The word ‘Mambo’ is often used differently by musicians and dancers. Nowadays dancers use it to describe dancing On2 which is a style that developed in New York. It is closely linked to the Cuban dance Son and the vernacular dances of Puerto Rico. It is also very similar to other linear forms of Salsa.
Mambo has a lot in common with Cha Cha in fact, half the structure of the basic step is exactly the same, so if you can dance Mambo you can also dance Cha Cha! Likewise, Mambo music is the same in structure as Cha Cha music, the only distinction is the tempo, Cha Cha being slower than Mambo allowing the dancers to add extra steps.
It is often said that dancing On1 is dancing to the music and dancing On2 is dancing in the music. This is because the phrasing of the basic Mambo step allows for a deeper and richer level of musical interpretation.
The 'Mambo Chic' style of dancing, developed by Fritha Fallon, is an elegant and sophisticated form of Salsa.