Some History of Swing Rueda

Have you ever wanted to try a combination of Square dancing and Lindy Hop or Balboa?  If so, Swing Rueda might be right up your alley.

Interesting factoids:

•    Swing Rueda has its roots in Salsa.
•    Rueda means “wheel”

Here’s a short article with more history about the origins of Cuban-style Salsa Rueda:

Rueda de Casino (from "The History of Salsa and Other Latin Dances")

During the late 1950's in Cuba, there was a popular dance—some might call it a "dance craze!"—that was done in the streets and in the clubs, and in people's homes. It was called Casino Rueda, or Rueda de Casino,  or simply Rueda. Rueda means "wheel". Casino refers to the kinds of turns and breaks you might normally see in ordinary partner Salsa dancing.

"Swing Your Partner Round and Round..." If the first few words of this notorious dance command ring a bell, then open your ears, as you may start to hear phrases like "dame una" (give me one), "dame dos con vuelta" (give me two with a turn), and "exhíbela" (show her off)... the list is endless. Rueda de Casino is Country and Western square dancing SALSA STYLE! If you like dancing Salsa, then imagine the sensation of doing so not with one person but with an entire group. Picture this... you step out to your favorite Latin nightclub. Later in the evening, the floor opens as couples gather in a circle. You know the moves, the names, the signals. You grab a partner and you're about to enter into the most incredible Salsa experience.

Rueda de Casino was originally danced in the 1950's to the Cha cha beat in members-only clubs in Cuba known as casinos deportivos. These casinos sponsored dances with live orchestras where dancers would get together and create new styles. It was in these casinos that "la rueda" was born. Unfortunately, the Castro regime stifled a lot of popular cultural activities, forcing them underground. Rueda de Casino eventually resurfaced in people's living rooms, on the street, at clubs and parties. It was first introduced to Miami in the early 90's and is rapidly making its way across the United States.

Rueda de Casino, in its truest form, is an art of communication that requires dancers be alert and quick. A leader calls out or signals the dancers to a short combination of intricate steps followed by commands such as "adios", "enchufa," or "dame..." which are patterns that lead dancers to a change of partners. There are reportedly more than 150 moves, each with a name that often has a double entendre or some cross-cultural humor buried in it. Each pattern also comes with a hand signal or gesture which are well needed in large circles and/or loud night clubs. It's incredible to watch but certainly much more so to participate. Everyone in the wheel, including followers, keep their eyes peeled to the caller. When the dancers are on in "la rueda" it is intoxicating and addictive.

The form of the Rueda—passing partners in a wheel—hints at its early, colonial origins, which were probably a "mescal," a blend of French Court Dances (brought to Cuba by Haitians) and the indigenous Afro-Cuban dance movements. With Cuban emigration to the US—with an especially large influx into Miami—the Cuban culture, music and dance blossomed here, and, along with Mambo, Cha cha, and Salsa, Rueda has reemerged. Recently, Rueda has sprung up in Los Angeles and here in San Francisco (a dance group from L.A., led by Tomas Montero, performed Rueda at last year's SF Carnival Parade!)

Want to read more?

History of Rueda de Casino from Cleo's Salsa Cabana

The Revolution of Casino & Ruedo: The Untold Story from MetaMovements

Next up, more about Swing Rueda…