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Become a Rueda de Casino Dancer in 10 Easy Steps

Let me take you back in time to when I was just beginning to learn to dance salsa. I’d rocked up to my regular class, feeling pretty comfortable after a few lessons and felt confident about what lay ahead. This dancing business wasn’t too bad after all. I knew what to expect and I absolutely loved it. However, my salsa teachers had other things in mind on that particular occasion. They’d decided to go slightly out of the ordinary (for the late 90’s) and inject a little real Cuban flavour into the proceedings that evening.

But I was shocked. What on earth was this rubbish all about? Stand in a circle? Are we going back to high school and doing ‘country dancing’ or what? Gimme my normal salsa class. I knew I should have stayed at home….” And so it went on. Little did I know that this change of plan would spark a love of rueda that would soon almost rule my dancing.

Would you like to discover the joys of rueda? Want to build an awesome rueda repertoire? 

We’ve gathered together as many resources as we possibly can to help you become a rueda de casino dancer in 10 easy steps.

1) What is Rueda de Casino?

Let’s see some rueda in action to get us inspired. Here’s one from Santiago de Cuba as danced by Grupo de Danza All Stars.  I’m smiling as I watch it….

As you can see, rueda is a style of salsa (although some say it’s a dance of its own) which is danced in a circle with several couples taking part. One dancer takes the role of ‘caller’ and calls out the names of moves to the rest of the dancers. The result is a syncronized, fun and energetic dance that is loved the world over.

2) Why Should We Dance Rueda?

Rueda de Casino is a fun, energetic group dance. Hopefully the video clip has been enough to get you hooked already. Salsa writer and rueda expert Dan Allen has written a guest post for us on this very subject: Rueda Makes the World Go Around!!! Click the link and have a read. We’ll wait for you here.

3) Where Did Rueda Come From?

Rueda came from the streets and dance-floors of Cuba in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This article by the Australian Rueda de Casino Championship is a great history introduction.

4) Some Simple Cuban Salsa Moves for the Complete Beginner

Do you need to know how to dance Cuban salsa before you learn rueda?? Despite what many people think, this isn’t necessarily the case. Often Cuban salsa teachers incorporate rueda terminology when you learn to dance as a beginner, meaning that you can join in with ‘the wheel’ earlier in your salsa dancing career!

If you’re a complete beginner, here’s two ways you can learn: #1 Head to your local Cuban salsa class or #2 Learn some moves online.

See below for a great instructional video featuring teacher Henry Herrera for complete beginners. (The clip isn’t great quality, and it’s in Spanish I’m afraid, but it’s still one of the best out there)

5) Learn Rueda de Casino online

Want to learn some rueda de casino online via videoclip? It’s incredibly hard to find decent rueda videoclips out there.
The best one I’ve found is a series of 6 clips by Henry Herrera. You can find the first in the series above. Here are the rest.

The clip below is a bit more modern and dynamic but again, it’s in Spanish.

6)Join a Rueda ‘Team’

If you want to dance rueda you’re going to need other people to dance it with, right? There may already be a strong rueda scene in your local salsa club or event so take advantage and join in! First times can be scary, so simply take a deep breath and go ahead. You can always ask your salsa chums if they fancy trying out some rueda, walk them through a few moves and hey presto, instant rueda team!

7) Dance Rueda at Clubs and Events

Want to get better and better until you look like the first video I gave you? The secret to success is practice. Don’t hide your knowledge in your living room- bring it out to play. Dance at the clubs, events and congresses around you. Not only will you improve no end, you’ll also inspire many other salseros around you.

8) Bury Your Head in a Rueda encyclopedia

Want to improve and expand your repetoire? Then you need to get your hands on one of the many online rueda de casino encyclopedias to really boost your rueda.

The top rueda encyclopedia comes from the Norwegian Rueda Standard. As well as containing literally hundreds of rueda moves, they even have great features such as a printable list. It’s in English and it’s all for free. They also have a YouTube channel.

9) Buy a DVD, a book or both!

10) Take part in the International Rueda de Casino Flashmob

Be part of something exciting! Last year, dancers from all corners of the globe created the very first Rueda de Casino Flashmob. The unsuspecting public was stunned, impressed and then puzzled as they were treated to an impromptu salsa performance which then dissolved into the crowd.

Did you manage to take part? If you didn’t, fear not! It’s happening all over again in 2015. Registration is now open so get practicing and get your names down! Here’s the website link. 

Hopefully we have inspired you to fall in love with rueda, learn to dance rueda and also to surprise the general public with your moves next year. If you know of any additional resources such as video clips, tutorials, DVDs, books and so on, please let us know in the comments below.

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What do you love about rueda? Do you have some great rueda tips to share with our readers? Share it all in the comments below.

Image © Dominic Alves

2 Comments on Become a Rueda de Casino Dancer in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Rueda is amazing like you said! What I especially like is the fact that everyone interacts with each other and the ability to invent moves! Great fun indeed! 🙂

  2. armani perez // April 20, 2016 at 5:43 am // Reply

    Rueda de Casino is a whole lot new thing for me. This is the first time that I get to learn about this dance and it hooked me up already. The fact that its from Cuba gives the vibe more tribal-ish. Id love to learn this dance soon! Please check out http://www.charismatico-dancewear.com

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