Styles of Rumba

There are many styles of rumba, some are very popular and others relatively obscure. For some reason I have always been interested in the obscure ones. Rumba music in America is a fairly esoteric genre, and here I am interested in the esoteric of the esoteric.

The styles one expects to here attending a rumba are Guaguanco and Columbia. Sometimes one will hear a Yambu if the rumberos are so inclined, and often Guarapachangeo. Rumberos are usually also experienced with other Afro-Cuban musical traditions and you can usually here a few examples played at a rumba, in my experience the most commonly heard is Bembe. It is also not uncommon to hear a Comparsa being played. Of course, I am speaking from my own personal experience here in California. I'm only moderately aware of other American scenes and I haven't been to Cuba yet.
However I often read about or come across mention of other styles of rumba, that I never hear played, except maybe on recordings. Why are these rhythms not heard or talked about as much. What caused them to become relegated to obscurity? Existing mostly as footnotes in books?

I've compiled a list of rumbas styles and as this blog progresses and I've learnt a little more I will be writing articles on each style. I'm curious to know what makes a Reseda different than a Guaguanco, is it the rhythm? the instrumentation? the songs? the dances? Anyways it is bound to be interesting research. Maybe some of these styles are due for a comeback.

  1. Batarumba
  2. Columbia
  3. Guaguanco
  4. Guarapachangeo
  5. Jiribilla
  6. Papalote
  7. Reseda
  8. Rumba de Cabaret
  9. Rumba Son
  10. Rumba del Tiemp de Espana
  11. Rumba Teatral
  12. Rumba Tonada
  13. Tahona
  14. Yambu


  1. Very nice blog and especially fantastic photos, Geordie!
    Plus thoroughly researched info put into the right words.
    Thanks very much. Cheers by
    Mike, someone who you might know from congaplace.com ;-)

  2. Well if I know you from congaplace and your name is MIke, your probably my football loving friend from Germany. Thanks for the comment.