What is Salsa Rueda de Casino?
Rueda de Casino, or Salsa Rueda, is a salsa dance circle which combines synchronized steps in a random order. A single leader calls out the moves while the pairs in the circle execute them.
How does it work?
While dancing in pairs (as leads and follows), dancers form a circle, with each pair facing the center of the circle and dancing the basic step in place. They wait for the main leader (or caller, or ‘cantante’ in Spanish) to call out the next step. Once the caller calls out the chosen step, each pair does the step in synchronization with the next 8 count.
Most of the steps require the leads to swap partners and move counter clockwise with respect to the circle. The follows go clockwise. It is up to the caller to call out any step at any given time. This makes it possible to form endless combinations while making it extremely necessary for the leads to stay attentive and listen to the caller.
Because it isn’t always possible for the leads to hear the caller through all the noise and music, the caller may implement hand signals to represent what the next step is.
The following video demonstrates what a common Rueda de Casino looks like:
How is Rueda de Casino different from other styles of salsa?
Most styles of salsa (excluding shines and footwork) fall under the category of partner dancing. The lead implements various steps and the follow ensures that the steps are carried out while staying on count with the beat. In a social dance setting, it is completely up to the lead which steps are being used.
The steps being used by other couples do not matter because there is no requirement to synchronize with anyone else. Performances may have couples synchronize their steps, but in these cases the steps are choreographed.
Rueda de Casino differs from other styles of salsa because every couple dances in the formation of a circle. Leads do not have the choice to implement their own steps. Only 1 main leader has that option, and that leader must call out the next step before implementing it so that every couple may synchronize with the caller. Partners are also switched constantly unlike other salsa styles.
Rueda de Casino History
The early 1950s saw the emergence of Casino in Havana, Cuba. It was derived from various Afro-Cuban dance styles. In 1956, Rueda de Casino, similar to what it is today (with multiple partners forming a circle) was developed. It spread from a dance club known as ‘Club Casino Deportivo’. It became popular very quickly as various dance groups throughout Cuba started dancing Rueda de Casino.
When Cubans started to emigrate to Florida during the Castro regime, they introduced Rueda de Casino to Miami’s salsa community and it picked up a lot of popularity between 1985 and 1995. In 1994, Rene Gueits (founder of ‘Salsa Lovers’) created a more structured version of Rueda de Casino. Some of the original Cuban dance influences were now removed.
Rueda de Casino then spread from Miami to other U.S. cities that had large salsa communities. From there it soon spread to other countries around the world and it has been gaining popularity ever since.
Some of the commonly used steps used in Rueda de Casino include:
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