Cuban Salsa: Bayamo family of Moves

We have more than 10 good figures in the A Bayamo family, and more figures are likely to be added to the list. Bayamo moves are important because they break out of the circular clock-wise motion of most other moves, going contra, adding variation to our dance.

The moves in the A Bayamo family brings the Follow counter clock wise around the Lead in a motion sometimes called “Rodeo Inverso”. A Bayamo figures have a characteristic opening, a right-to-right handed handheld Vacilala, a one handed Sombrero called a half Sombrero.

A Bayamo moves originated in Santiago de Cuba. The oldest example I have found of someone teaching the move is on the legendary ¡Salsa a la Cubana!, DVD #2, published 1999 by “”. Featuring Ibert Vazquez Moreno and Sunny Soriano Malo de Molina:

The Bayamo moves are for some unknown reason not part of the “Miami style” tradition, 2000-2010, exemplified with Salsa DVD courses like “Salsa Racing”, “Salsa Lovers” and “Quick and Dirty Salsa”, containing more that 100 moves.

Abajo (down) and Arriba (up)

Today we have at least ten different figures in the Bayamo family. The figures can be divided into two groups: 1) “por Abajo” (down) with Lead’s left hand held low, and 2) “por Arriba” (up) with both Lead’s hands going up over his head. In order to make it easier to remember the moves, the most important is to remember if they are of type “abajo” or of type “arriba”.

  1. Bayamo Clásico (abajo)
  2. Bayamo por Abajo (abajo)
  3. Bayamo con Tornado (abajo)
  4. Bayamo a la Matriz (abajo)
  5. Bayamo a la Havana (abajo)
  6. Bayamo “back-to-back” (arriba)
  7. Bayamo con Vaciala (arriba)
  8. Bayamo DC (arriba)
  9. Bayamo y el Barco (arriba)
  10. Bayamo with “head loop” (arriba)

A popular Cuban city

Bayamo is a city in the south-eastern part of Cuba, 116 km from Santiago de Cuba. A Bayamo means “To Bayamo” or “Let us go to Bayamo”. I prefer to include the “A” in the name, I like the sound of it, and I like the “Let us go to Bayamo” story as part of the name. But since most of us also like short figure names, the trend is to drop the “A” from the name. On the SALC DVD the move is just called Bayamo.

Since Bayamo is a popular city, the city name pops up in several other move names having nothing to do with the Bayamo family of moves. On the “Salsa Racing” DVDs, we have a popular move called Bayamo con Couche (“Bayamo with horse-drawn carriage”), and we have a move called Paseala por Bayamo. These two figures have nothing in common with the Bayamo family of moves.

YouTube video confusion

There are surprisingly many bad A Bayamo videos out there. Many videos are poorly named, like calling the easy A Bayamo por Abajo for A Bayamo complicado (!), and A Bayamo por Arriba is sometimes called A Bayamo por Matanzas or just Mantanzas. And bad names are not the only problem. Too many Bayamo videos are just plain wrong, as if the video makes had forgotten the move, and just give us some crab instead.

Bayamo Clásico

The original Bayamo move, Clásico, from the SALC DVD is in many ways the best or at least the most interesting. When the Follow has walked all the way around the Lead, the move goes contra and the Follow walks all the way back again (almost), and the Lead ends the move with a hook turn that opens up for many ways to continue. But in many of the videos I have found, the hook turn has been replaced with a Sombrero ending: the Lead just puts the Sombrero hat on, either the easy way or with “snake arms”.

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