Abstract: This article focuses on two twentieth-century Latin dances now popular among people of diverse race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic backgrounds in the Toronto area. The article provides a historical introduction to the dances, Toronto contexts for these dances, and portraits of some participants. Much current interest in Cuban popular music focuses on son and salsa; however, more than forty years ago, two genres of Cuban dance music took North America and much of Europe by storm: the rumba and later the chachacha. This paper traces a brief history of these two dances and then examines their contemporary contexts in southern Ontario, specifically the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the largest metropolitan area in Canada. The performance of rumba and chachacha in southern Ontario constitutes what Mark Slobin calls a sphere of cultural activity (1993:55). He writes that transregional musics such as the waltz and tango “have a very high energy that spills across regional boundaries, perhaps even becoming global ” (19. This paper provides an initial sketch of the “affinity group ” (69) for rumba and chachacha in southern Ontario. The affinity group members may have little in common in terms of race, ethnicity, class, age, or other factors but are joined by their attraction to these dances (69)
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