The Son cubano is a style of music and dance that originated in Cuba and gained worldwide popularity in the 1930s. Son combines the structure and elements of Spanish canción and the Spanish guitar with African rhythms and percussion instruments of Bantu and Arará origin. The Cuban son is of the most influential and widespread forms of Latin American music: its derivatives and fusions, especially Salsa, have spread across the world.
Its dance popularity reached its heights in the mid 1950s in the Casinos deportivos (clubs), where it was danced day in and day out. There, a new form of dancing to Son music quickly evolved called “Casino”. It could be danced in couples or in Ruedas (circles). Casino dancing became the true evolution of Son. As many historians point out:
“If Casino had parents, the Danzón would be his Mother and Son would be his Father.”
During the 1970s and 1980s Casino had reached its peak in popularity, and it was not only danced by people of the upper class but by the whole community. During this time a newer more aggressive type of Son Music, called Timba was formed. Timba music, which had its base in the Cuban Son was influenced by jazz, rock, disco, funk and hip hop, as well as local folklore like rumba, guaguancó, batá drumming and the sacred songs of Santería.
In order to adapt to the newer and more agressive music called timba, the dance yet again underwent another evolution. Certain rhythmic elements of timba arrangements inspired completely new ways of dancing. In some cases, dancers would respond to changes in the music by switching between casino and other dance forms such as Rumba, Cuban Comparsa and Yoruba dances, making it a very diverse, energetic and vibrant music and dance style.