Salsa Cubana (Casino)

The Music

The “Salsa” term was used for the first time in the 60’s by Izzy Sanabria, graphic designer at Fania studios, to describe a music style resulted from combining the jazz with Cuban music.

In salsa you can find influences form other music styles :

– Son, it’s traditionally sang without using metallic instruments, this is why it’s very easy to see its African origin

– From Jazz, salsa borrowed the improvisation and musical sequence between piano and metallic instruments

– Cumbia – its rhythm it’s similar to reggae and Vallenato, based on accordion.

The term “Salsa” (hot sauce) was used to suggest the singers to spice up their music.

The Dance

In the oldHavana, all “the action” in the city was in the casinos. Because only the casino owners had sufficient money to bring famous bands, this is why people were going to dance at casinos.

After 1959, the casinos were closed, instead of them, dance halls were opened. In the beginning, people were still calling the dance halls casinos this is why the dance from these dance halls got the name “Casino” and it kept the name to this day.

In Cuban style (Casino) partners move circular to one another. In couple, when they are in closed position, the partners dance very close to each other, in contrast to other salsa styles. Due to the small steps and low posture, casino dancers have a very ample hip movement, specific for this style, called Cuban movement.

Cubans don’t dance “on 1” or “on 2’, they use terms like “a tiempo” ( 1, 3, 5, 7 ) and “a contra tiempo” ( 2, 4, 6, 8  ) or to dance “with the music” or “with the clave”. While dancing, dancers listen to the clave or other instruments which give “tumbao”, like the bass or the conga.

The style ant movements in casino have a strong influence from Cuban folcloric dances, as the rumba and orisha or other popular dances like son and mambo.

An essential element in casino is “Guapea” (watch… video), where the leader performs half of basic step in the back on 1-2-3 and half of basic step in the front on 5-6-7 on the 4th and the 8th count, usually a tap is executed (without changing the weight). The follower has a similar step, this way a mirrored movement is created.

The tap on the slow is representative for casino, but dancers can tap for some moves and not tap for others.

Other important steps are: