Cuban Salsa: Panqué – Siete (basic figure)
The Panqué (Pancake) figure, also called Siete (7) in the Miami Rueda tradition of “Salsa Racing” and “Salsa Lovers”, is a unique basic figure of one count of eight. It is unique in the sense that it has its own set of steps we don’t see in any other basic figure, and it is unique because it doesn’t fit in easily on the “Partner Circle”. The Lead and the Follow don’t step Panqué on an “arch”, the figure is rectangular in nature like “forward and back” and Guapea.
Panqué works well in Rueda de Casino because the Follow knows what to do (she hears the Rueda Call), but it is surprisingly difficult in social dancing, especially if the Follow hasn’t been exposed to it for a while. Panqué requires very precise leading: the hand movement of the Lead is either too soft, and the Follow doesn’t get it, or it is too strong, making the beginning of the move awkward, overturning the Follow.
Panqué in Rueda and social dancing
When we make a video of “Siete/Panqué” or of any move likely to be used both in Rueda and social dancing, it is paramount to make clear which version is shown. The Rueda version is a “roll her in – roll her out” back to start figure. The social version must also focus on the halfway position. The Follow must be prepared to walk forward on “5”, starting a Paseo walk and most likely a Coca-Cola turn is added to “5-6-7”.
Video #1 is from the Hungarian “Salsa Steps” APP, 2014 (APP has had problems but seems to work again). This is one of the few videos I have found showing a proper Siete/Panqué for social dancing. The Lead steps in place, the Follow steps forward and turns her back to the Lead, 180 degrees, and ends up exactly in front of the Lead with her left foot tapping (optional) ready to step forward. The Follow’s “1-2-3” and “5-6-7” mirrors one another.
In the “Salsa Steps” video the Lead opens up on “7” to prep the Follow for the move. This is common from Guapea and especially with a beginner Follow. When Siete/Panqué is started directly from DQN or as part of Paseo walks or from within sequences of other basic figures, it is often started without opening up on “7”, often almost without prepping except for the hand motion.
Video Clip #2 is from “Son De Habana”, Bogotá, Columbia, 2015. This is an example of a nice looking video we should handle with care (this is more the rule than the exception). The video is part of a series of great video tutorials, except that the videos too often don’t show generalised, well-formed, optimised basic figures and moves, easy to learn from.
On the contrary: This Panqué is one of this Lead’s private variations, he might have invented it for this video and may not even have used it ever since. Note how the Lead “forces” the Follow to bend down in the halfway position. It works with a partner you have trained it with but with all other Follows, this version will have a low success rate or the Follow will find it odd and she is certainly not posed in the halfway position to be walked forward.
Panque in Rueda de Casino
In Rueda de Casino the Follow can step Panqué with a lot of variation, because both the Lead and the Follow have heard the Call and knows that it is the full move, rolling in and rolling out back to start. That is, the Follow doesn’t need to worry about the halfway position, she doesn’t need to be ready for new action like being lead forward on “5”, and she doesn’t need to be ready for new action when back into Guapea: there will be plenty of time to recover, waiting for the next Rueda Call, when all the couples are ready.
Video Clip #3 is from a “Rueda.Casino” (Norwegian Rueda Standard) video, Oslo, Norway, 2020. At the moment you must pay for access to most of their new ongoing series of beautiful videos at Vimeo. It is amazing how different this Panqué is from what is required in social dancing!
Many Pancakes are flat wrong
One of the most important things to get right when demonstrating a basic figure is the halfway position, if it is often used as point of departure for replacing the last half of the figure with something else, like adding a Coca-Cola turn to the last part of Dile Que No.
There are not many options for how to continue Panqué. If the Follow is just rolled in and out again back to start, it is a move without connections to other figures. For that reason it is very common in social dancing not always to roll the Follow out again and back to start, but to continue Panqué from the halfway position, leading the Follow straight forward or a little left into a Paseo walk rolling her out with a Coca-Cola turn.
A distinct halfway position with the Follow ready to walk forward is not technically required in Rueda de Casino because the Rueda Caller has already announced “Panqué” and in Rueda that means the full figure getting back to the start position.
But even in Rueda, if the halfway position is not optimised for stepping forward, the Follow is conditioned to never get the move right in social dancing, and Rueda becomes evil, outright destructive for how to dance socially, which is sadly to say too often the case.
There are many videos out there showing completely bonkers Siete/Panqué variations. A common problem is to wildly overturn the Follow in the halfway position or to turn the figure into an Enchufla looking circular move. Panqué both in Rueda and in social dancing is a rectangular figure similar to Guapea.
One of the less good videos (read: extremely bad), Video Clip #4, is sadly enough from “DancePapi.com”, San Fracisco, USA, 2017. I like their many video tutorials about musicality, LA style of salsa and Cuban Salsa. This video is one of the exceptions: there is no “Pancake” over this video reducing Siete/Panqué to a circular Enchufla type of move!
Video Clip #5 from “Spicy Salsa”, Moscow, Russia, 2014, is another example of a very private Panqué that has nothing to do with a generalised, well-formed, optimised figure for social dancing, easy to learn from. The Lead wildly overturns the Follow with 90 degrees. In the halfway position, the Follow is ready to walk forward in a completely wrong direction.
Beware of Panqué/Siete family of moves
Surprisingly many moves have been made starting with “Siete/Panqué”. Apart from Rueda fun like Panqué con Chocolate, most of these moves come from the Miami Rueda tradition of “Salsa Racing” and “Salsa Lovers”, especially the ones that have “Siete” in the name. Many of these moves are not leadable in social dancing and should never be used. The moves might work in Rueda because the Follow can use the Rueda Call as a substitute for being lead.
Moves that don’t work in social dancing, should never be used in Rueda de Casino, even if they work in that context because of the Rueda Call. Most Leads learning Rueda moves that looks like social moves will immediately start using them in social dancing creating frustrations and disappointments for both Leads and Follows.
Not leadable common Siete-Panqué moves: Siete con Coca-Cola, Siete Moderno, Siete Loco, Siete Alborotado. They should never be used in social dancing and in Rueda de Casino.
All the listed moves have one thing in common. They require that the Follow on “5” where she is posed to step straight forward, angles her left foot 90 degrees left or more in order to be turned out to the extreme left and around the Lead with a Coca-Cola turn. There is no way a Lead can lead that. The Follow will “survive” this continuation anyway but it doesn’t look pretty, the Follow is mostly pushed and twisted around and ends up off balance with the feeling of failure most of the time generally speaking.
In addition, Siete Loco, Siete Loco Complicado and the Siete Alborotado moves require that the Follow’s left hand is available on her right shoulder, easy for the Lead to grab! That is most often not the case.
Leads and Follows! No need to despair!
The reason you find moves like Siete con Coca-Cola, Siete Loco, Siete Moderno and Siete Alborotado almost impossible in social dancing, is not lack of understanding or training.
And don’t let you be fooled by some talented dancers that can make all sorts of junk look good if they rehearse it long enough and make a video of it.
The moves are not leadable, they were flat wrong at their inception, and should never be used!
WARNING! This is the third major update of this tutorial. Many of my tutorials for moves in the “Siete/Panqué” family need to be updated accordingly with more focus on leadability and the different requirements for moves in Rueda and social dancing.