Cuban Salsa: El Dedo por Abajo

This name covers several different popular intermediate moves. I have found around 10 variations, having nothing in common except that they start with a right-to-right handed Vacilala (El Dedo). Nobody remembers why it is called El Dedo, (the finger), but I suspect that one finger was the hand signal for the move, and it soon also became the name for it. Abajo just means “down” or “under. The spelling Debajo is just as common, but it is another word with more or less the same meaning, very few people can explain the difference.

Of all the Dedo por Abajo videos I have found, the two best have also in common that they show exactly the same move, and I want to promote that version in this blogpost, as the standard to follow in the future, except that all good variations are always welcome as alternatives.

I am a little exited about Video 1 from 2020, because the German couple, Alex and Sofian from “Salsa Cubana Tanzkurse in Deggendorf, Passau und Umgebung”, Germany, have published more than 30 similar beautiful videos within a few months. Their style is not genuine Cuban but classic Miami-style with moderate back-rocking, but I can live with it. It would have been even better with one more video take using counting. Videos without counting can be extremely hard to make sense of especially for beginners.

Same Video on YouTube

Move break down

  1. It starts with El Dedo, a right-to-right handed Vacilala.
  2. On 5-6-7 of Vacilala the Lead positions himself with his back to his arm.
  3. On 1-2-3 the Lead goes under his arm, and gives the Follow a Habanero turn (Cuban Vuelta right turn) on 5-6-7.
  4. Enchufla on 1-2-3, followed by “Evelyn” (Giro de Son) on 5-6-7, changing hands.
  5. Another Enchufla followed by another “Evelyn”.
  6. Dile Que No.

Dedo por Abajo is good enough to be used in each and every dance. I like that it has both a Vacilala and a Habanero turn, and that “Evelyn” (Giro de Son) is used twice. Repetition is often a good thing in dancing. If I should improve the move, I would change the last Giro de Son to the Arriba version of Giro de Son, the Lead lifting his arm over his head instead of doing it low and change hands. This is a good opportunity to show both versions of “Evelyn”.

Video 2 is from “Son De Habana”, Bogotá, Columbia, 2015. Their style is more genuine Cuban, the Follow mostly steps forward by default, except for Dile Que No. This is not a big deal in “Rueda de Casino” where Dile Que No is only used to end moves, but in social dancing on the partner circle, where Dile Que No is used to change direction on the partner circle, back-rocking acts like an anchor slowing the walking flow down.

Same Video on YouTube

It is interesting to compare the stepping of the Follows in the two videos. In the first, Miami-style, the Follow back-rocks just a little for Enchufla, in the second, often seen in Cuba and among better dancers, the Follow steps a little forward (or in place) also for Enchufla, that is: the Follow has forward stepping as default.

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