Rumba is a slow, powerful, romantic dance with a feeling of oneness.
It is a Latin dance which means it is danced in one place or spot on the floor and has the characteristic "Latin Motion" (hip action). In this case "American Style Latin Motion" which is different from "International Style Latin Motion". It is slow Latin motion as compared to Cha Cha that is fast and sassy. Sometimes you will hear people use the term "Cuban Motion". This is used interchangeably with "Latin Motion".
Rumba music is written in 4/4 time at about 28 to 30 mpm (measures per minute) for social dancing. The timing of the foot movement is: Slow, Quick, Quick. A Slow step has a duration of two beats and a Quick step has a one beat duration. This is what gives Rumba that slow, powerful, and romantic feeling. The Latin motion has a fluid, soft, and sexy motion (it is never forced).
As with all Latin dances Rumba is danced from the bottom of the rib cage down. The upper part of the body above the bottom of the rib cage remains stationary and basically goes along for the ride. Rumba is danced with all toe steps (which actually means I lift my heels and leave my toes on the floor to take a toe step).
The Latin frame has the lady slightly off set to the right from the mans perspective with a slightly forward feeling toward each other.
When taking toe steps using Latin motion, the foot moves first, then the body follows.
The Rumba foot patterns are based on a box step. Slow on the forward or backward step and Quick on the side and together steps (see illustration below).
On the slow step, (one step to two beats of music) the trailing foot does not move until it is needed for the side step (this accentuates the hip action). The Latin motion hip action consumes the full two beats of the slow. Both legs must be used for a hip switch (one leg powers forward or back and the other holds back against the powering leg to allow the slow movement).
The above description will give you an inkling of what Rumba is all about. The following pattern descriptions will get you started with the basics of "American Style Rumba".