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Cuban vs LA Style

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Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject: Cuban vs LA Style Reply with quote

I am just wondering what people think of the difference between cuban style and LA style salsa. I like dancing to both but sometimes a dance with guys that merge the two styles and it is awkward...anyone had this experience? How can it be made it better to stick to one style?
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Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 372
Location: Downtown

PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, i've experienced this when at a club...guys who switch from cuban to NY style salsa in the same can be awkward but if it works with the song then it can feel okay. I think it gives me a good opportunity to practice following. You really have to just learn to read the leader and it forces you not to anticipate what may be coming next
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:30 pm    Post subject: LA vs. Cuban salsa dancing Reply with quote

I think there might be confusion about what is Cuban style salsa dancing. Casino, which the proper name is for Cuban style salsa dancing (not just the rueda), is a cross body lead based salsa dance style. It is NOT the kick, step back "cumbia" salsa dancing.

The "mambo" step and cross body leads have been part of Cuban dancing from at least the 1950's. Just like the roots of salsa music come from Cuba, so does the dance. Early NY style looks very much like casino, but eventually they would add their own style and choreography. When some Cuban teachers see LA style dancing, some just say it is just casino with just more tricks and hard spins, look for Yanek and Diana on Bailar Casino show on youtube.

Differences between LA and Cuban style (Casino)

1) LA style cross body leads are straight and rectangular. Casino cross body leads can be any size and shape.

2) LA style dancers do a lot of multiple spins in one spot. Casino dancers' spins also move around the dancefloor. Casino dancers move around the floor not just the same rectangle.

3) In LA style, arms are more rigid to give momentum for multiple spins. Casino dancers REALLY push into each other (guapeas) and pull into their cross body leads, but arms are looser during actually spins to do extremely tight and difficult spins.

4) In LA style dancing, you mostly do the basic "mambo" when you are holding on your partner. More complicated footwork and body movements is mostly reserved for shines. There is more variety in the footwork in casino and body movement is part of each step.

5) LA style dancing is on 1. Casino can be danced on 1 (a tiempo) or kind of on 2 (contratiempo). Along the "mambo" step, another staple of Cuba dancing is the son montuno step , which really emphasizes the slow in the quick-quick slow.

6) LA style dancing has a more choppy and crisp feel. It is about passion, energy and explosion. Casino is more about sneakiness, trickery, smoothness, showing off your steps, and enjoying dancing (rather than spinning) and the music. Casino is about making difficult things look easy, that's why, some moves are designed to make you look drunk, old or tired, something I can't imagine in LA style.

7) Steps don't have to so big in casino and many spins are stepped out rather than spinning on the the balls of your feet. In casino, dancers really try to make their feet into instruments of precussion, therefore, dancing to the music is very important in casino.

Good female casino dancers can usually follow North American or other Latin American salsa styles, but they will feel limited or trapped in their movement and steps. However, many advanced dancers of other styles may find it frustrating to dance with Cuban dancers who are not used to other styles of salsa dancing.

Last edited by timbero1 on Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:48 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 22 Oct 2006
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Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I find it really tough to dance with ladies who only know cuban style. Sadly it usually ends up with a mutual acceptance that it won't work.. and a mutual "walk away". Razz
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really think difference in style should be that big a barrier that it's un-dancable with someone who is unfamiliar with your style of dancing. I've invited female friends of mine to our salsa outings, and they have absolutely no salsa background (nothing more than the 3 min crash course I gave them on our bus ride to the club), and they ended up dancing the night away. My point is, if someone who doesn't have any knowledge of how to dance can dance, I don't see how difference in dance style be a bigger problem. After all, salsa is about leading and following, so my guess is that's where it went wrong.

But don't be discouraged... there are many ladies out there who'd happily dance to any salsa styles, whether we know it or not Very Happy

Happy dancing!
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Joined: 09 Jan 2007
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 5:20 pm    Post subject: Cuban vs LA style Reply with quote

I think you are guys are confusing South American salsa and Cuban style dancing again. South American dancers don't do the cross body lead (unless they learn in N.A.)
It is natural for Canadians to group Latin American styles together, but they are totally different.

You can go to , you can see some casino dancing. Most Cubans don't go to the regular salsa nightclubs and there are maybe there are less than 4-5 Non-Cubans who dance Cuban salsa style well in Toronto. So, it might not have been a Cuban style salsa dancer you were dancing with, Morocha, but perhaps a Latin person.

I agree with KT. A good dancer should be able to dance any style. All salsa dance styles should follow the music and most have the basic step in common. They are not really different styles but variations on the basic step and cross body leads. If you really know the basic step well (not just the big back and forth mambo step) and cross body lead well you should follow be able to follow anybody.

Some advanced dancers think the basic "mambo" steps is just for beginners or a break in between spins. If you try to make them just walk around you with the music (the clave) as in "prima" in the rueda , they can't do it because they haven't learned the basic step inside out. Therefore, it is sometimes easier to dance Cuban style with people who have never danced salsa, because they haven't developed expectations about what salsa dancing is. They just follow the music.

Some students find it strange that I tell them I know if a dancer is good by his basic step, because they think everyone's basic step is the same. Taps, learning to dance on the offbeat, variations in step size and placement of feet that for me shows a fundamental understanding of salsa dancing, more than spins and tricks ever could.

Remember Casino means Cuban salsa dancing in general and it doesn't mean just the rueda.

Good luck Toronto Dance students. You have good teachers !!
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