The word Rumba is a generic term, covering a variety of names for a type of West Indian music and dance (i.e., Son, Danzon, and Bolero). Although the main growth was in Cuba, there were similar dance developments that took place in other Caribbean islands and in Latin America generally. Traditionally, the music was played with a staccato beat using instruments including the maracas, claves, marimba, guiro, cencerro, and bongo or timbales drums. The native Rumba folk dance is very sexual and danced extremely fast with exaggerated hip movements.
Today’s Rumba is danced very slowly and has romantic, flirtatious overtones. The American style version is done in a “Box” pattern to a Slow Quick Quick timing. In the Ballrooms we call it either the “Dance of Love” (because you stare into each others eyes as you dance) or “The Ladies’ Dance” (because is shows off women to advantage). Many modern Country, Soul and Latin love songs are Rumbas. The music has a slower Slow Quick Quick rhythm and therefore more exaggerated use of Cuban motion (hip movements) and a more fluid arm styling. The Rumba is a spot dance like most of the Latin dances, which means that it does not travel around the room.
Read more about Rumba on Wikipedia.