Cha Cha has the distinction of being one of the most dominant "pop" rhythms of the last 40 to 50 years and is characterized as having an upbeat, infectious rhythm, which creates a sense of playfulness and flirtation. The Cha Cha is said to be a combination of the Mambo and the American Swing.
Cha Cha is a Cuban innovation of the old Latin form (danson). Originally known as the Cha-Cha-Cha the Cha Cha became popular about 1954. Cha Cha is an off-shoot of the Latin dance 'Mambo'. In the slow Mambo tempo, there is a distinct sound in the music that people began dancing to, calling the step the "Triple" Mambo. Eventually it evolved into a separate dance, today known as the Cha Cha.
The dance consists of three quick steps (triple step or Cha Cha Cha) and two slower steps on the one beat and two beat. The Cha Cha Cha is in 4/4 time with the rhythm being counted as 2 3 4 & 1, the '4 & 1' are recognized as being the familiar Cha Cha Cha triple. Note that the last beat of the triple is the first beat of the next bar.
Cha Cha's continued popularity can be heard in the music of Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony and Carlos Santana.