chachachá

Medium-tempo dance music in 4/4 that originated around 1953 in the charangas of Havana. Some scholars trace its origins to the second section of the danzón; others consider it a laid-back, simplified mambo. What is certain is that it was an instant and phenomenal international success, partially due to the recordings of the Orquestra Aragón and partially due to its unmistakable performance format in which the musicians chimed in at each chorus after the soloists verse, which meant a conspicuous pause in instrumental duties for wind and brass musicians -- a novel take on call-and-response.

Chachachá hit the United States with an unprecendented furor in 1954 but lost much of its original elegance in the hands of New York and Hollywood orchestras eager to capitalize on the novelty of the dance craze. As John Storm Roberts notes: "[I]t burned out as fast as it flared up. A few years of lumpy rhythm sections, mooing sax sections, and musicians raggedly chanting CHAH! CHAH! CHAH! were enough."