Cuban Salsa: The Alex Routine

The “Alex Routine” is my name for a one minute long social dance by Alexander Pavlov (Ukraine) and an excellent “I never back rock unless a bad Lead insists” Follow. When I first saw the video clip, I said to myself: I am going to learn and practice it like a routine. I want to own it. I now use all of it or parts of it in almost every second dance.

The start is 10 seconds long, followed by a sequence of 25 seconds done twice. I can not find the video on YouTube. It might be a Facebook video. It is only a few years old. First, let us see the video, next I will break it down into its basic figures, in order to make it easier to learn.

Alex Routine breakdown

  1. It starts with the traditional “Son” figure done twice. On the last 5-6-7, the Lead walks forward and turns the Follow left into start position for Exhibela.
  2. For Exhibela, the Lead uses proper Paseala steps. He pivots around on one and walks 1-2-3-5-6-7 and continues to walk counter clockwise (very unusual), leading the Follow into what can best be described as …
  3. … an unusual, handheld, walking Vacilala (one count of eight), two handed at the end, and the Lead turns the Follow left and wraps his left arm over her.
  4. Next, my favourite part, a Paseala walk (two counts of eight) with big off-on-off-on-off Alarde loops to the Follow and an Alarde to the Lead at the end.
  5. Then a traditional two handed Enchufla with Lead’s hook turn and a right arm Gancho hook.
  6. Then a half Sombrero, the Lead only loops himself on-off on 6-7.
  7. Next a two handed Enchufla with Lead’s snake arms on 5-6-7. It is important that the Lead steps forward on 7.
  8. Next a right to right handed Vacilala and at the end the Lead gives the Follow a delayed Habanero turn, he pivots her around by the shoulder on 7.
  9. The sequence from “4 to 8” is then repeated.

Why I like the Alex Routine

It is one long relaxed flow, based on natural walking, almost meditative. Not a single Guapea. A realistic social dance. An experienced Lead can do it with any Follow. Good counter clockwise motion to balance the dominant clockwise motion. Paseala walks with arm movements play a major role, and the Follow walks forward all the time (no back rocking), as is the norm in Paseala based dancing.

This is genuine Cuban Salsa danced by an Ukrainan couple. Not that it is the most common style in Cuba, and we could add a pinch of Afro, if we like, but it is unique to Cuba, completely different from American X-Body Salsa and other non-Cuban salsa styles.

Paseala based Cuban Casino is much more interesting than the mediocre Cuban one-couple Rueda styles with back rocking, so common outside of Cuba, and even in Cuba among most dance instructors pleasing the salsa tourists with the crap they know from back home.

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