The rumba is a strictly secular dance and music that originated in the regions of Matanzas and Havana among blacks and persons of low condition. The crisis of the slave system and economic upheavals drove these people from the plantations and agricultural exploitation to the cities, where they merged in the ranks of freedmen and former urban slaves in neighborhoods “outside the walls” in subdivided buildings known as so/ares, where conflicts were frequent. The courtyards known as solar and the red-light districts were the locations where the rumba developed. There were three varieties — the yambu, the columbia, and guaguanco. The story of the rumba in America becomes another highly stylized version of the original Cuban rumba.

Clave Rhythms in Son and Rumba

Clave is the name of an instrument, two short but thick sticks, used to keep the rhythmic tempo. The clave is the key to the rhythmic cell of the music.