The song was originally recorded in 1992, and released in 1993 as a rumba. This was the first of six versions of the song that can be associated to Los Del Rio. Another version, a new flamenco rumba pop fusion theme with fully Spanish lyrics, attained significant success in Spain and Mexico. It also became popular in Puerto Rico because of its use as an unofficial campaign theme song for then-governor Pedro Rosselló, who was seeking reelection under the New Progressive Party of Puerto Rico's ticket. Being the base for many cruise ships, many visitors to the island were constantly exposed to the song during their stay in Puerto Rico. This may explain how the song spread to — and became a smash hit in — cities with sizeable Latino communities in the United States, particularly Miami and New York City.
After being remixed by the Bayside Boys and having English lyrics added, it became a worldwide hit in summer 1996. The single spent 14 weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, one of the longest runs atop the Hot 100 chart in history. During its heyday, the song was played frequently at professional athletic games, rallies, conventions, and other places. In 1996, many believe a world record for group dancing was set, when a crowd of 50,000 people danced the Macarena in Yankee Stadium in New York City. The song made such an impact that during the Democratic National Convention in 1996, Al Gore humorously performed his version of the Macarena by standing completely still while the song played.
The Macarena remained popular through 1996, but by the end of 1997, its popularity had diminished greatly. The song also broke records at the time by remaining in the Hot 100 chart for 62 weeks. The Bayside Boys remix includes a sample from Yazoo (also known in the United States as Yaz) track Situation - the laughter of Yazoo vocalist Alison Moyet.
As of 1997, the song had sold 11 million copies. While only having a 25% take in royalties from the song, Romero and Ruiz became immensely wealthy. According to the BBC News Service, during the year 2003 alone — a full decade after the song's initial release — Romero and Ruiz made USD $250,000 in royalties. Julio Iglesias is quoted as congratulating the duo personally: "My success singing in English from Miami is nothing compared to yours; coming out of Dos Hermanas with little international exposure elsewhere and selling these many records in Spanish takes two huge sets of cojones."
In VH1's 2002 documentary 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders, Macarena was ranked as #1. Macarena was also ranked #1 on a different VH1 documentary, 40 Awesomely Bad No. 1 Songs