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Let's talk about Casino (Cuban Salsa)

Updated: May 9, 2022

This rich and influential dance style from Cuba has already captivated most of the world and we decided to gather some known facts and share it with you as well as why is Casino becoming one of the most popular dance styles at Dublin Salsa Academy today

Now, let's dive in and take a look at Cuban salsa music & dance history.

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.

What is Casino dance & where it comes from?

In Cuba, a popular dance known as Casino was marketed as Cuban-style salsa or Salsa Cubana abroad to distinguish it from other salsa styles when the name was popularized in the 1970s.

Dancing Casino is an expression of popular social culture; Cubans consider casino as part of social and cultural activities centering on their popular music. The name Casino is derived from the Spanish term for the dance halls, "Casinos Deportivos" 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, Cha Cha Cha, Danzón and Guaracha. Traditionally, Casino is 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 polyrhythmic pattern of the music. At the same time, it is often danced "a tiempo", although both "on3" (originally) and "on1" (nowadays).

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 Chá and Danzon as well as anything the dancer may feel.

Why Cuban Salsa is important to us?

Abel, the co-founder & director of Dublin Salsa Academy, was born in the '70s and raised in Havana, Cuba where from a very young age music and dance became the centre of a popular pastime.

Being from the birthplace of Son and Afro-Cuban Rumba, the two main styles, used to create the basis of a rhythm that would later become known as salsa, Abel has the music and dance deeply rooted in his heart.

Years of acquiring dance skills and knowledge Abel has become an exceptional dancer and instructor inspiring everyone around him and especially DSA's dance instructors who he trains to teach others with the same passion.

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