Cuban Salsa: Less good Bayamo Clásico Variations

I like good variations of even the most perfect move, and I love to practice variations I normally don’t use: 1) They could turn out being just as good or even better or at least useful in some situations, 2) and the more variations you practice, the easier it becomes to improvise to music, to be music driven. We should practice as many good variations and options as possible, if we want a multi dimensional body memory.

But some variations, even if correct or at least technically “correct”, are so inferior that we should forget about them. Bad variations should only happen, as shit happens, by mistake on the dance floor. We should never teach second best stuff, when much better options are available.

Bayamo Clásico (original)

Before we take a look at the less good Bayamo Clásico videos, let us watch the original Bayamo Clásico move one more time. Video 1 is from the legendary ¡Salsa a la Cubana!, DVD #2, published 1999 by “Salsaville.com”, featuring Ibert Vazquez Moreno and Sunny Soriano Malo de Molina.

Lead turns left (1-2-3), Follow to the right (5-6-7)

Video 2 features Roelvis Diaz and Stella Baiamonte. I like the soft style of their dance. Watch the whole video, many inspiring details! But the start of the return walk is bad practice. Don’t use it! Bayamo Clásico has several good variations for the end of the move, but there really is only one good way, the real Bayamo Clásico, to start the return walk of the Follow: A handheld Vacilala on 1-2-3, and the Lead’s Enchufla on 5-6-7.

Same Roelvis Diaz Video on YouTube

In the Roelvis Diaz video, instead of starting the return walk with a handheld Vacilala on 1-2-3 and the Lead’s Enchufla on 5-6-7, the Lead turns left on 1-2-3, and the Follow is given a Vuelta right turn on 5-6-7.

Lead and Follow turn on 1-2-3, Alarde to Follow on 5-6-7

Video 3 is from the “Ron con Limon” Dance School in Germany, 2010. It has a slightly different return sequence. The Lead and the Follow turn simultaneously on 1-2-3, Lead left and the Follow right, and an Alarde is added to the Follow on 5-6-7.

Making the Lead and the Follow turn simultaneously on 1-2-3 and next an Alarde to the Follow on 5-6-7 is simply inferior to the good unique flow of the original move.

Lead and Follow turn on 1-2-3, “treading water” on 5-6-7

Video 4 features one of my former Salsa instructors in Copenhagen, Yuleisy C. Rojas. For the return walk, instead of Vacilala on 1-2-3 and the “Lead’s Enchufla”, both Lead and Follow turn on 1-2-3, Lead to the left and Follow to the right, and then both just walk “idle”, “treading water”, on 5-6-7.

Lead and Follow should as a rule of thumb never turn simultaneously when the two turns can just as well be spaced out evenly over a full count of eight. Except for a good reason, like something stylish, or out of necessity like a “back-to-back” turn (that’s the whole point) or to add something additional on 5-6-7. This “additional” could in some situations be “treading water” (the power of nothing).

Let me repeat: None of the return walks in this tutorial are technically wrong. They are just less good variations to be avoided when we teach Cuban Salsa.

In our social dance we can do what ever we like, but when we teach dancing at a basic level, students have a right to be presented for the best versions and variations of moves.

One comment

  • I am a big fan of Bayamo Clásico ala. SALC 1, but people are not going to lead a follower into that move unless they have practiced it, and practiced a lot IMO.

    Getting the angles, and distances correct to squeeze the leaders right arm through the gap between the lead and follower on the count of 3 to 5 will be a challenge at first. See a lot of couples trying this and having trouble at that exact point, even in some YouTube uploaded videos u see couples contorting their bodies at that point as the physics seem impossible (at first).

    So make sure the follower is experienced before giving it a go, but very rewarding when you can pull it off reliably.

    A.

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