Cuban Salsa: Giro Habanero

The Habanero is like a hand-held Vacilala but with opposite Vacilala steps. In Vacilala, the Follow is lead forward on one and turn on 1-2-3 and continues to step forward on 5-6-7. In Habanero, the Follow is lead forward on 1 and steps forward on 1-2-3, and turns on 5-6-7. Depending on how the Follow is lead into the move, she walks the turn on 5-6-7 or is simply twisted around.

Habanero can be done with left to right hand-hold or with right to right hand-hold. The last version is the romantic Habanero, the origin of the Habanero name. For the romantic Habanero the hand hold must be right to right, and the Lead puts his left hand on the Follow’s right shoulder or arm, normally at the elbow joint, when leading her into the turn.

Video 1 is from “Son De Habana”, Bogotá, Colombia, 2015, featuring Alexander Barreto and Susana Osorio. The move starts with the Habanero: Right-to-right hand, the Follow is lead forward on one, the Lead’s left hand on Follow’s right arm, the Follow walks on 1-2-3 and turns on 5-6-7.

Same Video on YouTube

Video 2 is from “Muscat Salsa Rueda”, Muscat, Oman, 2019. At 1:20, after the “Oh yes”, Habanero is shown twice, right-to-right hand-hold and Lead’s left hand on Follow’s right shoulder.

Same Video on YouTube

Hand-free Habanero

Just like we can do a hand-free Vacilala, leading the Follow forward on one and let go of her hand as soon as the Vacilala motion is started on 1+, we can do exactly the same for Habanero. The Follow is lead forward on 1, walks on 1-2-3, and the Lead starts the turn motion on 5 and let go of the Follow’s hand immediately. In Video 1 from Columbia, we see another way to do a hand-free Habanero.

Coming out of the first Habanero, the hand-held one, with the Follow’s arm around the Lead’s neck, the Lead walks forward on 1-2-3 and pushes the Follow into the next Habanero turn by her shoulder on 5. Cuban Salsa doesn’t get any better.

Vacilala con Habanero

It is of course possible to start with a hand-held Vacilala for 1-2-3 and continue with Habanero on 5-6-7, making the Follow turn twice. In Video 3, from “www.bailarcasino.pl”, Poznan, Poland, 2014, featuring Piotr Agassi Chajkowski and some excellent Follow, they do Vacilala with Habanero twice. The first time (0:10) with left to right hand, the second time (0:30) with right to right hand.

Same Video on YouTube

When doing the hand-free Vacilala, it is common that the better Follows turn both on 1-2-3 and on 5-6-7. Many dance schools just call this figure for “Vacilala with an extra turn”. The extra turn is of cause Giro Habanero.

In Video 4, also from “www.bailarcasino.pl”, Poznan, Poland, 2013, featuring Piotr Agassi Chajkowski and some excellent Follow, we again have two instances of hand-held Vacilala with the Habanero turn at the end. The first time (0:45), the second time (1:12).

Same Video on YouTube

In Video 5, from “Metodo del Cuadro del Casino” (MCC 2.0, Yoel Marrero), 2018, we have a good example of the Habanero. At 1:10 Yoel calls Vacilala and then the Habanero with right to right handhold and left hand on Follow’s shoulder.

Same Video on YouTube

The last four videos use the Giro Habanero term in title or description. Many dancers and dance schools don’t know the term. They just call it “extra turn” if done as the last part of Vacilala or even confuses it with a Vuelta right turn. In Habanero the Follow steps forward on one, walks on 1-2-3 and turns on 5-6-7. Whenever a Follow turns right on 5-6-7, it is most likely the turning part of Habanero and should be regarded as such. Exhibela and the linear non Cuban Vuelta right turns are the major exceptions.

Hammerlock and Habanero

There are three moves that can bring a Follow into Hammerlock at the start of Setenta moves. The Lead can use Vacilala, Habanero or the Vuelta right turn. For Vacilala the Follow turns on 1-2-3 and walks on 5-6-7. For Habanero the Follow walks on 1-2-3 and turns on 5-6-7. For the stationary Vuelta right turn, the Follow is prepped on 1-2-3, and turns on 5-6-7.

There is an overlap between the Habanero and the Vuelta right turn. If the Habanero is done stationary, we have a natural arm movement on 1-2-3 that leads the Follow into the turn on 5-6-7. There is no need to ever use a Vuelta right turn in Cuban Salsa.

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