The Lambada dance is a renowned dance form from Brazil created by fusing elements of ‘forro, salsa, merengue, maxixe, carimbo and Bolivian saya‘. This ‘Latin American’ dance has originated from the state of Para located in North Brazil. The Lambada dance style (of African origin) became extremely popular worldwide during the 1980’s particularly in the Latin American and Caribbean countries. Furthermore, this dance is extremely ‘energetic’ and involves rhythmic and pronounced movements of the hips. In addition, the Lambada dance is also known for its female performers wearing extremely revealing outfits that includes the “90’s styled thong underwear”.

Where does the lambada dance come from?

a. History/origin of Lambada dance:

The origin and history of Lambada dance is quite intriguing. A dance form known as ‘Carimbo‘ which comprises of extremely sensual body and hip movements was extremely popular in North Brazil, since the time the country was colonised by the Portuguese. It was thus the gradual evolution of Carimbo over the years that eventually led to the creation of this sensual Lambada dance. It was a radio station from Belem (capital city of Para) that named the ‘strong beats’ used in the music used for this dance form as ‘the rhythms of lambada’. Thus the name “Lambada” basically given to the music stuck with the dance style as well.

b. The wild story behind Lambada

In the beginning, the story seems pretty straightforward. In July 1989, Kaoma released a catchy Brazilian track followed by a racy video that made an instant impression. Soon, it topped the charts in Europe, followed by Latin America, and the United States, when “Lambada” hit number one on the Billboard and remained in the same position for almost seven weeks. In addition, it reached number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990, selling 5 million copies worldwide. The tune is sung entirely in Portuguese.

“Lambada” has a catchy enough tune to maintain the number one position. Like another chart-topper, “Lambada” became a worldwide hit,  before the internet—and only Tik Tok—were part of our everyday routine. The dance style is performed by tightly squeezing bodies, swinging hips in unison, and only separating for the women to perform spins to have their short skirts fly around. Because of its sexual connotations, it was nicknamed (or marketed as) “the forbidden dance.” The majority of people became aware of the dance style through videos starring two young teenagers, Washington Oliveira and Roberta de Brito (professionally known as Chico & Roberta), which helped fan the flames of controversy. Later, many talk shows and upcoming casts debated the moral weight of “Lambada.”

The comments made about lambda dance and Perreo dance are uncertain. Both styles are considered sexually provocative and cannot be performed at just any random occasion or place. Perreo’s dance style is a form of reggaetón music as danced in poor barrios, while the “Lambada” dance style can’t be divorced from the image of favelas in Brazil, though the video depicts the beaches of Bahía as its scenery. The only true Brazilian aspect is the dance itself of “Lambada.”

Why was Lambada the forbidden dance?

Lambada was known as a “forbidden dance” in the 1980s and 1990s because of its association with sensuality and sexuality. The dance originated in Brazil and quickly gained popularity around the world in the late 1980s, particularly in Europe and the United States.

The dance involves close physical contact between partners, with bodies moving in sync to the music in a sensual and rhythmic way. The dance became controversial because of its perceived sexual nature, and many conservative groups and authorities condemned it for being too provocative.

In some countries, t he lambada was banned from being performed or taught publicly, and it was even censored on television and radio. The controversy surrounding the dance only added to its appeal and helped to make it more popular.

While the controversy has died down over the years, the lambada remains a popular dance style today and is still associated with sensuality and passion.

b. Costumes used in the Lambada dance:



The dress worn by Lambada dancers are usually vibrant coloured and peppy to keep up with the spirit of the dance. Since this dance for is a partner dance featuring both male and female dancers, the costumes worn vary accordingly, and are mentioned as follows:


1. For women:

The costume worn includes extremely short and revealing skirt as well as a 90’s styled thong underwear.

2. For men:

The costume worn includes colourful shirt/vest and long or short trousers. In some dance competitions, it was observed that the male partner wore sleeveless shirts or even went shirtless. 

Lambada Dance Brazil
Lambada Dance Brazil

c. Lambada Music involved in the dance:

The Brazilian composer by the name Aurino Quirino Goncalves created the Lambada music which stuck with the dance form for the past many decades. The rhythm for Lambada music was essentially created from electronic music that became extremely popular in the 1980’s.

d. Training availability and technique involved in the Lambada:

In terms of technique, lambada dance involves the dancers (i.e. male and female) generally dancing with arched legs. Lambada dance also includes the performers swaying from one side to another along with significant movement in the hips. As for training centres/schools, there are none available since this “energetic” dance style only managed to become popular in the north of Brazil, and has not spread around the globe like the Salsa dance or the cha-cha-cha dance.

e. Lambada Movies:

The late 80’s saw the Lambada dance gaining popularity across the globe starting from South America and moving up North the United States. March 16th, 1990 saw the release of two movies on the same day, both intending on the encashing on the Lambada dance craze. The two lambada films namely – The Forbidden Dance and Lambada got mixed reviews from the audience.

The rankings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes go as below:

IMDB Rating

  • Lambada : 3.4/10
  • The Forbidden Dance : 3.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes (Audience Score)

  • Lambada : 41%
  • The Forbidden Dance : 77%

Movie Cast:

The movie Lambada had J. Eddie Peck playing the role of the lead character Kevin Laired. Melora Hardin played the role of Sandy (Kevin’s student at school) and Adolfo Quinones played Ramone. Joel Silberg was the Director and Script writer and screenplay was by Sheldon Renan.

In the movie The Forbidden Dance is Lambada, former Miss Universe Laura Harring played the lead actress role as Lisa. Jeff James played Jason Anderson and Barbara Brighton played Ashley Wells. The movie was directed by Greydon Clark, story by Menahem Golan and screenplay was by Roy Langsdon and John Platt.

f. How to dance the Lambada (Lambada dance tutorial video):

The lovely couple from the YouTube channel ‘That Brazilian Couple‘, Ana Luiza and Junio Enrique present an awesome video teaching the steps of Lambada dance.

Learn Lambada Dance Tutorial
Lambada Dance Tutorial

f. Some of the Best Lambada Dance Videos:

Best Lambada Dance Video
Lambada Dance at Home

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