Cuban Salsa: Detailled visual breakdown of basic steps and Dil Que No?

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by TomSchueler, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. TomSchueler

    TomSchueler Changui

    Hi everyone,

    after watching many videos of complicated patterns, I figured the real challenge for me is not to memorize and lead the patterns in the first place but but it is really starting at the beginning: focussing on the basic step plus the body movement.

    To have a proper example for stepping, I recently I bought Oliver Pineda's body movement DVD, though knowing it might not exactly be what I am looking for. Sadly, he does not really cover the basic step (and DLQ) for Cuban Salsa/Casino. Could you guys recommend any video in which a renowned teacher such as Oliver breaks down the Cuban basic and DLQ into its elements? I would love to get more detailled info about shifting of weight, where to place the foot, body movement etc.

    After reading many many posts in the forum, I am not even sure anymore how many basic steps there are and if Oliver's videos about stepping, contra body movement and isolations are at least partly applicable to "Cuban" style Salsa. I would definitetly love to hear your thoughts about the specific differences concering the basics in different styles!
    Dissonant Harmony likes this.
  2. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    OP's DVD:

    If I recall correctly: He teaches you how different parts of your body should move in relation to eachother, and also with regarding to timing and weight-transferring. It, however, doesn't do much to teacn you how to generate the motion, and how do connect all the movements into a "one entity" - so you end up with a bunch of isolated moves done in coordination. (Rathe then a as a response to / consequence of eachother).

    Same technique can easily be applied to 'Cuban Salsa'.


    How many basic steps are there?

    One could even argue that they are all one basic step - and everything else is just different variations, interpretations or applications of it.

    In my venue they teach (In 'Cuban') 4 "different" basic steps.
    But that's just a tool for instructors to teach variations quickly:
    Instead of thoroughly explaining the students (from scratch) what to do with their legs - they can just say: "Now do '3rd basic step'".

    *This is quite the pity - because that way people barely learn how to really lead and follow. (Instead they just cite pre-taught moves)...But if you really want to skip techinque and just have a lot of students who can do a lot of variations...That's a very quick way.


    As for DLQ:

    There are many "ways" to execute it. I'd advice that you join a class in your area. (Rather than learn from a video).


    Specific differences concering the basics in different styles:

    -Oh boy, you just opened Pandora's box. ;)
    manzanadulce and TomSchueler like this.
  3. manzanadulce

    manzanadulce Sonero

    If you want to learn casino Oliver is not the best choice. Look up casino para todos, or "MCC". It's an online course and you will find the best Cuban instruction available with those tools.
    matty, TomSchueler and Offbeat like this.
  4. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    Personally I disagree and regard MCC to be avoided at all costs. Some people like it though, it's true.
    TomSchueler likes this.
  5. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    The true meaning of a "basic " is to establish the foundational aspect of the given dance.

    The forward and back basic, is relative to Salsa and Cha cha for 2 ex. ergo.. is the " basic ".
    The "Box " is also in the same basic category ,whether open or closed.

    Variations beyond those " basic" figures, may then be
    categorised ( graded. if you will ) into levels of difficulty or necessity.
  6. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    I was little surprised that Oliver had a DVD on cuban salsa when I read your post. Then I went and read OP, and he is talking about Oliver's body movement DVD. That will certainly not help the OP with DLQ or other Cuban basic moves!

    I am not expert in Cuban salsa, but looking at the few videos of 'MCC', while he was still active on the boards, I was little bit surprised at the people recommending him. If I wanted to learn Cuban salsa, I certainly wouldn't learn it from there!!
    kbitten and TomSchueler like this.
  7. Offbeat

    Offbeat Maestro 'Fania' Pacheco

    terence, you do realize for someone new to dance or a beginner, what you write will go over their head :)

    P.S. - most beginners coming into salsa with no previous BR background won't understand terms like 'variations', 'box', 'open', 'closed' etc.
    LarsM, vit and Dissonant Harmony like this.
  8. terence

    terence Maestro 'Descarga' Cachao

    Those descriptions come with a visual explanation .. that's , by the way , called TEACHING...

    Descriptive terms, speak more to
    actions, than does Anything named in Spanish...
  9. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    In other words, there is teaching, and with teaching there are some words for easy reference, so that teacher doesn't have to say, now do that move when guys steps forward like this, girls steps backward like this, then he steps to the side, she steps forward like this, and then he steps like this and she does a turn like this .... and some of these names are common, some differs a bit from teacher to teacher, area to area, generation to generation ... Other things used for reference are books etc ...
    Without teaching, those reference things are mostly useless anyway
    TomSchueler likes this.
  10. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    Reminds me of that time when selling things online was a new concept, and my father tried selling something called "VCR to DVD Converter".

    (Note: this sounded "bombastic" and even "unclear", as In hebrew we would just call VCR: "Cassette").

    Then he changed the name of the product to: "How to turn your old Cassettes into Discs" and suddenly he started selling a lot.
    kbitten, Offbeat and terence like this.
  11. TomSchueler

    TomSchueler Changui

    Thanks for the great advice, you all! Might be most practical to answer each post individually. It is strange how there is so much material available about the linear styles but hardly any videos that explain a proper basic step or DLQ in Casino, or at least Cuban Salsa ;-) (still not sure whether people here read "Cuban Salsa" as "mix of Casino and other styles"). So please, if you know any DVD, Website or video where the basics of Casino are explained in detail, keep it coming!

    @Dissonant Harmony I have taken a couple of classes in my area but since I do live in Berlin I am not always sure about the teacher's particular expertise. The reason why I would like to take a look at the videos is to "cross check" what I have learned so far see how other teachers address the topic of basics and DLQ. You mentioned four basics, would you have any specific examples? It would help me figure out when to apply which basic step. What I could improve on is definitely having a broader knowledge how to move when and if it is considered "Casino" or not. For example, I know about the forward and back basic but still not sure if this step does exclusively belong to linear styles since Casion is all about circeling your partner and not staying in line. About the DLQ, I was only taught one way to execute it, another reason for me to look for other teachers' recommendations and variations.

    @manzanadulce Great advice, thank you. I was always looking for someone who tries to explain Casino with the help of a logical system. I have read on a couple of threads in the forum as well. Sadly, the online course does not seem to be available anymore or I could not find it. Could you lead me into the right direction? There are tons of videos on his account but in the only in-depth explanation of the MCC "METODO DEL CUADRO DEL CASINO (CERTIFICACION DE INSTRUCTORES)" he has set nearly all videos on private.

    @terence What exactly do you mean by "foundational" aspect? The foundational aspect of each dance? What would be the foundational basic for Casino, the forward back basic as well? Seems a little abstract for me, I have to agree with Dissonant Harmony. If you would have any videos or images explaining this (also the box) I would be happy to know. I guess I just have to read back on some posts in the forum since I am sure you do have talked about this a couple of times already.

    @Offbeat Any reasons why you would not learn the MCC? Just curious if it is about the person (which I could relate to) or rather you having doubts about the technical aspects of his teaching. If so, I would love to hear your comments and criticism.
    Dissonant Harmony likes this.
  12. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    Did you check salsa lovers DVD-s? They are partially available on YT, for instance

    TomSchueler likes this.
  13. TomSchueler

    TomSchueler Changui

    @vit Thanks! I even knew about that Salsa series, but I only looked at their pattern videos so far. What is missing is a certain logic to when to apply which steps. And how are patterns and the basics connected? Are some basics better for the beginning of the song, some better for the closing of the dance? Or is it simply "dance how you feel"?
    Dissonant Harmony likes this.
  14. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    To quote a person I truly appreciate: "most dancers , are being taught to "dance" with their feet, and NOT with their body.." ;)

    In a field where the method of 'teaching' is (sadly): "Those are your steps; this is what you do with your hands" - a 'basic step' is just a 'unit' that you break down to students once - you give it a name,

    and then, when you teach a figure and want to tell them what to do with their legs - you tell them which 'basic steps' to use. (Without the need to thoroughly explain what to do with their legs).

    Once you establish those basic figures, you use their names to easily create amalgamations without having to explaing things again...Then you can use amalgamations to teach others. "This routine starts like 'Setenta', except on the 7 we we do...then we we end it with 'Enchufla Complicado'"...

    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  15. vit

    vit El Sabroso de Conguero

    Well, moves and logic are adjusted to dance in rueda. People usually start with some side step-taps or guapea (those are something like "basic steps") and then someone starts calling moves and they start dancing. While casino doesn't have a slot, it has a circle, so moves are oriented in relation to circle. So you will always do guapea turned to the follower on your left side and you will always do DQN leading follower from your right side to your left side etc. "basic step" consisting of forward and backward break like in linear salsa is not used in casino, as it is linear, and in casino everything travels in circles, arches etc.

    There are not many DVDs about it because it's mostly not taught "studio way". It's just about walking, changing partners and having fun with it. So if you want to learn it, don't go too technical. If you want to look and feel like cuban when dancing it, then going technical won't help - you don't walk like a Cuban. So if you want to come closer, try finding some latinos and dance with them and forget about "technique"

    As about naming and MCC relation, Casino started as a cuban copy of some swing dances by the group of white people dancing in a club where the owner was a black guy (you may find an interview with one of creators about that in one of the threads here), then after revolution it mixed with other cuban dances like son and danzon, then eventually it spread to States and worldwide, changing further both in Cuba and worldwide ... We usually refer to more pure/older form (mix of son and swing moves) as casino, that's how people in Cuba call it, and "cuban salsa" as a mixture of casino and various afrocuban stuff and moves from linear salsa. MCC tried preserving older form, however in quite aggressive manner including some statements that were classified as racist (it's however region dependent - in my venue for instance nothing of that would be classified as such by majority of people, but people from some other countries where there are problems between races didn't understand that), so people generally don't like it, in addition that it doesn't have fancy afrocuban stuff taken from rumba that people are attracted with ... I wouldn't suggest learning using MCC either - just because you can't learn from videos no matter how good the methodology is (or author thinks it is)
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
  16. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    OK. Let's try to clear the mess.

    *There is a Cuban dance called 'Son'.
    *There is a newer (1950-ish) dance, also Cuban, called 'Casino'.
    *Casino happens when you take Son and optimize it for 'Rueda'. (*That's a brutally distorted statement, for the sake of oversimplification. Please don't take it as a fact).

    *'Rueda de Casino' (Translates to: A wheel of Casino) happens when a few couples of Casino dancers dance together in a circle. (Although Casino doesn't necessarily has to be danced in Rueda).

    *In addition, there is "Salsa". One could argue Salsa is actually American.

    {*Fast forward a few decades to the future*~}

    -A group in Miami named "Salsa Lovers" releases a series of instructional vdeos, in which (They say so themselves) they teach 'Salsa', but in 'Rueda de Casino'.
    To do so, they took the 'Salsa' (American) dance, and optimized it for Rueda.

    What they taught spreaded around the world and became known as: "Cuban Salsa" or "Miami Style".

    So to sum:

    Casino - Son, optimized for Rueda. (Once again: Don't take it as a fact).
    "Cuban Salsa" - Salsa, optimized for Rueda.


    Now, knowing that, we can solve the 'mysteries' in your post:

    It's not strange at all!
    Casino is taught "in the street", by family, friends. It's not a standartized 'studio' dance with rules.

    "Cuban Salsa", however - was pretty much established by "Salsa Lovers" or similar DVDs back then.

    1) In place.
    2) Forward and backwards.
    3) Back Rocks.
    4) Side Rocks.

    Most basic figures in 'Miami' or "Cuban Salsa" use '3rd Basic Step'.
    For Instance - Enchufla is based on the 3rd. DLQ on the 2nd.
    Exhibala (For the guys) on the 4th.

    *There are many "types" of DLQ, though. It's not the steps alone that define what DLQ is (If at all), thus there is no "one way" to break down how to do a DLQ (Step-wise).

    *Casino is a whole different story and there has been a lot of arguing about it over the forum.

    *Personally, when I dance, those 'basic steps' are the last thing I'd think about. (And in reality - none of my steps look like any of those).

    Assume that everything you learn from instructors is "Cuban Salsa".
    But also understand that it's completely fine. That's what most people dance.

    (And yes, as you cleverly observed - it's not as "circular" as they claim it to be, maybe triangular. The foundation of what they teach by itself - cannot really generate circular motion).

    1) Yoel Marerro's has a very specific approach towards Casino; As if his method is the only and absolute way to dance Casino.

    In reality: You can find evidents of Cubans dancing otherwise,
    but he'd claim that they are all scams and liers.

    I (personally) believe there is something in what he's saying...But not to the radical extention he makes it to be.

    2) Most people around the world dance "Cuban Salsa". (Not Casino),
    even Cuban dancers in congresses 'evolved' their dance to be more 'Salsa-ish'.
    so learning MCC may perhaps not really help you.


    I think this Blog, and especially this article (Including the links to other previous articles he refers to in there) will help you with a lot of your questions:
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
    TomSchueler likes this.
  17. DJ Yuca

    DJ Yuca El Sabroso de Conguero

    My only response to this comment would breach forum guidelines about the use of profanity.
    azzey, kbitten, Nuyorican and 2 others like this.
  18. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    Also I forgot to address your most important question. (Saved it for the last, buy then it totally slipt my mind)

    Dance is ALWAYS about how and what you feel!

    In social dance: There is no "Right" and "Wrong":

    There is "Traditionally accurate",
    there is "commonly used and accepted in my area",
    there is "more fun" and "less fun",
    or "looks better to my eyes" or "doesn't look better to my eyes",
    There is "safe" and "dangerous",
    "approriate" and "inappropriate"

    But never "Right" and "WRONG".

    NO ONE tells you how to dance.
    NO. ONE. Excepts the music. And your "heart".

    Got it, boy?



    I gave you reasons why learning MCC may not be very useful for you ATM, BUT:
    Once you feel confident with "Cuban Salsa" - there is no harm in learning it. (In fact, If I lived in Miami, I'd contact him and would).

    Having more options: Knowing more ways, more techniques, different approaches is always awesome. In the end you chose how to dance. Your way!
    wol and BMorin like this.
  19. Dissonant Harmony

    Dissonant Harmony Rhythm Deputy

    If Vit refers to the two things I think her refers to - then both are socially acceptable here, and would be received as silly jokes / nicknames.

    But I can clearly see how and why in America (given its history) - they are easily considered serious offenders.
  20. TomSchueler

    TomSchueler Changui

    So many great advice and interesting articles, thank you both so much! I will definitely read up on that.

    @Dissonant Harmony The "Salsa"-timeline was very helpful thank you. I think I got it at least partly right but for example the story of Salsa Lovers was completely new to me.

    This is perhaps the point where I did not myself clear enough.

    First, with my "cannot not find much basic material" comment I was definitely referring to Cuban Salsa, not to the traditional Casino. In lack of better words, I would wish(!) to dance Cuban Salsa like a "modern" Cuban with a mix of different influences - not to dance Casino like a Cuban. It might be my background and I am overthinking, as well as diving far to deep into technicalities, but I just would like some general advice, for example, which basic step is cool for which part of the song, how I archieve the circular motion, when it makes sense to break into a DLQ, how many degrees to move around the lady, where in the room to end up after a pattern? The MCC approach seems to be the only one that trys to incoporate a system that gives you some kind of orientation in the room: Where to turn, how to turn, when to walk in a smaller and when in larger circles (pretty much what the circle is for they painted on the ground in the training videos).

    Second, am not really looking for a "standarized" version of Cuban Salsa with rules, just for some "ways to do it" or "variations". That might sound strange, but let us compare it to learning a foreign language. Same as with Cuban Salsa, there is no one way to learn a language, you could start with reading, speaking, grammar and so on. But still, every language teacher has his or her own "system" to teach (sure, you could argue language more very standarized and there is a common grammar). Why is it that hard to find?

    To keep it simple, I am just surprised how few didactic "I do this particular basic step X this way, a DLQ that way and connect it all with this pattern Y" videos are out there. It does not have to be the one only way to happyness, just one way out of many. If someone had an approach like Yoel Marerro, only to Cuban Salsa and not that close-minded and excluding of other methods and styles, I would definitely dive into that.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
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