by Claire Chambers

But as it's the holidays, I want to write about something more frivolous.

One day, the story goes, he arrived at his class only to realize he had forgotten his aerobics cassettes (yes, it was the 1990s...).

Most people are familiar with Cuba's elegant, sexy Salsa.

Some of Reggaeton's most famous musicians, such as Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Pitbull, have an even wider following across the globe.

Merengue is the third style, which most people have heard of but may not be aware that this is a fast march from the Dominican Republic and other parts of the Caribbean.

In one move, called the machete, dancers mimic the cutting of sugar-cane in the plantations, while in another known as 'sleepy leg' they emulate slaves with their ankles in chains carrying candlesticks in their hands.

Salsa, Reggaeton, Merengue, and Cumbia simply form the core of the class, and many others are thrown in by the instructor, from Flamenco to Samba to Belly Dancing.

Taking these diverse dance styles, most of which are traditionally performed with a partner, Zumba turns them in to a kind of high-energy line dancing (it's a lot better than it sounds, I promise!).

During the class, one has to think about one's feet and arms all the time, so there is no room for thoughts about work or other stresses, in what is a type of mindfulness.

At my Christmas Eve class at the University of Leeds, UK, there was a reduced crowd of 13 in attendance.

The dance programme is less pluralist in…

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