Cuban Salsa: Enchufla Continuado
This is a unique Cuban Salsa figure, the Follow walks clock-wise as she turns counter-clockwise. It is for social dancing but can be adapted for Rueda de Casino. Superficially it looks like a sequence of “stirring the pot” spin turns but but it is a travelling figure, a sequence of 180 degree Enchufla turns with a step in between each turn.
The Follow starts with Enchufla on “1-2-3”, and is then led to walk the extra turns around the Lead in a Four-Leaf Clover pattern, turning 180 degree in each corner and using one step to get to the next corner. The turn and the step (angled 90 degrees) gives us what looks like a 270 degree turn. At the end of the forth corner the Follow steps the other half of the original Enchufla, “5-6-7”, and we can continue with all the moves and figures we are used to do from the last half of Enchufla.
Because of the Four-Leaf Clover pattern, the four corners of the extra turns, and because it is important to be able to exit as if we have only done one Enchufla, we should always add groups of four turns to the original Enchufla. That is, we can do four or eight extra turns, giving us “5” or “9” turns all-together including the original Enchufla.
“5 turn” Enchufla Continuado
Video #1 is from a Practica Session with me and Mona, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2022.
Break it down
- The Enchufla starting the Continuado is a half turn of 180 degrees, and all the extra turns are also only 180 degrees with a step in between angled 90 degrees giving us a sequence of 3/4 “turns” that is 270 degrees using two steps, one for turning and one for walking.
- The extra turns must be a group of four done once (four) or twice (eight). It is a travelling figure, the four or eight extra turns must travers four corners and make a Four Leaf Clover pattern. It is possible but it does not make sense to add just 1 or 2 or 3 extra turns or 5 or 6 or 7 for that matter. Stick to 4 or 8 extra turns only.
- Enchufla Continuado is difficult because of the special way it is stepped. The Follow must step or turn on every beat also on beat “8” and “4”. After the first Enchufla on “1-2-3”, the Follow as well as the Lead must step on “5”, the Follow then turns on “6”, the Lead and the Follow step on “7”, the Follow then turns on “8”, the Lead and the Follow step on “1”, the Follow turns on “2”, the Lead and the Follow step on “3”, the Follow turns on “4”, and then a normal Enchufla exit on “5-6-7”.
- I find it helpful that the Lead speaks out the count laud (or inside his head), and instead of saying “5, turn, 7 turn, 1, turn, 3, turn”, using the number of the beats, I find it much easier to keep track of the turns by counting “1, turn, 2, turn, 3, turn, 4 turn”, and then “5-6-7” for the last part of the original Enchufla.
- Since Enchufla Continuado ends with the last half of Enchufla, the Lead can continue Enchufla Continuado with any move that can be started from the last half of Enchufla. A beginner will just lead the Follow into Caída position (DQN start position) or bring the Follow behind his back with Rodeo. At the moment I use more than 10 different ways for how keep going like Giro de Son (Ronde/Evelyn), Paséala, Exhibela, Saloneo.
- The Follow should have the full weight on the turning foot, then shift the weight to the stepping foot then again the full weight on the turning foot. This is especially important at the end of the last turn. The Follow’s weight must be on her right foot in order to be able to walk forward on “5-6-7”.
- Since each turn takes one beat followed by a step of one beat, the Follow must walk and turn fast even to slow music! And the Four Leaf Clover must not be spaced too much out since longer steps must be done even faster! The Lead must make sure that the Follow turns tight around him through all the four corners of the basic figure, especially to fast music. And it is a good idea to support the Follow a little with the Lead’s right hand.
- It is better to turn a little too fast than a little too slow. If the Follow ends up a second early, ready to do “5-6-7”, no big harm is done. If she ends up too late to start “5-6-7” on time, the train has left the station, and the figure falls apart.
- Train the figure to slow music, around 150 BPM, until you have it. Even to slow music the Continuado must be done surprisingly fast!
- It is a good idea to practice to music where it is easy to find the “1” in order to control immediately after the last turn if the Lead and Follow are still exactly on time.
- It is a good idea for the Lead also to practice his own part alone at home to different speeds of music: Do an Enchufla and start counting “1, turn, 2, turn, 3, turn, 4, turn”, “5-6-7” and see if you are still on the correct beat. Or “1, turn, 2, turn, 3, turn, 4, turn, 5, turn, 6, turn, 7, turn, 8, turn”, “5-6-7”!
- Likewise a Follow should also train Enchufla Continuado alone at home. The weight changes are difficult to get used to and especially for the last turn the full weight must be on the turning right foot in order to step forward on “5-6-7”.
“9 turn” Enchufla Continuado
The “9 turn” Enchufla Continuado follows the same steps as the “5 turn” Enchufla Continuado, but the Lead needs more training to be able to exit it on the correct beat. Very few Follows can stomach so many turns. Even a “5 turn” Enchufla Continuado needs a lot of training for most Follows. Unless the Follow is used to the “5 turn” Enchufla Continuado, it is very common that the Follow jumbs onto the brake and abort the move after two or three turns!
Even when a Follow is used to do the “9 Turn” Enchufla Continuado, I always start with the “5 turn” Enchufla Continuado early in the dance to test if she is ready for even more and to test the exact timing to the music. If the 5 turns worked fine, and I feel that I have been given a go ahead, I might give the Follow a “9 Turn” Enchufla Continuado later in the dance.
Video #2 is from a Practica Session with me and Mona, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2022.
Right to right handed (Melón)
It is possible to do Enchufla Continuado right-to-right handed but I never use it because it is a little inferior to the normal handhold. The beauty of the normal handhold is that we can start Enchufla Continuado at anytime without preparation, and we can exit it and continue with all the moves and figures we are used to use from the last half of the normal Enchufla without having to change hands first.
The oldest Enchufla Continuado I have found on a video is actually a right-to-right handed version probably created or made popular by Henry Herrera and Zumel Michel, on “Salsa Racing” DVD 3, Advanced Level, Miami, USA, 2002. Henry’s version “hides” the Continuado as part of a Rueda move he calls Melón, and the Continuado starts with a Half-Sombrero like the start of Bayamo moves and ends with Dile Que No.
It is much more useful to learn not a specific Rueda move with a silly name but a generalised figure starting directly from Enchufla. A good social move can be used anytime, anywhere, as a building block easy to integrate into a flow.
Note that the exit is cross-handed. Good for Sácala or for getting into DQN but you need to change handhold for most other options making the figure unnecessarily complicated. The success rate for most options is bound to be lower especially with Follows that don’t know the move.
A Cuban Salsa Demo that has inspired me a lot is named “Bailar Casino: Demo at DC Casineros Cuban Dance Social”, Washington DC, USA, 2014, featuring Daybert Linares and Digna Rodriguez. They use a right-to-right handed Enchufla Continuado similar to Henry Herrera, except that they use Sácala (right-to-right handed Exhibela) to get the Follow into the start position with her right hand behind her neck.
Note that they change handhold at the end. Beautiful move but since most Leads don’t get an opportunity to do a “9 turn” Enchufla Continuado in every dance or even at every “social”, most dancers are much better off to focus on the more versatile normal Enchufla version.
History of Enchufla Continuado
Enchufla Continuado is probably as old as Cuban Salsa, but its modern form, the one I use, is created or made popular by Yoel Marrero. He generalised earlier attempts into a solid basic figure.
This tutorial, the above 12 points with recommendations for how to learn Enchufla Continuado, is my own analysis based on my own experience. It has taken me (average talent) years to learn the figure because I couldn’t find a good tutorial.