Cuban Salsa: La Jenny

The La Jenny figure is another popular classic from the Salsa Lover Collection. It is a Paseala type of Rueda move also used in 1-on-1 social dancing. The Follow is lead around the Lead starting with the Paseala thumb-over-thumb, right-to-right “wrestler” handhold. The move contains an advanced use of the “police grip” most Leads only use in El Uno (Cubanita).

Video 1 is from the “Salsa Lovers”, DVD #3, Miami, Florida, USA, 2000, uploaded to YouTube in 2011. The move is attributed to Rene Guits, the instructor in the video, but all the elements of the move are much older. Note that the Lead only uses his right arm to Lead the move all the way.

Same Video on YouTube

The above “original” version of Rene Guits shows the ideal way to do the move. Wrapping the Follow in all the way leading with the right hand only is so to speak what the move is all about, its “raison d’être”. But this is mostly realistic for Rueda de Casino where the Follow knows the move, and both Lead and Follow hear the call, making it much easier to lead.

For a long time I have tried to implement the “Salsa Lover” version in my 1-on-1 social dancing but it failed most of the time even with the best Follows, unless they know the move or we have trained it together. Using the right arm only is simply not enough for leading with most Follows. That is why the additional leading we see in the next two videos are much more realistic.

Video 2 is from “Son De Habana”, Bogotá, Colombia, 2015. Note that the Lead uses normal handhold, left-to-right for Enchufla, and switch to the right-to-right handhold and the thumb-over-thumb handgrip as he goes into Dile Que No. This is much more elegant than changing hands before the Enchufla when followed by Dile Que No. Like anything else, one should always try to optimise every detail including how and when to change hands.

Same Video on YouTube

In order to make leading easier, when wrapping the Follow in, the Lead uses his left hand to position the Follow properly at the last 7-8 count of the wrapping. In my experience, it is often necessary for the Lead to use his left hand much earlier, if he wants the move to succeed also with a weak Follow. That is exactly what we are going to see in the third video.

Video 3 is from Ramón Uribe, Chile, 2011. I like the “Evelin” hook turn not just at the end but also on 5-6-7 of the first Enchufla. This Lead doesn’t take any chances but uses his left arm to help position the Follow early on as he wraps her in.

Same Video on YouTube

How not to do the move

I like Michal from the “La Suerte Dance School”, Manchester in United Kingdom. Michal knows a lot about Cuban dances and music and about Bachata. I have watch several of his videos and I have learned a lot. So, regard the following as positive feedback in the best spirit.

Video 4 from “La Suerte Dance School”, 2020, is a grave example of destructive behaviour.

Michal calls the move Paseala Complicado. That is a bad name for two reasons: The proper name for the move is La Jenny and is attributed to “Salsa Lovers”, year 2000. We have very many videos uploaded to YouTube using that name for the move. 2) Paseala Complicado is double wrong because that is a completely different move attributed to Henry Herrera from “Salsa Racing” (DVD #2, Intermediate) also almost 20 years ago, and likewise we have very many videos uploaded to YouTube using that name for that move.

Michal’s version of the move is also bad. The whole idea of the move is to wrap the Follow in ideally with just the Lead’s right hand, all the way, closing the wrapping on 7-8. Michal stops the wrapping explicitly on 5-6 (he is counting)! Why? No move or part of a move should end on count 5-6 except for some very good reason. Also Michal’s version skips the traditional, but of cause optional, Evelyn ending, making it not even half as interesting as the original.

Same Video on YouTube

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