Cuban Salsa: Salida al Cuello (Setenta)
Just like the Brazo Largo (long arm) exit from Setenta (Hammerlock), the Al Cuello (to the neck) exit is both rare and difficult, the hallmark of better dancers. Not that it is a must, but many good Leads love to use it with strong Follows.
Al Cuello con Vacilala (1)
Some Follows dislike the figure because it is a little too Cuban: the move can be mistaken for groping, if the Lead is not up to the task of leading it properly. The hand juggling in front of the Follow looks easy, but you really must learn it first. Nine out of 10 Leads having learned this Setenta exit in class or workshop are never going to use it in social dancing. They don’t dare, too many things can go wrong.
Video 1 is from from Cuba, January 2020, featuring Eric, a dance instructor from the “Sandunga Dance School” in Santiago de Cuba, and one of my favourite dance partners, Mona, from Copenhagen. This video makes me believe that the move, I have always known as El Gato (the cat), is an old genuine Cuban Casino move.
Breakdown: Setenta (Hammerlock), the Al Cuello (to the neck) exit with “juggling” arms in front of the Follow, and, coming out of the exit, a two handed Vacilala with both hands held high.
There are several ways to continue the Al Cuello exit, when getting out of the Hammerlock, and there are a few named moves using Al Cuello as part of the move name, as well as “No Name” moves popping up in videos from social dancing and obscure workshops or dance classes, like in the case of the Eric and Mona video.
My favourite Al Cuello move is called El Gato (he cat, tomcat), a proper name but probably only used by the Danish Dance School, in Copenhagen, “Cph Salsa”, where I first learned it. To day I call it Al Cuello.
Al Cuello con Vacilala (2)
Video Clip 2 is from 2017, featuring one of the best teachers of Caribbean Social Dances in Copenhagen, Frank Eddelien and Karen, a student. The clip only shows the exit and the end of the Al Cuello move. Note that the version of Frank is exactly like the version of Eric from Santiago de Cuba, except that in Frank’s version, the two handed Vacilala is done with one hand high, the other low.
Al Cuello con Ganchos
Video Clip 3 is from “Grimaldidance”, Spain, 2020. I have edited the original YouTube video in order to make it more robust and useful in the context of this tutorial. Most importantly, I have added a “1/2 speed” section repeating the video. I link to the original video below.
The “Grimaldi” version is excellent for how to start the move, and for how to get the hands in place for the difficult Al Cuello exit. But the “Grimaldi” version is very different from what comes after the exit as compared to the two Vacilala versions of Eric and Frank. In the “Grimaldi” version the Lead places the lifted arm behind his neck. This is an interesting way to start a Gancho Doble but why get out of it immediately? Stay and do the Adiós carousel for a while.