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PHSC Celebrates its 50th Anniversary and Black History Month: Bomba

Bomba dancers and drummers performing


Bomba is a traditional Afro-Puerto Rican dance​. The dance style emerged from the enslaved West Africans who were brought to work on the island’s sugar plantations.​

  • Dance was used for celebrations and funerals, but also for communication and resistance​
  • Music is characterized by percussion, namely barriles de bomba (bomba barrels), the cuá (bamboo stick drum) and maracas, with a call-and-response style between musicians and dancers.​

  • Men and women both participate, but men traditionally wore white, while women danced with large flowing skirts in delicate movements. ​

  • Bomba today is characterized by men moving in strong, jerking steps, and women swirling their skirts in a powerful, vigorous manner.​


“Bomba is an Essential Expression of Puerto Rican Culture,” Discover Puerto Rico, 2022, Accessed Nov. 22, 2022. ​

Colón-LeónVimari, “Bomba: The Sound of Puerto Rico’s African Heritage,” National Association of Music Education, 2021, Mar. 30, 2021,

“Puerto Rican Bomba and Plena: Shared Traditions - Distinct Rhythms,” Folkways, 2022. Accessed Nov. 22, 2022. ​