The band is part of Mexico’s tropical music tradition with its early popularity coming from the popularity of tropical rhythms such as mambo, cha-cha-cha and others reinvented for orchestral bands in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The band has its origins in the community of Barra de Santa Ana, Tabasco. The first members of the group were Juan Bustos, Silvestre Mercado, Andres Terrones, Armando Espinoza and Sergio Celeda who had known each other since primary school. Carlos Colorado met this group of friends in 1955 and proposed the formation of a group.[3] The initial name of the band was Conjunto Blanco y Negro but was soon changed to Tropical Santanera. The name Santanera was chosen as a reference to the name of their hometown and because it is phonetically similar to Sonora Matancera, a Cuban band of the 1920s, after which the band is believed to have been modeled. Sonora Matancera created the format of an orchestra whose sound was based on tropical sons and boleros.

They founded a Mexican tropical style and tradition. From the very beginning, Carlos Colorado was the leader of the band. He created the band’s own distinctive version of this tropical orchestra music as the arranger even when it played the same songs as Matancera such as Luces de Nueva York.