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:
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.
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.
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!
Robert Rice & Rachel Hrnyak, Cuban dance instructors. CubanSalsaCincinnati.com