Lambada is a Latin dance which comes from Brazil. It is sensual and graceful and danced in couples to a one-two-three beat. The rhythm is a fusion of Carimbó and Merengue and the dance incorporates elements of Forró, Samba, Merengue and Maxixe. The word ‘Lambada’ comes from an obscure Portuguese word which refers to the wave-like motion of a whip. This flowing wave motion is reproduced by the dancers' bodies and is one of the main elements that distinguishes Lambada from other Latin dances.
Lambada first appeared in north eastern Brazil in the 1980s, having descended directly from the traditional Brazilian dance Carimbó. The dance became very popular in Salvador and Bahia and soon established itself in the city of Porto Seguro. However, the 1980s was a decade of national dance fever in Brazil where each summer a new dance craze would sweep the nation, only to be replaced by a new dancing style and rhythm the next year. Thus, despite the initial success of the dance, Lambada was at this point far from gaining global fame and recognition. Many of the first 'lambaterias' (dance houses devoted to dancing Lambada) which opened in 1988 couldn't survive the low season and closed a few months later.
If it hadn't been for two French businessmen, Lambada may have disappeared altogether. Seeing a lucrative business opportunity, these two men from Europe travelled to Brazil and bought the copyright to over 300 Lambada tracks. They then recruited a group of experienced dancers including Braz, Didi and Mariley from Porto Seguro and several from San Paolo. On returning to France they founded the Kaoma Band which was an immediate global success. Their first single reached number one in 64 different countries and the world was introduced to Lambada.
The dance returned to Brazil, from Europe, and another wave of Lambada swept the nation, this time reaching all parts of the country, including the economically evolved south east region. Lambada soon became one of Brazil's biggest cultural exports, as internationally recognised as the Samba.
However, by 1994, very little new Lambada music was being produced and Lambada composers began to fade away. The dance lost a lot of its appeal and hordes of dancers migrated to other more traditional dance styles. Those who remained loyal to Lambada started to seek other Caribbean music styles such as Soca and Zouk to dance Lambada to. Other non-Caribbean music was also incorporated such as the Flamenco Rumba from the Gipsy Kings and some Arabic music. Most of the music we now dance Lambada to is Zouklove. As a result some people now call Lambada 'Zouk-Lambada'. This is, however, misleading - the dance is still Lambada in essence and origin, despite the different music and influences surrounding it.