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Rueda de Casino

Named after the Casino Deportivo De Playa Miramar club in Havana, Cuba, where it was invented in the late 1950’s, this exciting variety of salsa has the particularity that it is danced by several couples at the same time.

This may appear strange to north American dancers who grew up in societies where the individual is paramount, but Rueda is an expression of salsa as a community dance and was originally used as the means to socialize.

In it, all the couples place themselves facing the center of a rueda (wheel, in Spanish) and dance in unison while they execute standardized patterns and partner changes under the direction of one of the dancers who is known as cantante (singer) or madre (mother).

All dancers in the wheel must be in constant visual contact with the cantante and every other dancer in the wheel in order to successfully execute every move. The patterns are indicated by means of audible calls, or if the music is too loud, by hand signs, just like sign language.

Rueda de casino is a social dance in its truest sense. A very skillful madre can arrange the patterns and partner changes so a newly broken couple does not have to dance with each other. Conversely, an astute singer can “make a couple” by calling a partner change to allow a boy who has a crush on a particular girl to meet her often during the dance.

There are several traditions that make rueda de casino unique amonst latin dances.

First, it is in very bad taste to refuse to join a rueda if one is invited, since it means refusing an invitation not just from the person making it but from the whole group.

Secondly, it is generally accepted that anyone, man or woman, can sing a rueda, notwithstanding the fact that men are the leaders within each couple.

Lastly, in order to keep the dance fresh and original, a madre can transfer the lead to any other dancer in the wheel by pointing in their direction and calling ¡síguelo! (follow him!)

There are two major styles of Rueda de Casino: the original Cuban style and the Miami style, developed in that city by Cuban refugees that escaped the revolutionary government that came to power on the island in the 1960’s. This style has become the most popular around the world.

There are over two hundred popular rueda patterns which are almost universally standardized, with only minor differences between the Cuban and the Miami styles. For example in the Cuban style, the pattern known as prima is called adiós in Miami style, while enchufla is known as enchufe.

One of the great benefits of learning Rueda de Casino is that it helps develop great flexibility of movement in all salsa dancers, regardless of their preferred style. This is because in Rueda de Casino patterns have a great structural variety, as some are horizontal, others are circular and others still are sagittal. It goes without saying that Rueda de casino is also a great way to make friends, have fun, and be introduced to the Spanish language and the Cuban culture.