Salsa dance (Cuban style)
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.
Culture and geography
Culturally, Casino is danced as an interplay between male and female gender and feeling the music ("Sabor") as its main ingredients. Much of the interplay of Casino style dancing is based on the broader Afro-Caribbean cultural context with emphasis on sexual interplay, teasing and everyday experience.
Styles of salsa
Cuban-Style Salsa Partnership Dance (Parejas)
Casino is danced in three points which makes up the circular motion as couple face each other in intricate patterns of arms and body movement. This is distinctive from the North American Salsa styles which is danced in a slot (two points) and linear positions as taught by the North American and European dance studios.
Casino has a strong basic step known as "guapea" (lit. "Chill Out" by Afro-Cuban Community), also known as "pausa", in which the male lead put his left foot behind on the break, which is a contrast to the most common basic Salsa step in which the male lead places his left foot forward.
Casino styling includes men being "macho" and women being femininely sexy, with major body and muscle isolations, through the influence of Rumba dancing. During the dance, dancers often break from each other during percussion solos and perform the "despelote," an advanced form of styling in which the male and female partner get physically close and tease each other without touching through the gyrating of hips and shoulders while performing muscle isolations.
The major distinction of Cuban Salsa Styling is that male partners have tendencies to show off (following Afro-Cuban Guaguanco influence) under the guise of cultural behavior of males having to attract attention and tease females. This is the major point of differences between "Casino" and the rest of the Northern American Salsa as the North American Salsa ascribed to the ballroom adage of "men are the picture frame while women are the picture."
Cuban Solo Dancing ("Suelto")
Cuban-Salsa Solo Dancing ("Suelto") is dancing salsa without having a partner. It originates from stage singers and dancers who set up routines during orchestra and live performance. Dance singularly or in a group (usually male facing females on the dance floor) the movements are based on "a-tiempo" or "contra-tiempo" with intricate footwork and lively body movements.
Other forms of partner dancing
Other partner dancing styles include "Trios" or "Quattros" in which a male lead will dance with two or more female partners in each arm in intricate patterns. There are also a "Trios" version in which two male leaders share a female partner.