Rueda dance or casino Rueda is a dance form from Cuba that involves two or more couples. It’s danced in a circular motion, like the wheels of a casino game. Rueda dance is not only a fun dance style but also has many attributes that could be used for social networking or even team-building activities in businesses.
1. Where does Rueda dance come from?
Rueda dance originated in Cuba in the mid-1950s. Initially, these dance formats would take place in big halls called casinos and involve many couples. These couples formed a circle, and under the guidance of a “caller”, they executed synchronized moves. Over time the dance evolved to include single couples in what is now called Cuban salsa.
The popularity of Rueda dance was such that it reached the whole country, with each community developing its own form of Rueda dance, with specific names for each move. Communities engaged in a competition to determine which group was better.
2. How is it danced?
A minimum of two couples partake in the dance, and each pair acts in coordination under the guidance of someone who calls the moves. When the dance starts, couples first dance on basic steps (see below) in a circular motion. Then, when everyone is warmed-up, more complex dance steps/moves are required.
The whole group can move clockwise or anti-clockwise within the same Rueda dance setting. When executed perfectly, this magnificent dance looks like the wheels at a casino.
Another aspect of Rueda dance is the change of partners. These switches might operate with the couple ahead, behind, or even a few couples away. Again, it all depends on what the caller asks for.
The key is to keep the “wheel” turning and not to break it. It’s a bit like a game of musical chairs, where you must be swift enough to execute the right actions.
3. Rueda dance to salsa
Cuban Salsa, known as casino, is a departure from pure Rueda, as single couple replaces groups of couples. Yet, many moves from this dance are used in Cuban Salsa. For example, the circular motion that characterizes it so much compared to the other forms of Salsa is traceable back to the Rueda dance. Ideally, as a dancer, you want to learn the moves with another partner, then incorporate them as part of the larger group. Of course, it works the other way around as well, but in the latter case, it’s very easy to spot who is the less skilled dancer. So, it’s better to train with your partner first at Cuban Salsa, then try casino Rueda later.
4. Typical moves of Rueda dance
4.1. Basic steps to warm-up to the song
This step is commonly used at the beginning of a Rueda dance performance along with the move with saw previously. While both partners take a step back on (1), they gently push each other on the count of (5).
4.2. Around the world in 360
The first step we will see involves a circular motion that is typical of Rueda dance parties. You can practice this move by yourself or with the help of a partner.
As the man crosses his right leg with his left one, he takes a series of backsteps before moving forward. To accompany him, the lady does the mirror opposite of what the man does. Quite a few people struggle with this relatively simple step. Check the video below that goes through that move (move number 5).
4.3. Basic turn
o For Ladies:
The first half of this step is similar to the basic warm-up step. But from the count of (3) you move to your right side using your hips (3), and then the left foot joins the right (4). At this stage, you should almost be falling since you move your hips to the right. However, you do not because you hold your partner’s right arm. Then on (6), you initiate the turn to complete a 180° turn.
o For men:
Men move their left leg forward on (1), come backward on (2), and open their body on (3) at a 90° angle. You do this to let your partner go through so you don’t walk into each other. Then, you use the tension created in (3) by the lady’s move to the right to help with her turn.
You finish the second half of this step precisely as you made the first move.
5. Why rueda dance is great for social networking?
When you picture a networking event, you think about a bunch of strangers with glasses of wine in their hands trying to connect one way or another with other individuals they do not know or do not care about (after all, these events tend to have “financial benefits” attached to them). The problem with such activities is they can be daunting. I have attended many of them and felt out of place more than once. Chances are, you will engage in conversation, exchange cards, and; never contact each other again. In a matter of days, you won’t even remember the event, let alone who you met there.
With Rueda dance, you create a setting where people can engage socially more easily. With the dance, you can create a common “enemy” for everyone, with the best course of action being to stick together and overcome the “ordeal” while having tons of fun simultaneously.
6. Rueda dance for corporate team-building
Following the social network argument above, Rueda dance is the perfect team-building activity for businesses. Unfortunately, I have also attended many of these meetings, and they always fail to reach their main objectives. Colleagues go there with a “suspicious” mindset, aware they cannot be themselves but only what their leader expects. In that sense, the whole experiment is a fraud. Indeed, great ideas and team coordination come more from everyone expressing their views freely rather than following a set agenda. And actually, it’s pretty easy to know if such a program works. If the guys/girls can’t wait to go back to their desks “and catch up with their work,” then your team building stuff wasn’t one.
6.1. Key to great group cohesion
That’s where rueda dance can help, with 3 great advantages:
📌 Eliminate social barriers
Since people can touch each other’s and reduce the space between them, it becomes inevitable that communication will be enhanced. How many meetings have you been to when you don’t know what the guy/girl does?
📌 Create networking system
Because of the change of partners, you allow colleagues to get to know each other in a way that is not possible at the office.
📌 Eliminate tension
Rueda dance automatically gets smiles and laughter out of people; since everyone will struggle at this adult game. This, in turn, reduces the psychological barriers everyone puts on in the office and leads to further personal communication.
From my own experience running such programs, the feedback is very positive, and colleagues tend to create strong bonds months and years after attending these events. A case can even be made that it keeps great employees at the company, who otherwise might leave for a better financial offer.
7. Achieve this in less than 3 months
Learn Cuban Salsa, Bachata, Improv’ and many other dance styles. Check out these videos and see what you can achieve in less than 3 months. Private lessons available for just £35/Hour. Free body movement and basic salsa and bachata lessons provided.