Cuban Salsa: the back-to-back turn

The back-to-back turn, also called the barrel turn, is not that common in Cuban Salsa but we have it in moves like Siete Loco and A Bayamo por Arriba. I like it a lot when done slowly using a full eight count, and I use it in almost every dance.

The back-to-back turn makes use of basic steps on the spot, Giro style, the Lead turns left and the Follow right simultaneously. Because it only uses basic steps on the spot, the back-to-back turn can be done on 1-2-3 with little prepping. The Follow is simply lead into the move as it happens by hand and body motion. But the move can also be done using a full eight count with proper prepping.

Back-to-back on 1-2-3

In the video from the “Norwegian Rueda Standard”, today called the “”, they do the barrel turn on 1-2-3:

Same video at YouTube: Back-to-back turn on 1-2-3.

Doing the back-to-back turn on 1-2-3 is probably the most common. It works if the Follow is a partner or she is used to do it that way. But it easily goes wrong in social dancing with the average Follow unless the Lead is really up to the task of leading it. Most Follows rarely experience a back-to-back turn, they most likely stand still and let the Lead do his part.

It is my experience that the Lead must start the Follow’s part of the turn rather forcefully, if she is not used to it, and then add his own part of the turn a split second later, when the Follow is already in motion.

Back-to-back using full eight count

There are two good ways of doing it using a full eight count. The best way with a weak Follow is to make the leading explicit and clear. The Lead simply opens up and tap on 8, then swings the hands left-right-left on 1-2-3 as preparation for the turn itself on 5-6-7.

In the video from Mexican “Salsafición”, the back-to-back turn has proper preparation on 1-2-3, and the turn is on 5-6-7. Note that they call the back-to-back turn for Vuelta Ambos (ambos = both):

Same video at YouTube: Back-to-back turn using full eight-count. Prep on 1-2-3.

The advanced version, which I also use with beginners, starts like the short version on 1-2-3, but since the Lead has a full eight-count to do the move, it can be done slowly and intimate, looking into the Follow’s eyes over the shoulder. The Follow is lead into the turn with little prepping but it works because the slow turning pushes the Follow around naturally, and she just has to do basic steps on the spot as she turns.

The next video features one of my Cuban Salsa instructors, Yuleisy C. Rojas. Note that the back-to-back turn takes a full eight-count:

Same video at website:
Back-to-back turn using eight-count.

Switching to the eight-count version

If you are doing the back-to-back turn on 1-2-3 in moves like Siete Loco and A Bayamo por Arriba, and you have problems leading it or if you would like to try the lovely slow motion version using a full eight count, you must change the rest of the move it is a part of accordingly.

In both moves mentioned above, you simply follow up with a two handed Enchufla on 1-2-3, and then you can do the traditional ending of the move, you are used to.

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