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Born among black slaves on sugar plantations, Cuba's rumba has since become a national icon almost as renowned as its cigars or amateur boxers and two years ago was designated by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. Set to a five-stroke rhythm and the beat of hollow claves and African drums, Cubans take to the streets of Havana every August to celebrate their dance of seduction. And while rumba has expanded and traveled to grace the great dance halls of Europe, its essence is conserved in the blood of Cubans who keep the rhythm alive in their everyday movements. The man at times produces a pelvic thrust known as the "vacunao" that betrays the rumba's roots as an African fertility dance.In the La Maravilla courtyard in front of the Belen Convent that once owned a sugar plantation with more than 300 slaves, children watch and try to imitate the dancers' steps.When Rumba caught on, it started to be practiced in various neighborhoods and communities.
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