22 E Chestnut Hill Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Ola mes amis, fellow salseros & salerseras, friends and meet-up members. I may have mentioned to some of you that I am now part of a Rueda de casino dance troop, led by my good friend and instructor Flaco. For those unfamiliar with Rueda, here is some background info. Rueda de Casino was developed in Havana, Cuba in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the group Guaracheros de Regla and one of its main choreographers and creators was Jorge Alfaro from San Miguel del Padrón, a soloist of a comparsa. As a result of the Castro regime, many Cubans emigrated to the US, many to the Miami area. With them they took their culture including various foods, music and dancing. Rueda de Casino began to slowly make its way into the Miami salsa community and in the late 1980s and early 1990s it experienced an enormous explosion of popularity. From Miami, it spread first to major U.S. metropolitan centers with large Hispanic populations and eventually to other cities as well  Pairs of dancers form a circle, with dance moves called out by one person, a caller (or "líder" or "cantante" in Spanish). Many moves have hand signs to complement the calls; these are useful in noisy venues, where spoken calls might not be easily heard. Most moves involve the swapping of partners.
The names of the moves are mostly in Spanish, some in English (or Spanglish; e.g., "un fly"). Some names are known in slightly different versions, easily recognizable by Spanish-speaking dancers, but may be confusing to the rest. Although the names of most calls are presently the same across the board, the different towns in Cuba use their own calls. This is because the pioneers of Rueda de Casino wanted to keep others from participating in their Rueda. Many local variations of the calls can now be found. They can change from town-to-town or even from teacher-to-teacher. There are many different variations of moves in Rueda de Casino.
The circle will either start from "al Medio" (normal closed hold with all the couples stepping in and out of the circle) or from Guapea (stepping forward on the inside foot and backward on the outside foot, tangent to the circle). Some of the most common moves in Rueda include: Dame, Enchufle, Vacila, and Sombrero. You can readily find an extensive list of Rueda de Casino moves in various websites. There are different hand motions that the caller can signal in case one's voice cannot be heard over the loud music. For example, the hand signal for Sombrero is the caller tapping the top of his or her head. This move is signaled when everyone in the circle is stepping backward. Our dance troop is hosting a salsa social entitled “For The Love of Salsa” on Sat, Feb 15th at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church located on 22 E. Chestnut Hill Avenue, in the heart of Chestnut Hill. Tickets are $15 but you get a lot for your money. With the ticket you have access to an Open bar all night for Beer & Wine. Flaco and the rest of the troop (myself included) will also be giving a mini-class for Beginners in salsa basics from 8-8:45 p.m. So during the night you can practice what you learn as well as see my dance troop at some point spontaneously break into a Rueda circle. To get your tickets, please text me at[masked] in advance and I will grab them for you from Flaco when I finish my Rueda practice each Monday night. Please also include your name in the text message. I look forward to seeing both familiar and new faces as we kick off what we hope to be a monthly event. Huepa!