Cuban Salsa: The Coca-Cola left turn

The “Coca-Cola” is the standard 360 degrees left turn in Cuba Salsa and turning on “5-6-7” is the most common but turning on “1-2-3” is also possible. The Coca-Cola turn is a basic figure of one count of eight: The Follow is lead forward on “1”, she continues forward on “2-3” and turns on “5-6-7”.

The Coca-Cola turn is most often used as the last half of other basic figures. That is, the Coca-Cola is added to other basic figures, and replaces the second half of those figures adding “Coca-Cola” spice, e.g.:

  1. Dile Que No con Coca-Cola.
  2. Enchufla con Coca-Cola.
  3. Panqué (Siete) con Coca-Cola.
  4. Paseo con Coca-Cola (walk).
  5. Saloneo con Coca-Cola (walk)

“Coca-Cola” as second half of Dile Que No is so common, that I have found surprisingly many videos using the name “Coca-Cola” for that combination! Coca-Cola is actually a very versatile turn that can be used all over the place.

Turn techniques for Coca-Cola

Three common turn techniques are used both for right turns and left turns, but for Coca-Cola the Latin Spiral Turn technique is probably the most common:

  1. Pivot turns: The Follow does a 180 degrees left pivot turn on “5-6”, and another one on “6-7”.
  2. Latin Three Steps Turn (Châné): The Follow turns 180 degrees left on “5-6” and collects her feet, steps around for another 180 degrees on “6-7”.
  3. Latin Spiral Turn. Two steps. The Follow steps forward on “5” and turns 360 degrees left on “6-7”.

It is easy to understand why the Latin Spiral turn is the recommended turn for Coca-Cola: Since the turn is often optional, added or not added to the second half of other figures with little notice like a surprise out of the blue, it is nice to have step “5” to prepare for the turn.

If the Follow turns and continue straight forward, she turn 360 degrees. If she is lead to go left, 90 degrees are added giving us a 450 degrees turn. If she is lead to continue right, she needs 90 degrees less than 360 degrees, reducing the turn to 270 degrees. Such corrections on the go are much easier to do with the Spiral Turn technique.

Video Clip #1 is from “DC Casineros”, Washington DC, USA, 2014, has Amanda Gill and Adrian Valdivia as instructors. Amanda shows the Latin Spiral Turn technique adapted for Cuban Salsa.

Original DC Casineros video on YouTube

Dile Que No con Coca-Cola

The standard way to use Dile Que No brings the Follow into the start position of open position, also called Guapea start position. In order to get into that position, the Follow steps forward on “1”, continues forward on “2-3-5-6”, pivots around on “6” and into the start position of open position.

If a Coca-Cola is added to “5-6-7” of Dile Que No, no matter the turn technique, the Follow first exits the turn on “7” making it technically impossible to pivot around on “6” to get into the start position of open position. For that reason an extra Dile Que No, an extra count of eight, is added in order to get into the start position of open position.

Video Clip #2 is from “Salsa4Water” featuring Sam and Krista, UK, 2013. It shows Coca-Cola as last part of Dile Que No, and Sam is showing us two versions. The first is a hand-held Coca-Cola, the second is a Coca-Cola lead by the shoulders of the Follow.

Same Salsa4Water video on YouTube

Sam from “Salsa4water” can dance exacly as he likes in social dancing, but I don’t like his style in this video as a “teaching” style. It is too personal! Both his Guapea and the first and second Dile Que No are not optimised into a generalised model for others to learn from. Krista on the other hand, pretty much steps a perfect Dile Que No and Coca-Cola. The video is good enough to indicate the two basic ways to do Dile Que No con Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Doble

This figure name have two meanings. It could either be a Coca-Cola on “5-6-7” followed by a Coca-Cola on “1-2-3”, or it could mean Dile Que No con Coca-Cola done twice and at the end another Dile Que No is added in order to get into the start position of open position.

Video #3 is from “Son de Habana”, Bogatá, Columbia, 2015, featuring Alexander Barreto and Susana Osorio.

Same “Son de Habana” video on YouTube

Panqué (Siete) con Coca-Cola

Panqué con Cola-Cola, often called Siete con Coca-Cola in the Miami sub-style of Cuban Salsa, is normally thought of as a classic Rueda “Casino” move. But Panqué con Coca-Cola can also be used as part of a Paseo walk where it shines the most and is the most difficult: leading/following isn’t easy when we exit the predictability of the partner circle.

Video Clip #4 is from the Polish dance school “bailarcasino.pl”, featuring Piotr Agassi and Agata, Poznań, Poland, 2014. The clip starts with Panqué con Coca-Cola, then into the Paseo walk and the Reina basic figure culminating in one more Panqué con Coca-Cola and more Paseo walk.

Original Piotr and Agata video on YouTube

Coca-Cola left turn on “1-2-3”

The Coca-Cola turn is more than 90% of the time a turn on “5-6-7”. But the Follow can also do a full 360 degrees Coca-Cola left turn on “1-2-3”. Many Leads have not even heard of this option, and it is also difficult to lead “out of the blue”. But if the Lead starts with a Coca-Cola turn on “5-6-7” it is relatively easy to continue with another Coca-Cola turn on “1-2-3”, giving us a double turn. Doing two Coca-Cola turns, one after the other, requires or is by far the easiest with the use of the Spiral Turn technique: That is the first turn is on “6-7” and the second turn on “1-2” with only the pause in between.

I will cover Coca-Cola on “1-2-3” in a separate tutorial.

Origin of the Coca-Cola name

Nobody seems to know. And it’s interesting that American Salsa, especially LA style, also often call the left turns on “5-6-7” for Coca-Cola. It might have something to do with the fact that Coca-Cola most often is used as the second half of other figures, using Coca-Cola to add fun like a spice.

I also find it fascinating that the Coca-Cola bottle has the shape of a female torso. The Coca-Cola move is often lead in such a way that the Lead’s right hand follows her body in order to support and stabilise her. This makes the Coca-Cola name even more meaningful: The Follow gets the drink the Lead gets a chance to feel her body!

The “Coca-Cola” name is one of the few Salsa dance terms most dancers know. For all those reasons I find it despicable that some dancers and dance schools call Coca-Cola for Botella (“bottle”). Probably in the name of political correctness: “no brand names please”! Please don’t replace the most wonderful name with a boring meaningless name most dancers have never heard about: and difficult to pronounce and make meaning of for non-Spanish speaking dancers!

Advandced Coca-Cola

One can tell Leads apart from how they use Coca-Cola. Do they go easy after Coca-Cola and back into DQN and Guapea or is Coca-Cola more like the start of an advanced sequence of basic figures?

The two videos from “Salsa4Water” and Columbia are Rueda “Casino” type of dancing, restricted and limited in scope to the Rueda format most dance schools teach (the “move” appoach). The Polish video is at a superior level in and out of walkabouts whenever possible, suitable for sublime social dancing. Below, for inspiration, I give a few more examples of good Coca-Cola combinations (“basic figure” appoach):

  1. From Coca-Cola into Exhibela
  2. From Coca-Cola into 88
  3. From Coca-Cola into Coca-Cola on “1-2-3”
  4. From Coca-Cola into Reina
  5. From Coca-Cola into Rodeo Inverso
  6. Coca-Cola Moderno (Yoyoflow)

I will make separate tutorials for all of them.

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