Cuban Salsa

Cuban Salsa

 

In Cuba, a popular dance known as Casino was marketed abroad as Cuban-style salsa or Salsa Cubana to distinguish it from other salsa styles when the name was popularized in the 1970s. Dancing Casino is an expression of popular social culture; Many Cubans consider casino a part of their social and cultural activities centering on 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-1950s and onward.

Historically, Casino traces its origin as a partner dance from Son Cubano, fused with partner figures and turns adopted from the Cuban MamboCuban Cha Cha ChaRumba Guaguancó and North American Jive. As with Son, Danzón 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) may “quote” other, older songs in their own, a Casino dancer frequently improvises 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 Danzón as well as anything the dancer may feel.