10 Tropical Traditions for Temperate Climates


Just Dance

You don't have to be a "good" dancer to enjoy getting your salsa and merengue on!
You don't have to be a "good" dancer to enjoy getting your salsa and merengue on!

Dancing has always been linked with a culture's history and the national pride of its citizens.

Jamaica has a rich history of national dancing styles that extend as far back as its recorded history. Traditional Jamaican dances from colonial times include the ballroom-style Quadrille; the Kumina, a more African-based dance usually performed at rituals such as funerals; and the Maypole, performed at May Day celebrations with ribbons and poles [source: Jamaica Mix].

If you like working up a sweat, Latin American and South American dances will keep your heart rate up and your blood flowing. They're typically performed as a couple, so try these with the one you love and stir up some heat in the winter. Dances include the bachata and merengue from the Dominican Republic; the rueda de casino from Cuba; the mambo, developed in Haiti but brought to Latin America in the 1940s; salsa dancing, first from the Caribbean then Latin America; and the famous cha-cha, a fusion of dance styles from Haiti and Latin America [source: Salsa Tropical].

For a completely different musical dance style, try tamborito, the national dance of Panama. Tamborito is generally performed by dancers (both men and women) dressed in elaborate costumes, including wide skirts and embellished hair clips and jewelry for women, and hats and sashes for the men. They typically dance in groups of six or more, or as couples, in a carefully choreographed routine, usually accompanied by live music and singing [source: Panama Culture]. Children are taught the tamborito as young as 3, as it's embraced by all Panamanians.