a flavoured sound that ranges in style from rumba to classic adaptations of old mbira rhythms.’
      • ‘All the while, I'd be serenaded by the musicians in the street, who continue the long-standing tradition that has given the world rhumba, mambo, and son.’
      • ‘Yet such is his talent, the quality of the music seems almost effortless, and he is equally comfortable singing mambo, cha cha, ballads and rumba.’
      • ‘The 11-track album has some of the smooth rhumba songs that brings out the musical and singing prowess of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's most celebrated musical ensembles.’
      • ‘The energetic quartet fuses rap and hip hop with traditional rumba, son and guaguanco, embodying the future of socially conscious music in Latin America.’
      • ‘The most popular sound is rumba music from the Congo, but there is an appreciation of the traditional tribal songs and sounds.’
      • ‘The most popular music in Africa in the XXth century was Soukous, derived from the Cuban rumba.’
      • ‘Overweight barmen slosh mojitos on the counter at great haste and orders are shouted against a backdrop of salsa and rumba.’
      • ‘He described the Portuguese lament as a rumba with a tango bridge.’
      • ‘The South African and the Democratic Republic of Congo flags fly side-by-side in an open space where a band is strumming rumba tunes, getting ready to rock the crowd seated under green umbrellas.’
    2. 1.2 A ballroom dance imitative of the rumba.
      ‘they glide around the dance floor doing the cha-cha, rumba, or waltz’
      • ‘Within each category there are dance styles such as waltz, mambo, cha-cha, and rumba.’
      • ‘The activity organized by the new dance club, had guests doing the rumba and tango to build up their appetite for the buffet dinner on offer.’
      • ‘The foxtrot is still danced every night of the week in hundreds of modern sequence dance clubs around the country, along with the waltz, quickstep, tango, rhumba, cha cha, jive, mambo, salsa, saunter, blues, swing and so on.’
      • ‘He is credited with creating many of the standard steps still used today in the foxtrot and the rumba.’
      • ‘I was luckily given a reprieve in the form of the next dance being the rumba and therefore a bit slower than the mambo.’
      • ‘Some of the better dancers among the youngsters are experts not only in folk and traditional dances, but also in ballroom dances like foxtrot, quickstep, waltz and tango, to say nothing of Latin dances such as rumba, samba, jive and salsa.’
      • ‘Dances like the samba, rhumba, cha-cha, and mambo were the sexiest things that white people were allowed to do until the twist came along.’
      • ‘She made it to the show's semi-finals with her professional dance partner, having learnt to dance the waltz, foxtrot, samba, rumba, jive and quickstep among others.’
      • ‘The waltz, foxtrot, tango and quickstep are danced in rapid-fire succession in each ballroom round while salsa steps up the beat to let Latin competitors loosen up a little and go through the paces of the rhumba, samba and cha cha.’
      • ‘But after just a few months doing the rumba and the cha-cha together, he went a step further and proposed to Austrian-born Babette.’
      • ‘This is what happens in and around a school program that teaches New York City elementary schoolers how to swing, tango, and do the rumba.’
      • ‘They enjoy completing crossword puzzles together and up until a couple of years ago were still doing the rumba, tango, waltz and foxtrot at the Town Hall.’
      • ‘Each school can provide five pairs (plus one alternate) to dance in five different styles: swing, the tango, the rumba, the merengue, and the foxtrot.’
      • ‘On the dance floor these days, there are quite a few partners who are comfortable in T-shirts when the music calls for a jive, a samba, a rumba, a calypso, or even a good old waltz.’
      • ‘O'Dougherty likes Latin dances like the rhumba and O'Connor enjoys the tango romantica.’
      • ‘I like the rhumba, but the tango romantica is not an easy dance.’
      • ‘The Latin category consists of the rumba, cha cha, samba, paso doble and jive.’
      • ‘Throughout the room, neon signs flash to announce the upcoming dance style: fox trot, triple swing, mambo, cha cha, tango, waltz, rock 'n' roll and rhumba.’
      • ‘They can also do the rumba, samba and the London Jive.’
      • ‘Dances like the rumba and cha-cha are very sexy, and offer a great opportunity for a couple to learn to move together well.’

verbrumbas, rumbaing, rumbaed

[no object]
  • Dance the rumba.

    ‘you once taught two boys to rumba’
    • ‘Jennifer Lopez tries shimmying back into her fans' hearts by teaching Richard Gere to rumba in this remake of the Japanese hit.’
    • ‘Director Marilyn Agrelo's feature debut follows the progress of NYC elementary school students as they learn to rumba and merengue their way to better posture, elevated social skills and a life on the straight and narrow.’
    • ‘And it's not just the waltz I have been forced into learning, I have to tango, and rumba and do all this other stuff too.’
    • ‘I rhumba with Rita, Rachael sambas with Cecile, and together we awkwardly tango.’
    • ‘Thanks to Isla's rapid success, the narrow, 55-seat L-shaped room already feels cramped, and the music is so loud and infectious that you resent the lack of enough room to rumba.’
    • ‘Sure, you could rhumba with a Martini in one hand, but you need the right spirit - either rum or pisco - to get into the spirit and beat of Latin music and culture.’
    • ‘Not at raw as the Buena Vista Social Club or as powerful as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra effortlessly make you want to rumba - how can you say no to that?’
    • ‘Learn how to rumba, foxtrot, cha-cha and waltz and be the envy of all your friends at the next wedding you go to.’
    • ‘The bagpipes were wailing and some Rotary types were trying to rumba to it.’
    • ‘See, my throat was so tight it probably sounded like I was asking him to rumba around the room with me.’
    • ‘They've spun, tangoed, waltzed, rumbaed, salsaed, funked, jazzed, hip-hopped and twirled their little hearts out and now they're sashaying off into the sunset in an hour-long final.’


1920s: from Latin American Spanish.