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Rueda de Casino (commonly known as Rueda) is a Cuban Street dance that was originally done in the 50’s in Cuba but became increasingly popular in the 90’s in the U.S.  Some dance historians suggest that Rueda originated as a dance done primarily among poor, black Cubans who could not afford to belong to the social clubs (a.k.a. casinos) found in the cities.  More affluent Cubans adopted the dance and moved the dance form into the social clubs where it became known as Rueda de Casino.  Some suggest that the dance was seldom done outside of Cuba until the poorer Afro-Cubans (who continue to be the primary innovators of the dance)  were able to migrate abroad. The emergence of Rueda outside of Cuba  began in Miami but has now spread to many salsa communities all over the U.S. including New York, Chicago, Washington DC and San Francisco.  

Rueda is composed of the same footwork done in Salsa but couples dance in a round (Rueda is Spanish for wheel).  Couples initially assemble in a circle and the Rueda leader or “caller” yells  out patterns.  One of the unique features of Rueda is that couples perform synchronized patterns and often change partners in response to the caller’s instruction—much like what is done in square dancing.   

Two to nine or ten couples usually perform Rueda.  In the beginning of the Rueda, the leaders, keeping a close eye on the caller, move their followers  in counterclockwise direction around the circle. 

“ Arriba” means that the couples is moving counterclockwise and “abajo” means that the couple is moving clockwise while maintaining the circle. 

 At various times during the dance, participants can move “in” or “out”. in relationship to the center of the circle.  Some of the common “calls” or instructions that couples respond to are:

DAME UNA (Give me one)

The leader performs a cross body lead but at the end moves to the next follower to his right.

DAME DOS (Give me two)

The leader performs a cross body lead and moves to the second follower to his right  


For descriptions of more Rueda patterns, check out:





San Francisco Bay Area Rueda instructors include:

Russ Hamer at http://www.salsarueda.com

Ramon Ramos-Alayo at ramoncusalsa@aol.com or (510)436-7427

Tony Ramirez (510)848-9622

Gabriel Romero at nitefeveron2@attglobal.net Website/email: www.albertos.com

Alain Amilkar Soto at alainamilkar@yahoo.com or (510)436-7427

Some people estimate that there are over 200 different Rueda patterns and new patterns are being created all the time. The same Rueda pattern may be called by different names depending on your caller or what city you are dancing in. 

 In the spring, Rueda fanatics and other devotees of Salsa from all over the world descend upon Miami to for the Calle Ocho Festival (officially known as Carnival Miami) for workshops, performances ,non-stop dancing and parties.  The annual festivities take place along the 23 blocks of Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street) in Miami. Since 1977 Calle Ocho has been organized by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, a community based service organization engaged in numerous civic projects.  Calle Ocho now attracts over one million people dancing and grooving at what may be the world’s biggest block party.  There are plenty of foods and drink stands featuring a wide array of selections from all over Latin America.  In prior years Calle Ocho have had 20 band stages and featured performances from world famous salsa stars such as Grupo Niche, Oscar D’Leon, Celia Cruz and El Gran Combo from Puerto Rico.  For more information on the history of Calle Ocho check out Liz Hackley’s essays at:  

Email and feedback can be directed to: rita@salsacrazy.com