Popular Dance and Music of Colombia

Popular Dance and Music of Colombia

The dance and music of Colombia is the most varied in South America. It is the home to over 1,000 different folk rhythms.

I don’t like parties or nightclubs very much. I am not much of a dancer either, but I do have a big love of music. While in Colombia I tuned in daily to the local radio while working. Even if I didn’t play it at home I wouldn’t have been able to escape it, it’s everywhere. On the bus, in the shops, on the streets, in restaurants. Music and dance is a HUGE part of Colombian culture, and it’s good. Very good.

Popular Dance and Music of Colombia

This post highlights popular dance and music of Colombia that I became familiar with. It is what you hear in the streets and/or on the mainstream radio during the day.


The Cumbia is my favorite type of Colombian music. Whenever I hear it I get nostalgic because my mother used to play it when I was young. It is a mixture of Spanish, African, and indigenous music. The Cumbia is percussion and vocals, although modern bands include other instruments. Cumbia as a dance mimics the shackled ankles of slaves. Here is a video of some children doing the Cumbia in Santa Marta.

And here’s one of the most famous Colombians in the world doing it.


From the best to the worst. Champeta is my least favorite style of Colombian music, but I still like it. It is very popular in the Carribean Coast, especially in Cartagena. It has a heavy African beat and provocative dancing.


Reggaeton is thought to be from Panama and mixes meringue, reggae, ragga, and rapping. Despacito is a very famous reggaeton song by Luis Fonsi who is from Puerto Rico.

Here’s a popular one by a Colombian, Manuel Turizo.

Colombian Salsa

Colombian Salsa originated in Cali, which is also one of the best-known cities in the world for Salsa. The basic Colombian salsa step is like a fast Cumbia. It is easy to learn until you incorporate extra steps and turns. With Colombian salsa, most of the movement is in the lower body with the upper body stating rigid.


Bambuco is traditional music and dance originating in the Andean Zone of Colombia. It isn’t popular in the “top charts” these days but is very influential in other dance and music of Colombia.


Vallenato music is from the city of Valledupar, otherwise known as the “forest city”. The main instrument used in Vallenato music is the accordion.


Merengue music is often heard in the clubs of Colombia and it is my favorite Colombian dance… because it is so damn simple! Unless salsa is playing, it is my go to on a dance-floor.

The Lambada

This last one isn’t even Colombian, but I love it so I’m including it. The Lambada was a very famous Brazillian song in the 80’s. They even made a movie out of it called “The Forbidden Dance”, but the true forbidden dance of Brazil is the Maxixe.

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Popular Dance and Music of Colombia-2

Did you enjoy this post on the popular dance and music of Colombia? Do you have some favorite Colombian music and dances you want to add? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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