Cuban Salsa: Exhibela (Sácala)
Exhibela means “exhibit her”, show her to the world. It is the uniquely Cuban sideways right turn, starting with prepping on 1-2-3 and turning on 5-6-7. Exhibela is most often a closed position turn with normal handhold: It starts from closed position and it ends in closed position. Exhibela can also be done crossed handed in open position, and this version is often called Sácala (take her out).
The Sácala turn is a right-to-right handed Exhibela turn in open position. The Lead needs to change hands again to get back into closed position. Most dancers use the two terms, “Exhibela/Sácala” without knowing the difference, as if they are just two names for the same move. The difference is important in Rueda de Casino. At least it is nice to have two different calls, Exhibela and Sácala, in order to get all couples perfectly synchronised doing exactly the same move.
1 The Follow steps a “0” pattern
In order to walk a proper Exhibela turn, the Follow should use Paséala steps. As always the Follow should step forward on “1” or in place if the Follow’s right foot is already in forward position (less good dance schools might teach back-rocking instead).
For Exhibela, the Follow steps forward on “1-2-3”, pivots right on “5”, steps forward on “6-7” and pivots right on “1” creating a figure “0” (zero) pattern that continues over and over again until the Lead exits the pattern.
Whenever a Follow steps back on “1” or on “5” in situations where she could just as well step forward, she looses two steps for nothing bringing the flow of the dance to a halt. In the case of “Exhibela/Sácala”, the turn becomes less impressive. Instead of a genuine Cuban Exhibela turn where the Follow walks forward all the time, unique for Cuban Salsa, we get a “back and forward” Vuelta right turn with turning on the spot.
Exhibela can be started from almost anywhere in a dance, but it is the most impressive when started from a Paséala figure “8” walk. If the Lead also uses Paseala and steps a figure “8”, we get a combined figure “88” pattern that continues into the combined figure “80” pattern of Exhibela.
2 Paséala (88 pattern) – Exhibela (80 pattern)
Video Clip #1 is from a video made by “www.bailarcasino.pl”, Posnan, Poland, 2014, with Piotr Agassi Chajkowski and Agata. It shows the textbook Exhibela. Starting with the “88” Paséala pattern, sometimes called Paséala en Frente, continuing into the “80” pattern of Exhibela. The video then continues with the Rodeo basic figure in a perfect flow.
3 The Exhibela walkabout
The next Video Clip #2 is from “DC Casineros”, Washington DC, USA, 2014, featuring Amanda Gill and Adrian Valdivia. They show how powerful Paseala steps and the figure “88” and figure “80” patterns can be. They do “88” (Paséala) three times and then figure “80” (Exhibela) seven times. The back-rocking Cuban Salsa sub-styles have no way of dancing with such a fantastic flow.
4 The Lead has many options
The Lead has many options for how to lead the Follow into Exhibela. If the Lead uses Paséala steps, he will step the figure “8” pattern: forward on “1”, pivot right, forward on 2-3-5, pivot left, forward on 6-7-1, pivot right, etc. This creates together with the Follow’s stepping, a combined figure “88” pattern, and for Exhibela a combined figure “80” pattern.
As an exception to the rule of using Paséala steps, the Lead can use almost any type of stepping that works for some good purpose: for fun, for variation, reacting to something in the music, etc. There are many options in the rarity cabinet of special steps: side-to-side rocking, the Rumba type of side-to-side steps and cross over steps with or without “Columbia”.
The Lead can also use the so-called Abajo basic figure, stepping forward on both one and five or forward on one and sideways on 5, leading the Follow into back-rocking both on one and on five. The Abajo figure is one of the few figures where back stepping is build-in. I often use Abajo if I sense that a Follow is not capable of stepping a figure “8” Paseala, or for one count or two as “prepping” to get into proper Paséala steps.
5 Exhibela with Lead’s cross over steps
Video Clip #3 is from “Son de Habana”, Bogotá, Colombia, 2015. The Follow, Susana Osorio, walks a perfect figure “8” Paséala and continues with the Paseala “0” pattern for “Exhibela/Sacala”. The Lead, Alexander Barreto, uses “cross over” steps and is famous for very small steps.
Video Clip #4 is from another video made by “www.bailarcasino.pl”, Posnan, Poland, 2013, with Piotr Agassi Chajkowski and Agata. In this version the Follow’s right arm is in an unusual Hammerlock type of position but the Exhibela turn is standard anyway. Agata starts stepping the Paséala figure “8” pattern and next the figure “0” pattern for Exhibela. In this video Piotr uses cross-over steps.
6 Less good Exhibela videos
I will make a separate tutorial with the less good Exhibela videos from the back-rocking sub-styles of Cuban Salsa. There are hundreds of such “bad” YouTube videos.
The main problem in all those videos is that the Follow back-rocks instead of stepping forward on “1”, destroying the Paséala steps, one of the hallmarks of genuine Cuban Salsa. Instead of a unique Paséala based Exhibela, we get a common Vuelta right turn except that it is sideways to look a little Cuban.
Cuban Salsa without Paséala walks, without “infinity” walks using figure “8” and the figure “0” patterns, might still be some sort of Cuban Salsa because it is also common in Cuba, but it really is diluted, “bad habits”, Cuban Salsa without charm and originality. Just some undefined “who really cares” blend of fusion salsa.