Cuban Salsa: Hammerlock and Setenta

Content needs to be revised. I recommend to look at this instead: Hammerlock-Setenta Masterclass Video.

The big Setenta family of turn patterns starts with the Hammerlock move, and for that reason the family could just as well be called the Hammerlock family. The Hammerlock is part of many dance styles. In Cuban Salsa we have two very different ways to do the Hammerlock, one count of eight. The Follow can turn on 1-2-3 or the Follow can turn on 5-6-7. This gives us the following options:

  1. Vacilala. The Follow is lead forward on one, turns on 1-2-3, walking the turn, and continues to walk on 5-6-7.
  2. Habanero. The Follow is lead forward on one, walks on 1-2-3 and turns walking on 5-6-7.
  3. Vuelta right turn. A stationary Habanero. The Lead use an arm movement similar to the walking Habanero except that it is held back in a prepping fashion, and the Follow steps in place on one.

Both the Vacilala and thr Habanero Hammerlock can be done with more or less walking, and both can at times be “choked”, e.g if the music is very fast. Instead of walking the turns, the Follow is twisted around using stationary Giro steps.

I consider it “bad style” to use a non Cuban X-Body type of Vuelta right turn instead of the stationary Habanero. The main difference is that in X-Body the Follow back rocks on one, and the Lead’s prepping arm is not just lifted naturally but is often lifted in an artificial looking prepping fashion completely foreign to the look and feel of Cuban Salsa.

2 Hammerlock as a right turn on 5-6-7

In Video 1 from “”, San Francisco, 2015, they use a stationary Vuelta right turn to do the Hammerlock. A very common way to do it with beginners and also in Rueda de Casino.

Same video at YouTube
  1. Doing Hammerlock as a Habanero right turn, makes it easy to vary the walking from 0-360 degrees, that is from stationary to full circle. Vacilala steps, on the other hand, requires relatively more space and a longer walk to make sense.
  2. A stationary Hammerlock is easier for beginners, it is easier at advanced level to very fast music, and it is a handy way to start Setenta figures in close quarters on a crowded dance floor, or if you for some other reason want to start less dynamic.
  3. When Hammerlock is done stationary, it is easy to add one more turn to 5-6-7, making the turn a double right turn.
  4. Since very many moves start with Vacilala steps, it is nice for the sake of variation to start the big Setenta family of moves with the right turn on 5-6-7, stationary or more or less walking.

Video 2, 2008, also shows Hammerlock done as a right turn on 5-6-7 but walking. It features Frank Eddelien, one of my Casino teachers in Copenhagen.

Same Video on YouTube

Video 3 also shows Hammerlock as a right turn on 5-6-7, with walking. It is from the French “”, 2015. The Lead is known to be an excellent “Salsa on One” dancer, and it shows in his Cuban Salsa:

Same Video on YouTube

3 Hammerlock done with Vacilala steps

Video 4 is a beautiful video of Setenta from “Dolce Dance”, Hungary, 2010. They open up and tap on eight, and the Follow walks the Hammerlock with beautiful Vacilala steps:

Same Video on YouTube

Video 5 is from the Russian “Danceliker” school, 2016, featuring Adonis Santiago and Svetlana Ovchinina. They use Vacilala Steps with proper prepping, the Lead opens up on seven but without the tap on eight:

Same Video on YouTube

4 Hammerlock with a strong Follow

The video from Mexican “Salsafición”, 2017, shows us that a Lead doesn’t have to open up on seven and tap on eight (optional) to prep Vacilala steps. Amando just pulls the Follow’s right arm forward and Anahí steps forward on one and walks the Hammerlock with Vacilala steps.

Same Video on YouTube

Best Practice for Hammerlock

I find the “right turn way on 5-6-7” to be the most versatile, because it can be done stationary or as a walking Habanero. It is a good choice if we like variation, because we have so many moves starting with Vacilala steps.

I also use Vacilala for the Hammerlock in social dancing, but it really only make sense, if one is serious about it. The Lead must prep it like Vacilala and give the Follow room to walk proper Vacilala steps all the way.


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