The Los Angeles style uses the contemporary mambo basic as well but typically executes this step by breaking forward on count “1”. The L.A. and New York styles consist of the same core components that make up their incredibly diverse repertoire of moves. The main difference is their approach to styling, the ebb and flow of movement. For example, if you were looking into a window at a group of dancers from both L.A. and New York and could not hear the music to determine the count you should still be able to ascertain the style of choice for each dancer. The New York dancers certainly have a more composed, elegant, and smoother look and feel for the dance. The women in particular tend to reveal a sensual quality to express the intricacies of this dance. Unlike the subtle nuances of the New York style dancers, the L.A. dancers would perhaps catch your attention first with their incredible display of explosive and technically challenging roster of tricks. The execution tends to be crisp and sharp with a vivacious appeal.
New York Style
The New York style and L.A. styles are very closely linked. Both styles use the mambo step as a basic and are very slotted/linear in execution. New York has earned a reputation for dancing on “2” yet there are many New Yorker’s who also dance on “1”. There are two variations of the mambo step danced in New York, the contemporary mambo (a.k.a. Eddie Torres style) and the Palladium style. The Eddie Torres style is characterized by a continuous and smooth body rhythm and passing of the feet where the non-weight changing counts are on “4” and “8”. The Palladium style is very much like the 1950’s Mambo whereby the non-weight changing counts are on “1” and “5”. Unlike the contemporary style, it can be very staccato (fragmented) in execution depending on the dancers interpretation and placement of the feet on counts “4” and “8”. The New York style tends to have the most varied interpretation/ opinion of the basic step than any other style so I am providing you with my most basic explanation.
Cuban-style salsa, also known as Casino, is a form of salsa dance that originated in Cuba. Dancing Casino is an expression of popular social culture; Many Cubans consider casino a part of their social and cultural activities centering around their popular music. The origins of the name Casino are “Casinos Deportivos”, the dance halls where a lot of social dancing was done among the better off, white Cubans during the mid-20th century and onward. Historically, Casino traces its origin as a partner dance from Cuban Son, fused with partner figures and turns adopted from North American Jive. As with the Son, Danzon and Cha Cha Cha, it is traditionally, though less often today, danced “a contratiempo”. This means that, distinct from subsequent forms of salsa, no step is taken on the first and fifth beats in each clave pattern and the fourth and eighth beat are emphasised. In this way, rather than following a beat, the dancers themselves contribute in their movement, to the polyrythmic pattern of the music. What gives the dance its life, however, is not its mechanical technique, but understanding and spontaneous use of the rich Afro-Cuban dance vocabulary within a “Casino” dance. In the same way that a “sonero” (lead singer in Son and Salsa bands) will “quote” other, older songs in their own, a “casino” dancer will frequently improvise references to other dances, integrating movements, gestures and extended passages from the folkloric and popular heritage. This is particularly true of African descended Cubans. Such improvisations might include extracts of rumba, dances for African deities, the older popular dances such as Cha Cha Cha and Danzon as well as anything the dancer may feel.
Rueda de Casino
During the 1950’s a dance called Casino Rueda, or Rueda de Casino, or simply Rueda became popular in Cuba. It started in El Casino Deportivo, a Havana social club. The name Casino, which comes from the social club in which the dance began, refers to the style of dancing. It refers to the kinds of turns and steps you would normally do in ordinary salsa dancing, but which make Casino Rueda unique in that the dancing is done in a circle or wheel, as a group. In Rueda the followers are passed around in the circle, with the leaders rapidly exchanging of partners, and numerous complicated moves are done in synchronization, all done to the beat of Salsa music. Each move has a name and many have hand signals, and are called by the leader of the Rueda. Moves, which are also known as “calls”, are sometimes called in extremely quick succession, creating a very dynamic and exciting atmosphere for everyone involved. The hand signals are designed people to be able to dance a Rueda in a loud club setting. In addition, Rueda allows many to take part in the action! As few as two couples can dance Casino Rueda, but also as large as a space can hold! Sometimes as many as fifty couples dance the Rueda, even in circles within circles!!
A wonderful new group dynamic occurs when dancing Casino Rueda. There is a unique level of awareness, unmatched in other dances, required by the group for the dance to look stylish, flow smoothly, and above all, to keep it entertaining and fun for those dancing and even for those watching! Dancers learn to open their sphere of awareness, their peripheral vision, beyond the normal restricted space of solo or partner dancing. In this way, dancers coordinate and adjust their individual feel, timing and style so as to make the Rueda work. It is very exciting when the entire Rueda is moving smoothly and on beat! A unique group atmosphere develops as you feel the whole Rueda flow, listening to the wonderful Afro-Cuban/Latin-American music. It is simply an exciting dance which is fun to do and a pleasure to watch.