The film was released simultaneously with rival film The Forbidden Dance; neither was well received, though Lambada was called "the better of the two".
A Beverly Hills school teacher by a day, Kevin Laird (J. Eddie Peck) journeys at night to a warehouse in East L.A, where a group of barrio kids gather to dance the lambada.
Using his dazzling dance moves to earn the kids' respect and acceptance, Kevin then teaches them academics in an informal backroom study hall. One of his students, Sandy (Melora Hardin) sees him at the club. The next morning at school while Kevin is teaching, Sandy daydreams that she and Kevin are dancing and he madly kisses her on his motorcycle. It's the best of both worlds, but then Sandy becomes a jealous and lovestruck student and she exposes Kevin's double life, his two worlds collide, threatening his job and reputation.