The term rumba may refer to a variety of unrelated music styles. Originally, "rumba" was used as a synonym for "party" in northern Cuba, and by the late 19th century it was used to denote the complex of secular music styles known as Cuban rumba. Since the early 20th century the term has been used in different countries to refer to distinct styles of music and dance, most of which are only tangentially related to the original Cuban rumba, if at all. The vague etymological origin of the term rumba, as well as its interchangeable use with guaracha in settings such as bufo theatre, is largely responsible for such worldwide polysemy of the term. In addition, "rumba" was the primary marketing term for Cuban music in North America, as well as West and Central Africa, during much of the 20th century, before the rise of mambo, pachanga and salsa. "Rumba" entered the English lexicon in the early 20th century, at least as early as 1919, and by 1932 it was used a verb to denote the ballroom dance. In this sense, the anglicised spelling "rhumba" became prevalent and is now recommended to distinguish it from traditional Cuban rumba. Also in the first third of the 20th century, "rumba" entered the Spanish flamenco world as a fast-paced palo (style) inspired in the Cuban guaracha, and which gave rise to other forms of urban music now known as "rumba". Throughout Latin America, "rumba" acquired different connotations, mostly referring to Cubanized, danceable, local styles, such as Colombian rumba criolla (creole rumba). At the same time, "rumba" began to be used a catch-all term for Afro-Cuban music in most African countries, later giving rise to re-Africanized Cuban-based styles such as Congolese rumba.
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