Category Archives: Dancing Tips

Diana’s Beginner Salsa Tips

Kama Salsa Dance Class!
Diana Hoffman/Kama Salsa Dance Class!

Diana’s Beginner Salsa Tips

Salsa dancing is like a language that improves over time. The benefits are endless from staying fit, meeting people to gaining confidence. Here are some quick tips to your roadmap of dancing and having more fun on the salsa floor:

1. Do your research.

Know what you want out of your salsa dancing. Look for a level one class offering. Do this by searching online, going out to a salsa club or event and listening to the music. Salsa on the Square is an ideal place to start since it offers dance varieties and attracts so many new people.

2. Take a level one or foundation class.

The basic foundation of salsa is the most important. This is where you build your timing and footwork skills. Never stop learning the basics.

3. Listen to the music everyday.

Salsa dancing starts with the music. Get to know the rhythm and fall in love with it. Go out and hear a live salsa band or find salsa music on Amazon, ITunes or Spotify. You can check out my salsa list here! Even listen in your car on the way or from work. You’ll be able to understand the beats with the footwork.

4. Find the right dance shoes.

Starting with the proper dance shoe will build confidence early. A dance shoe is constructed to be lightweight, flexible and secure so dancers can move easily on the dance floor or the concrete of Fountain Square. Women should wear no more than a 2.5” heel. Men can choose from a dance sneaker to a classic shoe. You can find a variety of choices at Better yet, check out the article 5 dance shoe tip and look for the dance shoes.

5. Practice.

You can’t learn without practicing. Practice with a more experienced partner or go out and meet as many people that fit your style and salsa goals. Don’t try to do too much or go through advanced moves to quickly. It’s about consistency of the basics that builds the right foundation of dancing. And, dancing until you sweat is so much fun.

6. Go out and dance!

Salsa dancing is social. Here’s your chance to put it all together. Go to as many Salsa on the Square Thursdays as you can.

7. Smile!

A smile goes a long way on the dance floor. This is what people are looking for: Someone who likes to have fun and are happy. It shows confidence too. And (don’t forget about a mint or a piece of gum).

8. Dance with someone who can make you feel good.

What does that mean? If you are a beginner, do not dance with someone who executes multiple spins or advanced moves. That is not dancing. Try to watch for leads/follows who are connecting with their partner. If you are just starting it’s ok to tell the partner that you are just starting and having fun!!

9. Hold your posture.

I know, I know it’s what dance teacher’s always preach. However, dancing with someone who doesn’t hold their frame isn’t sexy. Practice holding yourself up so there is good connection and you have better balance. You’ll look better too!

10. Have a great time and never, never give up! Salsa dancing takes time so enjoy the journey.

Diana brings her years of experience to students of all ages. She is known for her casual, fun and informative teaching style. Her focus has been on inviting people into the community as the “foundation” teacher. You can check out her website at

What is Salsa Rueda De Casino?

Rueda de casino
Rueda de casino

What is Salsa Rueda De Casino?

When you are at Cincinnati’s Salsa on the Square and you see more than two people all dancing salsa together, they are probably dancing “Salsa Rueda” or what is officially known as “Salsa Rueda de Casino.”

Salsa rueda is like American square dancing, but for salsa and in a circle not a square. In salsa rueda, two or more couples dance salsa patterns that are directed by one of the dancers, known as the caller. The caller will call out different Cuban salsa patterns that might involve switching partners, clapping, yelling, stomping, or just about any movement your creative mind can think of.

What does it look like?

Here is a video of people dancing rueda at Cincinnati’s Salsa On The Square:

Where did it all begin?

Cuba! In the late 1950s, but it was called “casino” and “rueda de casino”
Before the term Salsa began being used in New York City in the 1970s, this dance was called casino and rueda de casino, because it was danced at athletic recreation centers called “Casinos” in Havana, Cuba.

Here is a video interview with the founders of rueda de casino.

Since the 1980s, Casino & Rueda de Casino has been popular enough in Cuba to be broadcast consistently on a national television show called “Bailar Casino”. In Cuba, rueda is taken seriously. Different neighborhoods in Havana and other cities will compete against each other in competitions.

Here is a performance from a Cuban rueda de casino dance competition:

International Appeal

Casino & rueda de casino, has spread throughout the world. Dancers and events can be found in every nation. Lots of dancers creates the opportunity for flash mobs and mega ruedas!

Here is a Rueda Flash Mob in Venezuela!

Check out this video of the worlds largest rueda dance that was performed in Greece in 2014:

How much do I have to know?

Not as much as you think. And it depends on whether you are a leader or follower. Leaders have to know a bit more than the followers. Rueda combinations and calls are similar enough around the world that a dancer in one country can go to another country and participate in a rueda dance there. RuedaWiki has compiled an extensive directory of rueda moves.

You certainly don’t have to know them all, but you should know the patterns that involve switching partners at the very least. Some basic movements that involve switching partners include directo, enchufla, p’arriba, prima(adios), dame and dame dos.  If you know these moves then you won’t disrupt the flow of the rueda circle.

For moves you don’t know that don’t require switching partners, you can keep dancing the basic step until you hear a pattern called that you. Some basic turn patterns that don’t require switching partners are vacila, sombrero, exibela, guapea, and dile que no.

Dancer creativity has resulted in amazing variations in rueda. Various formations include rueda p’affuera, rueda llanta, rueda trebol, rueda dinamica, and rueda cruzad, just to name a few. Usually you only see advanced dancers dancing these formations at large conventions. Rueda llanta for example is a variation that creates two different circles one small and one large. Dancers can switch partners within the smaller circle or within the larger circle.

Here is a depiction of rueda llanta courtesy of RuedaStandard:

Rueda de casino
Rueda de casino

Where can I go to learn salsa rueda?

Any Cuban style salsa dance school teaches Rueda de Casino. There are also some really awesome festivals that focus on salsa rueda.

Visit these links to join rueda facebook groups to learn more:
Cincinnati Salsa All Events
Midwest Salsa Cubana Rueda Timba

I hope that you become as big a fan as I of salsa rueda de casino.

Come dance rueda with us at Salsa On The Square!

Una Bulla!
Robert Rice & Rachel Hrnyak, Cuban dance instructors.

Quick Beginner Dancing Tips!

Beginner dancing tips from the Salsa on the Square dance instructors!

Malik Spencer / Reveal Your Love

Salsa on the Square Dance Instructor, Malik Spencer
Salsa on the Square Dance Instructor, Malik Spencer
  •  Create your own personal style by integrating other dance forms you already know.
  • Do not lead beginner dancers into advanced dance moves. Creating a connection is about how you make your dance partner feel.
  • Position yourself near the dance floor and appear interested to increase the likelihood you will be asked to dance.

Jeff Link of Bembe Cincinnati!

Salsa on the Square Dance Instructor, Jeff Link
Salsa on the Square Dance Instructor, Jeff Link
  • If you are trying to find a dance school, meet the current students. They are a reflection of the Instructor. If you like them, you will like the classes.2. Private instruction should be done after you have been taking classes for a little while. You will get more out of the private classes when you have more control of your body and understanding of the dance.
  • Private instruction should be done after you have been taking classes for a little while. You will get more out of the private classes when you have more control of your body and understanding of the dance.
  • Take Dance Lessons! Use them! Have Fun!