Cuban Salsa: Al Cuello de Setenta

The move Al Cuello (around the neck) is a classic move done from Setenta (Hammerlock) and called Setenta al Cuello with left-2-right hands to the neck. There are several ways to exit the “around the neck” part, I show two versions below. Another Al Cuello done from the Yugo move (crossed Sombrero) with right-2-left hands to the neck, I will cover in its own tutorial.

My own version, I first learned from a dance teacher in Copenhagen, Frank E. He called it El Gato because the Lead “sneaks” in on the Follow. But it is a classic also taught, e.g. by dance schools in Santiago de Cuba as we are going to see below.

Setenta al Cuello

Video Clip #1 is from a Practica Training Session with me and Mona, Copenhagen, 2022.

Same video on YouTube

Some Follows dislike Al Cuello because it is a little too Cuban: the move can be mistaken for groping, if the Lead is not up to the task of leading it properly. The “hands” in front of the Follow look easy, but you really must learn it first. Nine out of 10 Leads having learned Setenta al Cuello in class or workshop are never going to use it in social dancing. They don’t dare, too many things can go wrong!

Video Clip #2 is from from Cuba, January 2020, featuring Eric, a dance instructor from the “Sandunga Dance School” in Santiago de Cuba, and my dance partner, Mona, from Copenhagen. The exit is exactly like my “Frank E” version but Eric continues with a two-handed Vacilala, both hands held high.

“Video Clip #1” and “Video Clip #2” use the same method to exit the Al Cuello, only the Vacilala continuation is different.

Al Cuello con Gancho

Video Clip #3 is from “Grimaldidance”, Spain, 2020. I have added a “1/2 speed” section to the original video in order to make it more useful. I link to the original video below.

Original “70 Al Cuello” Grimaldi Video on YouTube

The “Grimaldi” version has a very different exit as compared to my and Eric’s version. In the “Grimaldi” version the Lead places the lifted arm behind his neck. This might be a way to get into a right arm Gancho but I find this version to be inferior to the “Vacilala” versions. To me, the “Grimaldi” version looks like what you end up with if you can’t remember the real thing.

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