When dancers learn Casino Rueda moves, they become very versatile dancers because these steps are adaptable for “one on one” Salsa as well. They can be danced in the Rueda circle or in partnership Salsa at a club.
Generally, there are two ways that Casino (Cuban) style moves begin--from a backrock on beats 1, 2, 3 or a tap on beat 8. Let us assume that dancers are doing the basic step in which leaders and followers both rock back and then both rock forward. (There are other basic patterns but we'll assume this one is being done.)
For moves that start with this backrock, the leader can rock back twice in a row to start the move. In other words, instead of alternately rocking forward and then back, the leader does two successive backrocks. On the second of these, the lady will be rocking back as well. So the leader and follower are in the standard position from which moves begin in guapea (in a Rueda circle). They do the move and at the end, they remain dancing together (rather than changing partners).
If the move wouldn’t involve an automatic partner exchange in a Rueda circle, then they simply resume the Salsa basic at the end of the move. To do this, the leader rocks forward for the first part of the basic step (rather than backward as he would in Rueda).
Above: Barb and Mike at practice.
The other manner of entering a Casino style move, from a tap on beat 8, is a bit more difficult to adapt for one on one dancing. If you are accustomed to tapping on the eighth beat to start moves such as sombrero, balsero, beso, setenta, etc., then you will want to approximate a tap when dancing with your one on one partner. You (leaders) can simulate the rueda tap by doing a cross body lead and giving your partner a strong lead to make them tap. Then go into the move. The ending would be the same as described above.
Followers who aren’t accustomed to Casino style Salsa may not do the tap easily. But note that if you find this to be a problem it is possible to do all of the moves without ever tapping. You just go into the “body” of the move and eliminate the tap. The tap isn’t part of the move and isn’t really essential. In fact, some groups don’t ever do a tap on the eighth beat, which proves that it is possible to them them that way!!
When dancers know Casino Rueda moves, then they can be blended, creating a nice sequence of dance movement. One move just flows into the next. (see more on this on the "blending moves" page of this website). In Florida, where Casino Rueda is very popular, dancers generally learn Salsa through these moves, and the club dancing has a distinctly Casino character. Personally, I think it looks smooth but intricate. Click here for a video of one on one dancing using mostly Casino-Rueda style Salsa moves.
Note that there is an important advantage to learning Salsa through Cuban ("Casino Rueda") moves. It has to do with what an individual can learn in a given amount of class time. Essentially, instruction in Casino Rueda is a learning theorist’s dream. Classes in this dance are designed perfectly for long-range retention of complicated material. Learning theory experiments have shown that the most efficient way to memorize something is from many short segments of practice and drill. In a Cuban Salsa ("Rueda") class, that is exactly what we do!
Cedric and Dalinah performing a turn.
It is my belief that hour for hour, students will come out with a greater “vocabulary” of moves and those moves will be lengthier and more complex than they would have learned in an equivalent one on one Salsa class. This is because there is a concrete set of moves that gets reviewed constantly and can be blended with other moves in many different ways. In a typical Salsa class, one is more likely to cover just a few moves in one hour. Rueda circles are relentless in doing many, many moves over and over as the music pounds away.
Since the Rueda moves are the same week after week, people become proficient at them quickly and therefore can progress to longer/more complicated steps. But the syllabus in a typical Salsa class isn’t as standardized, so the moves that are learned may not be reviewed in exactly the same form in future. Rueda moves tend to become very ingrained in the dancers’ minds and bodies through constant repetition.
When a student asks me about the difference between Casino Rueda and one on one Salsa, I tell them that Rueda instruction is a great way to become very competent at moves that can be done in one on one dancing.