LEARN TO SALSA IN HAVANA CUBA- CUBAN CASINO
So you’re looking to learn Salsa in Havana Cuba? Let’s start off with a brief intro in to Casino, yep that’s right, Casino not Salsa. Salsa or Cuban Salsa is the name given to Casino by those who live outside of Cuba. Unfortunately this name seems to have stuck, however it’s not the correct term to use in Cuba- because technically it’s wrong.
BRIEF HISTORY INTO CASINO
So now you know the correct term to use, here’s a very quick history into Casino and how to differentiate it from other forms of Salsa around the world.
Son Cubano is a type of music that gained popularity in the 30’s. By around the 1950’s it’s popularity had grown and was being played in dance halls called Casinos Deportivos. This is where the Casino name originated from and is an evolution of Son. In years to come Casino had reached the main stream and was not just a dance reserved for the upper class community, but a dance for all.
LA Salsa, NY Salsa and Casino are all danced to similar music. In fact, I have been dancing LA style for many years and the songs I learnt to, are some of the same that were being played in Cuba.
But there are a number of differences between what you may associate with Salsa and Casino.
- While the base music may sounds similar to Salsa, Casino predates Salsa, so it’s technically not. If you’re interested here’s a brilliant article that explains some of the main differences.
- The couple moves through patterns in a circular flow as opposed to linear.
- There’s not a huge number of spins or crazy turn patterns, but there is more intricate arm It’s close, there’s a close connection with you and your dance partner.
- The posture of the dance is a lot more grounded with smaller steps, which give’s Cuban dancers a very distinctive look. They also dance with a more relaxed posture, or as my instructor taught me, booty out, chest out!!
Trying to organise a lesson leading up to our visit to Cuba was almost impossible. I emailed a couple of places and had limited response. What we found out when we arrived is that there is limited connectivity. That coupled with the fact that many studios are run independently or out of peoples homes meant they were often not listed online.
This is where I found my hotel to be super helpful. We stayed at Hotel Saratoga and we went to the front desk the night before and bingo, just like that it was booked!
The next morning the instructor picked us up from the hotel in his old school classic car and brought us to the studio. His studio was no more than two small rooms with a mirror and a couple of congas.
My husband had never done Salsa before but I had for several years, so we were looking for someone to look after our different experience levels. We had two instructors, one that took me and one that took my husband. While we had different experience levels they still found a way to integrate us both into the class together. We started the warm up together, we were introduced to Casino together and learnt some of the basic steps together. From there we separated and learnt at our own pace.
As I mentioned above, I was taught LA style Salsa, which is by no means the same. The first thing I was corrected on was my “pretty” upright posture which was not good for Cuban Casino. So, my first 15 minutes was centred around how to pop out my booty like a real Cuban. This consisted of balancing a stick horizontally between my lower back and my booty. I’m not sure I got there in the end, but I tried and I have to admit I was in fits of laughter doing so.
After a few hours, my husband whom had never danced before had easily learnt 10 or so steps, which was pretty impressive for a non dancer. I had learnt how to dance with more of a Cuban feel and integrate almost 20-30 new steps and combinations that I didn’t know before.
In the end we both had a fantastic time and I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Cuba.
Close, fun and passionate, thats the name of the game. If you’re not smiling and being playful with your partner than you’re not doing Casino!
LEARN TO SALSA IN HAVANA CUBA- CUBAN CASINO WRITTEN BY MELANIE DUCA