The Cuban Salsa and the “rueda de Casino”

May 16, 2021


Cuban salsa is danced in pairs, but it is very likely that if there are several Cubans at a party, at some point a “rueda de casino” (could be translated as casino circle, but it will be imperfect) is going to be improvised.

Contrary to the popular belief, this dance style was not born with salsa, but before it. Already in the 50s of the last century, this way of dancing was in fashion, with the music of son montuno, guaracha, danzón and chachachá as musical background.

The rueda de casino was popularized in the so-called clubs or recreational societies, which had large dance floors with enough space for the dancers. One of the most popular of them was the Casino Deportivo (Sports Casino Club), so the dancers went from “let’s dance in circle” to “let’s dance like in the Casino” and then to “let’s dance a rueda de casino”.

A dance style marked by Cubanness

Descendant of Tombo Loso (drum of the people) of the African slaves of Equatorial Guinea, the rueda de casino is related to the Cumbia, but with truly Cuban roots. Step by step, dancing in circle became more complex, and much more when doing it with salsa as a musical background during the 70s.

One of the dancers “asks for” a picturesque and jocular name that defines a series of dance steps: Take it out with a boast, Shake the kills, Tell it not, Kill the cockroach, Yogurt with a lid, Neither you, nor me; Croquette with aspirin, etc. Thus, these figures are counted in more than 300.

These choreographed dance steps contain passages and remembrances of other rhythms with which the rueda de casino was born, such as rumba, danzón or chachachá. However, the rhythm is not lost in these fluid flourishes, having the Cuban clave as the basis and connector of any musical style born on this island.

A space for music and socializing

This ballroom dance has expanded throughout the world and has become popular, adapting to other rhythms such as merengue, bachata and even rock. However, in Cuba the original figures of the binomial rueda de casino – salsa are preserved: it have been lost in the rest of the world by the diffusion that in the eighties of the last century had in Miami.

More than a way of dancing, the rueda de casino is a great opportunity to socialize because it is based on circle dancing by exchanging couples in each figure, while the dancers communicate in a common language. It is very difficult for a Cuban not to join, if he is invited to participate in a rueda de casino.

If you are not only interested in learning to play Cuban salsa but also you would like to learn to dance it, whether as a couple or in a rueda de casino, Havana Music School is also the solution. For those interested we have teachers who are also professional dancers of Cuban popular rhythms, with flexible schedules and with the frequency you need to also enjoy your time in Cuba.


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