Zouk is a style of dance and music originating in the Caribbean and Brazil during the 1980s. The term zouk translates into 'party' in the native Creole language, and is influenced by French, English and African language and culture. There are two different forms of zouk that are practiced: Caribbean zouk, which is felt in 2/2 time; and Brazilian lambada-zouk, which utilizes a 4/4 time signature with beats on 1, 3 and 4. Zouk's popularity has extended as far as the United States, France, Netherlands, and now accross Canada.
The creation of zouk is widely attributed to the formation of the band Kassav' in 1979. Kassav' formed in the Antilles and focused on fusing elements of rock, carnival and local music styles such as kadans and biguine. Kassav's popularity soared so that by 1985, the group performed at Paris and completed a tour of Africa. Zouk became popular as a style of music that incorporated Caribbean folk music, especially that of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and American heavy metal and rock influences. As zouk took on popularity in other regions of the world, differences developed that give zouk and lambada-zouk each a distinct flavor.
Caribbean zouk dance finds its roots in the Latin dance style known as merengue, a two-step beat with partners in a closed position holding each other in close proximity. Caribbean zouk is felt in 2/2 time, with a step occurring on each beat. The leader, often the male partner, holds his partner's hip with his right hand and his partner's hand with his left hand. The leader keeps his left hand level with the follower's eyes.
You can perform a basic Caribbean zouk step by stepping forward with the right foot, then the left, and then traveling backwards with the right foot and likewise with the left. As you step, allow your hips to swing freely to the side of the body you're using to step forwards or backwards. Perform a step on each beat.
A basic lambada-zouk step is felt in 4/4 time, instead of the 2/2 time of Caribbean zouk. The leader steps forward with the right foot on the first beat, further forward with the left on beat three, and then quickly brings the right foot in line on beat four. In the next measure, the leader steps backward with the left foot on the first beat, further backward with the right on beat three, and then brings the left foot level with the right on beat four.